Gentle reader,

Crowds surge.  Cameras flash.  We rush to seats.  So many mill about.  See friends.  Wave.  Wait.  Waiting.  Clear the aisles!  Quiet!  Five.  Four.  Three.  Two.  Ryan Seacrest.

“This is.”

“American Idol.”

Audience roars!

I thought I was about to disappoint you once again by writing about live performances rather than the television shows that, together, we have come to love but I then happily realized that I’m not!  Even though I may have been watching the live performance from an excellent seat at Nokia Theater/L.A. Live, you were watching it at the same time on the nation’s most beloved reality competition.  Yes, it’s the American Idol finale!

Gaga ran into the Chinese beaded curtain on the way in and kept it.

Okay, I know, Chip McKinney, gay polo leader.  You are going to say, “I was there, too!  And I was actually sitting two rows in front of you, which technically makes my seat better.”  But, for the sake of argument, let’s say the rest of you were watching the show from the comfort of your living room or kitchen or dungeon or whatever you’re into.  And thanks for your (imagined) two cents, Chip.

I have to admit, I usually go into these things dreading that I will sit for a long time through something that may or may not be enjoyable before I get to the After Party with the free cocktails and a passably good buffet.  Although Scott and I were the guests of Executive Producer Ken Warwick and the lovely Julie Warwick, there was still the getting downtown, the parking, the literally thousands of people milling about and making their way into the auditorium.  As Scott and I sat waiting for the broadcast to begin and fending off advances from lovely girls who thought we were “so gorgeous,” we had a happy thought.  Well, two happy thoughts.  First, the girls thought we were gorgeous, which is always nice.  Second, the damn show was LIVE!

From left to right: Scott Khouri, Julie James and James Tuttle.

If you’ve ever been to the taping of a sitcom, you know how grueling and soul-killing the process usually is.  You are assaulted by a high-energy comedian as you wait between every take and even longer between scenes as lights are being set, costumes are being changed, and writers and producers are debating script points.  The night drags on forever before what’s left of the audience departs and you can finally go for drinks in the cast dressing rooms.  I am very familiar with this scenario, having been closely involved with one of the least-funny sitcoms in the history of the English-speaking world.  Don’t bother checking IMDb for my credit because I wasn’t in the cast.  I’m not big, fat or Greek.

A live broadcast like American Idol is vastly different.  You must be in your seat by 4:30pm PST even though no one really is.  At 4:59, they start counting down and at 5pm, Ryan says, “This is (long pause) American Idol!” and we all applaud, whistle and yell.  At 6:59pm, a mere two hours and four hundred live performances later, the winner is on the stage trying to distract us from his emotional breakdown by pretending to eat confetti, and it’s all over.  We were actually able to glide out of the vast theater as the crowd was still cheering, though I was a bit worried for a moment that a saucer-eyed woman in the cheap seats, who must have mistaken me for someone famous, might jump over the security people and tackle my ass on the way out.

James Durbin, who should have won, but the Christian country western folk must have not warmed to the rock-and-roll Tourettes Syndrome thing.

I’m not going to replay the entire show for you because, unlike Sarah’s House or Mob Wives, you’ve most likely seen this one.  I mean, we’re talking about the most viewed fucking show in television history.  Like me, you probably saw the show start out with Judas Priest performing with contestant James Durbin, whom we refer to as “Adam Lambert, but straight,” and thought, “This is going to be a long night.”  But didn’t it just get better and better?  There were so many great performances that I never again have to go to another concert so I’m just going to tell you about my favorite moments.

First of all, you may or may not know that the staff of the Nokia is incredible.  They are courteous and helpful and never make you feel as though you’re inconveniencing them.  We had a wonderful lady standing near our seats in the orchestra who smiled every time I looked up.  She may have been there to help disoriented guests find their seats but I felt as though I had my own bodyguard.

Gaga again, being pushed into the pit. She survived. Oh, well.

And Lady Gaga’s performance of “Edge of Glory” was a big surprise, even though sitting and watching them build that crazy-ass mountain during the three-minute commercial break should have clued me in.  She seemed a little limited from her usual dance moves, but on a tiny platform with no railing way up there, who the hell wouldn’t?  After being a few feet from her during the performance, I now know that she is both amazingly talented and very weird.  Unfortunately, that saxophone solo toward the end still makes me think of Huey Lewis and the News.

Jennifer Lopez went missing from the Judges’ Table after one of the commercial breaks, so we assumed that she’d probably be singing soon.  Instead, her husband Marc Anthony came out to do a Cuban mambo number, which was great fun even before J-Lo came out to shimmy and mambo around him.  Once she did, though, it was all about her.  I won’t describe it for you because, even if you didn’t watch the show, you’ve probably seen at least a clip of that by now.

Beyoncé shakes it up because she can, baby. And she has an accent in her name. So there.

My absolute favorite part of the show was Beyoncé magically appearing to join in the “Beyoncé medley” with the girls of the final group.  I loved that she appeared without a big introduction, just her silhouette on the stairs above the stage igniting screams in the audience.  She gave it 100% and completely supported the new talent around her.  I didn’t love her new single, “One + One,” that she premiered later in the evening, but she was beautiful in that number, too, and she’s a top-notch performer.

The after party was lovely.  It was gorgeously staged and staffed by incredible waiters and bartenders but I was a little confused by the somewhat democratic guest list.  Aside from the wonderful Julie Warwick and her beautiful daughter Gracie, soon off to dinner for Julie’s birthday, and a few contestants from earlier seasons, I wasn’t really sure where any of these other people came from.  After a few cocktails, it didn’t really matter.  They probably thought the same about us.  Scott was mistaken for our friend Gilles Marini a couple of times and the passed hors d’oeuvres were amazing.  Always, ALWAYS choose the hors d’oeuvres over the buffet, by the way, but you probably knew that.  Scott and I were home by ten.  Once again, thank God for live tapings!

The after party. Sponsored by you-know-who.

So, do you remember the recent People Magazine cover that proclaimed Jennifer Lopez as the Most Beautiful Woman in the World?  Did you scoff, as I did, and say to yourself, “Oh, please.  There must be some woman out there more beautiful then J-Lo.”  Well, you and I were wrong, my friend, because she’s the shit.  During this A.I. season, we’ve seen her looking stunning every week.  She may never have looked better than the live taping of the finale show when she walked out to rapturous applause in her Michael Kors Fall 2011 tan crystal-embroidered jumpsuit.  Scott whispered, “I think I have that outfit.”  For your peace of mind and mine, I don’t think he does.

Lopez’s decision to join Idol brought her back to the forefront of the Industry and she most definitely did it right.  Her stylist, her hair and makeup team have served her well, as has her lovely personality.  Back in her Bennifer days, on Scott’s first day on the Gigli set, I warned him, “Don’t look her in the face.  She’ll get you fired!”  I’d read that in some tabloid bullshit and I wanted him to be on his toes.

Scott just said dreamily, “She’s so nice.  I love her.”

J-Lo: 1; Tabloids: 0

J-Lo isn't really strangling her husband. They aren't there with the relationship yet.

Anyway, Most Beautiful Woman Lopez had very few missteps in this last year on American Idol, where she’s reestablished herself as a fashion force with which to be reckoned.  She is exactly what we need right now:  a beautiful woman who understands fashion and knows how to wear it to her advantage.  That bitch wins in every conceivable category:  show stopping gowns, simple day dresses, sleek pantsuits, you name it.  She even makes those crazy jumpsuits look amazing and, lest you forget, she does all this when she’s not exactly thin.

It wouldn’t be objective reporting without the negative, too.  No one should wear a headscarf the way that she wore one this season, covering all her hair and topping off some big black Victorian nanny dress.  It’s not her first time committing this blunder.  She turned up in a sparkly silver turban thing to 2007’s MTV Video Music Awards and was spotted traipsing around Monaco in a paisley one since then.  I’m usually not a fan of the headscarf look on most women, even when worn less severely, but my super fashionable friend Valerie Sobel recently returned from Europe and said that they’re everywhere over there.  Let’s see what happens.

J-Lo voguing Chemo Realness.

All in all, I would like to thank Ms. Lopez for showing millions upon millions of viewers every week that a woman can wear of-the-moment fashion without looking like she’s trying too hard or sporting a weird costume.  It helps if you have three people running over every five minutes to touch up your lip gloss but you can probably get by without them.  The trick is to get fashion to work for you and not the other way around.

Comments: 9

  • Margot Montaigne June 1, 201110:06 pm

    Fun article!!! Thanks James. I do wish you hadn’t said James Durbin was the straight Adam Lambert–its just so cliche, and not true at all in my opinion, as I love them both . I totally agree with you about Ms Lopez. Its just been the most wonderful year for AI. Looking back, I don’t know how I put up with the catty, man-boobed Simon Cowell. I think it was definitely the best finale show ever.
    BTW–what’s with Gaga’s body? in six months she’s gone from borderline anorexic to a big beefy girl–whats THAT about? Inquiring minds want to know James!

    • James Tuttle June 1, 201110:53 pm

      Hi, Lovely Margot! I must say that I only mentioned Durbin as “the straight Adam Lambert” because I could never remember his name, even though his first is the same as mine, and that’s how I always referred to him. Simon is a really wonderfully polite guy in person but he does like his T-shirts a bit too tight.
      I don’t know about Gaga and the figure. I was a little taken aback when I saw the photos after the show! She was still so great and so weird but a little hefty to be wearing nearly nothing.

  • Jordy June 1, 201110:37 pm

    Wonderful, light and fun article James. I actually don’t watch AI regularly, but I do watch it if I happen to be at my Mom’s because she’s a huge fan, and my model friend Brian Buzzini’s comments sparked my curiosity, so I caught more of it this year than I have in a while. It’s the home audience popularity voting system on these shows that really bothers me, but even more so on Dancing With The Stars because the best technical dancers should be judged by experts and not middle America. My friend Mark Ballas’ partner Chelsea Kane was the best throughout the competition and Mark is clearly the best choreographer, but Hines Ward is a Superbowl football superstar and he won the mirror ball popularity, who has the most fans, trophy.

    I did tune in to the final American Country Music Idol show though, and like you, I was most impressed with the talent lineup! It’s taken me quite a while to warm up to Lady Gaga too, but I do like what she’s doing, her message to young people, involvement in the bullying and teen suicide cause, and she’s won me over with a few songs now. I absolutely love “Teeth”. I even bought one of her CDs when I stopped to pick up my ex’s new CD a few months ago on a road trip.

    I was also, and always have been, impressed by the lovely Miss Lopez because she is such a multi-talented and beautiful woman. It’s funny how we get these ideas about celebs from something we’ve read or heard, and I have tons of those stories, but I’ll only mention two.. Burt Reynolds and Jack Nicolson.. both lovely men regardless of what you’ve heard or read.

    BEYONCE! OMG I’d drink that woman’s bath water! I’d have to rank her up there in the most beautiful women of the world category too, and what a talent! I must agree that I’m not too crazy about her latest songs either.

    It sounds like it was a most enjoyable and fun evening and a wonderful experience! I’m jealous!

    • James Tuttle June 1, 201110:58 pm

      Thanks for sharing and catching up. I agree a bit on DWTS because my friend Gilles Marini was the absolute BOMB a few seasons ago and came in second to some Olympic medalist. Like American Idol, it’s a popularity contest as well as a test of talent and skill.
      And I love Beyonce, too. Even more now!!

  • oldancestor June 2, 20115:26 am

    I have to agree with you on the head scarf look (not that I’m in a position to disagree with you on anything fashion related). Please tell me it’s not a sweeping trend. I also agree J-Lo is a lovely woman. Her husband doesn’t look physically powerful enough for her, though. Maybe she’s into the housemouse thing.

    Strange, but true: I’ve never seen an episode of American Idol.

  • James Tuttle June 2, 20119:00 am

    Hi Eric! I think the headscarf thing is a trend but not the “you caught me in the middle of my weave” look. We’ll have to see how this one plays out.

    No one knows for sure what goes on behind the closed doors of J-Lo and her hubby but they certainly seemed to have chemistry on stage. Besides, when big movie or music stars marry each other, it’s always for real, right?

    Sorry you missed this and every other season of Idol. There will be a new one before you know it, though. It’s never too late!

  • alessandra June 2, 201111:35 am

    And all this time, James, I’ve kept my love for the show a secret! I was downright ashamed. Thought it uncool for someone as erudite and urbane as myself (not!) to make so consistent a date with a TV set. Thanks for giving me the gutspah to say — I love American Idol! Speaking of gutspah…isn’t the headscarf thing Israeli? May be a counter statement to the hetjabs France is doing away with in public…just a thought. And how do you know Valerie Sobel? I met her years ago and have regretted ever since not accepting her invitation to visit in Idyllwild. She won’t remember me, but I was damned impressed with her! Keep writing; love it. You & Scott, the two of you, kiss each other for me. a

  • James Tuttle June 2, 201110:31 pm

    Hi Alessandra! Scott was the original A.I. junkie and I would just pop in and watch toward the end of the season. After being in the audience a couple of seasons ago and witnessing the amazing amount of work and skill that goes into single show, I was kind of hooked, too.
    I don’t know if the headscarf thing is Israeli, Middle Eastern or just girls who don’t want to wash their hair but, when you wear it to cover everything, it seems like the latter.
    Valerie is lovely. I’ve been to her Bev. Hills place but not to Idyllwild, which she really adores. You’ll run into her again one day or maybe we’ll all be in the same place at the same time!
    Big kiss to you, too.

  • Skupe June 8, 201111:59 am

    I have ALWAYS thought you two were gorgeous. Long before AI audience members. My adoration of you leaves them in the dust.

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