Harry Connick Jr. Previews Final Season of ‘American Idol’

"I really thought [finalists] would be all girls."

Harry Connick Jr. is a judge on 'American Idol'

AMERICAN IDOL has narrowly avoided a major gender inequality problem.

The Top 24 contestants could have easily ended up being all female, judge Harry Connick Jr. says.

“We [the judges] were all really concerned about that,” he told TheTVPage.com at a private showcase for the semifinalists in Los Angeles on Thursday.   “I was like, ‘What happens if there are only three guys?’”

“Luckily it worked out and the guys stepped up at the last minute.  I really thought it would be all girls.  At least the Top 10.  But now it is looking like it will be pretty balanced.”

Early rounds of TV’s longest-running talent competition are currently being pre-taped in Hollywood.

The final season of AMERICAN IDOL premieres January 6 on Fox.

“People are asking ‘What does it feel like?’ And you start thinking, ‘Oh, man.  It is the end of an era,’” Connick says of the program which will conclude its run after 15 seasons.     “We are savoring the moments the best that we can.”

IDOL producers have promised a star-studded sendoff for the series which launched the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and dozens of other chart-topping artists.

Original judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson are expected to return when the live performance episodes begin in February.

“I hope it is going to be the best year,” Connick says.  “We are doing everything we can to make it great — but we did that last year as well.  I think it is really up to the producers of the show to make the final season unique.”

Connick, who will judge the competition alongside Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban, believes the current crop of semifinalists are “more ready for the IDOL experience” than any other.

“In the past, we would put people through based on sort of how well we thought they would do, which is a lot of pressure to put on somebody,” he admits.    “This year, we were trying to find people who might be a little more prepared out of the gate.”

“I don’t know how the competition could get any tougher.”

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly