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'Idol' Gives Back, We Give Up

The much ballyhooed two-hour "American Idol" charity fundraiser results show is finally here. The phone lines are open -- Let's get started.

Show host Ryan Seacrest demonstrates live TV for the kiddies by messing up his very first line of the night, telling the producer he wants a do-over and getting it. Never seen THAT before on "Idol."

The remaining six Idolettes are all dressed in white pants suits, looking like a glee club in heaven.

Ryan promises tonight's results show will be "the most shocking" in "Idol" history. Given the remaining Idolettes, we're dubious. He also says 70 million votes were cast Tuesday night after the Idolettes performed their "life anthems." Fox parent News Corp. has pledged to cough up 10 cents apiece for 50 million of those votes. Sorry about those other 20 million.

Ellen DeGeneres is helping Ryan out on the show like Brian Dunkelman used to do, only from the Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles where some of the night's entertainment will be performing. She too seems dubious about the "most shocking results" thing.

Earth, Wind & Fire performs a medley of their hits.

It appears the evening's taped bits featuring "Idol" judges visiting blighted areas where children are in dire need of help are going to all be sponsored by an advertiser, like football bowl games, starting with the All State Post-Katrina Bowl from New Orleans, starring Randy Jackson.

Quincy Jones shows up to teach the Idolettes his new tune, "Time to Heal."

It also appears all commercial breaks are going to begin and end with a minor Hollywood celeb appearing on screen to remind people they're watching "Idol Gives Back," read the toll free phone number for calling to make a donation, and say something clever. First at bat: Eric McCormack of "Will & Grace" fame, who tells the millions of people watching at home "If every person who ever voted for Sanjaya gave just one dollar, we could do so much good."

Ben Stiller kicks off the You-Mean-It's-Not-About-Me? competition portion of "Idol Gives Back Night." He's a strong contender, even though he's appearing via satellite; he lists every movie he's ever been in -- some twice -- and then threatens to sing "Reminiscing" by Little River Band, until they've raised $200 billion. He starts to sing while a crawl at the bottom of the screen begs viewers to call immediately. It's moderately amusing until they cut to a video of a 12-year-old orphaned Ugandan boy, sitting with his younger sister, weeping over the death of his parents.

Ryan says it's time to let the first Idolette know he or she is safe. Yeah, this is really dramatic after that video. It's Melinda. Wow -- we didn't see THAT coming.

"Idol" judge Paula Abdul visits the Boys & Girls Club in Hollywood.

Ellen introduces the singing group mentored by "Idol" judge Simon Cowell. No, not the Teletubbies. The guys of Il Divo, dressed like Simon, who take turns trying to sing louder than the others that sad "West Side Story" tune about how "there's a place for us" while, on a huge screen in the back, little children holding candles in the dark take turns snuffing out his or her candle followed by the words "Every three seconds a child dies in extreme poverty."

Jack Black is the second competitor in the You-Mean-It's-Not-About-Me derby; he jumps and twirls manically around the stage singing "Kiss From a Rose" which, he says, is from the most sensitive of the "Batman" flicks.

Ryan says Blake is safe. How many different shows are going on here?

Carrie Underwood sings "I'll Stand By You" while hugging and playing with poor children somewhere in Africa who don't seem at all impressed.

Rascal Flatts sings "My Wish."

Ryan introduced a taped bit about kids in Kentucky learning to read which is something their mom can't do, after which he mentions the shortness of Paula Abdul who has joined him on stage sporting a magnificent pair of shoes.

What's an "American Idol" results night without the Ford Music Video -- am I right? Tonight, in honor of the charity element, it's set in a drive in, at which is playing a movie starring a whopping 35 Hollywood celebrities dancing and mugging to the tune "Stayin' Alive." A nice touch amongst clips of AIDS orphans and mothers who've lost babies to malaria.

Phil Stacey is safe.

Ellen announces she's donating $100,000 to the fundraisers and, in one of the evening's few comedy bits that didn't make you cringe, adds "I know a lot of rich people who watch this show -- I've been with them when they watch" and challenges them directly to match her pledge.

Taped bit runs, juxtaposing Hollywood celebrities reminiscing about how many funerals they've attended -- not many, though some of the celebs seem to expect your sympathy -- and an African man who says he's attended 280, mostly malaria victims, many children.

Ellen tells children watching at home to tell mom and dad they will donate one dollar of their own money if M&D kick in another 9 bucks.

First edition winner Kelly Clarkson makes her "Idol" appearance .

Simon appears in a "The Simpsons" spoof of "Idol" as a contestant. He's horrible. The three judges, Marge, Lisa and Homer, give him bad reviews; he falls through a trap door in the stage and Bart, who plays Ryan, cracks that "the lions haven't eaten this well since Dunkleman."

LaKisha's safe.

Through the miracle of modern technology, Celine Dion appears to sing a duet with dead Elvis, who's dressed all in white like the Idolettes. Lest she accidentally appear to walk through Dead Elvis, Celine stands very still while singing and there's none of her trademark scenery chewing while singing. It's her best performance ever. She should always sing with dead celebrities on stage.

Madonna, back in Malawi, tells people to cough up some money.

Ryan introduces this week's "Idol" pop quiz and, because this night is all about giving, it's the easiest question yet: Did Taylor Hicks, Kat McPhee or Elliott Yamin sing the last song at last year's "Idol" season finale.

Annie Lennox sings "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Only Idolettes Chris and Jordin do not yet know if they are safe. Ryan says Chris is safe. Jordin starts to cry. Ryan says Jordin is also safe because, "how can we let anyone go on a charity night?" Those 70 million votes will be added to next week's tally and two Idolettes will get the hook next week, Ryan says.

And finally, Bono shows up in a taped bit for the much ballyhooed mentoring of the Idolettes, which consists of telling them they can help end "brutal, stupid poverty."

The End

Editor's note: Find more on last night's "Idol" in Lisa's TV column (after the Rosie news).

By Maura McCarthy  |  April 26, 2007; 7:43 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: 'Idol' Rocks Out

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