We dish on the first week's winners. What kind of name is Ryan Starr? What's with Jim's deaf parents? That and more from Jessica Shaw

By Jessica Shaw
July 04, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jim Verraros: J.Viles/FOX
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We dish on the first week’s winners

No matter what happens for the rest of the ”American Idol” run, there was one moment from Wednesday night’s episode that made the entire series unforgettable: the shot of Kelli Grover’s hair covering her weepy, sorrowful face when she didn’t get chosen to be one of the three finalists.

After her ”I-eeee-I-eeee-I” performance yesterday, I had nightmares that she was going to advance to the next round. The judges seemed to like Ms. Flat Abs even though she sang 90 percent of the song like she’d just gotten over a two-week cold. Small note to Kelli should she ever audition using that song again: Dolly Parton sang the original, not Whitney Houston, so if you’re gonna give props, don’t forget the woman who started it all.

But back to Kelli’s heartbreak. How is it that six other semifinalists could wipe away their tears and smile long enough for the live cameras to go off but Kelli could not manage to get out of her seat? The final shot of someone practically getting bitch-slapped after trying to console her was priceless.

Okay, before the Kelli fan club comes after me, let’s move on to the winners. Tamyra: LOVE her. She somehow made the Solid Gold floor and ”…in a galaxy far, far away…” background from Tuesday night look like Fox spent more than $3.49 on the show’s budget. Too bad her boyfriend Chris didn’t make it. I never thought his voice was all that great, and the whole ”I’m a cool guy” thing was tired after about three seconds, but I loved the whole ”Real World”-esque romantic tension between him and Tamyra.

Oh, well. At least Chris won’t have any competition in the Cupid department with Jim Verraros. I can’t decide whether I love him or loathe him. After that first audition, I was walking around doing sign language for kisses to anyone who would stand still long enough. But all of a sudden, Mr. My Parents Are Deaf became as annoying and dispensable as one of those virginal boy-band boys who came and went two seasons ago.

Plus, he had a sort of Elvis snarl going on and he didn’t have enough (read: any) sex appeal to pull that off. The guy’s going nowhere, but you can’t begrudge him a spot in the finals. Then again, he did say ”1-800-ABCDEFG. Go back to school” in response to some criticism on national television. I demand a vote recount!

And finally, what is there to stay about the tragically dressed Ryan Starr? Does she think she’s fooling anyone with that name? And what was up with the Ace bandage on her wrist? Her Halle Berry-esque acceptance got on my nerves, but you have to admit her voice was clearly better than much of the competition (even though I still have no idea what the heck she wants on the side).

How are we ever supposed to wait six more days until a whole new episode? Can we go almost a week without a pearl of wisdom from Simon or a heinous fashion ensemble from Paula Abdul? One word: Justin. Tamyra’s got talent, Jim is compellingly annoying, and Ryan is always a fascinating-to-watch fashion faux pas, but when it comes to pop stardom, it’s all about that curly-haired blond guy with a voice from the heavens. When that number comes up, my phone is going on redial. Carpal tunnel is a small price to pay to watch him for a few more weeks.

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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