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Fox Slams ABC's American Idol Revival as "Extremely Fraudulent"

Fox execs aren't biting their tongue

Sadie Gennis

Fox executives aren't biting their tongue when it comes to American Idol's revival on ABC.

Only one year after Idol's much-hyped farewell season concluded on Fox, Fox TV chairman Dana Walden made it clear to reporters during a conference call on Monday that she believed it's far too soon to bring back the iconic singing competition.

Although Fox did bid for the show's return, along with NBC and the ultimate winner ABC, Walden explained that Fox wanted to wait until at least 2020 to revive the series -- something which American Idol's production studio, Freemantle Media, had zero interest in.

"They were determined to get this show back on the air as quickly as possible," Walden said. "We spent about 25 million dollars sending a clear message that it was the farewell season. It felt to us it would be extremely fraudulent to bring the show back that quickly. Our fans would not appreciate being told one thing and then having the show brought back right away."

Before Fox canceled Idol in 2016, the network had approached Freemantle about making creative changes to help counter the fact that Idol's ratings had dropped nearly 70 percent over the past four years. "They ultimately said to us they would rather rest the show after this season than make any changes and try out a different panel, and we respected that. That's when we decided to call it the farewell season," Walden explained.

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Shortly after those conversations, Fox learned that Freemantle had begun approaching other networks about picking up American Idol. And while Fox did make an offer to Freemantle to keep American Idol on its original network, they always believed it was too soon to revive the recently canceled series. "We did not see the fan excitement and enthusiasm for the show to come back that Freemantle did. We just had a different set of facts. But contemplating losing Idol and having it go to another network, we did make an offer. Freemantle was definitely not interested," Walden said. "We really believed that over time, whatever Freemantle's issues were with us, or the fact that we didn't want to bring it back so early, would be resolved because they seemed committed as well to resting the show."

However, as Walden pointed out, the company lost revenue from not having Idol on in the U.S., which likely played a part in the push to bring Idol back as soon as possible. "That's meaningful when you're running a public company," Walden said. "And all of the sudden we were made aware of conversations with ABC to bring the show back in '18, which again, that will put it off the air for one season. And we felt like it was way too soon. We tried to engage Freemantle in conversation about bringing it back in '20, which is when we thought would be an appropriate amount of time off the air and give the creators and the producers the opportunity to make some changes to present the next generation of Idol, and they just weren't interested in it."

​Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
FOX/FOX via Getty Images