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Simon Cowell and Brian Dunkleman Likely to Return for ‘American Idol’ Finale

TCA 2016: Kelly Clarkson will guest judge an earlier episode, past winners and standouts set to duet in middle rounds

Fans of the earlier “American Idol” installments, we’ve got some good news for you: It sounds like both Simon Cowell and Brian Dunkleman will return for Fox’s series finale.

While the cameos are not finalized due to logistical issues, series Executive Producer Trish Kinane said it seems quite likely. The news came out at the Television Critics Association (TCA) press junket on Friday, where a running or implied joke about Dunkleman’s relative availability appeared to exist on everyone’s lips.

For those who don’t remember, comedian Dunkleman co-hosted “Idol” with Seacrest for the first season in 2002, and then abruptly quit, which he lated admitted was a career mistake given Seacrest’s phenomenal success since.

In more set-in-stone “Idol” news, Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson will be guest judging and performing on an upcoming episode, Kinane said, and other former winners and standouts are returning for duets with current contestants during the middle rounds.

After a traditional TCA panel with Kinane, Mentor Scott Borchetta, host Ryan Seacrest, judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr., past winners Nick Fradiani, Scotty McCreery, Kris Allen, David Cook, Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard joined the group on-stage. Season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina was also among the group.

“American Idol” is currently enjoying solid ratings for the start of its 15th season. The judges suggested this morning that while the reality singing competition is currently in its “Farewell Season,” it could actually be ripe for a return — at some point.