No podcast tonight. As for the show, not an auspicious start ...
(If you're just looking for a result, everyone was declared safe. "How could we let anyone go on a charity night?" Ryan says. And now the live blog ...)
Ryan has to redo the opening because of some apparent confusion over the lines. But, in case you haven't noticed, this ... is ... Idol ... Gives ... Back. Credits.Then Ryan admits that he's said 63 times that this is the biggest "Idol" ever -- after saying it again. And he promises "the most shocking result ever" tonight. LaKisha? Two people voted off? No one removed -- since hey, it's a charity night?
Homage to the phone callers. Phone number for credit card donations. Introduction of judges. Throw to Ellen DeGeneres at another big location, the Walt Disney concert hall. Ellen mentions the acts and offers a smidge of "Shoop." Then ... Earth, Wind & Fire. Featuring the Ghost of Celebrity Judging Past. And "Boogie Wonderland" kicks a off medley with "Shining Star" ...
So, let's say I'm sitting in the studio that the music is NOT being performed in. Am I ticked now or what?
... "September," and we're out. And giving the workmanlike performance, I probably wouldn't care which studio I was in.
Videotaped bit, brought to you by Allstate. "Idol" holds auditions in New Orleans, then Katrina hits. Randy returns to see the ongoing devastation, and to mention that Save the Children is helping -- but needs support.
Back to the studio. Scattered applause. Randy offers the donation numbers.
Quincy Jones on tape with the six contestants. Talking about "Time to Care," a song he has written for "IGB." Live performance of the final six, dressed in white, singing the song with Quincy conducting. This is not exactly "We Are the World."
Now I am wondering if Melinda was voted off. She did not do well in the dialidol.com standings, but that has not been very reliable this season.
Eric McCormack in a taped pitch. Asks for $1 from "every person that ever voted for Sanjaya." After the break, David Schwimmer in a taped pitch. Ryan throws to be Ben Stiller, who tries to be funny. Really tries. Since I am about 20 minutes behind the live feed, I take this opportunity to fast-forward.
More Ryan and Simon in Africa. Then in the studio. Simon has gone beyond the buttoned shirt to ... a sports jacket. Simon appears to be waiting for something on the studio big screen. Oh, more Ben Stiller. A very badly made up Teri Hatcher's taped pitch. Break.
Forest Whitaker in a taped pitch from Uganda. Then to the contestants. Ryan says he'll deal with contestants in random order.
Melinda is declared safe. Whew. The other five get to wait through a taped piece with Paula in a Boys & Girls Club. Then to Ellen asking for money. Then Il Divo -- Simon's guys -- sing "Somewhere."
The bride, previously unaware of these guys, now wants their CDs. And her birthday is not far off. (Hey, Kris, let's talk.)
Dr. Phil pitch. After break, Hugh Laurie pitch. Funny. "House has an accent!" Ryan says. Ryan invites a random member of the audience onstage. Why, it's Jack Black! He wants to sing, and to be judged by the panel. "Kiss From a Rose." Shots of Kyle holding a rose. Why, it's all so spontaneous! Jack awkwardly takes a rose from his pocket. Band stops. Jack wants a real critique -- Randy says he should wear stretchy pants. Mocking laughter from Jack. The bit goes downhill to Simon saying Jack is "better than Sanjaya." Jack says Seal would declare his performance awesome.
Wait for it.
Seal is in the house. And pronounces Jack fabulous. It's all so ... not amusing!
Back to results. Blake is asked to stand. He's safe. Now I really think it's going to be that everyone is safe. (Did I mention that this is a charity event?)
Carrie Underwood on tape in Africa, performing the Pretenders' "I'll Stand by You."
Look, I acknowledge that "Idol" could have been a huge success and never done a charity show. So it deserves a big bow for raising the money. But it's doing it with a format that is also supposed to be entertaining, and so far it's a struggle to sit through.
After a break, back to Ellen. Another Sanjaya joke. Then Rascal Flatts doing "My Wish." Ryan in the studio, promising a world-class entertainer in two minutes, then introducing the co-founder of MySpace. Then tape of Americans in crisis in Kentucky. Paula in studio, then a break.
All-star promo for www.one.org (Bono's org).
Car video to "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
"Staying Alive" video. Lots of stars in various states of sway. LeBron much represented.
Another result. Phil is safe.
More in Africa, a story Ryan calls "tough" but "real." A tent with AIDS orphans, three of them HIV-positive. And a young woman who is desperately ill. Simon, shaken, says "it's just wrong." Another home, another very ill woman. Simon wants her taken to a hospital. The second woman died two days after going to the hospital. I am fighting tears.
Then to Ellen, who also looks moved. She offers a $100,000 donation and urges "rich people" to match her.
I was wondering how they'd follow that. Answer: Josh Groban doing "You Raise Me Up" with an African children's chorus. Then a break.
Thanks to corporate sponsors. Tape: Celebs talk about funerals they've been to -- then we hear an African man say he's been to hundreds. Back to Ellen, who introduces Kelly Clarkson with Jeff Beck. Very simple, bluesy, but I'd have expected a little more from Jeff Beck.
Break. Simon with the Simpsons. Funny. Results: LaKisha is safe. Tape with Randy.
Video edit of Celine Dion with Elvis Presley on "If I Can Dream" from the '68 special. Sheer gimmickry, and not too good. After all, Celine can try to harmonize with E, but he's in no position to reciprocate.
Madonna on tape from Malawi with a group of children. I'm tempted to say she's window-shopping, but that would be mean.
After the break, Ryan says almost $30 million has been raised for charity. And, as I said, they didn't have to do this. So here's hoping the money does some good.
"Idol" trivia question. Ryan has to vamp through some confusion. Tries to get Simon to bail him out. Simon declines. Ryan goes to Ellen. Who introduces Annie Lennox on "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Sitting at the piano, Lennox is barely in her dress top. Vocal's not too impressive. Did no one call Art Garfunkel?
Tape of thank-yous from children. Break.
Final results: Chris and Jordin asked to stand up. Ryan mentions their songs. Chris is told he is safe.
Jordin is also safe -- and in tears because she obviously thought for a moment that she was gone.
This week's votes will count toward next week, when two will be voted off.
Tape of Bono with the contestants. Then they perform his song, "American Prayer." Which I might like if Bono was singing it. We're into overtime, too. Credits run as they sing.