‘American Idol’ Introduces Platinum Tickets

American Idol on ABC
(Image credit: ABC)

The new season of American Idol will feature platinum tickets, one given to a truly standout contestant in a city where auditions take place. Three are given out in total–one apiece in Nashville, Austin and Los Angeles. The winners get a trip to Hollywood Week, and a chance to check out the competition, rest their voice, and select who they want to perform a duet with. 

“They get, like, a tiny advantage just because they're the cream of the crop,” said judge Katy Perry during a TCA session. 

The season begins February 27, the fifth run of American Idol on ABC. 

Singers who are good enough to be invited to Hollywood for the next round of competition have always been given a golden ticket. 

The platinum tickets are similar to the golden buzzers on America’s Got Talent. Each judge and the host gets one golden buzzer, given out to a memorable entrant and moving them on to the live shows. 

Judge Lionel Richie described what a platinum ticket winner looks and sounds like. “Some people just walk out and they are stars,” he said. “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, the artist. It just rings that bell. And when that happens, you give them the platinum ticket as fast as you can.”

Bobby Bones will not return as in-house mentor. “There is not anyone to replace Bobby per se, but this year we will be leaning into our amazing American Idol university alum to help our current idols along the way in different stages of the competition,” said Megan Wolflick, executive producer. “Lots of those familiar faces who America has kind of grown to love will be seen throughout this season.”

Host Ryan Seacrest spoke about shooting yet another season amidst the pandemic. “We always want to do the show closest to its normal format and delivery and execution as possible because that's where we all excel,” he said. “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.”

Wolflick said she hopes to have fans in the seats as the singers perform. “It is, of course, our goal to have the fans back in the studio because that's what makes the atmosphere,” she said. “But having had this be our third year in the pandemic, we are ready to pivot on a dime at a moment's notice. We are ready to be innovative, to push the envelope, to do anything we can to make this show move forward into 2022.” 

Moving to ABC after 15 seasons on Fox, this is the 20th season of American Idol. Seacrest spoke about being part of American Idol for all 20. “To look back at all of those moments and see some of those contestants when they first met us on the road and see the time that's gone by and the success that they have had is impactful,” he said. “It's pretty incredible. I got emotional watching some of those great moments.” ■

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.