Idol Chatter

bradpittpicforicpost.jpgLast year’s “American Idol: Idol Gives Back” was an extraordinary experiment in fundraising. No one really knew if Americans would respond with their wallets the same way they responded to the weekly voting? Would the evening turn in phenomenal numbers or would it be a flop? As we know now, the show surpassed all expectations, bringing in $76 million dollars (that number includes corporate donations and foundation monies) for charities dedicated to eradicating childhood poverty in the United States and Africa.
Tonight the event returns sadly without emcee Ellen DeGeneres, but with a stellar line-up of celebrities, including Bono, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Peyton Manning, and Snoop Dogg. But the real attraction of the show isn’t the cameos provided by these personalities, but rather the chance to see the personalities of the “Idol” judges.
Simon can actually smile and show that he really does have a heart. Randy “Yo, Dawg” Jackson can be quite articulate when talking about serious issues. Paula’s overly sympathetic judging style can make her seem less than pragmatic and, at times, vapid, but her empathy is clear and palpable. And let’s not forget about host Ryan Seacrest’s transformation from perfectly primped and prepped to within an inch of his life uber-metrosexual to normal human being; albeit a regular Joe with a well-developed sense of style.

Recently the New York Times wrote a story following up on the donations from the 2007 show noting that $5 million (including proceeds and interest) is unaccounted for, but is not accusing the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund, the group then running the efforts, of “anything nefarious.” Financials will not be available until May, and I don’t mean to sound flippant about hard earned and happily donated cash, but when federal employees “charge millions of dollars on government credit cards to pay for lingerie, gambling, iPods, Internet dating services and a $13,000 steak dinners,” I think we should hold off judgment.
But, as Simon told Larry King on “Larry King Live” the other night, the trio will not be withholding their judgment this year, just delaying it a bit. Last year, keeping with the uplifting spirit of the show, there was no elimination for the week. But there is no reprieve for weakest singer this year as the producers have added another night, Thursday, to allow for an elimination. Inspiration tempered with elimination—”American Idol” in a nutshell.
“American Idol: Idol Gives Back” airs Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

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