As the show was about to come to a close, all six "American Idol" finalists sat nervously on stage, waiting to find out which one of them would be sent home.
Finalists LaKisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, and Chris Richardson had been told earlier in the evening that they would be returning next week.
The last two finalists, Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis, were told to stand and learn their fate. When Lewis was told he was safe, it looked like Sparks — a fan and judge favorite — would be packing her bags.
"How could we let anyone go on a charity night?" Seacrest said.
The show will make up for this week's reprieve by sending home two finalists next week.
This week's competition and results shows were part of a fundraising effort titled "Idol Gives Back."
On Tuesday's show, the six finalists performed what Fox called "life anthem" songs of compassion and hope. Viewers voted as usual for the contestants, with donations coming in from corporations. Fox parent company NewsCorp gave $5 million, according to Seacrest.
The audience was invited to contribute on Wednesday during a two-hour show from the "American Idol" stage and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Viewer donations were made by telephone via toll-free pledge lines or on the Internet. At the end of the evening Seacrest said they had raised $30 million so far.
Wednesday's star-studded lineup included Ellen DeGeneres; Madonna; Rascal Flatts; Celine Dion in an interesting "duet" with Elvis; Bono; Earth, Wind & Fire; Il Divo; Josh Groban with the African Children's Choir; Jack Black; Jeff Beck; Quincy Jones; Annie Lennox and past "Idol" winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
"Idol Gives Back" is intended to raise awareness and money for the newly formed Charity Projects Entertainment Fund and other organizations that fund relief programs for children and young people in extreme poverty in America and Africa, Fox said.
The U.S. organizations benefiting are Save the Children; America's Second Harvest: The Nation's Food Bank Network; Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Children's Health Fund. In Africa, funds are earmarked for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Malaria No More; Nothing But Nets; Save the Children and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.