She Was Just 17.....
How do you keep viewers interested in the final night of an "American Idol" season when there is virtually no suspense as to who is going to win? Here's how:
1) Bring out the two final Idolettes -- Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks -- to sing the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" in which Jordin takes the role of "her" -- what with Jordin actually being "just 17, you know what I mean" -- and Blake doing the seeing.
2) Bring back Gwen Stefani, the "Idol" guest coach from hell, to again ask not what she can do for "American Idol" but what "American Idol" can do for her. This time, she'd like "Idol's audience to listen to her sing what she confesses is her very favorite song from her album. Oh goody. And she's on tape -- always exciting.
3) Bring back all the former "American Idol" winners who aren't starring in Oprah Winfrey's "The Color Purple," starting with Kelly Clarkson, who's also making a return appearance, having been part of the "Idol Gives Back" charity fundraiser a while back. That time she looked like one of the "Before" pictures in a weight-loss plan. This time she's the "After" picture, in thigh high boots and very little skirt.
Carrie Underwood is also back, singing the same tune she sang during the "Idol Gives Back" charity fundraiser, only this time live and without little African children as props. Speaking of giving back, to show his gratitude for the jillion dollars she has earned him with her 6 million albums sold, music-industry mogul Clive Davis gives Carrie a plaque. He also blathers a lot about how many more albums last season's "Idol" non-winner Chris Daughtry has sold than last season's winner Taylor Hicks, after which Taylor gets to come out and perform. Nice touch. Ruben Studdard sings "You're All I Need to Get By" with Jordin which we hope will be part of her first album.
4) Hand out joke trophies, aka Golden Idol Awards -- first to Margaret Fowler, one of this edition's nutty bad auditioners. On the bright side, she gets about as much ' on-air time as Gwen Stefani -- maybe more. When her cell phone goes off during her acceptance speech, show host Ryan Seacrest answers it, telling the caller she's on national TV, then hangs up.
5) Bring back the top 6 guy Idolettes to sing with Smokey Robinson.
6) Give "Idol" viewers a rare chance to see what an extraordinary blunder they almost made, by pairing Blake in a beatbox duet with Doug E. Fresh.
7) Bestow the night's second Golden Idol on lousy-auditioner Sholandric Stallworth. He was best remembered for being off key but very loud and Ryan suggests he sing a tune of show judge Randy Jackson's choice, without a microphone, to see whether they can hear him at the back of the Kodak Theatre. Randy picks Christmas fave "Silent Night." Naturally, he's terrible. The audience roars for more.
8) Let the top 6 chick Idolettes sing with Gladys Knight.
9) Bring back Tony Bennett, who did not get the chance to sing the week he guests coached the Idolettes, because he got the flu. He brings down the house.
10) Give Rosie O'Donnell one more chance to rant about Jonathan Jayne and Kenneth Briggs. Rosie had lept to their defense after show judge Simon Cowell, during the lousy-auditions portion of this year's "Idol," had said Briggs looked like a bushbaby and made fun of Jayne's pants. The pair get the last Golden Idol Award, for Best Buddies, edging out Ryan and Simon. Ryan announces "Idol" has sponsored an actual bushbaby at the Milwaukee County Zoo in Kenneth's name -- only it's called "Simon."
11) Give viewers (finally) a chance to see who Idolette Melinda Doolittle did backup singing for -- BeBe and CeCe Winans. Melinda joins them in a number. They're okay -- she's much better.
12) Put viewers through another Ford Music Video -- this one an homage to all the Ford Music Videos that have gone before on "Idol" this season -- after which Jordin and Blake receive new Ford Mustangs.
13) Allow the African Children's Choir to perform, Josh Groban- free (they sang together during "Idol Gives Back). Green Day is rumored to be the night's big "get," but the choir is the sensation of the show.
14) Provide Sanjaya Malakar the chance to do-over his career-making performance of Kinks' "You Really Got Me" only this time he gets to perform with Aerosmith's Joe Perry. And yet, this time it's not fun. Maybe that's because, in the interim, Sanjaya has cut his hair and made a video in which he claims he's actually an art student at the Rhode Island School of Design named Bill Vendall, who made up the Sanjaya character on "American Idol" as part of his thesis installation, and who says he he might come back, on a sitcom or as a candidate for president. Yes, he's grown quite tiresome.
15) Trot out Green Day, the shows big "get," to perform -- but not for publicity, mind you. They're singing to draw attention to Amnesty International's "Instant Kharma: The Campaign to Save Darfur."
16) Toss in Bette Midler, who sings that hero song of hers, to promote the fact she's taking over for Celine Dion at whatever casino, in Vegas. Her performance does nothing for ticket sales.
17) Don't forget a big "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band" medley, featuring former "Idol" winners and this season's Idolettes singing songs about LSD, blowing minds out in a car, and getting by with a little help from one's friends. Really, it's better than hearing Beatles songs used in TV commercials, but not much.
18) And finally, announce Jordin Sparks is the new "Idol" winner. Picked by a record 74 million votes, Ryan says.
Editor's note: For more on last night's "American Idol," read Lisa's TV Column.
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