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Today is

The Final Judgment (or "The End is the Beginning is the End") - February 14

We started with 172. From there, we got 92. And then down to 56. Last night, we made it to 40.

Now comes the long walk, and at the end, only 24, 12 men and 12 women, will be invited to sing for an audience of MILLIONS.

It's "Day 5", and the final judgment. The tension is palpable.

First up... Sanjaya Malakar... As if the road wasn't hard enough, today is the first day without his sister. It's bittersweet... but it turns just sweet...

Sanjaya Malikar - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Next, Anna Kearns, the gentle giant. ... Gone. I wish it was only that simple to convince her to leave. Same with Bernard Williams, Eric Davis, and Tami Gosnell. Melinda Doolittle, one of the background singers that made it through to the Hollywood Round... It's a unanimous decision.

Melinda Doolittle - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

And Brandon Rogers, the other background singer?

Brandon Rogers - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Gina Glocksen had to wait a year for her final judgment to come. But with age comes wisdom... and the judges are going to give her that second shot to sing for America... "Shut up!"

Gina Glocksen - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Jimmy McNeal and Errick Johnson aren't so lucky.

Haley Scarnato is next...

Haley Scarnato - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Next, Phil "The New Father" Stacy. He's got a new baby.... and a spot in the top 24.

Phil Stacy - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

It's 2:30, and 28 still wait. Vastly different from when they were in Hollywood and watching "The Simpsons Movie"... lucky dogs. Remember, kids, it's July 27.

Next up, Chris Sligh... "You guys are probably wondering why I called this meeting today." He was one of the better ones... Definitely one of the most popular...

Chris Sligh - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Blake Lewis, the leader of his group with his beatboxing...

Blake Lewis - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Thomas Lowe, however... isn't. How about Rudy Cardenas?

Rudy Cardenas - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

4:30 at Pasadena Civic... Paul Kim has a barefooted ritual. He says he's going to be the barefoot singer. With lucky drawers... Split decision...

Paul Kim - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Next, Jordin Sparks... floundered in Hollywood, but still...

Jordin Sparks - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Not going through: Olivia Quiba-Hurst, Tatiana McConnico, and Monique Vieras...

AJ Tabaldo, a five-time auditioner, is next, while Tommy Daniels hits on Antonella Barba... Meanwhile, upstairs..

AJ Tabaldo - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Stephanie Edwards is next...

Stephanie Edwards - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Leslie Hunt was a star at the last day of Hollywood Week....

Leslie Hunt - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Nicholas Pedro quit last year, but is determined to go the distance this year.... That attempt would prove not to be trivial...

Nicholas Pedro - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

5:30, and we're still in need of nine slots still up for grabs. Alaina Alexander... would prefer to stand. But she sits... She doesn't want to go home... And aside from a few vocal trips, she won't.

Alaina Alexander - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Final advice before showtime? "Blow your nose."

Next, Chris Richardson.

Chris Richardson - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Sabrina Sloan?

Sabrina Sloan - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Jerome Chism doesn't make it. Joelle James also is cut. Cowboy Matthew Buckstein and Princess Johnson are also off the list.

Lakisha Jones. She is here for her and her daughter. She took full advantage in Hollywood, but was it enough?

Yup.

Lakisha Jones - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

We're down to seven singers awaiting their final verdict. Nicole Tranquillo hit her stride in Hollywood...

Nicole Tranquillo - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Jared Cotter is up next...

Jared Cotter - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Amy Krebs? She's through.

Amy Krebs - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

It's 8p with four singers left with Marisa Rhodes and Antonella Barba for the ladies and Thomas Daniels and Sundance Head for the guys. The ladies are first. Marisa started strong, but Antonella picked up steam as Hollywood Week rolled onwards, only to crash on the final day. The final judgment....

Antonella Barba - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

There is no love lost on Marisa's end. She was not only upset, she was bewildered.

Now to the guys. Tommy and Sundance head up to meet the judges. Tommy was a judges' favorite from day 1, and was feeling confident all the way through. Sundance was also a favorite, but he knew that he needed to pull a winning performance from SOMEWHERE, or else he's going home. The final judgment...

With one space remaining...

Sundance Head - GOING TO TELEVISION CITY

Tommy's having a hard time going through the motions. But Sundance is classy in victory, as is Tommy in defeat.

And there you have it. The final 24. Somewhere on this page is the name and photograph of the next American Idol. And America... it's finally your turn. We'll see you back here next week with the first of the semifinal rounds.

 

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