The show's host and producer, comedian David Alan Grier, starred for four years in the hilarious Emmy award-winning sketch comedy series In Living Color—but he says his new show is even more fun!
"It's the unknown, which is very rare on television, where we're taking a chance with each and every sketch," David says. "It's an adventure. I watch, and we really don't know what's going to happen."
The first rule is to think, "Yes, and..." not "No, but..." "Don't deny the situation," Jason says. "Go with it." Secondly, David says to never ask questions, but provide answers. "More than any other rule, always listen," David says. "Just listen to what the person is saying to you. Say the first thing in your mind."
"But what if I'm not funny?" Oprah asks. Angela says not to worry about that. "I would say just be truthful, and you don't have to worry about getting a big laugh," she says.
With these rules in mind, Oprah performs her first improv skit! "People ask me all the time, 'Do you get nervous doing [The Oprah Winfrey Show]?' I never get nervous, but now I'm a little nervous!" she says. In the end, though, Oprah finds her footing. "I started to feel a little better."
Working mom LaKisha Jones has received some criticism since amazing Simon with her performance of Jennifer Holliday's "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going" early on—but Simon says he's not writing her off yet. "She's very, very capable of doing what she did a few weeks ago," he says.
Simon likes Virginia native Chris Richardson—who is sometimes compared to Justin Timberlake—because "he's contemporary." "But I'm a little bit worried about the singing through the nose," Simon says.
According to Simon, Blake Lewis—who wowed judges early on with both his beatboxing and his singing talents—"is a pop star." And, singing sailor Phil Stacey also gets some credit for his outstanding performance during country week.
But Simon's favorites this season are two women with big voices—former backup singer Melinda Doolittle and 17-year-old Jordin Sparks. "I've got a soft spot for Melinda. ... She's a fantastic singer. Now she's got to go out there as a star," Simon says. "Jordin I thought was sensational this week."
"At this stage of the competition right now I'm excited," Simon says. "Any of these guys could win."
For Jordin, who has been watching the show since she was 11, life in the spotlight is "awesome." "I'm enjoying every minute of this," she says. "I would have never thought a couple years ago that I would be here on this stage and singing and performing."
LaKisha says winning the competition would mean more than just a record contract. "A new life," she says. "Struggling with my daughter and being a single parent, it's always hard. And coming here and having the opportunity to now kind of turn my life around ... it's a blessing."
She's not the only parent making sacrifices. Phil missed the birth of his second daughter for the Idol audition! "My poor wife," he says. "I missed the first one's birth because I was with the Navy. But on the bright side, I didn't show any favoritism! Later on in life they won't argue [over] which one I love more by saying, 'Well, he was at my birth. What about yours?'"
Melinda, who's considered the front-runner, says she's taking a cautious approach. "All I can do is just try to take baby steps," she says. "I try not to listen to what's going on because I think we've all been considered front-runners at one point or another."
Regardless of how far these contestants go in the competition, one thing is for certain. "None of our lives will be the same after this," Jordin says.
Since the show has been so successful, American Idol has decided to do something special in return for their good fortune. Fox, American Idol and the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund are teaming up to help fight poverty in the United States and Africa.
To kick off the effort, American Idol is airing a special two-night event called "Idol Gives Back" on April 24 and 25, 2007. After the competition ends on April 24, corporate sponsors will make a donation for every single vote cast that night. The star-studded results show on April 25 will rock the house with appearances from celebrities like Borat, Michael Bublé, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Il Divo, Josh Groban, Annie Lennox, Pink, Gwen Stefani and Carrie Underwood!
Robin released his first album at age 16, but even he admits it wasn't that great. "I kind of started hiding for a long time because I was afraid of not being very good." Then, at 23, he decided to refocus his energy and find his way back.
After a second album that he says was a critical success but commercial flop, he kept at it. Robin's third album, The Evolution of Robin Thicke, skyrocketed him to a hard-won success. "I just kept fighting, and the harder it got and the more doors that were closed on me, I would just go back to the piano, and I would just write more songs because that was the only thing that gave me hope," he says.
Paula, who stars in one of her husband's music videos, says she feels really lucky to be married to a man who would write a song like that about her. "He had fallen down, and he picked himself back up through his music," she says. "To see him here today, it's a realization of a dream."