By People Staff
Updated April 30, 2008 12:00 AM
Credit: F.Micelotta/American Idol 2008/Getty

David’s Got Love While Jason Castro stood on stage with Ryan Seacrest as his number ran across the screen, Idol favorite David Cook was brought out carrying his guitar and asked to wait to the side in the dark. But his female fans in the pit couldn’t keep their cool and began to scream for the rocker, who was up next, while Castro was still in the spotlight doing his best James Dean. After his last performance of the night, Cook paused before walking off, put his hand over his chest and then waved to the audience, thanking them for their support after the show went to break. Once the show ended and the Idols were making their way off stage, Debbie the stage manager began calling over the PA system, “Mom, David Cook’s mom?” They finally got her attention so David — and Debbie! — could wave to her in the crowd.

Strange Days Each Idol sang two songs Tuesday night, but the judges didn’t comment until after their second. However, in order to pull off this great feat in under an hour, the audience (in the house and at home) was robbed of the usual banter at breaks and during the show. And the judge who appeared to be biting his lip the most was the resident curmudgeon, Simon Cowell, who shared his opinions with his fellow judges after each of the first five performances rather than with the contestants — something that seemed to visibly annoy him and maybe even cause him pain. At the end of the show, Cowell declared it, “officially the strangest show we’ve ever done.”

Star Light For once there were no returning Idols (Idol misses Carly Smithson!) watching from the stands (maybe they get a break before the big finale?) or A-listers for fans to gawk at during the breaks. Tom Hanks‘s wife, actress Rita Wilson was in the house watching the show with her niece in the front row, while just a few seats away were two of the blonde beauties from Playboy’s The Girls Next Door (Ryan managed to find time for two stops to hug and say hello to the girls during the show). And, topping off the bevy (not) of celebrity was Arden Myrin of Mad TV. Where was Neil Diamond when they needed him?

Paula Can See the Future Blame it on the tight schedule or the warm-up guy’s absence (Corey had a substitute) as Paula Abdul‘s night started off, well … off, and got a little bizarre as the show went on. She missed her cue moments before the show and had to quietly rush to her seat to join her fellow judges without an introduction or applause. She danced in between Randy Jackson and Simon during just about every Neil Diamond tune, rocking out like crazy — sometimes even during the slow songs. But things got really weird when she critiqued Jason Castro’s second performance — when he had only sung once! “This is hard,” she said to the audience, who were cracking up in the stands. One fan holding up a sign that read “Choo Choo Castro Express to the Finale,” had it right, as Paula seemed to have fallen off that train.

What’s Simon’s Sign? One fan’s sign was so good that Debbie the stage manager asked him down from the bleachers to stand right next to Simon’s seat so the judge would see him as he returned from a break. “Simon for Governor of Cowellifornia,” the sign read. Simon loved it so much he shook the fans hand in approval and allowed him to stand just off to the side of him for the remainder of the show. At one break, Simon knelt down and autographed the sign. Sadly, things didn’t work out the same for another fan in the audience with a sign that read “Simon is my Fashion Idol.”

Other Things You Didn’t See • As Simon was leaving during one of the breaks, he ran into girlfriend Terri Seymour, who was on her way into the show. The judge gave her a kiss hello on each cheek before chatting her up.

• As Randy critiqued Syesha Mercado after her second performance, Simon — clearly not phased by his girlfriend’s presence in the audience — ran his finger across the Paula’s exposed back. As if it was a bug, she brushed him away. Of course, Simon just did it again.

• Before her final performance, Brooke White sat chatting with Ryan Seacrest on the stools and then started throwing hand signals to her loyal hubby sitting in the front row, who signaled back in their very own language of love. –Jed Dreben