It's time for the elevator ride, after the jump ...
The gang of 40 has gathered, knowing a bunch of them will be going home. As is traditional, they have to go from a waiting room up a camera-bearing elevator.
Sanjaya Malakar first. Bit of him singing "Some Kind of Wonderful." Sister didn't make it to the 40. He is one of the 24.
Anna Kearns next. Sang "Respect" in Seattle. The "giraffe" as Simon called her. She calls him on the comment. He apologizes. But she doesn't go to the 24.
Bernard Williams. Birmingham auditions. No go.
Eric Davis, Tami Gosnell, also out.
Melinda Doolittle. Background singer. Was very good in Hollywood. Simon says her being a backup means someone is usually better -- but she is good enough for the round of 24.
Back to back background singers. Brandon Rogers. He's a 24.
I've been watching a lot of TV in real time lately. And reminded how much more fun it is to be able to fast-forward through commercials. Especially ones I have seen about a hundred times before.
We're back for what Ryan is calling the "final judgment." Seems to me "Idol" has that in May.
Gina Glocksen. Paula is showing empathy -- then says she's in the 24. "Shut up!" Gina says. Tears of joy in the elevator.
Jimmy McNeal, Errick Johnson, no go.
Haley Scarnato is in the 24. Philip Stacy, had Simon and Paula swaying with his song in Hollywood; had missed his daughter's birth for the auditions. Is also in the 24.
Back from the break. Plug for "The Simpsons" movie (which was screened for the Hollywood group). Includes premiere date. A visit to the "Simpsons" studio. And then Chris Sligh (big-curly-hair guy).
Simon says he's one of the most popular contestants but not one of the better singers. Still, he's in the 24.
Beat-box boy, Blake Lewis, is in the 24.
Thomas Lowe does not. Rudy Cardenas, last of the group with Sligh, Lowe and Beat-Box, is in. About halfway through the show, I think we've seen nine of the 24.
Paul Kim relaxes during the wait by going barefoot -- and with lucky underwear. In the 24, although Paula says it's a "split decision."
Jordin Sparks. Randy says she was good in audition, nervous in Hollywood. She's in 24.
Quick run of three women who were rejected'; will fill in names later. A.J. Tabaldo, trying to get through for the fifth time, gets through.
Stephanie Edwards. In 24.
Leslie Hunt, also in, even though she didn't sound as good as Edwards or Tabaldo on Stevie Wonder's "Until You Come Back to Me."
Nicholas Pedro, dropout in Hollywood before, gets through to the 24 this time. They've jammed through a bunch since the last break.
Alaina Alexander, a constant crier. Looks as if she's going to cry even before they tell her the news. "I don't want to go home," she says. Really bad clip of her singing in Hollywood. "We thought about this a lot," Randy says. She's in. Starts asking for advice. "Probably blow your nose," Simon says.
Chris Richardson, in. Sabrina Sloan, in. Jerome Chism, out. Joelle James, out. Matt Buckstein, out. Princess Johnson, out. She asks the judges one more time before she leaves. Answer's the same.
Strong-voiced single mom Lakisha Jones. Simon asks if she thinks she's done well. She does. If you don't make it through, what will you do? Simon asks. No regrets? he adds. And then, she's in. And Simon, near as I can recall, hasn't made a snarky comment about her size. Is enlightenment possible?
I'm scribbling desperately as I go, and have 10 guys picked and nine women so far. At least this makes for a fast-paced hour, commercials for "The Wedding Bells" notwithstanding.
Seven contestants left. Nicole Tranquillo, in. Jared Cotter, in. One guy spot left. Amy Krebs, in. One woman's spot left.
It's time for the two-chairs, one winner ritual.
Antonella Barba and Marisa Rhodes are the last women. "It's time to keep it real and bring down the truth," Randy intones. Antonella makes the 24, Marisa does not. I am thinking of the end of "For Your Consideration," when actors have to deal with being described as nearly getting an Oscar nomination. Marisa is sobbing in the elevator.
The guys. Sundance Head, who was not good in what we saw of Hollywood, and Thomas Daniels. They shake hands in the elevator. Thomas is jumping up and down. Sundance gets the spot. Paula tells Thomas he's "brilliant." Then what does that make Sundance? Thomas bleeps in the elevator. Sundance says that, if he makes it, he'll hire Thomas as his bodyguard. This does not appear to strike Thomas as a great offer.
Dancing recap of the 24, women first, then men. Credits roll as men dance. Next week, the real deal.