ABC Buys Time as 'American Idol' Live Show Conundrum Looms

American Idol - Publicity Still - H 2020

American Idol, set to go into live episodes this Sunday, is getting another week of previously-taped footage before ABC has to make the call on how to handle the rest of the season with traditional TV production completely shut down by the novel coronavirus. 

On Sunday, Mar. 29, and Sunday, April 5, ABC will air two episodes filled with previously taped performances and footage set at the (now-shuttered) Aulani resort in Hawaii. Four hours' worth of new American Idol content buy the show some time as producers and ABC brass decided how they can possibly proceed with the season's traditional live episodes of performances and eliminations — now that all remaining contestants have returned to their homes and producing anything resembling a shiny floor show is impossible for the foreseeable future. 

A note from the network, which announced the scheduling tweak on Friday morning, emphasized that the network is "monitoring the situation and exploring multiple options within statewide guidelines" and will share a production plan as soon as one is in place. 

On the alternative TV front, several specials have embraced social distancing by having musicians and other talent pre-taping performances from their home or video-chatting in for live interviews. Doing something like that for a production as massive as American Idol would be no easy feat. 

American Idol is not the only series facing such a conundrum. NBC's America's Got Talent, which had been taping in front of a live audience prior to the limitations on crowds to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and Fox's So You Think You Can Dance and MasterChef all face obstacles for getting back on track for planned summer 2020 premieres.