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AMERICAN IDOL CLASS OF 2003: MR COWELL

There are some basic truths about every episode of American Idol: Paula will groove in her seat at least once; Randy will shout “Dawg!”; Simon will make his curdled-milk pucker; and, like weepy Miss America contestants, the Idols will indulge in at least one big group hug and cry.

But here’s the biggest truth of all: It’s fun. From the ear-splitting auditions to the corn-ball sing-alongs to the suspense of the final outcome, Al is the root-beer float of reality TV—a fizzy, frothy treat. Will any of these Idols go on to fame and glory? Time will tell. Does it really matter? No. For the moment, it’s all about having fun. Says booted finalist Charles Grigsby: “I had a blast!” Week after week, so do we.