The Watchman: Better Than a Golden Ticket on ‘Idol;’ ‘Outlander’ Sets Up Stateside

'American Idol' on ABC
'American Idol' on ABC (Image credit: ABC)

A new season of American Idol is on ABC. The season introduces platinum tickets, where one singer in each audition city is awarded the grand prize. They get a trip to Hollywood and to observe auditions from box seats in the theater, which lets them rest their voice and pick out a duet partner. 

“Some people just walk out and they are stars,” judge Lionel Richie said during a TCA Winter Press Tour session. “They have all the boxes ticked. Stage presence, delivery, their sound, what’s their style, they have it all there. So when they open their mouths, you know exactly who they are.”

Executive producer Megan Wolflick said the goal is to have fans in the studio amidst pandemic challenges. “Having had this be our third year in the pandemic, we are ready to pivot on a dime at a moment’s notice,” she added. “We are ready to be innovative, to push the envelope, to do anything we can to make this show move forward into 2022.”

Added host Ryan Seacrest, “Nothing can replace being up close and personal with an artist in a moment when they’ve gone through a tough break or when they’ve gone through a big break.” 

'Outlander' on Starz

'Outlander' on Starz (Image credit: Starz)

Season six of Outlander is on Starz March 6, with Claire and Jamie navigating life in North Carolina as the nation divides between crown loyalists and rebels. “We’re gonna turn the world upside down a little bit,” teased Matthew B. Roberts, executive producer. “Season six is revolution time.”

The show is shot in Scotland, which stands in for North Carolina in the new season. “We consider [Scotland] a character,” executive producer Maril Davis said. “She now plays the part of North Carolina and she does a fabulous job.”

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan play Claire and Jamie. The show is built on their chemistry as they travel through time. Balfe and Heughan hit it off from the beginning, Davis said. “There’s a trust and respect there, and a great friendship,” she said. 

The series is based on the book franchise by Diana Gabaldon. The new season comes from A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Davis called it “the book that keeps on giving,” with some of its stories extending into season seven. 

The books provide “a ton of source material,” Davis added. “You get amazing characters, and at the heart of it, an amazing couple. It’s a great love story for the ages.” 

They will keep the Outlander gang busy for the foreseeable future. “As long as there is story to be told, ostensibly, we could keep going,” Roberts said. “We’re working on season seven and, knock on wood, it keeps going from there.” ■

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.