If you're a man or woman of the people and you want to know where the masses were last night, that's simple: they were watching American Idol.
At least 30 million viewers, or perhaps more tuned in. They cast 63 million votes — more than any US president's ever had, crowed host Ryan Seacrest — for chubby, goofy, endearing Alabama man-boy Taylor Hicks as the new American Idol.
In TV terms, these numbers are astronomical, and astounding. In cultural terms, American Idol is a monster — good or bad, depending on whether you're glued or gone when the amateurs take the stage. A sweet tribal ritual for the whole family, or the end of civilization as we thought we knew it.
Hear about the new cultural phenomenon called American Idol.
Michael Speier, Managing Editor of the Variety magazine
Constantine Maroulis, a contestant in last season's American Idol who made it to the top 6 finalists
Renee Graham, Pop Culture Critic
Craig Marks, Editor-in-chief of Blender Magazine
Felicity Paxton, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
This program aired on May 25, 2006.