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‘American Idol’ missteps again

Tom Jicha South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“American Idol” had better hope it doesn’t get nailed by the Rule of Three. The spectacularly popular Fox series hasn’t made many mistakes, but it’s coming off a couple the past two weeks.

First, there were the erroneous phone numbers, which necessitated an instant replay of the Tuesday show on Wednesday and a delay in the results show until Thursday.

Of course, this was the most fortuitous blunder since Columbus sailed for India and landed in America. Fox wound up with an extra hour of TV’s Nielsen ratings monster.

Last week’s misstep wasn’t so beneficial. The producers (not Ryan Seacrest, despite what Simon Cowell said) decided it would be a good idea to have the young singers do show tunes. There’s something to be said for testing versatility, but this was like asking Britney Spears to do a medley of Barbra Streisand.

Most of the contestants had no feel for the songs they were singing, which also was true of the bulk of the youthful audience that Fox courts.

Cowell was visibly bored. His caustic critiques were limited to as few words as possible, and at show’s end, he used frequent foil Seacrest as the scapegoat for the choice of themes – even though Cowell knows this decision is made at the producer level.

Seacrest might not have merited this rebuff, but he deserves some grief for the pointlessly heartless way he has strung along the weekly candidates for ejection. Maintaining drama is one of his duties, but he goes too far when he ceremoniously recites a name – as if this is it for that person – then uses it only as a lead-in to a commercial.

Mikalah Gordon became so discombobulated a few weeks ago that some, including fellow contestants, said she blurted out an obscenity at Seacrest.

It’s ironic that Nikko Smith, one of the few Idol wannabes familiar with the music of Broadway, wound up getting voted out of the competition for the second time.

Smith, son of Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, deserved better for his performance of “One Hand, One Heart” from “West Side Story.”

Scott Savol should have been sent packing instead for his lackluster interpretation of “The Impossible Dream,” which came on the heels of the revelation that he was once accused of domestic abuse against the mother of his child. America is a forgiving nation, but there is a difference between giving someone a second chance and offering him for idolatry.

In the big picture it really doesn’t matter. Just four contestants are realistic candidates to win it all: Carrie Underwood, Anwar Robinson, Bo Bice and Nadia Turner. It’s only a matter of which week the others fall off.

The consensus viewpoint from the beginning of the competition has been that this would be a season for the guys, a feeling bolstered by three female finalists being cut before Smith was dispatched.

However, Cowell, as he often does, filed a dissenting opinion. He has anointed Underwood the likely winner, embellishing this prediction to include his feeling that the blond farm girl from Oklahoma will become the most successful “Idol” ever.

That was two weeks ago. As he sometimes does after exorbitantly praising a contestant, Cowell took a shot last week, saying Underwood’s rendition of “Hello Young Lovers” reminded him of a dishwashing detergent commercial. Barring a dismal performance, look for him to be solidly behind her again this week.

It’s baffling how former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Turner wound up in the bottom three twice in the first four weeks. It certainly hasn’t been because of her universally superb performances, capped by her electrifying, show-stopping rendition last week of “As Long As He Needs Me.”

She apparently suffers from a malaise commonly associated with politics: inability to mobilize her base. It would be a horrendous third mistake if she’s sent home prematurely because her fans failed to back her.

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