‘American Idol’ bits: Kelly Clarkson will guest judge top 10, Brian Dunkleman will return!

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 15: (L-R) Host Ryan Seacrest, Judge Keith Urban and Judge Jennifer Lopez speaks onstage during the "American Idol" panel discussion at the FOX portion of the 2015 Winter TCA Tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel on January 15, 2016 in Pasadena, California (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 15: (L-R) Host Ryan Seacrest, Judge Keith Urban and Judge Jennifer Lopez speaks onstage during the “American Idol” panel discussion at the FOX portion of the 2015 Winter TCA Tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel on January 15, 2016 in Pasadena, California (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Saturday, January 16, 2016

On Friday, Fox brought not just the “American Idol” judges and Ryan Seacrest to the Television Critics Association tour (which I have not attended since 2007), but a raft of former winners.

On the stage included six of the winners and a stray runner up: Jordin Sparks (season 6), David Cook (season 7), Ruben Studdard (season 2), Nick Fradiani (season 14), Kris Allen (season 8), Scotty McCreery (season 10) and Georgia’s own Lauren Alaina (season 10, runner up) . We know Phillip Phillips (season 11) is in litigation with 19 Entertainment so maybe bringing him might have been awkward. I’m sure Kelly Clarkson (season 1), Fantasia (season 3), Taylor Hicks (season 5) and Carrie Underwood (season 4) would have shown up but likely had scheduling conflicts.  As for Lee DeWyze (season 9), Candace Glover (season 12) and Caleb Johnson (season 13), would anyone even remember them if they showed up?

Can you imagine the awkwardness if Clay Aiken showed up given the negative comments he had just Tweeted about the current judges? (When asked about it, the executive producer Trish Kinane simply said she is happy with the current judges.)

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 15: (L-R Front Row) Mentor Scott Borchetta, Host Ryan Seacrest, Judge Keith Urban, Judge Jennifer Lopez, Judge Harry Connick, Jr., Executive Producer Trish Kinane, (L-R Back Row), S14 Winner Nick Fradiani, S10 Runner-Up Lauren Alaina, S10 Scotty McCreery, S8 Winner Kris Allen, S7 Winner David Cook, S6 Winner Jordin Sparks, S2 Winner Ruben Studdard speak onstage during the "American Idol" panel discussion at the FOX portion of the 2015 Winter TCA Tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel on January 15, 2016 in Pasadena, California (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 15: (L-R Front Row) Mentor Scott Borchetta, Host Ryan Seacrest, Judge Keith Urban, Judge Jennifer Lopez, Judge Harry Connick, Jr., Executive Producer Trish Kinane, (L-R Back Row), S14 Winner Nick Fradiani, S10 Runner-Up Lauren Alaina, S10 Scotty McCreery, S8 Winner Kris Allen, S7 Winner David Cook, S6 Winner Jordin Sparks, S2 Winner Ruben Studdard speak onstage during the “American Idol” panel discussion at the FOX portion of the 2015 Winter TCA Tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel on January 15, 2016 in Pasadena, California (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Kinane told critics “we’re bringing quite a few of the former Idols to help the contestants this season,” noting  duets and performances during the top 24 rounds before the live show. (Let the speculation begin on who will show up!) Original winner Kelly Clarkson will guest judge on the first Top 10 episodes and have some “sort of presence” in the finale depending on where she is in her pregnancy.

Kinane also said more people showed up for auditions this season than last season, probably because it was their last shot. But I’m sure the numbers still fell far short of the show’s heyday, when upwards to 100,000 people tried out.

And as noted before, the original judges will show up in some capacity. I suspect they’ll do some sort of pre-taped skit, maybe with the current judges. And Simon Cowell – busy judging “America’s Got Talent” – will probably only show up live for the series finale April 7. (I am scheduled to talk to him on Tuesday about AGT.) As for Brian Dunkleman? I’m sure he could be there at every live show to usher. Or do craft services. Or warm up the crowd.

Of course, most everyone pondered “Idol” returning in some way shape or form in the future. It will.

The question is how long will Fox wait?

 

 


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