HOLLYWOOD — In what alternate universe is Sanjaya Malakar the biggest star on the red carpet? The "American Idol" universe, of course.
(Watch MTV News "Idol" expert Jim Cantiello catch up with Phil Stacey, Paris Bennett — and Jerry Springer? — on the finale red carpet, and see pics of Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood and more busting out their best threads, right here.)
While former "Idol" winners like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks entered the Kodak Theatre to see who would win America's hearts and ears (see "Jordin Sparks Takes 'American Idol' Crown"), the hair-raising contestant garnered the most screams, wearing a printed white collared shirt with the top three buttons open and black pants. (Oh, and his hair was curly — no ponyhawk in sight.) Even his fans were hogging all the attention: Ashley Ferl, affectionately known as "the crying girl," walked the carpet and was once again driven to tears when she saw former "Idol" contestant Amanda Avila (see "Move Over, David Hasselhoff — 'Idol' Has A New Star Crier").
So now that Sanjaya's out of the competition, who earned Ashley's tears on Wednesday (May 23)? "I voted for Blake and Jordin," the diplomatic tween insisted.
Sanjaya's fellow top 10-ers also made their way into Kodak, including Gina Glocksen, one of the casualties of Malakar's questionable popularity. "I'm sorry I let you down," she apologized to MTV News "Idol" expert and vocal Gina fan Jim Cantiello on the red carpet. "It was spring break. Everyone went away, all of my fans, and didn't vote."
Phil Stacey, who was eliminated along with Chris Richardson just before this year's final four (see "Phil And Chris Exit In 'Idol' Elimination Two-Fer"), wore his full sailor suit to enter the theater and assured MTV News that he would be reporting for duty this summer on the Idols Live Tour (see "Phil Stacey Reveals Why He Might Have To Bail From 'Idol' Tour").
We couldn't help but ask about his youngest daughter, whose birth Stacey missed to audition for "Idol." "I missed the other one's birth too, just so you know," Stacey said. "But I was with the Navy [during that birth]."
Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul breezed down the carpet, only stopping to talk with Kenneth Briggs and Jonathan Jayne, the odd couple who met while auditioning for "Idol" earlier this season. Perhaps Simon wanted to apologize for comparing Briggs to a "bush baby." And it was all love for Paula as a fan yelled out, "You're forever my girl!"
The former "Idol" hopefuls were also out in full force. Paris Bennett (season five) is all grown-up and just released an album, Vonzell Solomon (season four) was pulling for LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle before they got the boot, and Anthony Fedorov (season four) had some advice for "Idol" wannabes.
"Stay focused," offered our "Idol" roundtable veteran (see " 'American Idol' Roundtable Redo: Doolittle-Loving Vets Make New Picks"). "Keep your head straight."
In "American Idol" world, the heartthrobs don't get much bigger than season-five finalist Ace Young — who elicited quite the screams from the peanut gallery — but the ladies also have a lot of love for "High School Musical" hottie Zac Efron. The young actor talked about his upcoming role in the movie musical "Hairspray" (see " 'High School Musical' Stars Have Sequel, Solo Projects In The Works") and why he made his way to the "Idol" finale. "I didn't make it to a lot of the shows, so I had to make it to one," he said.
And Jerry Springer made an appearance at the show thanks to his new boss: Simon Cowell. The king of trashy talk shows is taking over Regis Philbin's hosting duties on the Cowell-produced variety competition "America's Got Talent." So how will Springer's hosting style vary from Ryan Seacrest's? "He's better-looking and younger," Springer quipped.