America loves "American Idol" but this year's season finale didn't hold the cache of even a mid-level studio premiere.
David Hasselhoff and Carrie Underwood were the two biggest names on the tip sheet of celebrities scheduled to walk the red carpet, which says something about the low celebrity wattage that publicly ambled into the Kodak Theatre on Wednesday night.
First came the clowns. Bobby Trendy, best known as the over-the-top decorator on reality series "The Anna Nicole Show," and Ian Bernardo, who you may remember as the über-flamboyant guy who tried out for "So You Think You Can Dance."
Together they pranced down the carpet in matching tulle costumes (Think ballerina toy box outfit a 3-year-old might put together plus platform shoes).
After vamping for anyone who would have him, Bernando spotted Norm B. and Jimmy G., two members of the team that shoots all the secondary "American Idol" footage--the post audition interviews, the backstage stuff, the segments of the prospective idols working with their weekly mentors.
"I am the real American Idol," Bernardo told them in his most fabulous accent brandishing his new CD and strutting in a small circle. Then the camera turned off and he turned everything down a notch.
"You know my friend who I tried out with?" he said conspiratorially. "You heard what happened?"
Norm and Jimmy (who were conveniently standing next to me) knew everyone on the carpet and got hugs from all the contestants. They also got all the gossip.
"Did you hear about Blake's dad getting in a fight last night?" asked a blond publicist with a walkie talkie hanging from her hip.
Jared Cotter, who was kicked off early in the season told them he just snagged Ananda Lewis's number. "She said, 'I'm hot, you're hot, let's do this!"
Everyone on the carpet agreed that Jordin Sparks was a sure thing to win "Idol." Peter Noone of Herman and the Hermits, who mentored the contestants during the British Invasion episode, claimed to have known from the start that the finale was going to come down to Jordin and Blake.
"I could tell immediately," he said. "Jordin's going to win it and Blake will sell one hundred million albums."
Noone is kind of annoying, but he's right. Sparks looked gorgeous in a black gown with rhinestone enhancements and she dutifully gave the naïve "I'm just so lucky to be here" interview to almost every outstretched microphone. Once she made it through the press gauntlet and came into view of her fans, they responded by yelling her name and shaking their signs.
But with Lewis it was a different story. Dressed in a white suit, his hair still dark with that weird chunk of blond in it, he was ushered quickly through the crowd of journalists by his handlers as if he was a huge pop star already.
And apparently he is. When the onlookers lined up alongside the carpet, just before those grand stairs up to the Kodak Theatre, saw him they didn't just yell. They shrieked. Desperately.