The Fox PR department certainly knows how to reach critics where they live–and eat. Last week, these handy and durable American Idol TV trays were shipped to critics across North America, a subtle reminder that the Fox talent search juggernaut launches a ninth season Tuesday, Jan. 12 and Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox and CTV. Guest judges, such as Joe Jonas, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Victoria Beckham and Shania Twain, will join in on the early audition rounds, with Ellen DeGeneres replacing Paula Abdul on the main judging panel. How will Idol do without Paula and against the Olympics and hard-charging NCIS this season? How will CTV cram both the Olympics and Idol onto their schedule? Other networks should have such headaches.
American Idol has been TV’s No. 1 show for five consecutive seasons, trying the all-time record set by All in the Family (1971-76) and The Cosby Show (1984-89). Even with its ratings slipping the past two seasons, most experts (the ones who received free TV trays, at least) are calling for it to make it six in a row this season.

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