Adam B. Vary
April 06, 2007 AT 12:00 PM EDT

I know this write-up is coming to you a day and change late, PopWatchers, but I’ve been in recovery for the past 24 hours, and I just got released. No need to send flowers, I’m fine, but the results show was such an emotional roller coaster that after it was over I basically walked to Cedars Sinai and checked myself in for observation.

First of all, Corey the Warm Up Comic is no more. Or, rather, it appears he is dancing with the stars full time. So it looks like for now we’re stuck with Bill the Warm Up Comic, who at first showed some serious improvement when he pulled up an audience member to deliver a surprisingly credible “Rapper’s Delight.” Then he had two pre-teen girls do Beyoncé jiggles — not to mention placing Papa Malakar in the awkward position of “teaching” Mama Sparks how to be an excited fan (as if she doesn’t know?!) — and I lost all faith.

The celebs in attendance were also an odd assortment: Stephanie Edwards, buried waaaaay in the back left; Richard Curtis, director of Love, Actually and main man behind Idol Gives Back; Harvey Weinstein, there with his three daughters (more on why else the one-time indie film tyrant was there in a bit); and two of the Maloof brothers. Random.

But the real drama came after the first ad break, when the stage manager placed the Top Nine in those three groups of three. Once Gina saw in which group she was standing — neither with Mindy Doo and Jordin, nor with Blake and Sanjaya (let’s face it, he’s invincible) — her head dropped right down on Phil’s shoulder. My stomach, meanwhile, was in knots, but for a whole different reason. My unconscionably nice colleague, Dave Karger, was sitting next to me Wednesday night, and upon seeing Jordin, Mindy Doo, and Kiki clutching hands, we both immediately thought back to three seasons ago. You know, when it looked like Fantasia, La Toya and J. Hud were in the top three when in fact, they were in the bottom and the future Oscar-winner was sent home. Dave kept repeating, “No, it’s gotta be Haley, Gina and Phil, it’s gotta be,” and I started my slow descent into madness. Even when this season’s diva trio were given the reprieve, with Chris (pictured) and Sanjaya already once each spending time in the bottom two tank, well, that long walk Randy took across the stage to reach Blake, Chris, and Sanjaya was a bit too long for my sanity’s sake.

addCredit(“Chris Richardson: Michael Becker/Getty Images”)

During the second ad break, Jordin, Blake, Kiki, and Chris gatheredaround Gina while Mindy Doo attended to Haley and Phil and Sanjaya justsorta stood around and stared into space. It would appear Blake andChris had some nervous energy to burn off; when it came time to fileback into the benches, I caught them enacting an “After you” “Oh, no,after you” “No, I insist, after you” back-and-forth. (In my head, theydid it with British accents.) Then, during the final ad-break — afterMichael Bublé’s performance, just as unnerving in person as it playedon TV, even though Mindy Doo and Jordin clearly seemed to dig it —Blake and Chris started freestyling together. From my vantage point, itlooked as if Blake was providing the beat-boxing while Chris the”wicky-wicky”s. They went on like this for a good two minutes, at whichpoint Gina, seated directly in front of them, turned around and saidwhat can only guess was a variation on “Can you guys please stop that,I’m kinda a total wreck here with nerves,” ’cause the guys did indeedstop right then and there. Chris even knelt down and gave Gina a sweetfrom-the-back-and-above hug of support.

Alas, Gina was K.O.’d, and as the logo credits rolled after herinsanely ironic farewell performance of “Smile,” Chris immediatelyswung around and enveloped her in a giant bear hug. All three judgesmade their way immediately to Gina to give their words of advice(usually, it’s just Simon who goes first while the other judgeslinger), and soon enough everyone was ushered off stage while the crewset up for a special performance.

Yes, again, the audience was asked to stick around for some music star to pre-tape an Idolperformance, so, yet again, stand-in Randy, Paula and Simon’s had to besnagged from the audience while superfluous drum kits had to be placedon the Idol stage. At least this time, Cor — I mean, Bill theWUC turned it into a contest, letting the audience choose which amongfive guys made for the best Simon. Ryan called out our choice, however,when he showed up to introduce the act and pointed out that thestand-in Simon was the spitting image of Michael Bublé.

Which brings us to why Harvey Weinstein. He was there to introduce Fergie, who has a rare acting role in this weekend’s Grindhouse. (Well, to be accurate, since Fergie’s Idol performance won’t air for another two weeks, it’s “the hit movie Grindhouse,” according to Harvey, clearly unafraid to look like a fool if his Tarantino-Rodriguez cinematic experimentflops.) It was a good five minutes or so after that introduction wasfilmed that Fergie showed up on stage, there to learn her choreographyfrom Fatima Robinson, Dreamgirls‘ choreographer. And by”choreography,” I mean, “go here, stand, sing, go here, put your backto the bass player, sing, go here, stand, and sing,” and so forth. Noteven a four-square in there.

Actually, I wish I could inject more snark about Fergie, but the truthis that when she opened her mouth to sing for the sound check, allother considerations melted away. This woman tore into her song “BigGirls Don’t Cry,” with a big, clear, emotive voice that blew everysingle Idol performance this season out of the water. (I even liked itbetter than the version on her album.) I even turned to Dave Karger andsaid, “Man, I hope the Top 8 was able to watch this.” And that was the sound check.I had to skedat before the actual performance was filmed — it was sucha powerful reminder of what good singing can be that I needed some timeto recover, so who knows where my sanity will be when I finally get tosee Fergie’s actual performance? Actually, one thing is for sure — itwill be no where near the universe of Sanjaya.

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