'American Idol's Top 6 finalists all remain safe as 'Idol Gives Back'
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/26/2007
None of American Idol's sixth season Top 6 finalists were eliminated during Wednesday night's special live two-hour results show broadcast of Idol Gives Back.
Instead, the "over 70 million" votes cast by viewers based on Tuesday night's performances will be combined with viewer votes following next Tuesday night's Idol 6 performance episode, and two finalists who received the least votes during the two voting periods will be eliminated on the Fox reality show's Wednesday, May 2 results show.
"Over the weeks, we've asked you to vote for your favorites. All your favorites are still in the competition. How could we let anybody go on a charity night?" said Idol host Ryan Seacrest at the conclusion of Wednesday night's Idol Gives Back broadcast. "So all your votes are still valid, this week's votes will be added to next week's votes, and we will send home the bottom two next week."
At the beginning of the episode, Seacrest -- terming it a "world record" -- revealed "over 70 million" votes were cast during Tuesday night's extended four-hour calling window for viewers. He also said that at the conclusion of the episode, he would reveal "the most shocking result in our history." Melinda Doolittle, Blake Lewis, Phil Stacey and Lakisha Jones were the first four Idol 6 finalists Seacrest to be revealed safe at various points throughout the broadcast.
Then, with the all attention focused on remaining Top 6 finalists Chris Richardson and Jordin Sparks, Seacrest revealed that Richardson was safe.
"I told you this was going to be shocking. Ladies and gentleman, it is very shocking, believe me. Jordin... you are also safe," revealed Seacrest as the Top 6 embraced and the live studio audience cheered.
Wednesday night was the second night of Idol Gives Back, a charity event to support organizations that provide relief to children and young people living in poverty in Africa and America. News Corporation (Fox's parent company) donated 10-cents for every one of the first 50 million votes cast following Tuesday night's performance episode, meaning they contributed a total of $5 million. With Ford, Coca-Cola and AT&T also making corporate contributions to Idol Gives Back and viewers pledging contributions via a toll-free number and Idol's website throughout Wednesday night's special, Seacrest said at 9:44PM ET that the fundraiser was "almost at $30 million."
As part of Idol Gives Back, comedian Ellen DeGeneres hosted a benefit concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which featured performances by Earth, Wind & Fire; Il Divo; Josh Groban with the African Children's Choir; a duet between original Idol champ Kelly Clarkson and guitarist Jeff Beck; and Annie Lennox. In addition, Idol aired a version of "I'll Stand By You" recorded specifically for Idol Gives Back by Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood. Thanks to the wonder of technology, Celine Dion also performed a duet with Elvis Presley, who's been dead since 1977. (Dion was placed beside "The King" during a 1967 performance of "If I could Dream.")
The Top 6 also performed "Time to Care," an original song written by Quincy Jones, the music legend who produced 1985's "We Are the World" Ethiopian famine relief song.
"I love to see young people that really take their mission seriously to do everything they can to help the plight of the people who are not as fortunate as they are," said Jones.
Fox's broadcast of Idol Gives Back didn't run entirely smooth, and was actually quite bumpy at the beginning. As the special started, Seacrest flubbed his introduction. "Every Wednesday, millions of American families gather around the TV to see how their favorite votes and Idols... will change the lives... of a contestant," stumbled Seacrest. "Let me redo that. Let's do this right." The Idol host then proceeded to count down from three and re-delivered the introduction correctly.
Seacrest also looked off-stage towards the end of the broadcast before saying, "Oh we're having a problem? Alright." After attempting to kill time by asking the audience to make more donations, he eventually turned to Idol judge Simon Cowell for help. "I'm just going to let you stay in your awkward moment Ryan," said Cowell. "I'm not bailing you out here."
Idol Gives Back concluded with U2 frontman Bono mentoring the Top 6 as they prepared to sing "American Prayer," a song he and Dave Stewart wrote about the AIDS emergency in Africa. Bono also addressed the work of ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History and how the Idol audience could contribute before the Top 6 delivered their performance of "American Prayer."
American Idol's six remaining sixth season finalists -- Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, Lakisha Jones, Blake Lewis, Chris Richardson and Jordin Sparks -- will all perform live on Tuesday, May 1 beginning at 8PM ET on Fox. Then on Wednesday, May 2 at 9PM ET the field of finalists wil be narrowed to four, as this week's votes will be combined with next week's and the bottom-two will be eliminated.