A Milestone Season for ABC’s American Idol—Plus More in News Briefs

By Courtney Potter

ABC’s American Idol Returns February 27

Who will be America’s next singing sensation? That journey kicks off next month when American Idol returns for its fifth season on ABC and incredible 20th season overall.

Music industry legends and all-star judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie—along with Emmy®-winning producer and host Ryan Seacrest—are back for more tuneful shenanigans… and this season, the judges will hand out special platinum tickets in Austin, Los Angeles, and Nashville. As Perry explained earlier this week at the Winter TCA Press Tour, “This ticket gives [those chosen] the ability to go to Hollywood Week, which we’ve already filmed and was so rigorous; it was survival of the fittest. They get to observe from the box seats at the theater. For one day, they get to rest their voice, strategize, check out the competition and select who they want to duet with… These three ticket holders get a tiny advantage, just because they’re the cream of the crop.”

Previous in-house mentor Bobby Bones is unable to return this season—but that doesn’t mean the contestants won’t be without some expert help. “This year we will be leaning into our amazing American Idol universe alum to help our current Idols along the way, in different stages of the competition,” said showrunner and executive producer Megan Michaels Wolflick during the press tour. Could we see the return of some iconic fan favorites? You’ll have to tune in to find out!

American Idol is produced by Fremantle and Industrial Media’s 19 Entertainment. Mark those calendars for the show’s season premiere on Sunday, February 27, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

D23 Expo 2022 presented by Visa®: All the News That’s Fit to Post!

Yes, it’s true: D23 Expo 2022 presented by Visa is only nine months away, and to celebrate, we just announced a whole slew of details regarding this year’s big event… including info on when you can purchase tickets; what panels and presentations to look forward to (did someone say “Mousequerade hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race star and friend of D23 Nina West”?!); and so much more. If you haven’t already checked out our super informative rundown, click here—and we’ll see ya at the Anaheim Convention Center!

EPCOT - Garden Rocks Concert

Garden Rocks Concert Series Returns to EPCOT

Get ready to party! The ever-popular Garden Rocks Concert Series is returning to the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival this March. The festival will bloom for full 125 days, from March 2 through July 4… And new this year, internationally recognized artists will bring the groove to the America Gardens Theatre stage Friday through Monday, while local Orlando bands step into the spotlight Tuesday through Thursday.

The series features a little something for everyone—from returning favorites such as The Guess Who, Rick Springfield, and Simple Plan to new additions including Latinx hitmakers Melina León and Claudia Leitte and R&B legends Kool & The Gang. Check out the full list of announced artists below:

  • March 4-5 – The Guess Who
  • March 6-7 – Rick Springfield
  • March 11-12 – Melina Leon (New to Garden Rocks)
  • March 18-19 – Mike DelGuidice, currently on tour with Billy Joel (New)
  • March 20-21 – Kool & The Gang (New to Garden Rocks)
  • March 25-28 – The Orchestra, starring former members of ELO
  • April 1-2 – The Spinners
  • April 3-4 – The Pointer Sisters
  • April 8-9 – Blue October (New to Garden Rocks)
  • April 15-16 – Tommy DeCarlo, current lead vocalist for Boston (New)
  • April 17-18 – Don Felder, formerly of Eagles
  • April 22-23 – Starship featuring Mickey Thomas
  • April 24-25 – Claudia Leitte (New)
  • April 29-30 – Berlin
  • May 1-2 – TobyMac
  • May 6-7 – Blood, Sweat & Tears
  • May 8-9 – The Commodores (New to Garden Rocks)
  • May 13-14 – Ambrosia with Peter Beckett (New)
  • May 20-21 – A Flock of Seagulls
  • May 22-23 – Collin Raye (New)
  • May 27-28 – Thelma Houston (New)
  • May 29-30 – Little River Band
  • June 3-6 – Simple Plan
  • June 10-13 – Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
  • June 17-20 – Plain White T’s

Beginning Wednesday, January 19, guests can secure their spot at select shows by booking a Garden Rocks Dining Package, available Friday through Monday. (To experience EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, guests must have both valid park admission and a park reservation for EPCOT on the same date.) Find out more—including new Garden Rocks acts yet to be revealed—by visiting FreshEPCOT.com.

Disney, Lucasfilm, and FIRST Join Forces for Build the Future

Here’s something nifty for the students in your life: For more than 20 years, Disney has been a proud sponsor of FIRST®—the world’s leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education… further providing today’s youth with inspiration, access, and opportunity through its program. And this year, Disney and FIRST will continue to bring more hands-on learning opportunities and mentorship to youth, empowering them to not only think big, but to also develop the skills needed to become the next generation of heroes and innovators.

Earlier this week, Disney, Lucasfilm and FIRST announced Build the Future powered by Star Wars: Force for Change. Build the Future will give FIRST teams around the world an opportunity to amplify their unique stories as thinkers, innovators, and forces for good—and to demonstrate the use of their STEM skills, Gracious Professionalism®, and global citizenship while “off the field.” The most impactful stories will be featured in an upcoming FIRST multi-media campaign together with Disney and Lucasfilm. Hear about the initiative from some Star Wars universe alums—including Hayden Christensen, Disney Legend Ming-Na Wen, and Kelly Marie Tran—in the clip above.

In 2020-21, with funding provided by Disney, FIRST was able to deliver STEM program access to 51,318 students in underserved and underrepresented communities. To learn more, visit firstinspires.org/build-the-future.

Brand-New Trailer for 20th Century Studios’ The Bob’s Burgers Movie

Some hilarious (and hilariously irreverent) fun is bound to be had when that burger-slinging clan the Belchers comes to the big screen.

20th Century Studios just released a new trailer, above, for its upcoming animated feature The Bob’s Burgers Movie—slated to open this May. The story begins when a ruptured water main creates an enormous sinkhole right in front of Bob’s Burgers, blocking the entrance indefinitely and ruining the Belchers’ plans for a successful summer. While Bob (voice of H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (voice of John Roberts) struggle to keep the business afloat, the kids try to solve a mystery that could save their family’s restaurant. As the dangers mount, these underdogs help each other find hope and fight to get back behind the counter, where they belong.

The musical comedy-mystery-adventure—based on the long-running, Emmy Award-winning series—also features the voice talents of Kristen Schaal, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, Zach Galifianakis, Kevin Kline, and David Wain. Directed by Bernard Derriman, co-directed by Loren Bouchard, and written by Bouchard & Nora Smith, the film is produced by Bouchard, Smith, and Janelle Momary. See it only in theaters beginning May 27!

Every Winter 2022 TCA Press Tour Highlight from ABC, Hulu, and Freeform

If you’re looking for an informative rundown on all the fabulous content you can expect from several of the networks and streamers from within the worlds of Disney, D23 has you covered with the latest and greatest out of the recent Winter 2022 TCA Press Tour. News on more amazing black-ish guest stars? Check. Hilary Duff on what to expect from How I Met Your Father? Indeed. Check it out by clicking here.

Another Thrilling Look at Death on the Nile

In anticipation of 20th Century Studios’ Death on the Nile, exclusively in theaters this February, the studio has released a special look at the tale of passion and jealousy directed by and starring five-time Academy Award® nominee Kenneth Branagh.

Based on the 1937 novel by Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile is a daring mystery-thriller about the emotional chaos and deadly consequences triggered by obsessive love. Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when a picture-perfect couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this dramatic tale of love gone wrong features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travelers and enough wicked twists and turns to leave audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement.

Branagh, back as the iconic detective Poirot, is joined by Tom Bateman, four-time Oscar® nominee Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, and Letitia Wright. Death on the Nile sails into U.S. theaters on February 11.

ICYMI: Disney Earns 16 Screen Actors Guild Awards® Nominations

That’s right, y’all—it’s awards season! Earlier this week, the Screen Actors Guild Awards announced its latest crop of nominees… and The Walt Disney Company received an exciting 16 nods across 11 categories. For a rundown on all nominees from across the worlds of Disney, click here.