“American Idol” is finally coming to a close. The 15th and final season will premiere January 2016.
Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban will return as season 15 judges, along with host Ryan Seacrest.
While searching for the final “Idol” superstar, the last season will also serve as a “celebratory event,” paying tribute to fourteen seasons of contestants, winners and fans.
Fox TV Group chairman-CEO Gary Newman said it was “not an easy decision” to call it a wrap for “Idol” after much discussion with producers.
“It’s the right time to bring this run to a close,” Newman said in a conference call Tuesday. “We really wanted to do it in a way that felt special and celebratory … and send it off in a way that is as significant as the run it’s had on our network.”
The show will air in its usual Wednesday-Thursday pattern to start and then consolidate to one performance and results show on Thursday, execs said.
“American Idol,” created by Simon Fuller, debuted in 2002 with original judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Throughout its 14 seasons, other A-list judges have included Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Steven Tyler, Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres. It ranked as the No. 1 series on broadcast TV for eight of its 15 seasons.
The reality competition made a star of Seacrest, who has served as emcee since season one, when he shared hosting duties with Brian Dunkleman, who exited after the first round.
“‘American Idol’ has been a big part of my life for so long, it’s frankly hard to imagine it without it,” Seacrest said in a statement. “It’s been a remarkable journey, and I feel very fortunate to have been part of a show that made television history in countless ways. It’s a show about chasing and fulfilling dreams, and truth be told, it helped some of my own dreams come true too.”
Newman and fellow Fox TV Group chair Dana Walden said they’re open to the possibility for former judges, including Cowell, and performers returning for the final season. Walden said the goal was to deliver some “nostalgia” for fans.
Seacrest weighed in on the final season, commenting, “All the ‘American Idol’ producers, judges, crew and everyone at Fox have been heroic in their efforts to create, produce and sustain such a groundbreaking show for so many years. I’m so glad they’re going to give us a season-long send off. The last season will undoubtedly be a special and emotional one, but first I’m looking forward to closing out Season 14. The finale is always my favorite part — two live shows with lots of surprises, and, of course, one winner!”
Based on Fuller’s hit British series “Pop Idol,” on which Cowell was a judge, the duo brought “Idol” to America, and the show is credited with launching the genre craze Stateside, leading to other singing competitions including “The Voice,” “The Sing Off,” the short-lived “Rising Star,” plus “The X Factor” and “America’s Got Talent,” both created by Cowell and inspired by the British versions.
“Idol” also led to the younger 2003 spinoff “American Juniors,” which aired for one season, and feature film “From Justin to Kelly,” featuring inaugural winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini, who both became pop culture sensations at the show’s offset.
Other winners and famous alums to come out of the series are Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Phillip Phillips and Adam Lambert.
No word on the midseason winter schedule yet at Fox, but Fox’s breakout hit “Empire,” which was paired with “Idol” this past season, is being led-in by new medical drama “Rosewood” this fall.
“American Idol” is produced by 19 Entertainment and distributed by FremantleMedia North America.