American Idol returns for season 13 this week with two returning judges (Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez) and a newbie (Harry Connick, Jr. — though he’s not really a newbie since he’s been a mentor before). If you’re looking forward to what is expected to be a drama-free year, you can start planning your Wednesday and Thursday nights right now because FOX has announced the schedule for the season leading up to the week that the Top 13 perform.

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Wednesday, January 15: Premiere, Boston/Austin Auditions (8-10pm)

Thursday, January 16: Austin/San Francisco Auditions (8-10pm)

Wednesday, January 22: Detroit Auditions (8-10pm)

Thursday, January 23: Atlanta Auditions (8-9pm)

Wednesday, January 29: Salt Lake City Auditions (8-10pm)

Thursday, January 30: Omaha Auditions (8-9pm)

Hollywood Week

Wednesday, February 5: Hollywood or Home Round (8-10pm)

Thursday, February 6: Hollywood Week, Part 1 (8-9pm)

Wednesday, February 12: Hollywood Week, Part 2 (8-10pm)

Thursday, February 13: Hollywood Week, Part 3 — Top Semifinalists Announced (8-9pm)

American Idol is adding a new element following the auditions called Hollywood or Home. According to a press release, the remaining singers “think they are headed to the Hollywood round. But even before they unpack their bags, the contestants will learn they must compete in a surprise” round, which airs February 5. Some of the contestants will be performing in this round, and the judges will have to make a decision on who to send home before Hollywood Week begins.

FOX doesn’t mention that all of the singers are performing, so it sounds like those who do may have advanced past the auditions even though they’re not the best singers around, and this added element might a way to get rid of the average or mediocre performers who slipped through.

In recent seasons, there has been a Las Vegas round before the semifinals, but this time, Hollywood Week will end with the unveiling of the Top 30 semifinalists.

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Rush Week (Semifinals — Live, Voting Begins)

Tuesday, February 18: Top 15 Female Singers Perform (8-10pm)

Wednesday, February 19: Top 15 Male Singers Perform (8-10pm)

Thursday, February 20: Results Show (8-9pm)

During the semifinals, the male and female singers will be split up and perform on separate nights, which is standard for Idol to do. By the end of the week, the Top 13 will be announced, with 17 contestants being eliminated Thursday night. It’s unclear at this point if there will be any judges’ wildcard picks, but with the number of finalists being an odd number, it’s likely that will happen.

Top 13

Wednesday, February 26: Top 13 Perform (8-10pm)

Thursday, February 27: Results Show (8-9pm)

Results shows will be scaled back to 30 minutes (as Idol used to do years ago) instead of the usual one hour. This will start on Thursday, March 27 when new comedy Surviving Jack premieres at 8:30pm. (There hasn’t been any word on the 30-minute shows beginning any earlier than that date, though that could change.)

The two-part finale will be moved up a day and air on Tuesday, May 20 (8-9pm) and Wednesday, May 21 (8-10pm).

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.