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American Idol XV will crown its final winner this season. Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Ryan Seacrest stopped by the TV Critics tour to talk about their last outing as judges and host.

This is the show that produced such mega-stars as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert.

Now that you are into this, how real is the final season to you? Do you think it’s going to take getting to March and then to April for it to really kick in?

American Idol XV (2016 tv) - Jennifer Lopez
American Idol XV (2016 tv) – Jennifer Lopez ©2016 Fox, photo by Michael Becker

Jennifer: It’s been all season, I think. Since we’ve been on the road, I think it’s hit all of us at different times that this amazing thing is about to come to an end.

Harry: I think we all live in the moment, and out of all of the cities that we’ve been to for auditions and Hollywood Week, and all of the things we’ve done surrounding Idol, as Jennifer said, it hits us at different moments that this is the farewell season.

We are all sad about that, but I don’t think any of us are focusing on that. We are focused on the job at hand, which is to find the next great superstar, which American Idol has always been pretty good at.

Keith: And I’m just in complete denial.

Ryan: I’m crying myself to sleep every night.

American Idol XV (2016 tv) - Host, Ryan Seacrest
American Idol XV (2016 tv) – Host, Ryan Seacrest ©2016 Fox, photo by Michael Becker

Ryan, you’ve been there from the beginning. How will you feel on the final night?

Ryan: I actually don’t know what to expect on that last night, in that last hour, in the last few moments of the series and the season.

I know it will be emotional. I know it will be powerful, but what will we say? How will we handle it? I think it will just happen when we are there live.

American Idol XV (2016 tv) - Harry Connick Jr
American Idol XV (2016 tv) – Harry Connick Jr ©2016 Fox, photo by Michael Becker

What is the hardest part about being a judge?

Harry: I was a mentor on a couple of seasons for one show each. I was brought up around mentors, and there’s a great dialogue and interaction between a mentor and a student and I loved that relationship.

Being a judge is a completely different situation from that, the impartial nature of the job, not being able to socialize.

American Idol asked me to be a judge, and I have a specific idea of what judging is, and it’s a different gig than mentoring.

American Idol XV (2016 tv) - Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr
American Idol XV (2016 tv) – Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr during the show airing January 27th 2016 ©2016 Fox

Jennifer: The hardest part for me has always been watching the disappointment on someone’s face who really believed they did good, because we do turn away good singers sometimes because of different reasons.

They didn’t have the strongest audition, even though we know they can sing, or they just are lacking some sort of ‘it’ factor. And it’s hard to try to explain that in that moment when all they want is another chance, or this is their only chance. That’s always been difficult for me.

American Idol XV (2016 tv) - Keith Urban
American Idol XV (2016 tv) – Keith Urban ©2016 Fox, photo by Michael Becker

Keith: I guess, for me, probably brevity in giving feedback to certain people. That can be frustrating sometimes.

There’s just a few little things that they could work on that would make huge leaps forward, and sometimes we don’t have the time to give that kind of real constructive feedback, which is what I genuinely want to do.

Do you think the network is making a mistake calling this the final season?

Harry: They are calling it the “farewell season.”

Keith: I think the Eagles have had at least three farewell tours.

American Idol XV (2016 tv) - Contestants
American Idol XV (2016 tv) – Contestants getting ready to perform in the “Hollywood Round #1” during the show airing January 27th ©2016 Fox, photo by Michael Becker

That’s an interesting point. Do you see a possible reboot maybe in the future? Would you come back if they asked you?

Harry: I’m so focused on this year, I can’t even think about that. I really can’t. We are so excited about the talent this year.

For me, I can’t even think about the live rounds. I couldn’t tell you what’s going to happen two years from now.

Keith: I’d do it.

Jennifer: I haven’t thought about it much either, but if, hypothetically, that happened, I mean, American Idol has a special place in my heart. (I’ll) always be there when they call.

Ryan: I’ve obsessed about it. This show is like a family member to me.

American Idol XV Soundbites

I asked the panel if it was harder this year to turn people down knowing there aren’t any second chances and they can’t come back next year.
Not satisfied, after the panel I asked Keith Urban the same question. Click below for Harry’s and Keith’s answers.