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TVUpfronts 2017

'Perfect time' for 'American Idol' reboot, says ABC's Channing Dungey

Trent Harmon, a winner of "American Idol," celebrates with fellow contestants. (Matt Sayles / Invision / Associated Press)
Trent Harmon, a winner of "American Idol," celebrates with fellow contestants. (Matt Sayles / Invision / Associated Press)

Not only is it not too soon to reboot "American Idol," it is the "perfect time" according to ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey.

In a media call ahead of ABC's upfront presentation to advertisers in New York on Tuesday, Dungey discussed the network's planned reboot of the once mighty singing competition so soon after its "farewell season" on Fox.

"We’re thrilled and excited to have it as part of our slate," Dungey said of "Idol," which was a ratings powerhouse for a good portion of its 15-year run on Fox. "It feels like a perfect addition to our strong alternative franchises in 'Dancing [With the Stars]' and '[The] Bachelor.'" 

Dungey was clearly a fan of the show, saying, "What I love about it, personally, is that I feel it’s about heartfelt, uplifting stories of people who make their dreams come true and, honestly, that’s our sweet spot at ABC. All of our alternative franchises deal in that. For me, that makes it feel like the perfect home at the perfect time."

She did concede that the last-minute addition of "Idol" to the network's schedule means fewer slots for new, scripted original series. "But," she said, "we feel really confident about the shows that we have ordered and feel really good about where we are."

Dungey said the network was not ready to announce a premiere date or time slot for "Idol" just yet. 

"Quite honestly, we’re still looking at all of the different pieces for midseason and trying to figure out exactly where everything is going to fall," she said. "There’s a lot of things up in the air still."

Also up in the air is which personalities -- including host Ryan Seacrest and the multiple judges who sat on the panel over the years -- may be returning to the show, or which fresh faces might be joining up. 

One person definitely not returning is Simon Cowell, who now has a seat at the judges table on NBC's "America's Got Talent." He has said he was asked but declined to return.

Dungey would say only that ABC was in "a number of different conversations" with potential talent.

Given that the series had fallen from its once-high ratings perch by the time it concluded its run on Fox, ABC's move seems like a financial gamble to some. However, Dungey said she was confident that the reboot would draw viewers -- and, more important, appointment viewers.

"The great thing for us, this is a show that viewers like to watch live," she said. "Advertisers like shows that viewers like to watch live. We feel like it’s going to be a great promotional platform for us."

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