Kelly Clarkson, other ‘American Idol’ winners to appear throughout final season

Former "American Idol" winners, from left, Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks are among the franchise's most recognizable talent.

Former “American Idol” winners, from left, Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks are among the franchise’s most recognizable talent.

(Kevin Winter / Getty Images for iHeartMedia; Mike Windle / Getty Images for the Hollywood Christmas Parade; Jason Szenes / EPA; Jeff Haynes / Associated Press Images for Panini)

Kelly Clarkson along with other “American Idol” alumni will be a part of the long-running singing competition’s final season.

Clarkson, the show’s inaugural winner who went on to pop stardom, will be a guest judge on the first live episode of “Idol” during its “farewell” season. The singer is hoping to appear during the show’s finale, though it’s uncertain given that the singer is expected to give birth around the same time.

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The announcement was made Friday by “Idol” executive producer Trish Kinane during Fox’s presentation at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.

“The point about this season is we have to find an amazing 15th ‘Idol,’ but we have to acknowledge the show’s great history,” Kinane said, revealing that other winners from the series will participate in duets with contestants during the middle rounds as well as joining the panel.

To tease the return of “Idol” alumni, the panel was joined by a roster of previous winners and finalists including Ruben Studdard, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and last season’s winner, Nick Fradiani.

The biggest question — whether Simon Cowell and the rest of the original panel, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, will participate in the show’s send-off — is less certain.

While host Ryan Seacrest was confident that viewers will “see the original faces on the show,” Kinane noted Cowell’s potentially difficult schedule given his upcoming return to “America’s Got Talent.”

“I appreciate Simon’s part in the history of the show,” she said. “[But] there are huge scheduling issues. The most we can expect is for Simon to be at the finale.”


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