American Idol plotted out its season-eight schedule today, with this year's competition kicking off January 13th with a two-part season premiere before three weeks of audition episodes. As opposed to the past two seasons, this year there will be no "Idol Gives Back" episode, but instead producers have opted to bring back the fan favorite Wild Card Round, with the Top 12 finalists decided by March 10th. This year, 36 semifinalist will duke it out on air with hopes of advancing to the final 12. For three weeks, three contestants from each batch of 12 will advance on. After the first nine are selected, the Wild Card week will feature the judges rounding out the 12 with their three favorites of the remaining 27 contestants. Another change reportedly includes an emphasis on more talent and less bad singers during the show's audition episodes.
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