'American' Idol Frenzy

Forget "McPhever," America has a case of the "American Idol Pox" as Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee get ready to go head to head Tuesday night at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.

The next "American Idol" will be crowned Wednesday night after the votes are counted in what is anticipated to be the most-watched season finale of 2006, and perhaps the most-watched show of the year.

Hollywood and Highland, the site of the Kodak Theater, where the Academy Awards are handed out, are inundated with news crews from across the country, from television to radio to print.

To put it into perspective, as one FOX production manager told me, there are more TV affiliates here than at most Super Bowls.

Paula Abdul kicked off the week with a live QVC special where she sold jewelry that she had designed especially for "Idol" wannabes.

"My responsibility is to design pieces that tap into the human spirit and keep people on their own path," she told me.

Chris Daughtry, whom fans were shocked to see voted off the talent competition two weeks ago, says he's past any controversy, and is quick to dispel rumors that he's signed on with any rock bands, including Fuel.

He also says he's done with the auto service industry.

"The days of selling tires or any other auto service are gone for me," he said. "I'm done. I am taking this time to consider all my options. I got the ("Idols") tour to do this summer and I can't do anything until that's over anyway, so it gives me time to really think things through and do the right thing," said the guy who's done more for the shaved head look since Michael Jordan's heyday.

North Carolina's Kellie Pickler told me she didn't mind all of the criticism she received from media types like me.

"Well, at least your honest," she said when I told her I frequently put her through the wringer in this column.

"In this business you take the good with the bad," she said, sounding more like a grizzled music veteran than someone who was waiting on cars on roller skates at Sonic Burger a few months ago.

She also cut her hair into an adorable pixie style that will do wonders for whatever future she does have in the entertainment business.

Elliott Yamin was his usual down-to-earth self, thanking America for its support.

Lisa Tucker has a prom coming up on June 3, and listen up gown designers — she's still shopping, and she's a size extra small.

But my favorite interview of the day was with Kevin Covais. When I told him that I had read he would be joining the Ultimate Fighting Championships as a fighter, he was bit flustered.

"You read that somewhere ... no, no, I didn't."

He was relieved when I told him I was just kidding.

"That was good man, I liked that one," said the fun-loving kid from Levittown, N.Y., a hop, skip and a jump from our own Brian Kilmeade's hometown.

In fact, Kilmeade scored an exclusive interview with Simon Cowell at the acerbic judge's newly purchased mansion in Beverly Hills.

"He's really like a big kid," Kilmeade told me as his producer, Ron Messer, was screening the interview.

Cowell also told Kilmeade that he's looking to buy another house in the near future.

As for Wednesday night's winner, nobody on hand at The Kodak Theater was offering any rock solid predictions as to who would be crowned the next "American Idol," which is probably the safer bet.

At this stage in the game, it comes down to a popularity contest between Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee.

Click over for more coverage of the "American Idol" finale from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles at www.foxnews.com/foxlife/americanidol/index.html

VIDEO: Watch Mike's "Real Deal" Web casts from the Idol red carpet.