"Idol": Grand drama ... almost

Simon Cowell has a great sense of music, but not of drama. Tonight, "American Idol" barely missed an epic moment.

The viewers had put Scott MacIntyre at the bottom, with Anoop Desai next and Lil Rounds -- a great singer who had an average week -- third from the bottom.

The viewers got it right, but there was still a chance for the judges to save him. For a while, this seemed like it had been scripted for one of those feel-good menus.

Starting with the words "How can I convince you," MacIntyre sang better than ever, much better than the night before. He soared; the audience roared. If the judges had saved him, it would have been an immensely emotional moment.

It didn't happen. The vote had to be unanimous; two of the four judges (including, apparently, Cowell) dissented. MacIntyre is out.

Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:

1)  The night's biggest honor should go to the clean-up crew. In one commercial break, they had to clean up a ton of confetti that fell on Flo Rida.

2) I kind of liked Lil Rounds' dress, which seemed to be made of pseudo-armor.

3) OK, we all wanted Anoop Desai to go, instead. There's been enough trouble with North Carolina in basketball; we don't need its biggest fan winning "Idol," too.

4) Maybe Michigan people didn't need to win the basketball tournament, after all. Right now, it has one of the people in the final seven of "Idol" and three in the final seven in "Biggest Loser." Victory, somewhere, looms.

5) Matt Giraud, the Michigan "Idol" guy, had a great week and stayed out of the bottom three. He even got to introduce Kalamazoo's mayor, Bobby Hopewell.

6) Incidentally, you know that the mayor made up that name. A black politician, in Barack Obama's year of hope, named Hopewell? Before Obama, he was probably named Bobby Gloom.



"Idol": OK is no longer OK

So they announced that everyone on tonight's "American Idol" would sing songs from the year of their birth. Danny Gokey started by singing "Stand By Me," the 1961 classic.

1961? Wait, is this guy 48 years old?

It turns out that Mickey Gilley happened to record it in 1980, the year of Gokey's birth. Sure, that's what we think of whenever someone mentions Ben E. King's soulful classic -- some guy in a Stetson sang it in Pasadena, Texas.

Still, we won't complain. He sang it well, on a night when so many people settled for OK. Kris Allen and Scott MacIntyre did OK jobs; Lil Rounds neatly re-created the Tina Turner experience. That's fine, but this year it's not enough.

Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:

1) Life seems different without Megan Joy up there, dancing oddly. Please check my previous blog, which is a brief interview.

2) This is tough to believe: Someone (Lil) had heels too high for a Tina Turner song; someone (Allison Iraheta) had hair too red for a Bonnie Raitt song.

3) Still, both women sang with great power and Allison showed her individual flair. I really want them to survive; the show -- like the world -- doen't have enough women.

4) After showing a baby picture of Kara Dio Guardio with an angry expression, Ryan Seacret said she "looks like she just made a poopie." Hey, Simon Cowell often has that look; can we assume he's making poopies behind the desk?

5) We'll sort of accept Anoop Desai gloating about the victory for his beloved University of North Carolina. Still, we would have preferred to see him weeping about a loss.

6) Anoop also apologized for sort of talking back to Kara. That happened in the first "American Idol" year, when Justin Guarini apologized to all the judges. Hey, let's not be so wimpy; those judges are adult millionaires who can take a few knocks.

7) It was a great night for Matt Giraud of Kalamazoo. Taking a song by another Michigan guy (Stevie Wonder), he sang it with style and zest.

8) Then all other memories were wiped away by one stunning performance. Adam Lambert is a master showman; he also has the great voice to support that showmanship. That's one reason why being OK isn't good enough.

9) My should-go, based only on tonight: Scott at the bottom, with Kris second from last and Anoop third.

10) Will go? Definitely not Kris, who happens to be Zac Efron-cute. I'll say Scott will go, with Lil second from the bottom and Anoop third. Paula told Scott to step away from the piano; he did and everyone else said he shouldn't have. You can't win.






"Idol" begin its Joyless phase

Now "American Idol" is in its time without Joy.

That's Megan Joy, creator of mixed emotions. She's beautiful, funny, quirky; she also has maddeningly odd choices about music and dance.

In a minute, I'll blog about tonight's "Idol." First, here's the story I wrote after a phone interview with Joy:

The whimsical world of Megan Joy seems like nothing else in the "American Idol" universe.
"I'm really goofy and hanging out ... I'm always making noises, animal noises," she said by phone Thursday, the day after being ousted from "Idol."
On the one hand, she took her departure with a grin. She knew it was coming, she said, and is anxious to return to Utah and her 2-year-old son. "I'm going to hold him as long as he'll let me and I'm going to try not to sob like a lunatic," said Joy, 23.
On the other, she said she probably won't go home to him until Wednesday -- a week after she was dropped from the show. There are things to wrap up first, she said.
Joy's individual nature has fascinated viewers.
She was Megan Joy Corkrey at first, but then shed the last name, an artifact of her former marriage.
Judges praised her beauty and what they called a commercial style. She has a spectacular princess-and-castle tattoo filling one arm, plus other tattoos on her back, hip and feet; she said Thursday that she'll now be adding one on her ribs.
And judges -- especially Simon Cowell -- praised her unique voice at first, then became increasingly critical. "I think his opinion of me changed, but I have no beef with Simon," Joy said.
The judges marveled during country-music week, when she performed despite a severe flu. She was still lying down, getting intravenous fluids, a half-hour before singing, she said.
That week, Alexis Grace was ousted; Joy reached the final 10 and a place on the "Idol" tour. "I always wanted to make the tour," she said. "That was my only goal."
She survived one more week. On Wednesday, when she was sent to one of the chairs for the bottom three vote-getters, Joy flapped her arms like giant wings. "I love birds (and thought) 'I'll go out my own way,'" she said.
Judges have the option of saving one person during the season, but Cowell made it clear that Joy would not be saved. She still had to repeat her song, but it wasn't in an effort to get a reprieve.
"It was so much easier," she said, "because I didn't care if I messed up -- which I did."

The final tip-off nears

On the day of the NCAA basketball championship, it's hard to focus on anything else.

Please try to; catch my previous two blogs, on TV finales and "Sunshine Cleaning." First, however, a few comments:

1) The game is 9 p.m. today (Monday) on CBS. The network has promoted Clark Kellogg to its top commentator spot, which is good news. He's been doing a great job all season.

2) Detroit sees this game -- on Ford Field, which is usually for football -- as a chance to project a warm image. Alas, what many people will remember about Detroit is that it snows there in April.

3) There's a good side to that, though. On warm days in East Lansing, students traditionally have post-basketball riots. This time, they might confine themselves to a few ill-advised snowballs.

4) It can make a huge difference when the team playmaker takes control and wills a victory. We've already seen two such MSU players produce championships -- Magic Johnson and Mateen Cleaves. Now MSU has two such players -- Travis Walton and Kalin Lucas -- on one team. That's a very good sign.

5) Yes, it would be nice if MSU wins.  That will be the first time in an eternity or so that any team from Michigan has won on Ford Field.


TV finales -- good, great and other

The world needs special honors for TV shows that have good finales. It
also needs penalties -- something short of capital punishment,
but not too far short -- for the ones that don't.

(Also, please read my previous blog, reviewing the new "Sunshine Cleaning" movie.)

Some penalties should go to the producers who
let their shows die weakly. "The Sopranos," "Seinfeld" and
"X-Files" all disappointed.

But often the villain is the network. It will introduce a great concept,
then dismiss the show without explanation. Fox has been the prime offender,
with "John Doe," "Reunion," "Vanished" and more.

With that in mind, let's honor:

-- NBC. It let "ER" build to a fairly good finale. Some moments
were so-so, but others -- centering on John Carter (Noah Wyle), on Mark
Greene's daughter (Hallee Hirsh) and on a grieving husband (92-year-old
Ernest Borgnine) -- were deeply moving. The network also lets "Friday
Night Lights" run in logical bunches, matching a football season. Last
week's episode, a terrific one, saw the Dillon Panthers jut miss a
state championship; this week (9 p.m. Friday, April 10) the season ends
with Coach Taylor's job on the line.

-- ABC. Its decision to give "Lost" a finite lifespan has helped viewers immensely. And it gave "Life on Mars" a warning that the end was near; the result was one of the best finales I've seen.

The odds were against it. "Life on Mars" has a cop arbitrarily waking up in 1973, where he must resort to solving cases the old way. How do you explain that in a fun way?

The original, British version, I'm told, simply dismissed it all as a brain injury. (There's an excellent sequel, "Ashes to Ashes," Saturdays on BBC America.) But the American version came up with something much better. It tied together lots of things, from David Bowie songs to the name of one of the characters. I won't tell you more, because the finale should still be available at abc.com. Catch it; it's worthy of our mythical Fini Award, for great moments in TV finales.