American Idol's grumbling voice has spoken: he thinks Clay Aiken or Ruben Studdard will win the competition:
- "In the next few weeks, I think the person you're going to see getting stronger and stronger is Clay. I think he's the person to beat," Cowell said.
And the always-smiling Studdard is "very, very marketable."
Both contestants have already received standing ovations from Cowell's fellow judges - Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson - and even the hard-to-please Cowell has used "outstanding" and "excellent" to describe their performances.
Meanwhile, Cowell has announced exclusively to The Post that he has had a change of heart: He will return for another season of the show - but not if Fox insists on airing "Idol 3" in the fall.
Cowell believes Round 3 should be put off until next year to allow the winner more time to be turned into a star - and to protect against brand-name overkill.
....For Cowell, postponement is good business - his recording company provides the "million-dollar" contract to the series winner and has first pick of the other contestants.
In addition to inaugural winner Kelly Clarkson, 22, Cowell also signed runner-up Justin Guarini and the popular Tamyra Gray. And he has already signed Frenchie Davis, who was dumped from the current show because she had done a soft-porn video several years ago.
....Cowell also revealed that Elton John (news) is being wooed as a celebrity judge. [NY Post]
I agree with his assessment on the talent, but the voters have the final say, and though they seem fairly compliant with the "suggestions" of the judges, you can't count on it.
For more, see my recap of the first round of the finals from last week. I haven't mentioned that the Wednesday night show where the voting results from the night before are announced, breaks the record for least actual CONTENT in a half hour program. They somehow managed to drag the announcement of ONE result - the person with the fewest votes - out over an entire 30 minutes. Well thirty TV minutes, which is more like 18 real minutes: 18 minutes of extended cruelty toward the poor contestants.