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Idol Beat: The Beloved

American Idol, the show that dares answer the question: "Who or what the hell is 'Diddy Dirty-Money?'"

Ryan Seacrest kicks the show off by introducing our "beloved finalists," and I couldn't help but think of Rick's line from Casablanca ("They're not particularly my beloved finalists"). They emerged to raucous applause, which was tempered by the somber news that Casey Abrams was laid up in the hospital.

The illness wasn't revealed (he was hospitalized for stomach pains two weeks ago), but if I had to guess, I'd say he was trying to avoid participating in the horrifying Michael Jackson medley that followed. I thought I was having flashbacks to the "Simpsons Smile Time Variety Hour."

The only thing missing was Tim Conway.

Almost as good as a cameo from a Carol Burnett Show alum was the subsequent Ford music video presentation, because hey...why wait until you're an established artist before becoming a whore? And the best part is, they probably didn't even get any of the advertising money Ford paid for that bit of crap.

Results were further delayed by the appearance of (squee!) Amanda Seyfried, who was there to talk up Red Riding Hood, which segued into an extended scene of the finalists attending the movie's premiere. At this point, it was starting to feel like another two hour ordeal.

But the Seacrest called down the first three: Jacob, Karen, and Stefano--but the dudes are safe (no way Jacob Aguilera gets sent home this soon). Karen is shooed off to sit in the Row of Shame for the remainder of the show.

And then, for some reason, Adam Lambert shows up. See kids? Even Idol runners-up are welcomed back with open arms. In deference to the show's target audience, Lambert refrained from kissing his bass player, though that probably would've been preferable to his interminable banter with Seacrest and J Lo.

"Interminable" really is the best word for these results shows, because even after all of the commercial endorsements and filler we were still only halfway through the episode.

Ashthon and Haley flesh out the all-lady bottom three (Lauren, the other contestant trotted out, gets called down and sent back). And as if the anticipation of getting kicked off the show isn't torture enough, there's till Diddy Dirty-Money's performance to sit through.

That clears that up. I wondered what the worst rapper since Roger Murtaugh was up to these days.

(8:20 mark:)

Okay, I won't make you wait as long as the rest of America did for the results: Ashthon got the boot, as the judges were unanimously disinclined to waste the season's only save on her. I avoid utter failure in predicting the bottom three by at least getting her right, which in my mind totally justifies her ouster.

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Meanwhile, it's quite telling to watch the faces of the remaining dozen. There's relief (Haley), sympathy (Lauren, Karen), and cold, robotic focus (Thia). She doesn't feel pity...or remorse.

Seriously, that girl should scare the shit out of any of the remaining contestants.

And so begins the pattern of performance/elimination episodes that continues for the next several weeks. Maybe if we're really lucky, Clay Aiken will grace us with his presence as well.

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