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‘American Idol’ Reboot Legally Moves Closer To Reality

Deadline logo Deadline 2/17/2017 Dominic Patten
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No word if Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj will be back as judges, but the resurrection of American Idol less than a year after the once ratings blockbuster ended its 15-season run on Fox looks like more of a done deal – at least legally.

As talks with NBC over a possible Idol revival still going on, producers FreemantleMedia and the Core Media-owned19 Entertainment submitted a plan late last month to the federal judge overseeing the April 2016 filed bankruptcy of the latter’s reset and now approved reorganization. With an order on Wednesday (read it here), NYC-based Judge Stuart Bernstein signed off on a months in the making agreement settling the bickering, to put it mildly, between the parties. – which is a win for the FreemantleMedia and 19 producers, who will now be known as NEG Operations Inc.

“The 2017 Amendment, among other things, (a) 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,” says the detailed January 20 paperwork seemingly smoothing over all the waters and rights, broadcast, digital and otherwise of the singing series that ended in April 2016 on Fox (read it here).

“The Fremantle Agreement, as amended by the 2017 Amendment, underlies the use and exploitation of the Debtors’ most valuable intellectual property,” the now approved proposal adds “Assuming the Fremantle Agreement, as amended by the 2017 Amendment, allows the Debtors to continue their longstanding, positive relationship with their partner, Fremantle, and to use and exploit the co-owned intellectual property for the benefit of their business consensually and without any disruption.”

Picking up on EP and 19 founder Simon Fuller’s “See you in 2018!” that he blurted out last September while accepting the TV Academy’s Governors Award bestowed on American Idol during the Creative Arts Emmys, looks like the competition show’s back baby!

But don’t be popping the pyrotechnics yet  – there is still another legal battle being fought with Core Media having hit 21st Century Fox and private-equity firm Apollo Global Management late last year with a jury seeking lawsuit over the buyout of the former.

“When Core became distressed,” the December 12, 2016 filed complaint in L.A. Superior Court said, “Apollo — as it has been known to do in other cases — engineered a series of complex transactions to exit Core and avoid liability for the substantial debt that it had caused Core to incur.” The 46-page filing adds, “Working together with the other Defendants in this case, Apollo set up an elaborate ‘joint venture’ arrangement designed to strip Core of its remaining cash, transfer Core’s corporate opportunities to its competitors and ultimately leave Core to default on its obligation to lenders.”

So maybe don’t call Ryan Seacrest or even Brian Dunkleman right away.

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