By Adam B. Vary
Updated March 16, 2007 at 04:35 PM EDT
Frank Micelotta

Wow, what a difference 90 minutes makes. Whereas I walked out of this week’s disappointing two-hour performance show completely drained of all will to live (or, well, at least karaoke again… or, okay, karaoke Diana Ross songs again), the half-hour results show almost felt over before it began — and left me wanting so much more! But, don’t worry, I’ve read your comments and see you’re totally diggin’ the verbiage, and there’s plenty of dish to go around.

First of all, the left side of the stage (at least as seen from Sec. F, Row 6, Seat 14) is so much prettier. You wouldn’t think so, but after watching Tuesday’s show back on the TiVo, I realized that they pretty much only show the left side of the audience, and no wonder; things do just look better from that angle. So, lesson learned — the lower on the alphabet my ticket, the more spiffed up I’ve gots to be in case my parents catch me on live TV. (And, believe me, they’re lookin’ — every time they cut to they audience Tuesday night, my dad apparently paused the TiVo and walked right up to the screen to scan each row for me. Awwww.)

Second, I realized quite quickly that they don’t so much change things up for repeat audience members like myself. Same mash-up mixes — “Since You’ve Been Gone” with “Feel Good Inc.” — and, more importantly, the exact same opening routine by Corey the Warm Up comic. To the second. So, dear readers, you will all know I have nothing much to say if I spend one of these entries recreating this routine for you in blog form, because I daresay by week three or so I’m going to know it all by heart.

Third, before we get to the show itself, I gots to give a major shout out to Judging the Judges panelist Anthony Fedorov, who was in the house (with a much better seat) Wed. night and was just as super-cool and friendly in person as he has been on the phone over these past four weeks. Also spotted: season 5-ers Paris Bennett and Lisa Tucker (whose still-stunning mother got warm hellos from all three judges, by the by), and Fox star Michael Rapaport, whose attempt to remain inconspicuous by not standing as the judges entered the studio was thwarted when Randy made a point of stopping to say hi on the way in. Not sure if you were more embarrassed about passive-aggressively pimping your sitcom on Idol, Michael, or the fact that your sitcom is The War at Home, but either way you are sooooo busted!

addCredit(“Seacrest/Ross: Frank Micelotta”)

Now, the show. I haven’t had a chance yet to see how it looked onthe TV, but, man, was that group number awkward to watch live. The aforementionedsmaller-than-my-high-school-auditorium stagejust doesn’t really accommodate 12 performers all that easily. Andsince Slezak didn’t note it in his write-up, let me just say thatpairing Kiki and Sanjaya together during “Stop in the Name of Love”was, well, hilarious.

As was whatever you want to call the explosion of lace Ms. DianaRoss was trailing behind her during her rendition of “More Today ThanYesterday” — which, by the way, the audience so wasn’t feelin’. Slezak’srage at Chris Sligh’s “eight note range” comment about Ross is well-documented, but even the Idolstage sound system’s penchant for blasting through a singersimperfections couldn’t so much hide the Entertainer of the Century’stinny singing. Just reporting the facts as I (unfortunately) hear ’em.

Speaking of Sligh, here’s a tip: you’ll know the dude wants to giveyou a hug if he approaches you slowly, arms open, with a “you look likeyou need this” pout. He did that routine with all three of the bottomthree this week — he was the first guy off the bench during the ad breakafter Brandon and Phil were named to console them, and he was one ofthe first to snag Sanjaya after Brandon had finished his farewellperformance. (More on that in a bit.) The guy just likes to hug.

Which is more than I can say about Kiki — she didn’t seem to want todo much of anything, really. Lemme ‘splain. If you’ll recall, the benchorder, after Phil and Brandon were pulled into the circle of shame, wasas follows, left to right:

Top row: Sligh; Stephanie; Blake; Sanjaya; Haley
Bottom row: Mindy Doo; Chris R.; Jordin; Gina; Kiki

I point this out because an interesting social phenomenon occurredon those benches after Diana Ross left the stage and the cameras wereoff: On the left side, the cool kids; on the right, the outcasts. Towit: Sligh, Stephanie and Blake smiled and laughed and shared insidejokes while Sanjaya and Haley fought a losing battle with their “I justwant to throw up” expressions as they awaited to hear their bottom-three fate. Meanwhile, on the bottom row, Mindy Doo went all faint ontop of Chris R., fanning herself after Diana Ross’ not-so-subtleattempt to get her to sing along. Jordin quickly played along andalso fanned Mindy Doo, who then said something that caused Jordin andChris R. to explode in teary-eyed giggles. At which point Jordin was socompletely turned to her right that she totally boxed out Gina. Soinstead, the rocker chick was forced to carry on conversation with ablank-faced, vacant-staring Kiki, a (best guess) transcript of which Ihave recreated below:

The big surprises of the night, though, came after Brandon was votedout of the show and took to the stage to sing his farewell. Anyone inthe audience with an alert ear heard the logo music for 19Entertainment play before he began, meaning, of course, the cameraswere done for the night. Maybe Brandon heard it too, maybe not, butregardless, if the performance he subsequently gave of “Can’t HurryLove” would’ve been the one we’d seen Tuesday night, then Sanjaya wouldbe flying home this weekend instead of Brandon, guaranteed. The guyprobably wouldn’t even have been in the bottom three. Not only was heon pitch and on point with all the lyrics, but — with the Top 11 allstanding behind him on stage — the guy finally sang like hedeserved to be the lead and not just backup. Even his shaky dancingwas… er, less shaky. And, by the looks of Blake’s and Chris R.’smore-than-just-teary eyes, Brandon’ll be missed too. Blake even turnedaway to compose himself, he seemed so upset.

And this was well after the show was over, too, so there’s no waySimon can say that these deep feelings were merely for show. As theweeks go by, Shirley and I will definitely be eagle-eyed about whetherthe same sentiment is doled out to the next few contestants to walk theIdol green mile. What else would you like us to look for?