The Latest: Judge salutes music of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the final broadcast of “American Idol” (all times local):

6:25 p.m.

There’s a variety of performances in the “American Idol” finale.

“American Idol” judge Harry Connick Jr. saluted a music resource for New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina-battered Ninth Ward.

In a touching segment, he dueted on “It’s a Wonderful World” with Marley Fletcher, a young student from The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music that serves the area.

Then there was the return of unlikely contestant Larry Platt, who reprised his season-nine song with the lyrics, “Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground.”


5:30 p.m.

Brian Dunkleman was there for the first season of “American Idol,” and he made it back for the last.

Dunkleman shared hosting duties in season one with Ryan Seacrest, who then flew solo for the next 14 seasons.

During Thursday’s final episode, Dunkleman strode on stage as Seacrest opened the show.

“Well, well, well, Seacrest, looks like after tonight” you’ll be looking for work, Dunkleman said, jokingly. He went on to congratulate Seacrest for an “amazing” job as host.

Seacrest gave him some work to do: introducing judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban.


5:15 p.m.

President Barack Obama is the opening act for the final episode of “American Idol.”

In what appeared to be pre-taped remarks Thursday, Obama congratulated the show on its 15-year run. He noted that it motivated millions of young people to vote for contestants.

Then he made a pitch for Americans to demonstrate that same eagerness at the polls.

Obama called voting the most fundamental and sacred rite of American democracy. It should be almost as easy as voting on “American Idol,” he said, adding that “we’re working on that.”

Not all of us can sing like inaugural “Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson, he said, but all of our voices matter.


12 a.m.

“American Idol” is down to the last two finalists in the show’s history.

La’Porsha Renae or Trent Harmon will be crowned this season’s winner as the Fox singing contest ends its 15-year run Thursday.

A third contestant, Dalton Rapattoni of Dallas, received the fewest number of viewer votes and was eliminated from the competition Wednesday.

The 22-year-old Renae and 24-year-old Harmon both are from Mississippi.

The “American Idol” series finale airs at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday.

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