'Idols' Defy Hollywood Standards

New American Idol Taylor Hicks, from Birmingham, Ala., raises his fist as he speaks with Jay Leno, host of the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno", at NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif., Thursday, May 25, 2006. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian) AP Photo

Comedian and CBS Sunday Morning contributor Mo Rocca heralds America's newest Idol Taylor Hicks for his average looks.


"American Idol," Fox TV's wildly popular singing contest, crowned its fifth Idol, Taylor Hicks of Alabama, Wednesday night.

A lot of people have joked around comparing "American Idol," where callers vote week after week for an eventual winner, to a presidential election:

Southern candidates do seem to win disproportionately.

The contest encourages voting - or at least voter fraud. A 12-year-old girl will end up voting 10 times in one night. A typical "American Idol" "voting irregularity."

But the better comparison might be "American Idol" and Hollywood.

The idols that the American people have chosen are different looking from the idols that Hollywood typically anoints.

The first Idol, Kelly Clarkson, who's gone on to a huge career, looked strikingly ordinary. She was a little bit … chubby. Before I get a bag of angry mail, I mean chubby by Hollywood's rail-thin standard.

Season two's winner, the velvet teddy bear Ruben Studdard, is extra chubby. I'll leave it at that.

What about Idol No. 3 Fantasia Barrino? I'd call her gritty.

Carrie Underwood is pretty, sure, but in a sweet babysitter kind of way. Not a GQ cover girl, like Christina Aguilera.

And now Taylor Hicks, last week's winner. Hicks is America's newest teen idol at 29, by Hollywood standards a geriatric idol, Modern Maturity beefcake maybe.

He's got gray hair. What's more, he actually looks older than his age. Honestly he looks like his father's brother, not his son.

That's not supposed to happen in Hollywood. In show biz, as you get older, like Kenny Rogers, you're supposed to look younger-ish.

Plus, Taylor wears awful clothes -- a purple jacket in the final round -- and he's a terrible dancer. Simon Cowell, the show's judge-slash-despot, said that he danced like the drunk father at his daughter's wedding.

But the voters, including legions of teenyboppers and me, went for him over runner-up Katharine McPhee, the sultry Californian with impossibly pearly whites, the kind of beauty that emerges from some Hollywood hydroponic pond.


Taylor, the American people and I know you'll resist Hollywood's efforts to make you over. Stick with who you are. You could be the new face of Lipitor. Millions of teenage girls will keep track of your cholesterol count.

OK, maybe I'm pushing it.

Let's just say that when aging TV and pop star David Hasselhoff cried tears of joy when you won, he was crying for all of us -- and some of us are even older than 29.
  • Sean Alfano

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