In the latest example of synergistic cross-promotional marketing opportunities overriding basic sensibilities, Fox will start the Christmas season bit early and air a Christmas special featuring the winners of the first three American Idol editions on the day before Thanksgiving.

Titled Kelly, Ruben & Fantasia: Home For Christmas, the one-hour program will air Wednesday, November 24 at 9PM ET/PT and feature Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino performing classic Christmas songs.

With the November sweeps ratings period not ending until December 1, ratings-challenged Fox (who's desperately awaiting Idol's January return to once again end its disappointing post-baseball playoffs ratings performance) could still have scheduled the special for an evening after Thanksgiving and still not have lost out on any possible ratings bump. However doing so would have missing out on maximizing the album sales opportunities of the immediate post-album release and post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping days, and as a result Idol fans will be watching Christmas performances before they've even had their Thanksgiving turkey.

All three performers are in the process of releasing new albums within a week of the special. "Free Yourself," Fantasia's debut album, and "I Need An Angel," Ruben's holiday CD, will be released the day before the broadcast on Tuesday, November 23. Meanwhile "Breakaway," the follow-up album to Kelly's smash hit "Thankful" CD, will be released on Tuesday, November 30.

Not to be left out, multiple-platinum selling American Idol 2 runner-up Clay Aiken will headline his own less exploitive A Clay Aiken Christmas special on NBC on Wednesday, December 8 at 8PM ET/PT. While Clay also released a holiday album ("Merry Christmas with Love," on November 16) and a holiday tour underway (his "The Joyful Noise" tour begins November 21) at least the scheduling logic of his special wasn't quite so transparent.