SIGNS OF SUPPORT Outside the studio, an indecisive crowd waited for entrance to the show with relatively few signs indicating which contestants were the night’s favorites. There were two ladies with matching short, blonde haircuts and canary-yellow tank tops that read “Team Hernandez” on the backs, as well as one big David Cook fan holding a sign that said, “Hooked on Cook.” But one fan knew exactly what the night was to bring because they hit the nail on the head with a sign that read, “Chikezie Do Your Thang!” And finally, one gentleman could not forget his fallen favorite, as he proudly displayed “I miss you Danny Noriega — loyal Danimal.”
THE TEAM IS BACKCorey the “warm-up guy” opened up with a new chant: “All right! All right! All right!” while Debbie the stage manager put the final touches on the stage. It didn’t take long for Corey to get the room pumped, out of their seats and clapping. But then, producer Nigel Lythgoe borrowed Corey’s microphone and took the reigns (maybe it was that big coffee he had before the show?) to welcome the audience to the first live show of the year at the newly renovated digs, revealing “not all of which is working at the moment.” In fact, one neon globe to the right of the stage just wasn’t spinning like its twin across the way.
GOT TO HAVE CELEBSWhat would an Idol audience be without some famous faces in the crowd? Actor Taye Diggs, looking dashing in a black fedora, cruised into the crowd, finding one fan so excited, Corey the warm-up guy had to calm her down. Kim Kardashian, who also showed up with a girlfriend, fixed her makeup during the breaks — blush one pause and eyelashes the next — and got a personal hello from Randy and Simon. Also in the crowd: Grey’s Anatomy writer-creator Shonda Rhimes and returning Idol fan, Camryn Manheim.
ENTER THE JUDGESRandy Jackson entered first, through the back of the stage rather than stage left and cruised right through the new mosh pit. Then it was Mr. Cool in his bright white shirt, Simon Cowell, who entered from his usual spot, off to the side. Next Ryan Seacrest came in, as always, wearing a nice suit and a smile. Corey led the chant “Paula! Paula!” as the Paula Abdul made her way in and greeted the men with kisses.
IDOL ALREADY GIVES BACKGift certificates for 10 free digital downloads from iPod and iTunes were handed out to everyone in the bleachers and a couple lucky fans got a copy of Chicken Soup for the Idol Soul.
NO HARD FEELINGSRyan and Simon may have shared some angry words on the air (at one point, the judge told the host to “be careful” and another time he let him know that he was very “obnoxious”), but, as usual, at break time it was nothing but love between the judges and Ryan, who would regularly came down to chat with Simon (and maybe work on their act?), Paula and Randy – all of them looking like they enjoyed the other’s company.
RYAN’S BIGGEST FANDuring a break, a male fan was given the microphone and an opportunity to chat with Ryan Seacrest, who happened to be taking a load off in Paula’s seat (the judges were backstage at the time). After telling Ryan about himself, the fan asked Ryan if he would like to go out with him (and his friends?) after the show. All went into an awkward silence, as Ryan, who usually has something witty to say, was dead silent. It was Corey the warm-up guy who saved the day, shouting “Security!” which brought comic relief to the auditorium. Don’t worry, though, the fan got to stay and watch the show.
SAYING GOODBYEAt the end of the night, when all the Idols stand on stage and say goodbye to the audience, it was Australian Michael Johns who shouted out, quite sincerely, a roaring “Thank you!” to the crowd to close out the show. –Jed Dreben