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CNN LIVE TODAY

'Idol' Worship

Aired May 22, 2003 - 10:54   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It came as a shock to many, Ruben Studdard awoke this morning from what must have seemed a dream. As you just saw, he was crowned the new "American Idol" after a showstopping finale with "Idol" hopeful Clay Aiken.
Joining us now to talk about the big show is Jon Kelley, an anchor and correspondent for "Extra." Hey, let's talk about the controversy first off, because only, what, 1,300 votes separated the winners, is that true?

JON KELLEY, "EXTRA": Fox came out today and wanted to clear that up. Ryan Seacrest had actually misspoken on that. It was a 135,000 votes, so a little bit larger than they said, but with 24 million votes coming in, it was still a pretty tight vote. So actually Fox wanted to clear it up, it was 135,000 votes that separated the two, as opposed to 1,300.

COSTELLO: But his comments caused a lot of controversy, because on "The Drudge Report," they're calling for an audit of the vote.

KELLEY: Yes, when I first heard that, too, I thought barely over 1,000 votes, that is pretty phenomenal, pretty tight. I mean, we knew it was going to be tight. Only 2 percent had separated these guys going into the finals. But 1,000 votes, that would have been amazing. I'm sure a lot of people losing their minds, but I'm sure Fox will try to work a lot of spin control today, and say, we apologize, we apologize, it was a misspoken live comment there, 135,000 votes.

COSTELLO: We'll try to get in contact with Matt Drudge to see if he'll change things on his report, somehow I doubt it, though. I wanted to ask this. Clay's unreleased single is number one on amazon.com. Ruben's is something like number 353. How do you explain the discrepancy?

KELLEY: Well, I guess we'll see now. It's so early right now to figure who will be the number one seller, but both of these guys are going to be huge, huge successes. Last night, the energy was phenomenal in the place. Ruben and Clay doing their thing fans blowing it up, and what was really cool about that, was Ruben, who had been so calm and cool, and Clay as well, Ruben started to tear up a little bit, and showing some emotion there, and Clay and him get along so great. I mean, they are like the modern version of ebony and ivory, brothers from different mothers. They get along so well.

So Clay is doing so well with his sales, so he and Ruben will duke this one out for a while, because their CDs, once they drop them, will be released in the same week. So they'll have a chance to go head to head once again.

COSTELLO: I hate to bring this up, but you did mention ebony and ivory, there was some, I don't know, controversy over race, many people thinking that black contestant could not win.

KELLEY: I mean, I guess it goes to show those who thought that were absolutely incorrect. And early on, Simon had mentioned before this thing really got rolling. He said, I think people will be surprised this year. It's not going to be about the look, it's not going to be about the image; the person that wins this will have the voice, and I think Simon obviously predicted this one correctly. And I mean, Ruben, along with being black, he's also not your typical "American Idol" stature. You know, you think of the guy with chiseled chest, and the buffed abs and also the sexy sirens that are doing it, but Ruben brings that velvet voice. He's kind of like Barry White meets Luther Vandross. So I mean, his tones are incredible. You knew this kid would do great things, and he's just getting warmed up. I love his attitude.

COSTELLO: We do, too. Thank you so much for joining us. It was a lot of fun. Jon Kelley from "Extra."

KELLEY: My pleasure. Thank you, Kyra.

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