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A fun night for Simon Cowell

This week's American Idol performance show is unlikely to bring out the love from British judge Simon Cowell. Among Cowell's evergreen damning-with-faint-praise assessments is pronouncing a performance "too Broadway" (the others being "hotel lounge," "karaoke," "theme park" and "cruise ship").  Yet Broadway is what this week's Idol is all about.

Theater_spamalot_revisited_2 Many Idols, winners and non-winners alike, have gone on to Broadway/Off-Broadway and other theater success, as this story in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram details.  Season two runnerup Clay Aiken (at left, in a wavy red wig) has attracted throngs of Claymates to the audience and the stage door during his current gig as Sir Robin in Broadway's Spamalot, and Fantasia got raves in her Color Purple stint.  These people can sing.  But as Cowell correctly points out, the purpose of American Idol is to find new pop/rock stars, not to troll for fresh Broadway talent.

This week, though, the Idol wannabes don't have much wiggle room. Phantom of the Opera composer Andrew Lloyd Webber -- that's Lord Lloyd Webber to you, peasants -- will coach the contestants as they try to deliver vote-getting versions of his songs from Phantom, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats. Even Sunset Boulevard?  For trainwreck potential, one can always hope.  Then we could join Cowell in his cringe-fest.

For more on Idol, check out Howard Cohen's Idol Watch blog.