'American Idol' Tonight: Finally, Hollywood! Finally, Ellen!
'American Idol' Tonight: Finally, Hollywood! Finally, Ellen!
After three weeks of audition episodes, eight celebrity guest judges and the ever-so-ubiquitous "Pants on the Ground", we finally made it: Hollywood! I'm just happy the pure train wrecks are over, and American Idol has finally taken one more step towards actual competition mode. Wheeee. Now the real business begins.

Well, not yet. As we all know, the judges will take the 181 people they gave golden tickets to, and whittle them down one by one before the Top 24 is revealed in two weeks' time. So that means a solo performance, a group performance, another solo performance, and tension, tension, tension backstage. At least it's a bit more palatable than those people who come to the auditions to grab their 15 minutes of fame.

Personally, I'm watching out for how a handful of people fared in Hollywood. There's Tyler Grady, the drummer with injured wrists. There's Didi Benami, the next version of Megan Joy. There's Andrew Garcia, that soulful dude from Los Angeles. And, believe it or not, I've got Aaron Kelly--the guy I tagged as a future David Archuleta who has failed to convince me with his audition last Wednesday--on my list. Those names also appeared on the Top 24 spoilers list that's been making the rounds for what seems like forever.

And then there are the two other people that I like but feel won't get far: Maegan Wright and Tasha Layton. Not that I'm totally relying on the spoilers, but I still think we need their sort on American Idol. Unfortunately, that's not my decision.

The other thing I'm watching out for tonight is, of course, Ellen DeGeneres! Finally. I know I liked a couple of guest judges but none of them are permanent, and it's finally time to see why Ellen was chosen as Paula Abdul's replacement--and, better yet, whether she can do the role justice.

She did say she's going to represent the viewer at home, giving comments folks like me would usually say after every performance. After all, she wasn't known for her singing. We do know her as the host of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, that talk show that won a lot of Emmys and popularized that dance move she does on the coffee table. We also know her as a comedian, starting as a stand-up before going on to head the sitcom Ellen. That's, of course, the show where she came out as a lesbian, after a creative scramble led to perhaps one of the most buzzed-about episodes in television.

But oddly I remember her the most for being Dory on Finding Nemo. I mean, that fish stole the show. Imagine what would've happened if Megan Mullaly took that role instead.

Yeah, we'd be saved from the butter dance. But there'll surely be some dancing from tonight, perhaps from Ellen, and definitely from the contestants, who'll try to perform their way to our hearts. Question is, who will it be?

(Image courtesy of Fox)