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'American Idol' Tracker: A chaotic Neil Diamond night

Davidarchuleta The Idoldome was a colder, emptier place Tuesday night than it had been a mere week ago, when the most electrifying singer in "American Idol" history, Carly Smithson, still walked among us.  In the life of every "Idol" partisan, sooner or later this day must come when one must look defeat dead in the eye and search for new reasons to keep faith in the system. 

In the end, democracy cannot be just a way to force one’s own candidate into office; the means must be more important than our individual ends and, bitter though it may be, the will of the electorate must be embraced.  Were it not for American Idol, one must recall, we would have never known Carly Smithson at all. However, taking my seat in the Carly-less Idoldome, I recounted the words of the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert in his Elegy of Fortinbras, when he wrote, putting words in the mouth of Hamlet’s sole survivor,

“Now you have peace Hamlet you accomplished what you had to
and you have peace The rest is not silence but belongs to me
you chose the easier part an elegant thrust
but what is heroic death compared with eternal watching
with a cold apple in one’s hand on a narrow chair
with a view of the ant-hill and the clock’s dial”

In the event, cold apple in my hand astride my narrow chair in the upper tiers, it proved to be an interesting night for moving on and seeking closure, doing so on the night of what Simon Cowell called “the strangest show we’ve ever done.”  I am not sure how much of this came across on television, but in the Idoldome events were, even by the roaring circus atmosphere of the tapings, fairly frenetic, or as Simon termed it, “chaotic.”

The show started out in relative calm.  All three judges got to their chairs with over a minute to airtime to spare -– a rare feat of late. The hardest shows "Idol" has to put on, however, are the ones where they are forced to squeeze some number greater than half a dozen performances into an hour.  At the season’s opening, when they have 12 performances to get through, they have two hours of airtime to spread out in.  However, at this point, when Fox confines the show to one meager hour on Tuesday nights and they begin to double up two songs per contestant, the result is necessarily a show so crowded that it will barely have room to suck in an ounce of fetid oxygen to sustain itself.  Considering an hour of programming equals approximately 44 minutes of airtime, minus the opening credits, introducing the judges, introducing the mentor, you are left with about 39 minutes to be divided 10 ways, with each slot having to contain the song, the judges' reactions, Ryan reading the phone numbers and a handful of banter between Ryan and the contestants.  That is a lot to fit in in three minutes, and clearly the Neil Diamond episode strained to fit it all in, making the tough call to sacrifice the judging on the first round.

Unfortunately, that decision seemed hardest on at least one of the judges.  During the Diamond introductory video package, Executive Producer/overlord Nigel Lythgoe came to the stage and seemed to be explaining something of some urgency to Ryan Seacrest and stage manager Debbie Williams.  He then raced to the judges' table and conveyed whatever the news was in a particularly animated fashion.  I can only guess that he was at this point breaking the news that they would not be judging the first round.  For Judge Abdul, this news must have rang some alarm bells for fears of forgetting the performances by the time she would have to speak out on them, because Lythgoe left the table and returned moments later with a notepad and pen for Paula.  Unfortunately, as events would prove, whatever presentiment that led Judge Abdul to believe she might need extra support proved prophetic as it came to what I can only describe as the most awkward moment I’ve experienced in my visits as, from my vantage point, Paula seemed to be just reading through her notes and read into the notes she had taken on David Cook, thinking they were Jason’s second song without stopping to recall he had only sung once at that point.

Likewise unfortunate, skipping the first round of judging underscored, for all its flaws, miscues, and, as we saw tonight, jaw-dropping gaffes, how essential that the judging ceremony still is to the show. After Hollywood week the judges have no formal effect on the results of the show, merely offering their non-binding comments for the audience to embrace or dispose of.  Nonetheless the judging is, for much of the audience, the prism through which we view the entire show. For better or worse depending on how you feel about each judge, the judging ceremony is what cues the audience in to how they are supposed to feel about what they just saw –- the technical values with which they may lack the vocabulary to interpret. I know I do.

In my recent interview with Stage Manager Debbie Williams, she recalled what was so different and unique about the show as it first came on the air was the effect of Judge Cowell’s critiques. “Nobody told the truth on television before that,” she succinctly put it. Indeed, no show had had the courage to take its main assets -- its stars, in this case the singers –- and eviscerate them week after week. So much so that the judges became bigger stars than most of the performers, their performances awaited more eagerly than many of the songs, and that the judges panel, anchored by a “mean judge,” became a genre staple, reshaping prime-time television.  And further, the spectacle of seeing these young people with so much at stake thrown to the lions, and judging how they reacted to being judged, became our primary tool to take stock of their characters.

The hurried first half of Neil Diamond night sans judging, sadly, as much as they needed to pack so much into that one hour, was ultimately a ship adrift minus that anchor.  At some point, I also noticed that spinning globe on stage right had stopped revolving.  Next week, no doubt as we near the last lap before the finals, the equilibrium will be restored, perhaps even in the results show when no doubt they will laugh at the foibles of tonight, and the world shall spin around "Idol" again.

Side note:  The big question of this season was whether allowing instruments would make a difference. After Hollywood week, it looked as though their effect might be a wash.  But at this point, we must absolutely say that the inclusion of musical instruments has turned the "American Idol" world on its head and had a monumental effect on the contest. Of the Top 12, 3 1/2 candidates played instruments (Brooke White, David Cook, Jason Castro and sometimes David Archuleta).  Those 3 1/2 are all still on the show.  Further, it is almost impossible to imagine Brooke, Jason and maybe David Cook making it this far without instruments, so central are they to their identities.   Which is perhaps why a candidate like Syesha seems almost a throwback today…  If Diana DeGarmo could see us, would she recognize this brave new world we have wrought?

Final note:  As with each week, I’ll be taking questions in a live chat Wednesday at noon PDT at chat.latimes.com.


- Richard Rushfield
(photo courtesy of Fox)

 
Comments () | Archives (41)

I just don't get it! I don't understand why the obsession with David A! His singing is consistently flat. He has no personality. He actually seems to me to be a little odd. I think he is locked in a closet when he is not out doing Idol stuff. Simon has always been the "honest" one among the judges, but I think it is now clear that even he is just saying what the producers want. Even when David screws up the lyrics and hits notes not found on the musical register (which he has done a lot) they tell him he is fabulous.

It seems obvious that there is a hidden agenda when it comes to this kid, but who do they think is going to buy the dreck this kid puts out?

THIS SHOW IS DONE!!!! IT'S HORRIBLE
IT'S RIGGED AND FAKE AND A WASTE TO WATCH.

BOOOOORING......

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT ADULTERY/FORNICATION?
1. Exodus 20:14
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:13-15 (in Context) Exodus 20 (Whole Chapter)
2. Leviticus 20:10
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 20:9-11 (in Context) Leviticus 20 (Whole Chapter)
3. Deuteronomy 5:18
Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
Deuteronomy 5:17-19 (in Context) Deuteronomy 5 (Whole Chapter)
4. Proverbs 6:32
But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
Proverbs 6:31-33 (in Context) Proverbs 6 (Whole Chapter)
5. Jeremiah 3:8
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Jeremiah 3:7-9 (in Context) Jeremiah 3 (Whole Chapter)
6. Jeremiah 3:9
And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
Jeremiah 3:8-10 (in Context) Jeremiah 3 (Whole Chapter)
7. Jeremiah 5:7
How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.
Jeremiah 5:6-8 (in Context) Jeremiah 5 (Whole Chapter)
8. Jeremiah 7:9
Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;
Jeremiah 7:8-10 (in Context) Jeremiah 7 (Whole Chapter)
9. Jeremiah 23:14
I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
Jeremiah 23:13-15 (in Context) Jeremiah 23 (Whole Chapter)
10. Jeremiah 29:23
Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours' wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 29:22-24 (in Context) Jeremiah 29 (Whole Chapter)
From King James Version

1. BATH-SHEBA (BATHSHEBA) » Adultery of (2 Samuel 11:2-5)
2. COPULATION » See ADULTERY
3. CRIMINALS » See various crimes, such as ADULTERY, ARSON, HOMICIDE, etc
4. FORNICATION » See ADULTERY
5. HARLOT (PROSTITUTE) » See ADULTERY
6. HARLOTRY » See ADULTERY
7. LASCIVIOUSNESS » See ADULTERY
8. LICENTIOUSNESS » See ADULTERY
9. LUST » See ADULTERY
10. PROSTITUTION » See ADULTERY

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT FORNICATION?
2 Chronicles 21:11
Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.
2 Chronicles 21:10-12 (in Context) 2 Chronicles 21 (Whole Chapter)
Ezekiel 16:15
But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.
Ezekiel 16:14-16 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)
Ezekiel 16:26
Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbors, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.
Ezekiel 16:25-27 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)
Ezekiel 16:29
Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied therewith.
Ezekiel 16:28-30 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)
Isaiah 23:17
And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.
Isaiah 23:16-18 (in Context) Isaiah 23 (Whole Chapter)
John 8:41
Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
John 8:40-42 (in Context) John 8 (Whole Chapter)
Mark 7:21
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
Mark 7:20-22 (in Context) Mark 7 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 5:32
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Matthew 5:31-33 (in Context) Matthew 5 (Whole Chapter)

Matthew 15:19
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Matthew 15:18-20 (in Context) Matthew 15 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 19:9
And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her who is put away doth commit adultery.
Matthew 19:8-10 (in Context) Matthew 19 (Whole Chapter)

More results from King James Version
1. FORNICATION
2. SCOURGING » Prescribed in the Mosaic law for committing the sin of fornication (Leviticus 19:20; Deuteronomy 22:18)
3. SENSUALITY » See FORNICATION
4. VOWS » INSTANCES OF » Of Job, not to entertain thoughts of fornication (Job 31:1)
5. WOMEN » INSTANCES OF » Dinah, in her fornication (Genesis 34:1,2)

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT FORNICATION?
2 Chronicles 21:11
Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.
2 Chronicles 21:10-12 (in Context) 2 Chronicles 21 (Whole Chapter)
Ezekiel 16:15
But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.
Ezekiel 16:14-16 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)
Ezekiel 16:26
Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbors, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.
Ezekiel 16:25-27 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)
Ezekiel 16:29
Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied therewith.
Ezekiel 16:28-30 (in Context) Ezekiel 16 (Whole Chapter)
Isaiah 23:17
And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.
Isaiah 23:16-18 (in Context) Isaiah 23 (Whole Chapter)
John 8:41
Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
John 8:40-42 (in Context) John 8 (Whole Chapter)
Mark 7:21
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
Mark 7:20-22 (in Context) Mark 7 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 5:32
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Matthew 5:31-33 (in Context) Matthew 5 (Whole Chapter)

Matthew 15:19
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Matthew 15:18-20 (in Context) Matthew 15 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 19:9
And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her who is put away doth commit adultery.
Matthew 19:8-10 (in Context) Matthew 19 (Whole Chapter)

More results from King James Version
1. FORNICATION
2. SCOURGING » Prescribed in the Mosaic law for committing the sin of fornication (Leviticus 19:20; Deuteronomy 22:18)
3. SENSUALITY » See FORNICATION
4. VOWS » INSTANCES OF » Of Job, not to entertain thoughts of fornication (Job 31:1)
5. WOMEN » INSTANCES OF » Dinah, in her fornication (Genesis 34:1,2)

None of this matters. We all know Paula is on something. Carly is gone and being easily the best singer why watch anymore. She will be the biggest star when all this is over being *THE* American Idol. The others aren't even close.

I am confused. What is this artucle all about? I keep rereading it waiting to see who died. You mean all this hullabaloo is becuase Paula got her lines mixed up???

The show jumped the shark when Carly, the best left.

In previous seasons, the clips of the singers shown at the end were done before the show. My impression is they do a dress rehearsal and then the live show. I would not expect the judges to be there, but it could be that they also sit through this show and prepare their comments before going to the live show. If so, maybe Paula was talking about the second song which she had already heard earlier.

Look, I know why the show is not what it use to be. It's is way overated and for the first time ever, we all know who is and who should win, David A. The judges know this the show know this and the other idol wannabe's know this. They should just announce the winner (David A.) and be done with it, or else it will not be cool anymore. So the mistake there doing is prolonging the show as if it's gonna come down to the wire like previous shows. But this one is so clear on who's gonna win. I'll tell you one thing if David A. doen't win then it's riged.

You really are a terrible writer...I've never read a more convoluted piece of commentary since ...ever. Thanks for explaining nothing man.

The best part about last night, aside from Paula's psychotic lapse, was that Carly was NOT there screeching like a banshee. Praying that Jason, the only real person in the competition, survives another week, perhaps to pull off the tour-de-force he so badly needs.

Paula Abdul is an airhead, whose comments as a judge add no value whatsoever. It would just as well if she just gave each contestant a hug at the conclusion of their performance.

The thing is that Ms. Abdul's comment were well written, grammatically correct and proper, while her reaction was confused, dazed, medicated and suspicious. I just don't see how someone who seemed to be as confused as she was could write that well.

No one and I mean NO ONE cares about this stuff, get a life!!

Paula looks, acts and sounds like she is drunk.

every week.
always.

All the time.

IT'S AMERICAN IDOL!

Hell tell Paula to come to me....I'll comfort her in her time of loonacey. I still think she is one of the sexiest women on the planet!

OMG, this blog is sheer lunacy. The entry a while back about the contestants' AURAS and the EPIC TRAGEDY of Carly's elimination was bad enough . . . but no, you keep getting weirder and weirder.

I cannot believe this blog is actually sponsored by the LATimes.

Chris;
that's the most insightfull comment on American Idol I have ever read!
Seriously Times, who's in charge there? No one checking to keep this crap out of our
important discussion.

What are you doing trying out for American Preacher?

 
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