Pop Life

Idol Beat: The Final 36, Group 1 Results

When contestants on romantic/superficial reality shows are sent packing - when Flav withholds a clock, Tila Tequila declares that you've lost your shot at "love," or whatever - it's tough to empathize with the teary-eyed rejects, because by now the audience recognizes their exile as temporary, a stepping stone to a spin-off series or some other realm of sub-fame.

Sleep off the sting of rejection, then retain an agent over morning coffee. Hate the player, but remember: s/he drafted you into the Celebreality game. Sympathy for shitcanned hopefuls is more forthcoming on programs based on talent or ability, where winning (or almost winning) really, really matters, where something is actually at stake.

So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, and American Idol are three such shows. With all of this in mind, we bid a fond Idol Beat farewell to San Juan dramatrix Tatiana Del Toro, who suffered something of a total emotional collapse last night upon learning that the American Idol viewers have had their fill of her histrionics.

Tatiana sobbed; she blubbered; she couldn't bring herself to applaud as Ryan Seacrest declared Robert Downey Jr. stunt double/widower Danny Gokey the third of their group's finalists. "Crestfallen" somehow doesn't do last night justice. We witnessed the utter deflation of someone who - however obnoxious and prone to the abuse of cliches regarding hopes and dreams - is nonetheless a human being who, frankly, sorta deserves a Top 12 chance in terms of a) raw vocal talent; and b) sheer entertainment value.

Hopefully, Del Toro has a support system in place that's keeping her clear of great heights and sharp objects right now while whispering these four magic words into her ears: "Wild card round, babe." We feel for you, Tatiana, though we kinda can't believe that we do.

In other news:

The rugged Sarvernator lives to see another live telecast, while Anoop is toast - unless he's resurrexted in the wild card round. Which more or less means that Americans prefer a paycheck-to-paycheck roughneck family dude over a Master's-degree-track Indian-American kid.

Alexis Grace, totally channeling Cyndi Lauper, survives too, which is awesome in a sort of lesser "Obama/Biden whup McCain/Palin" way.

Reuben Studdard, shown whooping it up with other Idol alumni at Disney World's "Idol Experience," has expanded in size to the point where he could actually double as a parade float.

Let's end with another reading from the Book of Sanjaya: "Some contestants were a bit down after that first week, because even though they'd made it to the final twenty, Simon had trashed them on national television, and it's hard enough being called out in the comfort of your own home, let alone on TV."

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Ray Cummings