After several years spent as Fox’s most successful series, American Idol experienced a steep decline in viewership in recent years that, finally, has led to its cancellation.
Set to air its 14th season finale on Wednesday, American Idol will return in 2016 with one final season. Naturally, Fox intends to send the show out with a bang.
During a conference call Monday morning, Fox chairmen and CEOs Gary Newman and Dana Walden told reporters that they wanted to end Idol in a way that felt “celebratory and treated the show as it deserved to be treated. It is going to be a true, season-long celebration.”
“We would welcome any of them back,” Walden told reporters. “We’re having conversations about anything you can imagine about what would be celebratory, what would feel nostalgic, and anything you might do to send the show off in a way that feels memorable.”
Added Walden, when pressed by PEOPLE for more details on the 15th season: “Having spent time very recently with former Idol judges, there’s a lot of enthusiasm about coming back and paying tribute to a show that launched many, many successful careers,” she said, adding that there’s also a “lot of enthusiasm” surrounding the inevitable visits from past Idol contestants.
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Finally, PEOPLE asked the most important question of all: Will one-time host Brian Dunkleman return?
Laughing, Walden said, “Where is Brian Dunkleman? If you get me his number, I’ll call him!”
Dunkleman reacted pretty hilariously to the news of Idol‘s cancellation on Twitter, writing that he knew the show “would never last” without him.
The actor-comic quit the show following its first season and acted as a more sardonic foil to the manic energy we’ve come to expect from Ryan Seacrest. Dunkleman stated during his 2008 appearance on Celebrity Fit Club that he wasn’t a fan of how the show treated its contestants; however, he later admitted that leaving the show was a mistake.
Dunkleman – the ball’s in your court.