I’ve just returned from a week in Hollywood, where usual idol worship was inflated by the hoopla surrounding the "American Idol" finale.
What’s a trip without gossip? I offer you some "Idol" nuggets, in no particular order. The facts are true, and the opinions are correct (because they’re mine, of course).
The card that Ryan Seacrest read when he announced Taylor Hicks won "American Idol" was actually blank. The reason for this, Seacrest told me, is that some past contestants have tried to peek over his shoulder before the name is divulged.
To keep it a secret — and to safeguard against anyone tampering with the card by writing the wrong name — producers tell Seacrest who the winner is early in the day. This is the information he goes by, and the card is left blank.
There doesn’t seem to be any way to truly prevent "Idol" voting fraud. I asked the judges how they could keep a computer hacker from overriding the phone system and launching excessive calls or text messages for one contestant. Simon’s response: “Good point. Good point. Can’t answer that.”
According to Katharine McPhee, mega-songwriter and producer David Foster, who appeared on the show this season, told her before the finale that it’d be better NOT to win. He thought this would allow her to develop her artistry more fully, rather than coming straight out of the "Idol" mold. We’ll soon find out if he’s right....
Despite his recent inability to release a hit song, the supremely diminutive Prince still behaves like rock royalty.
Prince didn’t show up for rehearsal until 11:30 p.m. the night before the finale; producers weren’t even sure he’d turn up until 10.
The night of the show, the Purple One provided white knuckles by not arriving until moments before he was scheduled to perform. Granted, once on stage his number was killer — arguably the highlight of the evening.
Then, in true Princely fashion, he turned on his high heels, blew off Seacrest’s congratulatory advance, walked off the stage and straight out the back door of the theater. His two barely-dressed female dancers led the way, forming a sexy fortress around their Prince.
Last season’s stud rocker Constantine Maroulis needs to stop posing like a member of an '80s hair band. In fact, I would suggest using a hair band to pull back the shaggy mop. Pull the tongue back, too. The Gene Simmons pose went out before Kiss took off their makeup.
Last season’s unstudly Anthony Fedorov is on his way to becoming a stud. The blond, boyish crooner of Ukranian decent has tossed the glasses, grown hipster facial hair above the chin and toned his body with a trainer. He’s recording songs by top songwriters — Diane Warren among them — and expects to release an album this year or early next.
But here’s the coolest thing of all: he’ll be singing the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium for a Mets-Dodgers game in June (he’s a Yankee fan — a misguided path in my opinion. I told him the Mets would win it all this year).
Simon actually felt SLIGHTLY guilty about predicting that Taylor would win. According to Katharine, Simon pulled her aside after his proclamation and asked, “You all right with what I said?” She said she was fine, told him she loved him, and he said the same. Then they hugged. And all was right in the "Idol" world.
Backstage at the "Idol" finale was a happily hectic place. Elliott Yamin took full advantage of the craft services table, noshing on the fruit, veggies and mini pizza.
Taylor hardly had time to be nervous, given that he had six wardrobe changes. And after the show, Katharine’s family chatted with other parents, including those of "Idol" finalist Lisa Tucker.
But the biggest smiles came from the oddest couple of all — tall, tailored Fox Entertainment president Peter Liguori, and pint-sized Mike Darnell, FOX’s crazy-haired, cowboy-booted chief of alternative programming.
The two managed to high-five each other despite a nearly three-foot height difference. Good ratings will overcome anything.