This is one of those incredibly rare nights when the question of who is getting voted off is far less interesting than other stuff -- specifically, how they handle the Paula disaster from Tuesday night. Theories and speculation have flown all day -- it's been blamed on bad notes, confusion re the dress rehearsal, Paula's spaciness (whatever the reason for THAT), even Simon confusing Paula with whispers in her ear. (I don't remember seeing that on the air, but when clearly Paula's camp is looking for a plausible excuse, and shifting the blame is as good a way as any.)
But when push came to shove, Ryan delivered a vague, terse defense of Paula. He said the judges were thrown a curveball" (presumably by being asked their opinions sooner than planned), and that rumors about Abdul "were not true. She’s part of our family and we love her."
And that was it, aside from a lot of bowing to Paula during the show itself, including a big softball during the viewer call-in questions. Looks as if they'll just let the audience and the bloggers -- hello! -- keep yakking about the issue, fueling interest in the show again.
Anyway, in progress notes from the telecast, after the jump. ...
(Brooke is out. Syesha was also bottom two.)
Ryan says he is still out of breath from the night before. More than 45 million votes. Neil Diamond and Natasha Bedingfield in the house. Intro of the judges. Group sing tribute to Neil Diamond. Jason Casgtro gets the opening solo. Sad. Boring medley generally and a lot of really ragged harmony.
Ryan in the audience with Constantine and Gina Glocksen, plugging their show on Fox Reality. Plug for some Carrie Underwood product. Recap video from last night. When we get to the recap of judges' first opinions, Simon is the only one quoted.
Live. Ryan says "the judges were thrown a curveball" and that it sparked a lot of talk about Paula. Says the rumors aren't true. Never says which rumors he is referring to. Well, that was terse. I suspect Paula said no more.
Jason Castro is summoned. He is safe. Sympathy vote for the Paula gaffe? I don't think so. The kid has a fiercely loyal, if incomprehensible, fan base.
David Archuleta. Discussion of whether he is being too careful and cautious. Paula gets to talk about him, though not very articulately. He is also safe.
Plug for "So You Think You Can Dance." Gee, I'm sure glad they kept the Paula issue to a minimum so they had room for this. Coca Cola contest winner announced.
David Cook is summoned. Ryan brings up Paula's calling him "the American Idol," DC says it reminded him of Simon's praising Carly -- and her then going home. But he is safe.
Syesha and Brooke come onstage. Ryan chats, then sends them to the couch while we endure the guest stars' performances.
Natasha Bedingfield sings. Paula liked her second song best. (Come on, it's a joke!) Ryan turns to the judges for comments about her. Simon says, "Oh, no!" Ryan drops the bit. Natasha goes over to the contestants, gives DA a kiss.
The dreaded phone-ins from viewers. First question: Why does only Paula give the contestants a break? Purely coincidental, of course, for a night when they're trying to redeem Paula. And the second question is also for Paula -- about whether she's going to do more music videos. Allows handy plug for the Randy/Paula collaboration. Third question: Woman who kissed Simon when they were 9, and whether it was better than when he kissed Paula. (Three questions, three Paula references.) Simon remembers the woman. The whole bit is going on forever.
Car video: "Catch the Wind."
Neil Diamond sings. Great shot demonstrating what a sham the arm-wavers by the stage are: one little pocket waving while everyone else stands still, then a sudden addition of the others' arm-waves; instructions must have come in. It can't be the song. Chat with Ryan. Ho hum. Neil tells the contestants not to listen to what Simon says. Paula is pleased.
Syesha and Brooke return to center stage. Brooke is out. She cries. I would have taken out Castro before her, but of this bottom two, she's the one who had to go. She's really teary during her sign-off song ("I Am I Said"). Maybe she should stop and start over.