Maybe "American Idol's" producers read Audiofile's Sanjaya summit, because Wednesday night's show was loaded with hints that the minds behind America's most popular television show fully understand the newly mustachioed one's massive cultural influence. To wit: Sanjaya was the singer given the opportunity to deliver a lover man come-on during the opening group performance of "Bailamos"; Sanjaya was name-checked the most (albeit once as "Sanjita") during Ryan Seacrest's man-on-the-street segment; Sanjaya got the last word when the contestants gushed about how awesome guest "mentor" Jennifer Lopez was (he made an awkward joke about having an affair with her); and it was Sanjaya whom Seacrest repeatedly teased at the end of the show when it was time to announce which three contestants were most in danger of being kicked off. But, as we could have predicted, Sanjaya ultimately had nothing to worry about: Phil Stacey, Haley Scarnato and Chris Richardson were the bottom three vote getters.
In the end, the 24-year old Scarnato, who'd been chided by Simon Cowell for her revealing clothing style and weak voice, got the boot. But before that happened, we were treated to performances by Akon and Jennifer Lopez, Cowell blushing after Seacrest made fun of his man-tits, one moderately funny bit that saw Tony Bennett on the receiving end of some Cowell criticism, and a lame Ford ad starring the "Idol" contestants that included face-morphing special effects that were state of the art back when Michael Jackson used them in 1991. There were also 48 minutes of uneventful filler. Moving forward, expect the Sanjaya era to continue for at least one more week -- I'd be shocked if the lifeless Phil Stacey isn't the next to fall. Thoughts?
-- David Marchese