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OCT
24
2 YEARS

Fox Sets Premiere Dates for 'American Idol,' 'Touch' and' 'The Following'

Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj kick off their "Idol" season Jan. 16, while Kevin Bacon's "The Following" slips into the "Mob Doctor" slot Jan. 21.

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American Idol

Fox is looking ahead to spring.

The network has set premiere dates for the 12th season of American Idol, which will kick off with a two-night event on Jan. 16 and 17. The following Monday, Jan. 21, will see the debut of the Kevin Bacon-James Purefoy psychological thriller The Following. And on Friday, Feb. 1, Fox will roll out its ratings-challenged Kiefer Sutherland effort, Touch, for its second season.

A premiere date for The Goodwin Games from How I Met Your Mother's Carter Bays and Craig Thomas has not been set yet.

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Fox brass has high expectations for The Following, which hails from The Vampire Diaries' Kevin Williamson. The hourlong drama centers on an ex-FBI agent (Bacon) called out of retirement to track down Joe Carroll (Purefoy), a devious and diabolical serial killer and the mastermind behind an ever-growing web of killers. Fox Broadcasting chairman Kevin Reilly has been vocal about wanting the series to run uninterrupted on a cable-like shorter timetable. Multiple sources suggest he and his team had little interest in swapping it in sooner to replace ailing freshman drama The Mob Doctor for fear it would hurt the hotly anticipated series' chance at success.

Idol will kick off Wednesday, Jan. 16, with a two-hour premiere, followed by one-hour show the next night. Network execs are hopeful that the buzz surrounding new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban will translate to big ratings. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, reality chief Mike Darnell insisted the panel was "exceptional" and that reports of a feud between Carey and Minaj don't concern him.

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"Part of the complaints we've had over the last several years, even though we've had some really good judges, is that they all agree," he said. "So we sought to get a group that would have diverse opinions. The banter is amazing. It's fun, funny, energetic; there's almost never a lull -- there's cross-talk. There's everything you want. To get that, we have a very opinionated, passionate group, so there has been some drama."

For its part, Touch will slip into the 9 p.m. Friday slot later than initially expected, with the series' action shifting dramatically from New York to Los Angeles. Joining the cast this season are Maria Bello (ER), Lukas Haas (24), Said Taghmaoui (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and newcomer Saxon Sharbino.

Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose