Secrets Behind 'American Idol's' Incredible Comeback

 Art Streiber

For the first time, and in dramatic detail, the players recount in the new Hollywood Reporter the crisis at hand after Simon Cowell quit, who was on their first shortlist of judges and the meetings that led to this season’s Dream Team.

MAY 2011

SEACREST I remember when Scotty walked into the room, they all knew that he had something. Lauren, same thing in Nashville. After seeing millions of people over the last 10 years, you do get a knack for knowing who has potential and who doesn't. You don't always get it right, but you rely on your gut a little bit. Still, this group has more uniqueness, and I think more individual points of view, which is good.

JACKSON I'm so happy with where the show is and that we're all here, but I also tip my hat off to several other people -- Simon, Ryan and Paula, Nigel, Kenny, Cecile, Mike and Fuller. We started something and forged into an area that no one thought would really be successful. And my God, we've born a new TV tradition in America. That, to me, is bigger than anything, and I think about it always. At the end of it all, you have to look back and go, "Job well done." You can kind of beat your chest a little bit, because it's all about trying to help great artists. That's why the show says, "Search for the Next Superstar."

FULLER Everybody across the board has this renewed energy and spirit. Cecile is showing a whole new side with this ray of positivity and ambition. Ken's been fantastic this season. From the very top to the bottom of this production, people are putting in their best work this season. Everyone cares; it's everyone's show. You walk onto our set, whoever it is, there's a smile on their face, and they're proud.

FROT-COUTAZ There is an underlying respect there. It's like family. I spend more time on Idol than I do with my family, and there's that comfort that comes with those relationships. If something bad happened, they'd look out for you. They would.

FULLER Now, we're all going to take a well-deserved break and then get together. We're coming at the show now with a little bit of calm and perspective. We can make it better, and there will undoubtedly be plenty of innovation and new ideas. It really feels like this is the first year of the next however many years -- hopefully plenty.

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