CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- FOX will continue the "American Idol" brand through the summer as the network has commissioned 10 episodes of a spin-off series, tentatively titled "Junior Idol." In addition, FOX has officially greenlighted a third season of the parent series which will debut in January 2004.
19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia are producing "Junior Idol" which will feature kids under 16 in a format similar, but not identical, to "American Idol." None of the judges from the original is expected to be involved, nor will Ryan Seacrest host the series. Specific details beyond that however were not released.
The moves are designed to make sure the "Idol" brand isn't dilluted. That's also the reason the third season of "American Idol" will be held until a midseason start date.
"Junior Idol" will debut Tuesday, June 3 at 8:00/7:00c as a lead-in to the network's summer dramedy "Keen Eddie." Unlike its parent series however, the show will only air once a week. In total FOX plans to have at least 50% new programming this summer. Along with "Junior" and "Eddie," FOX has a third season of "Temptation Island," new reality series "Second Chance," "The Simple Life" and "Stupid Behavior Caught on Tape" as well as fresh installments of "Futurama" and "Cedric the Entertainer Presents" planned for the period.