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'Idol' is thisclose to naming its Top 24

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Two words that make American Idol fans go “squeeeeeeeeeeee!”: Hollywood Week! Yes indeed, after four long weeks of auditions, tonight we’ll finally get to see potential superstars emerge, while lesser contestants crack, caterwaul, and forget their lyrics in front of Simon, Paula, and Randy.

By Thursday morning, we’ll all know season 7’s top 24… and the power will be in our collective hands! (Well, and also in the hands of the producers, who’ll decide which wannabes get misty backstories, good lighting, and adoring closeups.) Fox has already released a shot of the triumphant double-dozen, their faces obscured by Simon Cowell cutouts, which you can see after the jump. (The folks at Remote Access are speculating about who’s behind the masks… but I can’t bring myself to read about Idol spoilers. It takes away all the suspense!) In other Idol news, Fox has announced all of its results shows will be a padded excessive torturous whopping 60 minutes this season. (How exactly should the show fill all that time? Discuss!)

Anyhow, we’ll be covering all this and more on our next episode of Idolatry, so if you’ve got any strong (or strange) opinions about the top 24, and you’d like to be a call-in guest on our show, shoot an email to idolatry@ew.com; be sure to include a phone number where we can reach you from 10:15-11:15 a.m., EDT, on Thursday mornings. In the meantime, enjoy our latest Idolatry installment, where Nicholas Fonseca and I discuss ways to make sure today’s youth get an education in Dolly Parton. Also, there are cute shots of Panda the Pomeranian, who’s tearing up our latest Idol Power poll! Respeck.

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