American Idol to Premiere in January
11/18/2004 AT 03:00 PM EST
The big news will not only delight Idol's millions of fans – the show drew more than 25 million viewers last season – but also network executives who have struggled to find a show that can match that sort of audience interest.
This time out, auditions were held in a variety of far-flung locales, from Las Vegas to New Orleans to Cleveland. And the show is incorporating some rule changes, most significantly the ages of eligible contestants, which now ranges from 16-28 years old.
Meanwhile fans of Aiken, who finished in second place to Ruben Studdard during the show's second season, are in for a holiday treat. Aiken begins a 21-city tour dubbed "Joyful Noise" on Sunday in Pasadena, Calif. He will be backed by a 20-piece orchestra, which will be led by a conductor.
Aiken will also star in A Clay Aiken Christmas on NBC Dec. 8, which will feature Barry Manilow and Will & Grace star Megan Mullally.
Fans eager for other Idol favorites can check out FOX's American Idol Christmas Special on Nov. 24.