'Idol' juggernaut begins Jan. 17

By wire services
Published December 27, 2005

So American Idol will air on Thursday, TV's most competitive night, after all - for a little while.

Fox has unveiled its full schedule for the fifth season of the show, which will adhere to the format it adopted last season: After the auditions and the Hollywood training camp, the 24 semifinalists will split along gender lines, with the male and female singers performing separately each week until six of each remain.

During that round, the show will make its way onto Thursday. Starting Feb. 21, the semifinalists will sing in performance episodes on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the results of fan voting revealed in hourlong shows on Thursday.

Before Fox released its midseason schedule, there was widespread speculation that the results show would regularly move to Thursday. That didn't happen; the network decided to keep the familiar Tuesday-Wednesday schedule for the bulk of the season, including the finals.

The Thursday results show will run at 8 p.m. for three weeks, with the 12 finalists being revealed on March 9.

American Idol premieres Jan. 17. The audition and Hollywood rounds will air Tuesday and Wednesday through Feb. 15, when the semifinalists are announced. After the three weekly semifinal rounds, the final 12 will perform on the same stage for the first time on March 14.