Talent Recap

‘American Idol’ Host, Judges Reunite to Kick Off Filming of Season 22

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Ryan Seacrest, and Luke Bryan on 'American Idol'ABC/Eric McCandless

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ABC has already begun brewing American Idol season 22. In late September, the show’s cast and crew have reassembled in Luke Bryan’s hometown, Leesburg, Georgia, to kick off the filming of auditions.

American Idol Cast, Crew Reunite for Filming of Season 22

Host Ryan Seacrest and celebrity judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie are together once more. With season 22 in the works, it will be the group’s sixth season as faces of the show.

ABC didn’t have a wide public announcement that the filming was already beginning. Nonetheless, the producers silently contacted the officials in Leesburg to welcome the judges as they come. Leesburg welcomed them by gathering fans and making them line up on the Main Street. The small town, with approximately 3,500 residents, held a pep rally at Bryan’s alma mater, Lee County High School last month.

“This season is all about celebrating hometowns,” producer Melissa Elfar told WALB. “We’re starting with our judges and then it goes down to our contestants. So we are really here to learn about all of our contestants, their hometowns, where they come from, and really give people from all across the country a chance at stardom, a chance to make their dreams come true.”

The high school staff and students built the set in the auditorium together. There, the judges settled in for the first day of auditions. It wasn’t clarified if the show invited the contestants from around the country who pass the virtual auditions to come to Leesburg or only Leesburg locals were allowed to join as a special filming opportunity.

In early October, the American Idol cast and crew then popped in Tuskegee, Alabama where Richie attended Tuskegee University. According to local news station WSFA-TV, hundreds of fans lined the street to welcome the celebrities of the series. Additionally, the town’s mayor gave Richie a key to the city, proclaiming it “Lionel Richie Day.” Alongside Bryan and Perry, a ribbon-cutting ceremony happened, as well as tree planting in the new park.

Seacrest, Celebrity Judges Had an Event-Filled Summer

According to Idol Spoilers, the celebrity judges will be going to five different hometowns for auditions. Essentially, this marks the first time since season 18 that auditions were filmed in several locations.

Before Seacrest, Perry, Richie, and Bryan jumped into their American Idol responsibilities, they first enjoyed their respective summer commitments. Perry had a lot of vacation days and travelled alongside fiancé Orlando Bloom and their daughter Daisy Dove. She, however, didn’t completely leave her professional responsibilities behind. She performed in multiple concerts in Las Vegas for her residency and signed a deal to sell the rights to her music catalog for $225 million.

Meanwhile, Richie began his first concert tour for the first time in years. Performing at huge venues, Richie teamed up with classic R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire for a US tour.

As for Bryan, he also did a US concert tour. In recent weeks, he’s been performing for his annual Farm Tour. In August, however, he’s cancelled five shows due to an ongoing illness. He also had to postpone his Farm Tour show in Minnesota due to unfavorable weather conditions.

Lastly, for Seacrest, the host had enjoyed a bonding time with his girlfriend Aubrey Paige. The model posted in late August that they enjoyed a “summer of street markets, road trips, local artists and movie nights.” Seacrest has also made headlines when his Wheel of Fortune hosting duties were confirmed. The American Idol host will replace Pat Sajak beginning in 2024.

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