Coronavirus: 'American Idol' suspends production due to outbreak, sends judges and contestants home

'American Idol' will air its pre-taped Hollywood Week episodes for the next two weeks, but the live performances in April are in doubt


                            Coronavirus: 'American Idol' suspends production due to outbreak, sends judges and contestants home
(ABC)
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In a not-too-surprising decision, the singing competition, 'American Idol', which currently airs on the ABC network, announced that they were suspending production of the popular TV show due to the coronavirus pandemic. The judges and contestants, including fan-favorites like Arthur Gunn, Makayla Phillips, and Shannon Gibbons, have been sent home to be with their families as Covid-19 spreads to all 50 states of the USA.

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'American Idol' now joins a growing list of more than 100 American TV shows that have halted production due to concerns regarding the rapidly-spreading pandemic, with close to 6,000 coronavirus cases already reported in the United States.


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It is understood that this shutdown only applies to the live performance episodes, featuring the aspiring 'Idol' contestants which were previously slated to first air in April. According to sources, preparations for work on those upcoming episodes, including rehearsals with the Hollywood finalists have been suspended. The decision was made by Fremantle, the producers of 'American Idol', after the Los Angeles County issued strict guidelines that prohibited large gatherings, in order to slow down and contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Fremantle has now asked their production team to work remotely, so editing on the pre-taped Idol episodes will continue as scheduled.

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According to the show's format, following the live telecast of the singers' performances (initially slated for April), fans and viewers would then be able to vote for their favorite singer. But now that those performances have been scuppered, 'American Idol' is still going to air its pre-taped Hollywood Week episodes for the next two weeks. The semi-finals round of the competition begins on Sunday, March 29, and will continue till April 6, when the show’s contestants will be cut down from 20 to the final Top 10. On Sunday, April 12, the Finals Live Coast to Coast episodes were scheduled to air in front of a packed live audience. But that's definitely not happening now.

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A view of the "American Idol" finale at the Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California (Getty Images)

The show currently holds a prime-time slot on Sunday and Monday nights at 8 pm ET on ABC. That means that we can look forward to more 'American Idol' shows on Sunday, March 22, and Monday, March 23 for certain, with the semi-finals slated for March 29 and 30. There is also a possibility that the producers of 'American Idol' will buy themselves some more time for the live shows by airing a couple of episodes that consist of unused pre-taped footage from the Hollywood rounds, but all that depends on how this worldwide pandemic actually pans out by the first week of April.

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Stay tuned for more updates on the show's latest announcements.