7:02am PT by Eriq Gardner
'American Idol' Relaunch Clears One Hurdle
American Idol isn't definitely coming back to television, but the producers of the singing competition show have taken one big step for the warblers out there.
On Thursday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge Stuart Bernstein blessed an amended agreement between 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia Limited. According to court papers, the agreement "memorializes the parties’ intention to re-launch American Idol on American television by seeking a new license agreement with a broadcaster, network or other platform subject to various terms and conditions."
First, however, FremantleMedia had to come to a deal with the show's other producer, 19 Entertainment, which filed Chapter 11 last April shortly after the fifteenth season of the show. Five months after the bankruptcy filing, deals with lenders reduced about $385 million in debt, and 19's reorganization plan was approved.
FreemantleMedia and 19's owners then spent months trying to work out an agreement that dealt with such lingering issues as digital rights and co-owned collateral. Once the parties signed, the deal was taken back to the bankruptcy judge so that it would be assumed post-bankruptcy. Although there's been reported discussions with NBC, the deal appears structured to at least contemplate the possibility of a re-launch on a digital platform rather than television.
The deal has one other big component. It's now an entity called NEG Operations, Inc., that is deemed a successor-in-interest to 19's rights to American Idol. If the show does get re-launched, expect to see that name on credits instead of 19 or Core Media.
Although the parties have come together on reviving American Idol, there's still massive litigation pending directed at Fox, Endemol and a big private equity firm over the way assets were allegedly stripped from Core Media Group, parent company of 19.