‘American Idol’ Once Again Making Thursday Detour

The Nielsen juggernaut will expand to three nights in late February and March. Plus: A return to the top 24 format

Last Updated: December 22, 2009 @ 12:15 PM

The official "American Idol" auditions schedule is out– and, no surprise, Fox is once again expanding the show to three nights for a few weeks.

"Idol" will air on Thursdays (in addition to its usual Tuesday and Wednesday slots) on Feb. 25, March 4 and 11. During those weeks, the top female contestants will perform on Tuesdays, the guys will sing on Wednesdays and the results will be announced on Thursdays.

Fox aired several Thursday episodes of "Idol" in past seasons, so the scheduling is not unexpected.

"Idol" producers have also decided to scrap last season’s early round elimination format, in which contestants were voted into the final round. Instead, they’ll return to a top 24 format in which wannabe Idols are eliminated untl we have the top tier of contestants. 

Here’s the Fox release outlining which audition cities will air when, when the Hollywood rounds (featuring new judge Ellen DeGeneres) begin and other fun facts sure to please the most hard-core of "Idol" junkies:

Tuesday, Jan. 12 (8:00-10:00 PM) Season Premiere, Part 1 Boston Auditions Episode

Wednesday, Jan. 13 (8:00-9:15 PM) Season Premiere, Part 2 Atlanta Auditions Episode

Tuesday, Jan. 19
(8:00-9:00 PM) Chicago Auditions Episode

Wednesday, Jan. 20 (8:00-9:00 PM) Orlando Auditions Episode

Tuesday, Jan. 26 (8:00-9:00 PM) Dallas Auditions Episode

Wednesday, Jan. 27 (9:00-10:00 PM) Los Angeles Auditions Episode

Tuesday, Feb. 2 (8:00-9:00 PM) Denver Auditions Episode

Wednesday, Feb. 3 (9:00-10:00 PM) “The Road to Hollywood” Auditions Episode

Tuesday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 1 (DeGeneres debuts)

Wednesday, Feb. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 2

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 3

Wednesday, Feb. 17 (9:00-10:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 4 Top 24 Semifinalists Announced

Tuesday, Feb. 23 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 12 Female Semifinalists Perform

Wednesday, Feb. 24 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 12 Male Semifinalists Perform

Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM) First Results Show (ET live/PT tape-delayed) Two Male and Two Female Contestants Eliminated

Tuesday, March 2 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 10 Female Semifinalists Perform

Wednesday, March 3 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 10 Male Semifinalists Perform

Thursday, March 4 (8:00-9:00 PM) Results Show (ET live/PT tape-delayed) Two Male and Two Female Contestants Eliminated

Tuesday, March 9 (8:00-9:00 PM) Top 8 Female Semifinalists Perform

Wednesday, March 10 (9:00-10:00 PM) Top 8 Male Semifinalists Perform

Thursday, March 11 (8:00-9:00 PM) Results Show (ET live/PT tape-delayed) Two Male and Two Female Contestants Eliminated; Finalists Revealed

Tuesday, March 16 (8:00-10:00 PM) Finalists Perform (ET live/PT tape-delayed)

Wednesday, March 17 (9:00-10:00 PM) Results Show (ET live/PT tape-delayed) One Contestant Eliminated