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February 14, 2008
Idol Chatter: At last, the Top 24


OK, so I was all set to get right down to the business of finding out who was to make the Top 24 on "American Idol" Wednesday night, only to have the show open with some lame-o promo of actor Hayden Christensen's upcoming movie "Jumper."

He and "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest are perched, I think, on top of a pyramid eating sandwiches, and Ryan says he's got a "show to do." Well, darn it, get on with it then!

And pleaaaase tell me we're not starting with the crazy commercials already!

Anyway, the show made a mega deal out of how the remaining 50 contestants were frazzled and frayed. They couldn't eat or sleep, they fidgeted, they cried.

Michael.jpg Frazzled or not, as a viewer, it was difficult at times to figure out who was who. The show's producers seemed to focus on folks we had seen and heard and already had gotten to know, i.e. Carly Smithson (the Irish singer who got her visa right this time), Brooke White (blond curls/Carol King approach), and Michael Johns (pictured; Aussie who's easy on the eyes).

They made it through, of course. And on and on till it was down to 12 guys and 12 gals.

The three judges delivered the good/bad news in the usual cavernous ballroom with the contestants sitting in front of them. For some reason, Paula Abdul did most of the talking, if you could call it that, with a lot of stuff like, "This is an emotional time for all us" and "It only gets harder from here on." (Simon Cowell even chimed in that she was deliberately "torturing" some of the contestants with her prattling.)

The folks in my circle felt the show finally did get it right, though, putting through the best singers, including Syesha Mercado, David Cook, Asia'H Epperson (pictured) and, for the youth market, 17-year-old David Archuleta.

There was, however, the usual drama:

* Colton Berry beat out likeable future politico Kyle Ensley, whom Simon apparently fought with his last breath to keep. "I completely disagree with this decision, Kyle," Simon said, "and I'm really, really disappointed you're not going on."

* Alas, the "Heartbreak Kid," Josiah Leming, 18, who had been living in his car, got a "no." His tearful exit was almost too painful to watch. He hugged all the winners, wished them luck and left the building. My daughter said she was sure someone would take him into their home after that departure.

Starting next week, "Idol" viewers will become the voters. The Top 12 guys perform Tuesday; the Top 12 gals Wednesday. Then, on Thursday's live results show, two from each group will get the boot.

All shows will air at 8 p.m. on Channel 40. That's also when we find out what the Season 7 parting song will be. Hope it's a good one; we'll hear enough of it until May!

Note to you: In anticipation of next week's competition, I'll be speaking on Friday with "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe to get his take on what to expect from this crop of semi-finalists.

Stay tuned.

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