“American Idol” defied just about every expectation this season, right down to the very end.
Even though many skeptics expected the show to cave without Simon Cowell, the Wednesday finale of Fox’s singing smash delivered more viewers than the previous season’s for the first time in three years.
The two-hour extravaganza logged 29.3 million total viewers, up a big 21 percent compared with last season, according to early figures from the Nielsen Co.
The record is 38.1 million viewers for the Season 2 finale crowning Ruben Studdard.
Scotty McCreery was crowned the Season 10 winner, with fellow country crooner Lauren Alaina as runner-up.
Meloni leaving ‘SVU’
Christopher Meloni isn’t coming back to NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” when it returns this fall.
His representative says it was “time for a new chapter” for Meloni after 12 seasons and 272 episodes of “SVU.”
Co-star Mariska Hargitay will return for the upcoming 13th season, but her work hours and screen time will be cut back in the wake of her recent adoption of a daughter.
Meloni played Detective Elliot Stabler, a family man and veteran of an elite squad that investigates crimes with a sexual aspect. Hargitay was his partner, Detective Olivia Benson, who joined the squad because she was conceived in a rape.
Glass in for Grace
The Nevada judge who sentenced O.J. Simpson to prison plans to take over for Nancy Grace on the syndicated television show “Swift Justice.”
Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass, who sentenced the former football star to nine to 33 years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping in 2008, submitted her resignation Tuesday.
Grace said she’s leaving after the show’s first season because production is being relocated to Los Angeles from Atlanta.
She will continue to host her justice-themed cable show “Nancy Grace” on CNN’s Headline News.
ABC revisits Jackie O.
ABC News is presenting never-before-heard recollections from Jacqueline Kennedy.
A series of special reports in September will draw on seven conversations the former first lady had with historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., totaling more than eight hours of audio recordings.
The tapes were left to daughter Caroline Kennedy. Their release is timed to the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Administration.
The centerpiece will be a special prime-time hour, with additional programs airing across all ABC News broadcasts and platforms. Diane Sawyer will anchor.
Burnett goes biblical
Producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Voice,” “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?”) is bringing a new docudrama, “The Bible,” to the History channel.
The five-part, 10-hour series will cover the Good Book from Genesis to Revelation, using CGI to re-create famous stories including Noah’s Ark and the Resurrection of Jesus.
The series is set to air in 2013. Burnett’s wife, actress Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”), will co-produce.