Wednesday's Idol: What You Didn't See

Photo: Michael Becker/FOX

All Growed Up: Hello, Kellie Pickler! At the pre-show taping of season five favorite Kellie Pickler’s performance of “Red High Heels,” Ryan Seacrest jokingly reminded everyone just how much she has “grown in so many ways since leaving us.” receiving a bit of a chuckle from those in the audience who caught the double entendre. The former Idol came out to cheers in her conservative red dress — a contrast from her signature low-cut tops — and had the Idols, especially country crooner Kristy Lee Cook, rocking away! After giving a little wave to Chicken Little (season five’s Kevin Covais), the highest-wattage of celebrity in the audience, Pickler strutted over to sing flirtatiously to judge Simon Cowell. Once she gave him a little sashay goodbye, she then moved on to an eager Randy Jackson and gave a hello wave to in-house music director Ricky Minor, tapping his bass up above.

The crowd loved the performance and got out of their seats to show it. Afterward Pickler humbly greeted fans in the pit, saying, “How are ya?” before shaking hands and waving goodbye. Later, still in her red dress, Pickler hung out off to the side with producer Nigel Lythgoe, watching the show on the monitor and discussing the recap of the previous night’s performances.

What About Randy? During the Q&A session, one fan asked Simon and Paula Abdul if they would do a sequel to their famous kissing scene. Without letting Paula even blink, Simon quickly said, “My answer is yes. Why?” He then turned to Paula to tell her, “You’re actually a very good kisser.”

Is That You, Simon? Simon must have been drinking happy juice out of that ever-present Coca-Cola cup, because from the minute the usually acerbic judge walked in and took his seat, he was nothing but smiles. Rather than do his usual entrance around the pit, this night he went right through his fans, shaking hands, throwing high fives and doling out hellos.

Ryan’s Back, Paula Go Back! Whoever was standing in as the calmer Ryan the night before has definitely been replaced — the wacky host was back to his old tricks. During the pre-taped Q&A, Ryan was already having at Simon, bashing his $1 million automobile purchase and even blaming him for screwing up the first take. Meanwhile Paula had a typical wacky moment of her own. After telling fans earlier that she was suffering from a “little laryngitis,” she made her way to her chair only to realize she was alone! Randy and Simon were still backstage while airtime was spent on pre-taped segments. But Paula just shrugged off the gaffe, laughing before joining her fellow judges, who were relaxing backstage.

Carly’s Teary BreakWhen Ryan announced that strong-voiced Carly Smithson was in the bottom three, a lot of jaws dropped in shock. Hearing the news, tears began to stream down Smithson’s face. During the break, a sympathetic Seacrest made his way over to hug and comfort her, along with Debbie the stage manager. Then David Archuleta, Brooke White and Nigel Lythgoe went over to see if they could cheer her up. Finally the fans got into it, yelling out words of encouragement to the Idol and succeeded — she smiled!

Johns’ Mom in the HouseDuring one of the breaks, Corey the warm-up guy asked Michael Johns just whom he was waving to so much in the audience. Johns quickly answered, “My mom’s here from Australia!” And so were his dad and sister, too. The family stood up and waved to their Idol, who had just learned that he was in the Top 10. Knowing that Mom was in the house might have put Johns on his most gentlemanly behavior: In his family’s sight, he offered his hand to the Idol ladies as they made their way up to the second level of the couch.

Amanda’s Big GoodbyeCarly was still all tears, dabbing a tissue to her eyes, when big-voiced Amanda Overmyer received her walking papers (rather than Kristy Lee Cook). After Amanda finished one last performance of the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR,” the Top 10 swarmed her with tearful hugs. But before the judges could offer their goodbyes, a cool-headed Amanda was already doing an exit interview with the Idol Extra TV crew. Still, Paula wrapped her arms around the young Idol and squeezed tight as she offered final words-and then Paula made her way to Chikezie to give him a giant congratulatory bear hug for surviving the cut. –Jed DrebenFame

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