Reality Check: A Shocking Surprise on 'American Idol'

You can't accuse "Idol Gives Back" of not delivering what it promised. There were celebrity appearances aplenty, with everyone from Ben Stiller to Madonna to Dr. Phil to Gwyneth Paltrow chiming in, lip-synching or making an earnest plea on behalf of a charity.

There was Bono, psyching up our contestants with a rousing talk about helping other people through music. There were performances by former "American Idol" winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, as well as numbers by Annie Lenox, Rascal Flatts, Earth, Wind and Fire and more. And there was a never-before-seen duet between Celine Dion and a computer-generated Elvis.

Celebrities weren't the only people performing their hearts out on the show. Our "Idol" hopefuls — all decked out in white suits a la John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever" — also sang two musical numbers, including a Quincy Jones original that sounded oddly reminiscent of a Disney theme song.

PHOTO ESSAY: 'Idol Gives Back

But the big hype was around the shocking results that Ryan teased what seemed like several hundred times throughout the show.

While producers tried to lead us to believe that this meant that Jordin was being ousted, the observant among us knew that because Ryan had started promising this shock on Tuesday night — that is, before anyone voted — it couldn't refer to who was being kicked off.

While the big reveal — that no one would leave — felt a bit anti-climactic, the fact that stakes will be raised when two finalists are eliminated next week more than made up for what felt like a fake-out.

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Speaking of fake-outs, 99.9 percent of the celebrities weren't actually present. Jack Black, who delivered a humorously disastrous rendition of Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," made up the other .1 percent. He added a much-needed energy boost and inspired Simon to remark that he was "better than Sanjaya."

Sanjaya, sitting in the audience with his sister, responded with his typically clueless exuberance, displaying either the world's best disposition or a case of ever-increasing doltishness.

While interspersing footage of children enduring tragic circumstances with typical "Idol" revelry seemed awkward at times, there's no arguing with the results: Over $30 million raised and some 70 million votes.

And next week, they will even tell us who they were for.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins.

"American Idol" airs on FOX, which is owned by the parent company of

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