‘Spankin’ New Music Week’ On TRL

Most talk shows are in re-runs this week, but MTV’s Total Request Live is in ‘Spankin’ New Music Week’ to make up for it. Tuesday will feature an appearance by Lillix. Thursday sees Michelle Branch on the show, where she’ll perform. On Friday, look for last season’s ‘American Idol’ champ Kelly Clarkson performing, hopefully sounding better than on the ‘Idol’ finale. Also on Friday’s TRL, MTV News heads inside the recording studio with Britney Spears to preview her new album before anybody in the world. ‘Idol 2’ runner-up Clay Aiken will be on Live with Regis and Kelly on Wednesday, while contestants Julia Damato and Charles Grigsby will be on the Caroline Rhea Show on Friday.

Celine Dion Sends Lucky Coin To Clay And Ruben

The Las Vegas Sun reports ‘American Idol’ finalists Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard were presented with pendants by Celine Dion with a lucky coin, dipped into her new Celine Dion Parfums fragrance, as good-luck charms. Both young men reportedly wore the necklaces during their final rehearsals. The story goes that Dion found a “lucky” coin before her first singing competition and promptly stuck it in her shoe — and then won the competition. So now she has apparently taken to sending off good-luck coins to favored young performers.

Neil Sedaka Predicts Bright Future For Ruben And Clay

May 22, 2003 – Legendary singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka was on CNN Live Today with Carol Costello, where he talked about his ‘American Idol’ experience and his thoughts on Ruben Studdard beating out Clay Aiken in the final. “Well, I think Clay’s voice is an instrument of remarkable beauty,” Sedaka said. “Ruben is a great R&B singer with great licks, and I think both will have extraordinary careers.”

J Inks ‘Idol’ Winner Studdard; Aiken Joins RCA

The Hollywood Reporter says ‘American Idol’ winner Ruben Studdard has signed to Clive Davis’ J Records, and runner-up Clay Aiken will join the first ‘Idol’ winner, Kelly Clarkson, on RCA Records, which Davis also oversees.

Ryan Accidentally Reveals Ruben’s Victory To Clay

May 22, 2003 – Contributed anonymously: Good Day Live featured interviews with the ‘American Idol’ finalists and judges on Thursday’s episode. Simon Cowell phoned in and revealed that Clay Aiken had inadvertently gotten a peak at Ryan Seacrest’s card that had the winner’s name written on it just minutes before Ruben Studdard was announced as the new American Idol.

Ruben And Clay Profiled On KTLA

May 21, 2003 – KTLA profiled tonight’s ‘American Idol’ finalists Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard. They report that ratings for the show in Ruben’s Alabama hometown are higher than they were for the Super Bowl. Video has since been removed.

‘American Idol’ Hair Guy Transforms Clay Aiken

May 21, 2003 – Extra TV’s Dean Banowetz moonlights as the ‘American Idol’ hair stylist and had this to say about Clay: “Since the beginning he’s had four different hair colors! I sat down with Clay. Number one, the ears were a little big. Not a problem, but we needed to grow the hair to cover them.” For the final touches, Clay got his teeth whitened and bonded. Video has since been removed.

Backstage With Ruben And Clay At Universal Studios

May 21, 2003 – Entertainment Tonight was backstage with ‘American Idol’ finalists Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken last night. Both men claim there is no competition between them, and the one thing they do before each and every performance is pray. “I don’t believe in luck,” Ruben says. “I think that God gives certain people favor, and Clay and I are just very fortunate.” Video has since been removed.

Vegas Odds On Ruben Studdard Vs. Clay Aiken

May 20, 2003 – Johnny Avello, the director of race and sports book operations for Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas, tells the Las Vegas Sun he likes Ruben Studdard over Clay Aiken in this week’s ‘American Idol’ final. Aiken is listed at even, after opening at 4-to-1. Studdard also opened at 4-to-1, and has become a 4-to-5 favorite. “I had Ruben and Clay as the favorites when there were still 12 people on the show,” Avello said Monday. “From the beginning they were head-and-shoulders better than the rest.”

‘American Idol’ Finalists Are TV’s New Odd Couple

May 17, 2003 – Zap2it.com spoke with ‘American Idol’ finalists Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard. Despite what is on the line for the two, they downplay any suggestion of pressure surrounding Wednesday’s finale. “I don’t feel like I’m going up against Ruben,” Clay says. “He and I have been close for a long time and I don’t feel like really at this point it’s a competition about who’s better. We’re both here because we’ve proven, to some extent, that we’re good at what we do.” The full story at zap2it.com has since been removed.

Clay Aiken’s Mistake Mostly Caused By ‘Idol’ Producers

According to a posting at the Clay Aiken community on LiveJournal.com, the ‘American Idol’ finalist was not at fault for missing lines in ‘Vincent’. A regular named Dean called the Drex morning show on 103.5 Kiss FM in Chicago and verified a story indicating that 25 minutes before Clay was going to perform, when he was in hair and makeup backstage, the producers told him that the rehearsal was under and they needed to extend the program. They told him he would need to change the arrangement and add an extra verse to prolong the show. He didn’t have time to rehearse this change. The judges had already watched the dress rehearsal so they didn’t know what happened and obviously didn’t notice the change in the song. Dean was extremely upset over the move. Drex, who is not a Clay fan and calls him ‘Tinkerbell’, was even upset that Fox would do something like that. Nigel, the producer, explained the situation to the audience during the commercial break, but us watching were never informed.

Josh Gracin Voted Off ‘American Idol’

May 7, 2003 – Contributed anonymously: Joshua Gracin was voted off of ‘American Idol’ tonight, despite a much-improved performance and Simon Cowell’s comments that Kimberley Locke should be the one to leave. After thanking his fans, the judges, and his family for their support, Josh brought his daughter up on stage during his farewell song while his wife looked on with tears in her eyes.

Frenchie Davis Bounces Back On Broadway

May 7, 2003 – Ousted ‘American Idol 2’ finalist Frenchie Davis takes the stage for her Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning Rent on Friday, May 16th. Frenchie has signed on the dotted line as the soloist on ‘Seasons of Love,’ and will play three or four small characters in the musical.

Robin Gibb Is Tonight’s ‘American Idol’ Guest Judge

May 6, 2003 – Extra TV reports the ‘American Idols’ finalists will be performing in front of a legend tonight: Bee Gee Robin Gibb. They also report that on Wednesday the lucky three finalists will rub elbows with Oprah Winfrey, who will be taping her talk show on the ‘American Idol’ set (adding confirmation that the finalists know who gets booted before the Wednesday night shows broadcast).

Ruben Studdard Still The ‘American Idol’ Favorite

May 6, 2003 – Writers for Entertainment Weekly sized up the final four contestants on ‘American Idol 2’, giving odds for each to win it all. A longshot is Josh Gracin, at 50:1. Kimberley Locke gets 5:1 odds. Clay Aiken comes in at 4:1. The favorite, even though he was in the bottom two last week is big Ruben Studdard, who is given 2:1 odds. EW’s Mark Harris says, “As for the slam that he can do only one thing: true, and who cares? If America really wanted a winner to be a little bit country and a little bit rock & roll, we’d all be talking about Kimberly Caldwell right now.” Read more.

Carmen Says She And Clay Are Just ‘Good Friends’

April 29, 2003 – Recently, Entertainment Tonight caught up with ousted ‘American Idol’ finalist Carmen Rasmusen to find out how she felt about being eliminated. “I was sad,” she reflected. “It’s sad to leave everyone you’ve been so close to … and to leave the show because I love performing so much. I’m just really happy to get as far as I did.” The blonde beauty also cleared up rumors floating around that she and Clay Aiken are a couple: “Clay and I are just good friends!”

Clay Aiken Battles Gay Rumors

Star magazine reports that despite the constant rumors that he’s gay, ‘American Idol’ finalist Clay Aiken insists otherwise. An insider says, “Finally, after weeks of wondering, a couple of the girls on the show decided to confront him and ask point-blank: ‘Are you gay, or what?’ Clay didn’t hesitate. He insisted that he is straight.” Aiken’s comments didn’t seem to convince the girls, as the insider added, “I’ve overheard things like: ‘Everyone thinks he’s gay anyway, so why doesn’t he just admit it?'” Either way, it doesn’t seem to have effected his popularity. “Gay or straight, Clay is definitely going to make it to the top three,” concludes the insider.

Carmen Heats It Up With Gay Straight Clay?

April 22, 2003 – Carmen Rasmusen suggested in last night’s ‘American Idol Special Edition’ that there may be a romance between herself and fellow finalist Clay Aiken. “I’m going to let America think what they want,” Carmen coyly said after host Ryan Seacrest suggested the pair might be developing feelings for one another.

Carmen Rasmusen Dating ‘Gay Clay’?

April 10, 2003 – Despite being given the nickname of ‘Gay Clay’ by many fans, ‘American Idol’ finalist and Howdy Doody look-alike Clay Aiken was spotted holding hands with Carmen during their performance last night, later kissing when it was learned Carmen wasn’t in the bottom three, and came off as more than friends. Tactical or the real deal?

Billy Masters Praises Fox For ‘Gay Clay’ Idol Treatment

Billy Masters of Filth2go.com weighed in after Clay Aiken was voted on to the show’s final 12. “It’s starting – I’m getting American Idol fever,” he admitted. “This last week, I sat on the edge of my chair (as I’m sure most of you did), wondering if ‘Gay Clay’ was gonna make it to the finals. As the judges made their decisions – not for our boy – I got more and more concerned. What I knew, however, was that the contestant who got the most calls from the public was taken out of the pool of talent for the judges to select from. So, would Clay make it? Indeed, he was the public’s choice – and the one person the judges agreed belongs in the finals. And how sweet was it for the folks at FOX to focus in on his ‘very special friend’, who had tears in his eyes while Clay sang? Brava!”

Celeb Judge Added To ‘American Idol’

March 8, 2003 – The New York Post reports that starting next week, “to mix things up a bit,” ‘American Idol’ will feature a different celebrity judge every week, in addition to Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

Fox Plans Spinoff of ‘American Idol’ For Children

March 7, 2003 – Contributed by skiplest: According to ET Online, Fox has inked a spinoff of ‘American Idol’ that has been dubbed ‘American Idol Jr.’, with children aged 6-12 competing on the show. The show is expected to launch in the summer, but there is no word about whether or not the show will have the same format as ‘American Idol’.

Breakfast With Idol Judges

March 6, 2003 – Extra TV was on hand when American Idol judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Diane Warren to talk about last night’s show and the reasons behind their selections. All the contestants live or die by picking the right song and several performed on Tuesday were written by Warren. Diane says, “I love it when my songs are sung.” Cowell has this morsel of advice for the last 12 finalists, “Simon says the remaining finalists better bring everything to the table or Randy’s going to eat you.” Video has since been removed.

Joshua Gracin Has An Idol Deal In Event Of War

March 6, 2003 – What happens if the U.S. declares war on Iraq, and 22-year-old lance corporal and American Idol semifinalist Joshua Gracin is called into active duty? “What the producers said is that if I happen to be called to duty during this show, then next season for American Idol 3, I would be able to come right back and pick up in the same position I left off at,” he told TV Guide Online.

Jaered Andrews Talks About Assault Charge

March 4, 2003 – Extra TV spoke with ousted ‘American Idol’ Jaered Andrews on word of his alleged assault in connection with a November bar fight that led to another man’s death. Jaered says, “Just celebrating in a bar with some friends my recent success on ‘American Idol’, when I happened to witness someone getting killed.” But the cops say Jaered and some friends got into a fight with a man at a rural Pennsylvania bar. It spilled out into the street where Andrews hit the man once in the face. He fell back, hit his head on the concrete, and later died.