On The Scene: 'Idol' Top 8 Elimination Night

Jlo_lThe stars were out tonight, sprinkled throughout the studio audience on this fifth elimination show. I first got wind of it while walking through the parking lot, where I saw better-than-handicapped spots reserved for the night’s A-list talent: Jennifer Lopez, the live musical guest; Pink, who was taping a performance for Idol Gives Back following the telecast; Sharon Osbourne, apparently an old pal of Nigel Lythgoe’s; King of Queens’ Leah Remini; definitely an old and good friend of Lopez’s; and Desperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria. It’s certainly keeping the paparazzi busy. Though they’re not allowed on the grounds of CBS Television City, between Dancing With the Stars and Idol, which are filmed in adjacent stages, I’ve seen the same group of persistent shutterbugs parked outside the gates on Beverly Blvd. for weeks now, though I imagine once Heather Mills gets the boot, they’ll probably retire the location.

Back to inside, of course there were the random ex-contestants in the crowd. Chris Sligh made his entrance a half hour before the show started. He had to ask a page where his seat was, officially taking his place on "the other side." Though he did get a loud applause as he walked through and a line of kids asking for an autograph. Last season’s Mandisa was also there, as was Justin Guarini from way back in season 1.

With five minutes to air, the contestants are walked onto the stage and introduced one by one. The Fanjayas were in full force on this night, relishing in the seemingly unanimous opinion that their man’s last performance wasn’t terrible, as Simon humbly noted. Big cheers for the other boys, too — namely Chris and Blake, the latter of whom looks more like a front-runner with each passing week.

addCredit(“American Idol: Frank Micelotta”)

With less than two minutes to go, Debbie, Idol‘s lovablestage manager, remarks that she still has no judges and asks SharonOsbourne if she’d like to sit in, considering her experience on theBritish talent show, X-Factor. Sharon seems to know a lot of people in the crowd, including Debbie and Nigel Lythgoe, with whom she chatted for some time.

And just in time, the judges make their way in finally. While Debbiebegins the countdown from 10, Ryan walks down the line and motions forevery contestant to look at him as he makes his intro. He is aperfectionist, that Ryan Seacrest. And from the looks of it, all butSanjaya got it right.

Truth be told, after the opening number, during which it seemedpainfully obvious that Haley was the only one to pick up some dancingtips from J. Lo, the contestants were barely seen for the rest of theshow. Rather, they sat mostly in the dark watching video segments alongwith the audience. There was the occasional Blake to Chris jab, usuallyas a result of some fawning comment made about one of them, Haley hadto adjust her shirt and pants a lot, Jordin giggled upon hearing thephrase "muy caliente." Undoubtedly, Phil looked nervous, but I likedthat he bowed when his name was called. The guy’s a class act. Blake,on the other hand, looked cool and calm, even having fun with hisfriends in the audience by making them stand up for a quick photo thathe took from the stage. And during Akon’s performance, which was tapeda couple weeks back, Blake was grooving like there was no tomorrow.

But it was when J. Lo hit the stage that the place really exploded.Paula immediately jumped out of her chair and the rest of the audiencewas right behind her. Meanwhile, onstage, Jordin looked overwhelmed atthe sheer spectacle of the J. Lo stage show  (pictured), likely thinking what a lotof us spectators had on our minds: now, that girl can sing. Even Simonwas moved to stand up for La Lopez (more on that later).

Idol Gives Back is obviously a big priority for the show’screators and principals. Lythgoe made that clear when asking theaudience to stay for Pink’s performance. He also mentioned a few othernames who would be participating in some way, among them Johnny Depp,Helen Mirren, Celine Dion, Helen Bonham Carter, and the Monkees’ MickyDolenz. I have to hand it to Lythgoe. As many of you probably know, healso executive produces Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance andis, himself, a former choreographer. And let me tell you, this guy’sgot moves. I have no idea how old he is, but during the post-show tape,he demonstrated skills that could have easily won him a spot in J. Lo’sdancer line. Seriously.

And back to La Lopez. I ran into her in the parking lot on the way out and to say that she was psyched about her Idolexperience would be a major understatement. First off, I complimentedher on the mentoring rounds and the consensus that she stands among thebest yet. She was, as always, genuinely grateful for some kind words,but what really wowed her was something Simon said after the show. "Hetold me it was the best performance ever on American Idol," she divulged with a child-like glee. "Isn’t that amazing? Coming from him? I’ll take it!"

Comments (28 total)
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  • Sally

    Jennifer looks good and she sounded better. She can be a rock star! They need her on DWTS, because that was a hot dance number

  • concerned

    i need to start this on a serious note. i don’t want to get on a soapbox, but i’m ashamed by so many of the comments on popwatch and the regular pages that sort of goes along with the imus controversy. people are constantly playing around with lakisha’s name on the blogs. then calling the girls horrible names about their weight and their race (not blatent, but it’s there and you know it.) i know it’s entertainment and sanjaya gets lots of flak also(then comes the mean gay tyrades). my question is what these people have done to deserve such hateful comments. these are kids trying to do what they love, why so much hatred? it’s just very sad to me. we’re going backwards in our society.

  • jason

    i agree with michael, jenny had THE BEST results show performance ever. i wanted to dance behind her, ha. anyway, in the article published here, even the producers said sanjaya will not win, and they should know. my only problem is i think the contestants are losing energy, not gaining it like they should be getting closer to the finale. i hope my show (and reason for living sadly enough), isn’t falling apart. country week next week, will definitely be a train-wreck, but i’m looking forward to the inspirational songs during “idol gives back” in 2 weeks. THAT better be a turning point or i’ll be really nervous about the future of Idol.

  • Stephanie T.

    Jen sounds sooo much better in her native language. I thought her English songs sounded plastic. BTW: Marc Anthony Zayes(her hubby)got in trouble for not paying his taxes.
    And as for Haley I have this to say:
    (to the tune of “Turn the Beat Around”)
    Pack it up and go, you’re now in the crapper!
    See ya.

  • cranky

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed J Lo’s performance. I’ve never been a fan, but she was really great last night.

  • Karla

    Hi concerned, thanks for saying what you did. I sometimes go away from these boards feeling very downhearted.
    I have to say that while many people are just grousing and being insensitive and shallow, others are trying to emulate the mean-spirited comedy that is now our national pasttime. I mean, Will Ferrell is funny man, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him NOT go for a cheap laugh by showing his tummy. Fat is funny and pathetic – get it? Hoo boy, Mark Twain is jealous.
    One thing that astonished me on the Imus boards is that many readers felt his attacks would have been okay if the basketball players were paid, and had therefore set themselves up for abuse, racism, and mysogyny.
    People also excuse their racist and homophobic attacks on Sanjaya by saying that a public figure is a fair target for whatever idiocy people want to vomit at him. Sorry neither.
    Thanks for speaking up. It’s important.

  • Jen

    Jennifer was born and raised in the Bronx. English is her native language. According to imdb, she “struggles to converse in Spanish, even though she was raised by Puerto Rican immigrants.”
    Kudos to her for embracing her culture and making a spanish language album.
    I Tivo’d last night’s show, and now I’m looking forward to watching it. Thanks, Michael!

  • Ed

    I think Blake is going to take the show. That mouth continues to be his sexiest body part. I love me some Blakey.
    Once Phil leaves, Sangie will be next. Then Chris, he’s starting to wear on me.

  • Jen

    Ooops. I mean, Thanks, Shirley! (I forgot what I was reading.)

  • Elentari

    Lopez singlehandedly revived her sagging career with her week on Idol. This was just what she needed.

  • Elentari

    Lopez singlehandedly revived her sagging career with her week on Idol. This was just what she needed.

  • Anonymous

    Shirley, you didn’t “complement” J.Lo on her performance, you complimented her. Sorry to be picky, but EW is a national magazine and I think its writers should spell things correctly. There are too many bad spellers out there as it is.

  • Tim

    Oh great, the bloated one-hour episodes are back. That means 57 minutes of filler and three minutes of substance. I could do without.

  • Christina

    God. Blake is gliding to the finale isn’t he? Those earsplitting screams for him last night were a little frightening. That was the sound of hormonal tweens who text vote non-stop.

  • Whatever

    I like Jen. But the ‘jenny from the block’, ‘I’m a real person’ thing is a bit overdone. I read somewhere she flew in this special person just to do her eyebrows. Cost around 5 grand. Gratuitous waste.
    Which block is she from anyway??

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