'American Idol': Heejun Han's exit interview
I wish I could handle bad news with the levity that Heejun Han displayed last night. Heejun, the 22-year-old Korean American from Flushing, N.Y., was eliminated Thursday night after the judges chose not to save him. About an hour and a half after the show, Heejun strolled into the media room pretending to sob into a white handkerchief. “No questions!” he shouted dramatically.
Thus began a series of interviews during which Heejun deadpanned one witty remark after another. “I’m going to try out for The Voice next year,” he joked to one reporter. When one journalist asked Heejun about the outfit he was wearing, he replied, “These are my Thursday elimination clothes.” And Heejun said he was willing to consider any post-Idol gig offered to him, save for doing an adult film or singing at your wedding.
By the time I got to interview him, Heejun had seemingly exhausted his comedy material. Instead, we discussed the advice that Randy Jackson gave Heejun after the show, his brief acting career in a 2007 gangster indie called West 32nd, and his bromance with Phillip Phillips. Click through for the video interview with Heejun, plus my on-the-scene observations from last night’s results show:
Here are some things you didn’t see on TV last night:
Minaj Matters: Nicki Minaj taped her “Starships” performance before the show. First, her 10 dancers walked out on stage and started stretching. Then, the judge stand-ins took their seats, with a tall, thin, geeky-looking dawg taking the place of Randy Jackson. “There will be special effects in this number,” Debbie the Stage Manager warned the audience, “so do not freak out!”
And there it was: that purple egg-shaped spaceship from which Minaj emerged. There’s not much to report about Minaj’s actual performance — unlike most pretaped Idol numbers, the producers didn’t ask Minaj to perform the song twice, perhaps due to the FDA health warning about consuming two Nicki Minaj songs within the span of 10 minutes.
The more interesting thing, anyway, was that spaceship and the Idol stagehands’ prolonged effort to get rid of it. First a group of five guys tried rolling it to the front of the stage. More men joined in to lift the heavy prop off the stage and onto the floor several feet below. But then, for reasons beyond my understanding, the crew decided to lift the spaceship back onto the stage and roll it off backstage. This was amusing enough, but here’s the kicker: When the results show ended, lo and behold, the purple spaceship was rolled back to the front of the stage and again lifted down to the floor. For all we know, this Sisyphean ritual is continuing as you read this. Or, as The Architect from The Matrix Reloaded would say: “Rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have lifted that purple spaceship, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.”
Meeting Eric Benét: Deandre was genuinely shocked when Eric Benét leaped onto the stage to compliment the contestant. At the commercial break, Deandre pulled his knees up to his chest, curled his body into a ball, and starting shaking his head in disbelief. It was a sweet moment.
That’s a Good Girl: During the commercial break following Hollie’s banishment to the Silver Stools of Shame, the contestant had to move to the floor to watch Nicki Minaj’s taped performance. While Hollie stood there all alone, Ryan Seacrest walked by and patted her on the head, as if to say “It’s okay, Hollie.” It was simultaneously endearing and slightly condescending, since Seacrest was essentially treating the 18-year-old singer as a little kid. Here’s a visual approximation.
Beam Me Up, Scotty: I have nothing to say regarding Scotty McCreery’s performance, but at the commercial break, the season 10 winner sprinted down the runway to hug Randy, Jennifer, and Steven. Usually, former Idol contestants stay on the stage, and the judges will then walk over to them. But it was nice to see that Scotty hasn’t lost a single skip in his step. He’s still as giddy as can be, and was thrilled to see his old pals.
No Save for You: It was clear early on that the judges weren’t going to be saving Heejun. Typically, if the judges are going to consider the possibility of a save, they huddle up right away when the contestant starts singing. But as Heejun belted out “A Song for You,” the three judges sat silently. Only toward the middle of the song did Randy tap Steven’s shoulder, and the three started chatting — a simulated deliberation, if you ask me.
During Heejun’s farewell video, BFF Phillip was the first person to walk over to the eliminated singer. Phillip put his arm around Heejun’s shoulder, and the rest of the Top 8 proceeded to come down and give the guy some hugs. After the show ended, J.Lo was the first judge to hug Heejun, followed by Randy and Steven — the latter two had a lengthy chat with Heejun. (Watch our video interview above to learn what they were discussing.) Then everyone walked off the stage, and the coast was clear for the purple spaceship to reappear.