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C'mon, Gina, Find a Way to Turn That Frown Upside Down!

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, April 5, 2007

Tony Bennett is too ill to perform so his plugging plans don't pan out, Michael Bublé steps in to sing but his new CD won't be out for a month so he'll get no sales bump whatsoever, and Sanjaya Malakar has cut his hair, sending millions of little girls and their mothers into hysterics.

This is the saddest "American Idol" results show ever.

Oh yeah, and Gina Glocksen is out. Rocker Goth Chick sings a Charlie Chaplin ballad -- she's got it coming to her, I say.

On a brighter note, Kermit the Frog makes a guest appearance hawking Ford's hybrid SUV during the Ford Music Video. Too bad they didn't have him fill in for Bennett, singing "Call Me Irresponsible." Surely Kermit has something to plug besides Ford vehicles. Did I mention Ford has expanded its "Idol" product-placement campaign and I now get a buck for every time I work "Ford" into my "American Idol" columns? Ford, Ford, Ford, Ford, Ford.

This week, to shake things up, instead of having the Idolettes sitting in the Tractor Seats of Safety Sponsored by Ford while show host Ryan Seacrest tortures them with his "You sang . . ." blather, they are already standing onstage in groups of three.

The first: Blake Lewis, Chris Richardson and Sanjaya.

The second: Haley Scarnato!, Phil Stacey and Gina.

The third: LaKisha Jones, Jordin Sparks and Melinda Doolittle.

Can you guess which group received the most votes from viewers?

After hours of commercials for Ford and non-Ford products, Ryan sends LaKisha, Jordin and Melinda back to the Tractor Seats of Safety Sponsored by Ford.

Then the BlakeChrisSanjaya group is told to sit down. That leaves HaleyPhilGina in the Bottom Three. Holy Ford!

Then Bublé sings and tells kiddies to steal their parents' credit cards to pre-order his new album. Seriously, he does.

"Am I wasting my votes by still voting for Antonella Barba?" Bublé asks Ryan. He's the best guest mentor ever, and the contestants didn't even have to waste time listening to him dispense advice they then ignored.

Ryan sends Phil back to his Tractor Seat of Safety Sponsored by Ford. That leaves Haley Scarnato! and Gina.

Miraculously, Ryan has time this week to ask the judges whether they're surprised these two chicks received the fewest viewer votes. Randy Jackson sucks air through his teeth and says he's not surprised, but a bit surprised. Paula Abdul announces it's tough at this stage. Simon Cowell, grinning like Sanjaya, says he's not surprised in the least.

And then, Ryan announces Gina is this week's goner. Which is great, because Haley reenacting her burlesque rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin' " would have been a jarring end to the Saddest American Idol Results Show Ever, whereas Gina's redo of Chaplin's beautiful, sad "Smile" couldn't be more perfect:

Smile, though your heart is aching,

Smile, even though it's breaking,

When there are clouds in the sky, you'll [Gina sings 'I'll'] get by,

If you smile through your fear and sorrow,

Smile, and maybe tomorrow,

You'll see the sun come shining through

For you.

* * *

NBC has finally declared the winner of its Battle of the SNL-ish Series:

Tina Fey's "30 Rock," starring Tina Fey as the head writer on a live weekly sketch-comedy TV show shot in New York City who butts heads with idiot network suits, received the coveted second-season order.

Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," starring Matthew Perry as the head writer on a live weekly sketch-comedy TV show shot in Los Angeles who butts head with idiot network suits, did not.

"Studio 60" is, in fact, gone from NBC's lineup for the rest of the TV season, and its time slot will become home to a reality series featuring engaged couples who are convinced their exchange of wedding vows will prove utterly tedious to their nearest and dearest unless improv actors are brought in to wreak havoc on the proceedings and the whole thing is replayed for the handful of Americans not yet addicted to CBS's body-parts-in-Miami drama on Mondays at 10 p.m.

"From the beginning, '30 Rock' has proven to be the kind of quality comedy that doesn't come around very often and we are very pleased to have this show back for a second season," NBC Entertainment chief Kevin Reilly said in yesterday's announcement. "We expect it to continue to build its increasingly loyal audience and become another of NBC's classic comedy series."

The decision to give an early green light to Fey's show for a second season, rather than Sorkin's, was a no-brainer.

For instance, NBC pointed out that, season to date, "30 Rock" is averaging 2.7 percent of the country's audience of 18-to-49-year-olds. That's the age bracket advertisers pay a premium to reach and NBC therefore targets with its entertainment series.

"Studio 60" is averaging only 3.6 percent of the audience in that age bracket.

Hmmmmm.

Well, how about this: "30 Rock's" overall audience, season to date, is a solid 5.8 million viewers, NBC says in its announcement.

"Studio 60's" season-to-date overall audience is just 8.5 million.

[Crickets.] Upscale -- "30 Rock" is very upscale. NBC likes upscale. According to NBC, "30 Rock" is one of the most upscale comedies on television. In fact, NBC says, it rates 28 percent higher among adults 18-49 living in homes with $100,000-plus incomes than it rates among all adults 18-49.

"Studio 60"? Well, "Studio 60" rates 28 percent higher among adults 18-49 living in homes with $100,000-plus incomes than it rates among all adults 18-49.

Now that it's become so transparent why one show got picked up but not the other, it's barely worth mentioning that NBC Universal 2.0 owns "30 Rock" but not "Studio 60" -- that's owned by Warner Bros.

So "30 Rock" is returning to the NBC schedule, where it will, according to NBC, settle into its new time period of 9-9:30 p.m. on Thursdays, starting April 12, for the remaining episodes of this season's order.

By the way, that was to be "Studio 60's" time slot. The one NBC yanked it out of before it ever debuted there. Because NBC wanted to "protect" "Studio 60" from "Grey's Anatomy," after ABC announced it would move that show to the 9 p.m. Thursday hour.

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