Curtain to fall on American Idol
The curtain is coming down on American Idol, ending a series that dominated television throughout the 2000s and made stars of the likes of Simon Cowell, and Kelly Clarkson.
Fox network has announced that American Idol will go off the air after its 15th and final season next spring. The cast from the past few seasons, with Ryan Seacrest as host and Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr as judges, will return for a season-long celebration of the show's history.
"It was not an easy decision. American Idol has been such a vital part of Fox for its run," said Gary Newman, Fox Television Group co-chairman and CEO. He promised a season-long celebration that matches the show's significance, with the suggestion that its big-name contestants and past judges may be involved.
Dana Walden, co-chairman and CEO of the Fox Television Group, described it as a "pretty emotional decision" to end American Idol.
Fox and the show's producers were discussing how the series would continue, but ultimately "we all arrived at the conclusion that it was time to bring the show to an end," said Mr Newman. "But we wanted to do it in a way that was special and celebratory."
Idol was a quick hit, with fans following contestants who sought the prized "yellow ticket" to Hollywood and a chance at stardom. In the early years, it also showed many of the cringe-worthy auditions of contestants with no hope of winning, but has generally resisted those recently.
Simon Cowell became a star as judge, along with his fellow originals, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.
Clarkson became a major pop star after winning Idol.
"American Idol has been a big part of my life for so long, it's frankly hard to imagine it without it," said Seacrest, who was co-host of the show with Brian Dunkleman on the first season, and solo host for all the others.
"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."
The series averaged 12.69 million viewers during its initial run in 2002, but exploded to reach a peak average of more than 30 million viewers each episode in 2006, according to the Nielsen company. It continued averaging more than 20 million viewers an episode through the 2011 season, when its deteriorating popularity accelerated.