'Idol' Worshipers Turn Grammys Into a B-Side

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, February 10, 2006

The amateurs devoured the pros Wednesday night when Fox's "American Idol" went head-to-head with the Grammy Awards on CBS, leaving the carcass with its smallest audience on record.

For the first time in 12 years, the Grammys did not win its night in the ratings. From 8 to 9 p.m. nearly 29 million people decided they'd rather watch the lousy performances and histrionics of wannabe pop stars in Hollywood than be entertained by Madonna, Coldplay, John Legend and U2 at the [Office Supply Retailer] Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Sadly, only about 15 million people went with the pros in that hour. And, as if that 91 percent lead wasn't embarrassing enough for the Grammy performers and trophy-takers, "Idol's" lead among 18-to-49-year-olds was a whopping 97 percent in head-to-head competition.

After "Idol" called it a night at 9, the Grammys, aka "music's biggest night" -- hahahaha -- rebounded a bit, but still wound up with its smallest audience on record -- 17 million viewers.

Guess that whole "moving the Grammys off Sunday night to get it away from the grinding stilettos of the 'Desperate Housewives' " thing only works if you don't then send it into the open jaws of "American Idol."

Last year's Grammycast clocked 18.8 million viewers against an original episode of ABC's ratings giant "Desperate Housewives." That looks like a great number to CBS today, but it was a big disappointment for the network compared with the previous year's BDH (Before "Desperate Housewives") haul of more than 26 million viewers.

Speaking of "Idol," the Grammy show did its best to fight fire with fire. The 3 1/2 -hour orgy of excess featured performances by two "Idol" winners, Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia Barrino. Clarkson was everywhere, not only performing but also winning the night's first trophy, best female pop vocal performer, in that first hour against "Idol" -- that worked well, don't you think?

But, though she thanked God and Jesus, Clarkson forgot to thank the voting viewers of "American Idol" -- the ingrate -- or even the show's producers for having catapulted her to celeb-dom, while she waved around her little spangly gold box purse and promised not to cry during her tearful acceptance speech.

And did you catch "Idol" judge Randy Jackson participating in the all-star tribute to the recently-resurrected-by-Starbucks Sly Stone?

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