by Mischalova at

American Idol gave back last night - to the tune of $30 million raised for charity. It was an impressive show and haul.

TV Guide now takes us behind the scenes of the show, one that also surprised us by NOT eliminating a single contestant. Not even the screamer known as Lakisha Jones ...

Lee DeWyze Live Performance Pic

Price of Admission: The place to be for free stuff was Idol's home studio where, upon entering, audience members were handed white rubber "One" bracelets in honor of guest mentor Bono's charity. And upon exiting at show's end, they received snazzy multi-colored canvas bags, courtesy of Ikea. And while tickets to view the event at Idol's home base were free - as they are all season-long - front-row attendees at Disney's Concert Hall revealed they shelled out $1,000 per ticket. Pricey, yes, but hey, it was for charity.

Fashionably Late
: Just under ninety seconds before the show went live, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell were nowhere to be found. Finally, one minute before, Paula came running into the studio as fast as her sky-high platform heels would carry her. Seconds later, the lights went down and a page ushered in recent American Idol castoff Sanjaya, along with his sister and pot-smoking mother.

As for Simon, he still hadn't taken his seat when Ryan Seacrest began his opening monologue. Maybe that's why the usually unflappable host flubbed his lines and had to start again?

Kleenex Please!: As footage rolled of the trips taken by Ryan and the three judges to devastated areas in this country and abroad, Simon put a comforting arm around an overcome Paula. Of the white-suited Idols, the most emotional by far were Melinda Doolittle and Chris Richardson, who teared up at least five different times â€" once during Josh Groban's stirring rendition of "You Raise Me Up" â€" and went through several Kleenex. At one point, the Justin Timberlake-esque singer left the stage, presumably to compose himself. When he returned, the other five Idols enveloped him in hugs.

Signs of the Times: If the number of audience members' signs were any indication of who will win, Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis have the edge. When Blake spotted an "I Brake for Blake" banner, he showed his appreciation by doing The Robot. Perhaps the strangest sign of the night was the one that read "Long Beach Misses Gina and Pickle!" Surely, the long-ago ousted rock chick and her good-luck-charm stuffed lizard would've been proud.

Don't Cry-a for Sanjaya: The infamous former Idol was the social butterfly of the night. Clad in a dark blue suit, with his hair admirably tamed, Sanjaya spent the evening greeting his (mostly pre-teen) fans and even got up during one commercial break to go shake the hand of one young boy who'd yelled out his name. During another break, he ventured to the judges' table, where Simon announced, "Sanjaya is back in the house!" before shaking his hand. (He got hugs from Randy and Paula, who absent-mindedly pulled stray hairs off his lapel as they talked.)

Asked and Answered: During breaks, audience members were allowed to ask the judges questions. While one girl wanted to know where Simon gets his shirts (Armani), another asked why Paula wanted to be a judge. "I didn't wanna be a judge," she replied, before explaining that what interested her about Idol was the chance to be involved with talented people and nourish their dreams.

Also Spotted: Co-host for the night Ellen DeGeneres shaking her booty to the Idol theme... Blake laughing hysterically when Ben Stiller name-checked him... All three judges deciding Madonna's taped appearance was the perfect time to take a break and duck out of the studio together... One side of the audience at Disney's concert hall yelling, "We love you, Kelly!" when first Idol champ Clarkson took the stage, prompting the other side to scream, "We love you more!"

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by Mischalova at

For at least one week, the homoerotic exchanges between Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell won't be the focus of American Idol.

Hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, tonight marks the first of a two-night event called Idol Gives Back. A slew of celebs and performers will grace the FOX stage, with poor African towns and citizens receiving proceeds from the event.

Daring Artist

Contestants, such as Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis, will sing "life anthems" meant to inspire those around the world.

Meanwhile, the list of stars set to make an appearance continues to grow. Daniel Radcliffe will be on hand, not dressed like Harry Potter, we presume.

Keira Knightley will hopefully have a good meal first and then use that sexy British accent to lure in donations, as well. Should we also be expecting an accent from Sacha Baron Cohen? Or will he leave the character of Borat at home? Tune in to find out!

The actors will take to the stage alongside singers like Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Annie Lennox, Pink and Gwen Stefani.

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by Mischalova at

Now that the Sanjaya Malakar dismissal from American Idol has had time to sink in, how does Sanjaya's most vocal critic feel about it?

"I was on a very happy plane last night. I miss him probably in the same way I miss my favorite horror movie. And I don't mean that nastily. I like horror movies," Simon Cowell said via satellite during an appearance on Thursday's The Oprah Winfrey Show. "A very sweet guy. Quite entertaining but a horrible singer. That was the problem."

Season 10 Idol Finalists

During Idol's sixth season, Cowell had made little secret of the fact that he didn't exactly see a singing future for Malakar.

He criticized the 17-year-old's vocal ability almost as much as most guys complimented the legs on Haley Scarnato.

On Thursday, he also felt the need to reiterate his previous comments that he planned on quitting as a judge of the competition depending on how far Malakar made it.

"If he made it to the top three, I'm gone," Cowell told Oprah.

"But they wouldn't let me."

Considering the fact that he was far from a "Fanjaya," who is Simon now pulling for on American Idol? A couple talents came to mind.

"I have a soft spot for [Melinda Doolittle]. Very sweet girl. I like her," said Cowell. "Jordin was sensational this week. Chris I like because he's contemporary. But I'm a little bit worried about singing through the nose... My Top 3 or Top 2 would be Melinda, Jordin and I'm not writing off Lakisha."

In addition to having to suffer through several-too-many Malakar performances than he would have liked, Cowell said there's another aspect of Idol's sixth season that's been bugging him.

"I'm a little bit frustrated. I haven't had enough, 'Oh my God!' moments. I want to see a few more," he told Oprah, adding he thinks fellow judge Paula Abdul has become too sensible. "I love when she talks complete and utter rubbish. We haven't had enough of that the past few weeks."

We don't know about Simon, but seeing Sanjaya hanging out with Petra Nemcova was cause for an 'Oh my God' moment.

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by Mischalova at

Thanks to People magazine for this behind the scenes report ...

Say What?! When Ryan Seacrest announced that Sanjaya Malakar was going home on Wednesday's show, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe gasped with surprise as he turned to Simon Cowell. The rest of the Idols were there to support a tearful Sanjaya: the remaining Top 6 made their way over to their fallen pal for one final group embrace.

Sorry, Casey

And after the 17-year-old singer's final performance, Randy Jackson came onstage to shake hands and give him a hug goodbye, all the members of the house band walked over to wish him well and members of the crowd screamed, "We love you, Sanjaya!," prompting him to flash his famous smile one last time before leaving the stage.

Timed Out: Each week, the judges have been getting closer and closer to missing that mark when the stage manager starts to count down 30 seconds to airtime. On Wednesday, Paula Abdul â€" who had cut it about as close as one can previous times â€" finally did and was only halfway to her seat as Seacrest introduced the show. Lucky for her, the host kept his focus on the task at hand as she subtly tiptoed by just a few feet away and squeezed into her chair.

Tsk, Tsk: When Ryan tried to make Melinda Doolittle choose which of the two Idol groups (Jordin Sparks, Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson or Sanjaya, LaKisha Jones and Blake Lewis) was the night's bottom three, Jackson turned to Lythgoe during the commercial break and shook his finger in shame at the man who orchestrated the stunt â€" and had been lining up the Idols just moments before onstage.

Bucky in the House! Season 5 finalist Bucky Covington, who countrified last season with his vocal stylings, was in the house â€" and the judges were happy to see him (Randy even gave him a high five). Other former Idols there for country night: season 4's Amanda Avula and season 3's Matt Rogers, who was greeted by an excited fan screaming, "You rock, Matt!"

Sadly, Olivia Mojica was nowhere to be seen.

Uncomfortable Scene: In order to make it clear that Simon was not disrespecting the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the show aired the judge's yet-unheard comments to Abdul about Chris Richardson's nasal-y performance. Chris sat stone-faced as he had to relive the moment and listen to Simon trash his singing to Paula. But Chris got a boost from some Redondo Beach, Calif., high-school cheerleaders, who came out to support their favorite Idol.

During the commercial break, one of the girls took the microphone from warmup comedian Cory Almeida and shouted, "We love Chris 'cause he's a hottie!"

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by Mischalova at

First, we had to say goodbye to Haley Scarnato and her legs.

Now, American Idol viewers have finally bid farewell to Sanjaya Malakar and his hair.

American Idol Top Nine

The bandanna look just didn't work for Sanjaya this week. And the poor singing probably didn't help, either. He and Lakisha Jones received the fewest number of votes - and when Ryan Seacrest told the world it was finally time for Malakar to go home, the 17-year old fought back tears.

Nevertheless, Sanjaya had a great run. He may never sell as many records as Carrie Underwood, but far less talented people (we're looking at you, Kim Kardashian) have made it big.

We just hope Sanjaya's next career move isn't to pose nude with a guitar. Let's leave that up to his sister, Shyamali Malakar.

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by Mischalova at

Let's give Simon Cowell a break, shall we?

The guy may have an acid tongue from time to time on American Idol, but he certainly didn't mean an ounce of disrespect to anyone involved in the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy from earlier this week.

Go, Didi!

Here's what happened:

On Wednesday's show, Cowell's critique of a song by Chris Richardson â€" in which Cowell accused Richardson of sounding "nasal-y" â€" was cut short when Richardson, after talking about his sound, offered a quick tribute to this week's campus event.

"My heart and prayers go out to Virginia Tech," said Richardson.

"I have a lot of friends over there. Be strong."

The camera then caught Cowell turning to fellow judge Paula Abdul and looking annoyed, replete with an eye roll â€" from there, the judge found himself on the receiving end of some heated criticism from bloggers and TV critics across the country.

This morning, Cowell appeared on the Ryan Seacrest KIIS-FM radio show, with the host saying:

"We've got to clear this up. There are these people on the Internet trying to make something of this story, and let's just be honest, no human being would be that disrespectful to anybody involved in that awful tragedy."

"No, of course not," said Cowell. "And the irony was that we discussed this before the show and wondered, What do you do in a situation like this when something terrible happens? Do you ignore it?"

The decision was made to have Seacrest send out thoughts and prayers from everyone at Idol to begin the show.

As for the criticism he's received, Cowell referred to it as "this crazy story that appeared that I rolled my eyes disrespectfully at Chris because he made the comment ... The truth was is that I had switched off at that point. I was ... saying to Paula, "What does he mean he was singing nasal-y on purpose? I didn't understand what he was saying."

Simon went on to say that the possible boy toy of Lauren Conrad was right to acknowledge the horrific events because he's from that area of the country.

We now hope this non-story is over with. And viewers can focus on what's truly important about the show: the hair of Sanjaya Malakar.

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by Mischalova at

As if the love life of American Idol contestant Chris Richardson hasn't been talked about enough.

First, he was rumored to be an expert on Alaina Alexander nude ... if you know what we mean.

Finale Trio

Then, talk of at least a one-night stand with The Hills hottie, Lauren Conrad, was prevalent after these two were spotted outside a night club together.

And now? It looks as though Richardson has found comfort in a fellow Idol hopeful, Blake Lewis.

Granted, it's possible this picture was actually photoshopped to just appear as though these two singers were as tight as Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag - but is it so hard to believe that a couple of males might also just cuddle up for warmth from time to time?

That being said, we'd have chosen Haley Scarnato over Blake for such a purpose, Chris. To each his own, though.

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by Mischalova at

The war in Iraq and Sanjaya Malakar.

These are pretty much the two most debated topics in the country right now. With that in mind, let's hear what certain celebrities have to say about this American Idol hopeful:

Pia Toscano on Motown Night

Mary J. Blige: I don't think he's horrible, but everybody's making it where he's just horrible. I've heard worse.

Diana DeGarmo: I believe more power to him. If he can do it, go for it.

Joel Madden: I'm hoping he wins because Howard Stern has been trying to get him votes, and I love Howard.

Kevin Nealon: I'm not a 'Fanjaya,' but I like that he's still in there. It's fun seeing how long Sanjaya will stay.

Haylie Duff: I've only seen his hairdos. I've never heard him sing.

Kevin Bacon: Young kids like him because he's so fresh-faced and open. That's the appeal, I think. American Idol is for people to have fun, to be entertained. You can't take it too seriously.

Adam Goldberg: Just because it's a train wreck, I'd like to see Sanjaya win to see if there's some crazy revolution that takes place. I think it's the same reason I watch that show and other shows like it for that matter. I think I â€" and America in general â€" just like to hate things. I wish I was above that, but I'm not. So I enjoy things that piss me off.

Rex Lee (Entourage): He's incredibly entertaining! I love that his hair is different every week. It's ingenious.

The next issue celebrities will weigh in on? Whether or not CariDee English is a zombie.

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by Mischalova at

The Hollywood Gossip staff is comprised of celebrity sex tape investigators and Antonella Barba photo admirers.

But we don't know a lot about fashion.

Scotty McCreery Performs

That's why we needed the help of American Idol stylist Miles Siggin to comment on the trends of a few of this year's contestants:

Haley Scarnato: (below, left) "Haley tends to gravitate toward pageant-y, more sparkly things which we've been slowly getting her out of. You can go out to any club or bar in any city on a Saturday night and see a million girls wearing the same thing," Siggins says. "With the Idols, people have got to aspire to be them in every way, including dress."

Melinda Doolittle: (below, right) "Before Idol Melinda didn't really know anything about fashion or shopping at all... She's got quite a strange body, because she hasn't got much of a neck and developed shoulders. [Her friends who helped style Melinda during auditions] were putting her in lots of collared stuff - jackets and things - which I got her out of as soon as I could and into dresses, which are a lot more flattering for her. By the end of the season she's going to be the most changed."

Continue Reading...

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by Mischalova at

The most entertaining part of last night's American Idol?

Jennifer Lopez trying to give singing advice.

Hulk on Idol

That's less of a diss toward Mrs. Marc Anthony and more of a yawn regarding the entire night. Maybe the singers simply had trouble with the Latin theme - but not really stood out. Not even Melinda Doolittle made us gasp in awe like usual.

We can at least give props to Blake Lewis for having the guts to sing a song by J. Lo's husband. He was probably the best on the evening.

But, don't worry fans, we still have a Sanjaya Malakar update for you: the lousy, lovable singer didn't sport any sort of crazy hair ... unless you count that mess on his face. Apparently the guy hates razors the same way many fans of American Idol hate him.

Fortunately, we can still admire how cute his sister, Shyamali Malakar, looks.

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