Tuesday's 'Idol' : What You Didn't See

Photo: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Idol Fools Things seemed to be under way as usual at American Idol Tuesday, as Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson came in handing out high fives and a hug to Simon Cowell. Paula Abdul made it out with just 40 seconds left to air, wearing a high-cut blue salsa dress that made it difficult for her to kneel down to sign autographs (but she managed). Suddenly, Debbie the stage manager runs to Ryan and announces over the PA, “We’re having issues … We’re having issues … Ryan, tell us.” As fans in the audience waited with baited breath, Ryan jokingly told everyone that Idol would not be viewed tonight — April Fools! The audience fell for it. Every single one of them.

Crying for Castro During one of the commercial breaks, as Jason Castro took his seat on the interview stool, Debbie the stage manager called out into the audience, “Ashley? Ashley, where are you? Are you crying?” Sorry, Sanjaya, it looks like you’ve been replaced by this season’s hair phenomenon, Mr. Jason Castro, who has not only received a slew of fan mail from the same girl, but has also become the object of Crying Girl Ashley Ferl’s tearful affections.

Gimme an I-D-O-L! What Does that Spell? Sometimes it takes a little while for celebrities to make their way into the Idol stage area, so Corey the warmup guy has to keep the audience entertained — with themselves. He invites from the bleachers and the pit to get onstage and show off their best dance moves to the beats playing over the sound system. Tuesday, a gaggle of UCLA students — including the girls from Alpha Phi Sorority, who filled up the mosh pit and let out the majority of the screams — got to do a UCLA cheer during one of the commercial breaks.

The Stars Were Out But the celebrities did come! Ladies and gentleman, Mrs. Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune took a spot in the front row, and Ryan couldn’t resist telling her, at one point, that he needed to buy a vowel. Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan, and fashion designer and Project Runway judge Michael Kors were also in the crowd.

Idol Treat After Tuesday’s show fans were treated to two surprises. First, a live performance of “No Air” from last year’s winner Jordin Sparks and R&B singer Chris Brown. Then, as if that wasn’t cool enough, the remaining Idols (save David Cook), proceeded to walk out into the audience and take seats right next to their fans! Though, bodyguards kept eager autograph seekers at bay, David Archuleta signed as many as he could before Sparks and Brown took the stage (taped for a later broadcast).

“It’s so good to be back here … so cool. I’m not used to this,” Sparks told the crowd. And she tipped a hat to the Idols, saying, “Good job, you guys!” Brown later joked with Simon, asking him in his best British accent, “How yah doing, brotha?” After the performance, some lucky fans brought out three special items for Sparks: a platinum record celebrating 1 million downloads of “No Air,” a copy of her gold record for her first album, and another platinum record for another 1 million downloads for her first single, “Tattoo.” The best part: Jordin proudly let everyone know that her grandpa was in the audience watching it all!

Idol Fans Line Up Since Dancing with the Stars (that other reality show that shoots right next door) started up again, fans have had to wait a little bit longer outside the gates for the rehearsal audience to exit and the Idol crowd to be let in. Tuesday, as the clock struck 4 and the line didn’t seem to be moving, ticket holders started to worry just when exactly they were going to be seated. But, as one fan pointed out, even VIPs like Carly Smithson’s husband and Brooke White’s other half — who, by the way, appears to have trimmed those thick locks since last week — were standing in the same line under the California sun. Just when things started to get too close for comfort (to airtime, that is!), the line began to move and everyone made it in. (A possible solution? Maybe the Dancing crowd could start using one of the other three exits on the lot — or at least pass out refreshments to ease the thirsty crowd.)

More Stuff You Didn’t See • Simon spends most of the night listening to the performances but not watching them. He regularly would turn to the crowd to look at their reactions and to give stink-eye to someone sitting behind him. During one of the breaks, he reluctantly obliged one tyke who wanted a hug. • After her performance, Kristy Lee Cook waved to the fans in the pit, adding “Thank you” for all their cheers. • After Simon gave David Archuleta one big enthusiastic comment after his song, Archuleta’s father Jeff jumped out of his seat and threw two big fists and thumbs up toward the stage. • Syesha Mercado delivered one big train of high fives to just about everyone standing at the front of the stage before she started to sing. After the unkind comments Simon made following her performance, wishing that she hadn’t done “I Will Always Love You,” Debbie the stage manager put her arm around a somber Syesha and kindly guided her off the stage. –Jed Dreben

Frank Micelotta/FOX

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