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It's 12, so time to move on

At the after-party for `Idol' finalists, there were no tears shed for the last four to go.

March 10, 2007|Richard Rushfield | Times Staff Writer

There were no tears for the fallen this time. On the third floor of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood on Thursday night, a crowd of several hundred partygoers gathered to hail the 12 "American Idol" finalists chosen from the pitchy masses.

TV screens around the room broadcast Thursday's results show, taped three hours earlier for the East Coast. But most attendees seemed to have heard the news already -- that the once mighty Head had fallen. Yes, Sundance Head did not make it to the Top 12, but the atonal and whispering Sanjaya Malakar did.

But few even glanced toward the screens to watch Sundance's final moments, or to hear if the Internet soft-core sensation Antonella Barba could find dignity in her goodbye song, or to drink in the sounds of Sabrina Sloan. Prematurely though their journeys may have ended (in Sabrina's case, if not so much in Antonella's and Jared Cotter's), history is written by the victors, and contestants 13 through 24 have now been relegated to footnote status.

On the televisions, contestants sat waiting to hear which of them would be heading home, but at the Top 12 party, everything was Coke floats and hot fudge sundaes. All eyes remained on the red carpet outside, waiting for the finalists to appear. And when they did step on the carpet, making their way in pairs along the line of assembled reporters -- something magical happened: Individually and collectively, they had been transformed into stars. As they worked the press line, mugging for cameras, fielding the question "What's your strategy?" over and over, the likes of Gina Glocksen, Brandon Rogers, Chris Richardson and Melinda Doolittle filled the shoes of the Top 12s who had walked before them with ease and grace.

With mikes in their faces, flashbulbs popping all around and the long journey of regional auditions, Hollywood week and the semifinals behind them, the 12 -- even Sanjaya -- seemed larger than life. And all seemed to realize this was the moment they had waited their whole lives for and were going to make the most of it, which meant staying on the red carpet, continuing to face the cameras until most of the crowd inside the party had gone home.

Apparently, I was told, the losing four from this final episode are invited to come to the party too. What a melancholy decision that must be -- how could you not try to make the most of your last night in the public eye, even if it was the worst night of your life?

I had difficulty believing that Antonella Barba, at least, would pass up the invitation, agony of defeat be damned when there are cameras to pose for. But as it turned out, none of the four showed.

An understandable but disappointing choice.

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