TCA: American Idol XIII announces new “Hollywood or Home” round

While the ads have been stressing a return to form for American Idol, FOX’s talent-show behemoth will have some changes in store when Season 13 — heretofore known as American Idol XIII — debuts this week.

Auditions from Boston and Austin kick things off, with Beantown going first on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 8pm, followed by Austin and San Francisco the next night. Then it’s off to Detroit (Jan. 22), Atlanta (Jan. 23), Salt Lake City (Jan. 29), and Omaha (Jan. 30).

After that is when things get crazy. The new “Hollywood or Home” round offers a surprise obstacle for contestants who think they are headed to the “Hollywood” round. Instead, before they even unpack their bags and get the stars out of their eyes, they will be asked to compete in an intense new display for the judges — Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and new adjudicator Harry Connick Jr. — to see if they really have what it takes to be the next new singing superstar. The first “Hollywood or Home” episode will premiere Wednesday, Feb. 5.

RELATED: Harry Connick Jr. talks American Idol Season 13

By Feb. 6, the “Hollywood” rounds are in full swing as the hopefuls take the stage at the Thomas Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for group and solo performances. On Thursday, Feb. 13, the Hollywood action ends with a new twist as the top semi-finalists are revealed.

Also new this time out is “Rush Week,” a special three-night Idol live event airing Tuesday, Feb. 18-Thursday, Feb. 20, where the 30 remaining contestants — 15 male, 15 female — will learn their fates. This is probably the part of the season when we’ll learn whether this truly is the comeback for Idol that has been promised.

American Idol XIII reaches its epic conclusion the following week when the top 13 finalists perform live on Wednesday, Feb. 26, and the winner is revealed Thursday, Feb. 27.

American Idol XIII Keith Urban Jennifer Lopez Harry Connick Jr.
© 2013 / FOX Credit: Michael Becker