Wednesday (May 26) night's "American Idol" finale is scheduled to run for 127 minutes, from 8 p.m. til 10:07 p.m. I know it's running long. You know it's running long. Simon Fuller, Ryan Seacrest, Bruce Gowers and FOX's programmers all know it's running long.
And why wouldn't it? We're going to have musical performances galore, lengthy tributes to Simon Cowell and his storied legacy, more integrated cross-promotional plugs than you could shake a stick at and, if we've been very bad indeed, the time-wasting travesty known as The Golden Idols. All the while, tension will build... Is your next American Idol going to be Lee DeWyze or Crystal Bowersox?
Join me for all of the fun (and the not-fun) over the next two-plus hours. Jump in and comment, or just share my pain. It's your choice.
Click through for the recap and the results...
7:59 p.m. ET. I was accused in the comments to yesterday's recap of rooting for Crystal, which would be like accusing me of being a Celtics and Red Sox fan. Duh. I hadn't thought I was hiding? But one thing I will swear, something I discussed in today's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, is that I was all ready to be content with Lee's increasingly inevitable win. He's not exactly my cup of tea, but I figured he's a decent version of what he is. Then, on Tuesday, he laid the biggest finale-night egg in "American Idol" history. [Go ahead. Suggest a worse Top Two performance night.]. Now? I'm bracing myself to be irked. And that's always a fun feeling!
8:00 p.m. You represented yourself well, Chicago. I mean, sure, you only produced 12 Golden Ticket recipients, but talk about efficiency! Two of those Golden Ticketists are on the stage tonight!
8:01 p.m. "Idol" winners galore in the house tonight. Taylor Hicks has a new haircut!
8:03 p.m. Coming into the vote last night, less than two percent separated the Finalists. I guess that's impressive, not that Ryan will tell us how many votes were tabulated, because that would be humiliating.
8:03 p.m. Randy Jackson gives Simon a standing ovation, celebrating his last night on "American Idol." Simon is celebrating by unbuttoning an extra button on his shirt. Yup. He's showin' pubes.
8:04 p.m. Why are Lee and Crystal dressed like Hogwarts tour guides? OK, kids. If "American Idol" really *were* Hogwarts, which House would Crystal and Lee be in?
8:04 p.m. Crystal fans are in Toledo, Ohio. Some past "Idol" favorite is probably there as correspondent, but they don't have a camera on said correspondent, so we hear a voice and Ryan has to cut them off abruptly.
8:05 p.m. Apparently there's a whole "school" theme tonight. The night's first group sing is set to Alice Cooper's "School's Out For Summer." Naughty Schoolgirl Didi Benami, for the win, y'all.
8:07 p.m. Alice Cooper is in the house!
8:08 p.m. Oh, Alice Cooper. You're a little flat. Or somebody's a little flat. Whoever it is, you're messing with my "Idol" schoolgirl fantasies...
8:18 p.m. Major Slingbox issues. What did I miss other than the first of many Cowell tributes?
8:18 p.m. One thing I didn't miss, apparently, is an Siobhan Magnus/Aaron Kelly duet on "How Deep Is Your Love."
8:20 p.m. And they're joined by whichever of the Brothers Gibb are still alive! This is not a complimentary pairing of voices. Nor is it a logical grouping of performers. I'm really not sure what the point of this is.
8:21 p.m. The "American Idol" Munch-kin resists the chance for one last Scream. Viewers at home may not be so restrained.
8:26 p.m. Michael Lynche is singing Michael McDonald. And I'm linking to this YouTube clip.
8:27 p.m. Big Mike McDonald is in the HOUSE! I'm sorry, but if you have Michael McDonald and you don't pair him with Lee DeWyze, you've missed much too great an opportunity. Trickin' it to the treats... Glad to see "Idol" has maintained its touch with recruiting the industry's hottest artists.
8:29 p.m. Oh hell no. Dane Cook? Blech.
8:30 p.m. He's singing a song made up of Simon's favorite insults. This is appropriate, since Dane Cook is always at his best when stealing other people's jokes. A random assortment of insulted auditioners from "Idol" past appear and upstage the uselessness of Dane Cook.
8:35 p.m. The "Idol" ladies are "Beautiful," no matter what you say. Words won't bring them down. I can honestly say that I've never said anything negative about the way any of the Top 12 "Idol" women looked.
8:36 p.m. Tonight's various costuming themes have been all about Siobhan Magnus. She does Angry School Girl and Angry Punk Girl with equal aplomb. Oh. They've transitioned into "Fighter." Any guesses on who's gonna join the "Idol"-ettes on stage next?
8:37 p.m. Katie Stevens, who isn't nearly as comfortable workin' the Angry Punk Girl look. gets to introduce the night's first truly contemporary artist, Christina Aguilera.
8:38 p.m. Christina Aguilera is too big to be forced to sing with the "Idol"-ettes for more than two notes. The theater goes dark and Christina gets the stage to herself. You know, I always thought that little fluttering-finger thing was an affectation Christina Aguilera would outgrow at some point. I was wrong.
8:42 p.m. Ricky Gervais is live-on-satellite paying "tribute" to Simon. "Enjoy your retirement," Gervais says. "You shouldn't be working at your age anyway." That was vaguely funny, but not necessarily worth Gervais' time.
8:48 p.m. The Men take the stage now, singing "Maneater." How has Tim Urban not been cast on "Glee" yet?
8:49 p.m. Welcome Hall & Oates singing "You Make My Dream" come true. Is there a clip of the musical sequence from "(500) Days of Summer" on YouTube? Because if so... I've got to make a link.
8:51 p.m. There is! Possibly my favorite scene from any 2009 theatrical release.
8:52 p.m. It was Janell Wheeler in Toledo who got cut off earlier! Oh, Janell. I missed you this season. Not a lot. But a little. I missed Ashley Rodriguez more, but she isn't serving as a correspondent anywhere tonight.
8:53 p.m. Crystal's dad is a hoot, but Ryan doesn't have time for him. He has to cut to Crystal singing "Ironic." Oh, "American Idol." Your audience has such a slippery understanding of irony to begin with. Why torture them? Welcome, Alanis Morrissette to the "Idol" stage. They duet on "You Oughta Know." Yes, the oral sex line is changed to, "Would she go down with you to the theater." This has now become a song about an woman trying to make her ex-boyfriend jealous by touting her willingness to stand in line at Broadway shows.
9:01 p.m. Carrie Underwood is now wearing Christina Aguilera's tight stretchy pants. This song seems to be called "Undo It." I don't know if it's *good*, but it's kinda catchy. Or it would be if I could only hear the song when also watching Carrie sing it.
9:03 p.m. Ladies and Gentlemen... Carrie Underworm!!!!
9:04 p.m. You get a new car! And you get a new car! And you get a new car! Carrie and Lee are both getting the Ford Fiestas they customed designed earlier this season. That transitions directly into the season's final Ford commercial, set to "I Wish" and culled together from the season's previous Ford commercials...
9:06 p.m. Lee and Crystal are having fun! Also having fun? Casey James. The season's third place performer pops up to sing "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." And... BRET MICHAELS!!!
9:08 p.m. There will be no mockery of Bret Michaels today. Oh, OK. Fine. A little bit of mockery. Is this what the doctors meant when they told him to take it easy after his recent STROKE?
9:18 p.m. Sigh. More Slingbox difficulties... Please hold!
9:20 p.m. Apparently I keep missing tributes to Simon Cowell and, in this case, his nipples.
9:21 p.m. General Larry Platt is going to sing "Pants on the Ground." It's a sad reminder that The General may end up as this season's biggest star.
9:22 p.m. And it gets worse. Welcome Will Hung. I really thought "Idol" had outgrown Mr. Hung. Whatever happened to his graduate studies? Or whatever it was that he did before he became a national punchline?
9:28 p.m. PAULA!!! Awww. Paula Abdul is paying tribute to Simon Cowell, even though nobody paid tribute to her when she left. Way to be a sport, Paula. Seriously. I'm not kidding at all. I don't think it's a coincidence that Paula announced her next TV project earlier this week. If she was still looking for work, this might look strange, but instead it's incredibly sweet.
9:29 p.m. And Paula's in the house, getting a standing ovation from the crowd. She looks great and says she misses everybody. Paula has only nice words for Randy, Ellen and Kara. As for Simon? "There's a baby backstage with Simon's haircut and sweetheart, it's your turn to feed him," Paula jokes to Simon, explaining her departure. She references her past collaborators and tells Simon that none of them hold a candle to him. And that includes MC Skat Kat. And yes, Paula's every bit as loopy and disconnected as ever.
9:33 p.m. Great line from Paula: "'American Idol's' not going to be the same without you, but as only I can tell you, it will go on."
9:34 p.m. Another montage tribute to Simon, this one set to "My Way."
9:35 p.m. We can't say farewell to Simon without the Original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson. And The Velvet Teddybear, Ruben Studdard. And Fantasia! And Carrie! And Jordin Sparks! And Taylor Hicks! And Kris Allen! Oh my! So many Titans! Unleash The Kracken!
9:37 p.m. Wow. Everybody's there. Constantine! Kim Caldwell! Michael Johns! America's Nanny! Bo Bice! Well, maybe not everybody. I can't see Haley Scarnato anywhere.
9:38 p.m. That was a pretty terrific moment, really. It was like a 10-year reunion a year early.
9:38 p.m. Simon comes up on stage. "I didn't think I was going to be this emotional, but I genuinely am," Simon says. "The show goes forward and it'll be different," Simon promises, thanking all of us. "The truth is, you guys are the judge of this show and you've done an incredible job over the years," Simon tells the audience at home. But if you were waiting for Simon to cry... It doesn't happen.
9:44 p.m. A good question courtesy of commenter djwarehouse: Where *was* David Cook?
9:45 p.m. This one broke on Twitter today... The Top 12 begins with "I'll Never Fall In Love With You Again," and out comes Janet Jackson.
9:49 p.m. Janet does a somber version of something I'm assuming is called "Trust in Me." Then, after a pause, she brings back Miss Janet if You're Nasty and "Nasty Boys," complete with lazers and a dancing crew.
9:52 p.m. Janet was really entertaining on "Nasty Boys" and she deserved that standing ovation.
9:52 p.m. Ah, August 2009. It was a more innocent time.
9:55 p.m. Lee and Crystal join forces on "Little Help From My Friends," joined by Joe Cocker. Fun.
9:56 p.m. Why is Joe Cocker wearing my childhood drapes as a blazer?
10:01 p.m. Oooh. Results. To "American Idol." Crazy.
10:02 p.m. Everyone is staring at Lee, who looks ready to die. Crystal is just having fun.
10:02 p.m. The winner of "American Idol" 2010 is... LEE DEWYZE.
10:04 p.m. Lee has no words he's so shocked. But he thanks all of us. Oh, don't thank me, Lee.
10:05 p.m. Ryan keeps asking Lee questions. Lee keeps saying there are no words. He's incorrect. There are many, many, many words.
10:05 p.m. Lee's version of "Beautiful Day" is just AWFUL. I really can't get behind this. Couldn't we have let him sing something from earlier in the season? Something he actually sang well?
10:06 p.m. And because Lee had no words, "American Idol" wraps up its finale a minute early.
10:07 p.m. I might do some sort of commentary on this tomorrow, but "American Idol" really is broken. Not only did Lee win tonight after a Top 2 performance where he missed more notes than he hit, but it was pretty obviously a rout. Ryan referenced only two percentage points separating Lee and Crystal for the season, but made no reference to any such tightness in last night's results. Sigh. But I guess I never really expected Crystal to win anyway. I just wanted her to win. And she'll be just fine...
What'd you think of the finale and its results?