9:00 p.m. We begin Wednesday (May 13) night's "American Idol" with an extended and mostly unfunny commercial for "Night at the Museum 2," reminding viewers, once again, that Ben Stiller is never good on "American Idol." And yet they keep bringing him back. Bill Hader, though, is a bit funnier. And Hank Azaria's Simon Cowell impression is dismal. And Jonah Hill? Sigh. But it's better than Stiller and Hill's interstitial appearances on NBC last Thursday. "Night at the Museum" was a huge hit. Should the studio really be seeming so desperate?
9:01 p.m. At this time last year, we were just twiddling our thumbs waiting for Syesha Mercado to be sacrificed, setting up the David vs. David Finale we'd been promised for months. Tonight? I don't have a clue who's going home.
[Find out who came up just short of the Finals, after the break...]
9:02 p.m. Kevin Bacon is in the house, helping everybody with their Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon numbers.
9:02 p.m. Over 88 million votes came in after Tuesday's performance. Ryan tells us that just over a million votes separated the Top Two and he hints that if we think we know how the competition is going to shake out, we're incorrect.
9:04 p.m. "Break My Stride" is the tune for the week's Ford commercial, which has a pretty cool, underutilized animation style. Will we hear who the animation house was? Probably not. That's a shame.
9:05 p.m. Oooh. An unannounced special guest. It's Alicia Keys. Even Simon seems to think she's hot. Or famous. Or both. She's the global ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, introducing us to Genuine Rwandan Child Noah. This is his dream and "Idol" is the Ultimate Dream Machine, or so Alicia tells us.
9:06 p.m. This is a nice story. So I won't ruin it by making jokes.
9:08 p.m. Instead, I'll ask once again why "Idol" didn't find some way to mount an "Idol Give Back" show this season. I know it's hard work and the excess was a wee bit grating during the two-hour telethon. But $140 million over the past two years? That's an absolutely good, perhaps the only absolute good associated with "Idol." I hope they bring it back next year.
9:10 p.m. Text "Alive" to 90999. It's for a good cause.
9:14 p.m. Danny Gokey is called out first. Remember Jamar? He and Danny will reunited in Milwaukee, where they held each other and whispered sweet nothings in each others' ears. Also in Milwaukee, Danny hugged squealing cheerleaders, visited a local FOX affiliate, drove by an AT&T store and outran a crazed fan who just happened to have a camera following her in slow motion.
9:17 p.m. It's very sweet that Danny let Jamar join him on his parade. How far do we think Jamar would have gone if the judges hadn't thought folks like Norman Gentle and Nathaniel Marshall and Alex Wagner-Trugman were more worthy of Top 36 slots? Danny, in tears, remembers where he was 10 months ago and calls it a bittersweet homecoming.
9:19 p.m. Ryan sends Danny off to the couch. Nobody's being eliminated this quickly, silly.
9:20 p.m. How about Kris Allen? Did he get to visit a FOX affiliate in Arkansas? Why yes! He starts his journey at the FOX16 studio. With "Everybody Wants To Rule the World" playing on the soundtrack, Kris does radio appearances, drives by an AT&T store and nearly falls off the stage at a Little Rock amphitheater.
9:22 p.m. You know what Kris needs? His own Jamar. Getting Kris Allen Day in Conway, Arkansas isn't quite the same as Danny Gokey Day in Milwaukee.
9:25 p.m. Kris joins Danny on the couch.
9:30 p.m. Jordin Sparks and the dude from One Republic perform "Battlefield." Jordin's presence only reminds me that this year's Top Three? All guys. Last year's Top Two? Both guys. I wonder how hard the "Idol" producers will push to get a female winner next year.
9:38 p.m. That leaves Adam Lambert, whose trip to San Diego barely even cost "American Idol" any gas money.
9:39 p.m. Only two hours down the freeway, Adam got to go to a local FOX affiliate, where he did the weather girl's eyeliner. Nice. He did a radio show, drove by an A&T store and made teenage girls squeal. At his old performing arts center, he met with the new generation of future Adam Lamberts, which was very very sweet.
9:41 p.m. It was Adam Lambert Day in San Diego, which one female fan celebrated by streaking the stage. There's a lot of Unclear on the Concept going on here...
9:42 p.m. Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were more exciting than anything that's happened so far tonight on "Idol."
9:48 p.m. Katy Perry was absurdly high on Maxim's Hot 100 list. Ahead of Moon Bloodgood? Kate Beckinsale? Blake Lively? Minka Kelly? Yvonne Strahovski (Save Chuck!)? Gabrielle Union? Heck no.
9:50 p.m. I have a weekend in Vegas ahead of me, so I'm taking this performance as a cautionary tale. This is making me miss the restraint of Lady GaGa.
9:51 p.m. Like Danny Gokey, I just wish this were over.
9:56 p.m. OK. Let's light this candle.
9:56 p.m. The first person in next week's finale is... KRIS. Paula makes a happy face. Simon makes a happy face. Randy indicates that he isn't worthy.
9:57 p.m. Who will join Kris? It's... ADAM. Kara seems a little surprised. She keeps repeating, "Oh my God." What did you think was happening, Kara?
9:59 p.m. Probably this was the right choice. Does anybody else suspect that Kris is actually the favorite next week? Because I sure do. He's not *my* favorite. But still.
7:00 p.m. Good-bye to Danny Gokey. You annoyed me less than I initially feared you would. Don't look insulted. That's a compliment! A big compliment.
10:01 p.m. Simon says this could be "A Big Ding-Dong" next week. I agree?
Did the right person go home? Looking back over the season, are the right people in the Top Two?