Image Credit: Frank Micelotta/American Idol 2010/Getty ImagesSo I take off three weeks from collecting the best of American Idol behind-the-scenery, and what happens? Half of the ladies got the boot, Big “Stank Face” Mike got the save, and apparently, Ryan Seacrest completely lost his everloving mind. The best on-camera taste of Ryan’s spastic battiness was, of course, during Tim Urban’s dagblastit-the-kid’s-actually-getting-kinda-good performance of “I Can’t Help Falling In Love,” when Ryan randomly grabbed Michael Sarver a beefy member of Lee Dewyze’s official cheer squad and proceeded to dance with him through most of the song. (UPDATE: As that strikeout text indicates, and just to be abundantly clear, Seacrest was not dancing with former Idol contestant Michael Sarver, as Ryan joked on-air — it was with one of Dewyze’s buddies who looks vaguely Sarver-esque.) But dear readers, I promise you, that was merely a slice of the double-decker upside-down cake of crazy Ryan was baking during last night’s Top 9.2 performance show.
Ironically, the evening started out with an excess of order, as the CBS Television City pages calmly escorted the audience to their seats by lining them up outside in rows organized by section. (Usually, they kinda just swing open the doors and let everyone scatter.) I took my seat all the way stage right, and met the family seated next to me, including two daughters, the elder (Gabby) a Crystal and Siobhan fan, the younger (Sophie) a Big Mike and Siobhan fan. Just as Sophie’s father finished telling me me she’d also been excited to see Aaron Kelly peeking his head out from backstage, however, the chairperson of the Katie Stevens Booster Association swung by our section handing out extra pro-Katie signs. Wee Sophie got her adorable paws on one, and, just like that, Big Mike, Siobhan, and Aaron were plum forgotten — Sophie was Team Katie all the way. Fame, she is a fickle mistress.
After Cory the Warm-Up Comic had finished goading a grown woman to booty dance while smacking an invisible keister in front of her, the cast of Glee (sans Puck, Kurt, Quinn, Mercedes, and Rachel, but including Jacob Ben Israel) sauntered to their front-row seats with five minutes to go before air. Their presence proved so distracting — a young woman behind me literally began weeping with joy, and both sway pits pivoted in unison to stare at them — that Cory felt compelled to remind everyone that there was also a show happening on stage as well. Then Adam Lambert entered the room (with his mama behind him — that’s her pictured above next to Lambert), and the audience basically lost all control of their limbic systems.
Surprisingly, the feral enthusiasm carried over more-or-less to the Top 9 (part deux) as they entered the Idoldome, although it was not quite shared by Glambert himself — then again, the man’s delicate golf-clapping could’ve just been a byproduct of the five pounds of jewelry weighing down his hands. As the Idols took their place on the Thunderstairs, the sway pit shifted their conspicuous gawking from the Glee cast to Lambert. A dude from Casey’s official fan contingent enthusiastically waved at Casey, and Casey sheepishly waved back. Cory introduced Ryan with his usual dramatic wind-up, but Seacrest didn’t show, appearing instead with just seconds to go, swinging his arms like a champeen boxer. Because if there’s anything that looks natural on Ryan Seacrest’s frame, it’s boxing. And this…was the beginning of Ryan’s downward spiral into madness American Idol.
The Idols scampered off stage, the judges entered through the Thunderscreen, and Kara scampered over to Glambert so she could quickly envelop him in her arms. Then Simon shook his hand. When Ryan touted last week’s “dramatic reshults schow,” I could feel Smirkelstiltskin, my personal snark demon, begin to stir a bit from his Idol-boredom-induced coma. During the Elvis/Vegas/Glambert video package, Ellen and Randy chatted as Debbie the Stage Manager moved the bodyguard sitting next to Glambert away so Ryan to slip onto his seat instead. For the first half of their on-camera conversation, I noticed only Ellen bothered to physically watch at Ryan and Adam directly. After Ryan noted that Adam’s tongue was much more talented than his, however, all four judges turned their attention to the Idol host and season 8 runner-up. Simon and Randy playfully wagged their fingers at Ryan; Smirkelstiltskin, meanwhile, started softly wagging his scaly tail.
Crystal tore through “Saved,” and Lambert was the first to lead the audience in an enthusiastic standing ovation. Crystal herself couldn’t help but make an adorably corny raise-the-roof gesture. As MamaSox took in her critique, Ellen began a semi-regular habit of craning her neck to see Adam Lambert’s reactions.
We entered our first ad break. Simon zipped out immediately. Kara threw her arms once again over Lambert’s body. Ellen simply hugged him, and then took a photo op with him and Randy. Lambert then held court with Mezhgan Hussainy (i.e. Simon’s fiancée and an Idol make-up stylist), and associate music directors Michael Orland and Dorian Holley. Randy shook hands with the Glee cast. And over by the stage right silver stools, Ryan manically talked at Andrew Garcia while Andrew somnambulantly nodded.
We came back from the break, Andrew like wow-ed his way through his interview with Ryan, and Simon watched with his lower lip pushed out. Adam Lambert told Andrew he was boring, Ryan introduced Andrew’s song, and then the wheels officially exploded off the wagon. In seasons past, both your Aunt Whittlz and I have witnessed Ryan Seacrest’s attempts at dancing, which have always been akin to someone trying really hard to hide the fact that his muscles are randomly firing at will. But as the band began the opening bars of “Hound Dog,” nothing prepared me for Ryan launching into what I can only describe as a hybrid of the cha cha and Irish step-dancing as performed by an five-year-old who really, really, really has to pee. Suffice it to say, Smikelstiltskin sat bolt upright on my shoulder, and broke open his emergency lobster bib, ’cause this night was turning into one juicy meal.
As you saw, it got even juicier during Tim Urban’s performance, when Ryan grabbed a male Lee Dewyze fan and slow danced through a good two thirds of his performance, right on through to the end. What you couldn’t hear, however, was the audible audience laughter at the sight of Ryan’s waltzing; say what you will about Tim’s Idol journey, but not even Sanjaya was treated with that kind of disrespect while he was performing on live national television.
When the show went into an ad break, Randy worked his way back to the Glee cast, this time focusing his attention on Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch. Kara and Ellen entered from their off stage break gabbing away like Sex and the City besties. There was nary a sign, in other words, that anyone seemed at all miffed over Ryan’s on-air prancing, and after he introduced Lee’s “A Little Less Conversation,” Seacrest continued the outré kookitude, prancing out of the studio while strumming an air guitar and thrusting his face just inches away from a grey-haired man in Siobhan’s official fan delegation. After the judge finished heaping their oh-sweet-jeebus-we’ve-got-to-make-this-some-kind-of-horse-race over-praise upon Lee’s performance, Ryan introduced Aaron Kelly’s mentor video package, and then dipped the mic stand as if it was his new dance partner.
After that, Ryan kept almost all his shenanigans on camera — the Dunkleman joke, the girlish squealing while introducing Casey, etc. — save the moment during the final ad break when he started chatting up the cast of Glee, which, like his earlier talk with Andrew, consistent mostly of Ryan nattering away and Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison nodding with deliberately neutral expressions. Ryan became so preoccupied with his “conversation” that Debbie had to practically scream “SEACREST!” at him to get the man to his mark with barely seconds before we were back on the air.
Otherwise, the night’s behind-the-scenes highlights were few and far between:
1) Siobhan took her seat next to Glambert looking utterly, irretrievably smitten.
2) Randy brought Simon over to greet the Glee folks, and Simon shook their hands like a man politely meeting the friends of his in-laws. Later, when Ryan gave the show’s official “shout out to Glee,” all the judges turned their chairs to wave at the cast, except Simon, who cheerfully faced forward with a rueful smile.
3) Sweet little Sophie jumped up and down for something from Cory the Warm Up Comic’s bag of swag with such fervor that she started physically shaking the entire rafters. She never got a thing.
4) During the final two ad breaks, the stage left swaybots filed along the aisle in front of the Glee cast so the stagehands could move in Katie and Casey’s performance platforms. But the swaybots were apparently instructed to face the stage at all times, so twice over the Glee peeps were left with a view of everyone’s backsides.
5) After the Top 9 (redux) greeted Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Cory Monteith, and Adam Lambert on stage during the performance recap package, Tim and Crystal did a spontaneously doofy dance together.
Finally, as the show’s PR reps pulled me backstage for the new post-show Idol press Q&As (more on that in a sec), I passed the aforementioned chairperson of the Katie Stevens Booster Association, who had returned to collect the signs she’d distributed at the start of the show. “I hope you guys all got on TV,” she sweetly chirped, as she plucked wee Sophie’s sign away from her.
Check back on Popwatch later today for highlights from the backstage press interviews with the Top 9 (version two), including what they think real culprit was for Ryan’s bizarre behavior, and why Casey James chose such an obscure Elvis song. You can click here, meanwhile, for Adam Lambert’s response to Idol exec producer Ken Warwick’s recent comments to EW that Lambert’s career is “struggling.”
In the meantime, what do you make, P-Dubs, of Ryan’s outbreak of oddness? Do you think Tim Urban deserves an apology from him?