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CNN Larry King Live

"American Idol" Contestants Sound Off About the Show

Aired January 25, 2007 - 21:00   ET




LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, American idolizing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Shawn (ph), go do my will.


KING: Inside the smash hit TV show where a field of tens of thousands who have tried out to follow their dreams.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I can't believe it's happening to me.


KING: We'll talk to would-bes...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But are a dream.


KING: Wannabes...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll catch him on the rebound.


Oh, god, dude, I don't even know what to say.



KING: Former finalists and a few folks who made you ask, "What are you thinking?" How did "Idol" change their lives?

What do they think of this season's contestants?

Plus, an update on the most famous "Idol" reject ever, William Hung.




KING: It's all about "American Idol" with your calls and questions.


WILLIAM HUNG: I already gave my best and I have no regrets at all.



An unusual edition of LARRY KING LIVE in store. We'll have four previous done goods and a lot of previous didn't do goods.

With us in the studio, Justin Guarini, a runner-up to "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson in season one. He's working on his third album. He recently finished filming the movie "Fast Girl" and he's a special correspondent for TV Guide Channel's "Idol Tonight."

Here, as well, in L.A. is Kimberly Caldwell, one of 10 "American Idol" finalists in season two. That's the year that Ruben Stoddard took home the prize. She is now host of "Idol Tonight" on TV Guide Channel.

In Orlando, Florida is Ace Young. He was a finalists in last season's "American Idol" competition. He's working on an album and has an independent single out called "Scattered."

And in Nashville, Tennessee is Bucky Covington. Like Ace, he was one of the season five's 10 finalists. He's working on his debut album. His first single, "A Different World," recently his the air waves.

Justin, was the experience worth it?

JUSTIN GUARINI, RUNNER-UP TO IDOL WINNER KELLY CLARKSON IN SEASON 1: Of course. Yes. I mean, honestly, it gave all of us the keys to a career. I mean you can't buy the sort of exposure that we got on that show. And, I mean, the fact that this is a reality TV show that is based on talent, not about stabbing some teammate in the back...


GUARINI: ... or what kind of whacky family...

CALDWELL: Not all the time, anyways.

GUARINI: I mean all the...


GUARINI: Well, OK, fine.

But it's not about some whacky family versus some other whacky family. It's about talent and it's about America choosing who they want to hear and see on the radio.

KING: So, Kimberly, even though you didn't win, you were one of the 10 finalists. You're still having a career.

CALDWELL: Yes. I -- I've been so lucky. I've been really lucky. I mean not to say that I haven't worked since, you know, the day I got off "Idol." But the day that I did get off "Idol," I got a job with Fox Sports. And then TV Guide Channel has given me a gig for the last three years. And we have "Idol Chat" and "Idol Tonight."

KING: Do you still sing?

CALDWELL: And I'm doing an album right now. It's kind of country rock. And it's funky and I like it. And, also, I am the new spokes model for Michael Antonio shoes. So my catalog just came out.

Justin saw it.

What do you think?

GUARINI: Yes, it looks good. It looked very good.

CALDWELL: All right, cool. Glad I got him.

KING: So things are going well for both of you?



CALDWELL: And I actually just filmed a movie in Vancouver. So I'm doing a little bit of everything.

KING: Let's check in with Ace Young in Orlando.


KING: Was it worth it for you, Ace?

Was it worth it for you? YOUNG: It was -- it was incredible for me. I truthfully -- I just can't even explain how amazing it was. I got to -- I got to hang out with fans that were from all over the country throughout the summer tour and I started my own charity for a children's hospital in my hometown of Denver. I got to write the very first song on Chris Daughtry's first album with him. I wrote the chorus to "It's Not Over" and it's number one right now.

And on top of that, I get to write my album with some of the best songwriters in the world. So it's definitely worth it.

KING: Wow!

And let's check with Bucky Covington in Nashville.

He was one of season fives 10 finalists. His first single, "A Different World," recently out.

Are you glad you did this?

BUCKY COVINGTON, "AMERICAN IDOL" FINALIST LAST SEASON: I'll tell you what, it beats the body shop.


COVINGTON: By far. I mean, I believe old Justin said it best, yes. It did -- "American Idol" does for you what nobody else can do for you in that amount of time. I was 29 years old -- well, I still am 29 years old, and I'm not going no younger. So if it was going to happen, I needed to happen now. So a big thank you for it.

KING: So a lot of doors opened despite where you finished?

COVINGTON: Oh, without a doubt. Without a doubt. So far, man, we -- like you said, a different world just come out. My single just come out and it's doing really good on the radios and everything. And I just got back from L.A. shooting a video. So I don't know if any of that would have been possible without "American Idol."

So we appreciate it.

KING: We're going to take a look now at last night's losers. They will individually be joining us later and I want to get the comments of this group about them.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gloria, you're always on the run now. Running after somebody. You're gonna get him somehow.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With some other guy you knew before, between the three of us guys you know I loved you more.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 'Til tomorrow I'll be holding you tight. Because I never needed anyone to make me feel alive. But then again, I wasn't really living...


GUARINI: I've got to do that one time.


CALDWELL: Your face is blue.


KING: OK, the truth, guys.

Kevin, Kevin Warrick told "USA Today" that it's not a conscious -- he's the producer. It's not a conscious decision to put so many, in his words, "horrible performers" on, but the further we go on in the series, there are less and less good singers.

Is there a talent shortage?

Are you embarrassed by this?

GUARINI: No. I mean...

CALDWELL: I'm not embarrassed...

GUARINI: ... part of the show is...

CALDWELL: It's good TV for sure.

GUARINI: It does make for good TV.

CALDWELL: I enjoy watching it.

KING: You enjoy it?


CALDWELL: But I more enjoy watching in a few weeks when the good people, you know, get on the show.

KING: You don't think the...

CALDWELL: That's when I really enjoy watching it.

KING: You don't think the show is making fun of these people?

CALDWELL: I think that these people have decided to go on the show.

GUARINI: And the show takes advantage of it.

CALDWELL: And they've seen the show before, you know what I'm saying? And so it's kind of like your prerogative.


KING: So the show takes advantage of the people...

GUARINI: Yes. They know what to expect...

KING: But they know what they're going to?

CALDWELL: Exactly. Exactly.

GUARINI: We're six seasons in. We're six seasons in. They've got to know, you know?

KING: What do you think, Ace?

YOUNG: I think that -- I think they show it all and I love it. I love the fact that they show -- they show, you know, the best of the best and the worst of the worst. They actually told us that. When you go into the final audition with the three judges, they say if you don't know what you are, I'm sorry, but it is a TV show and we're going to show the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

So they definitely...

KING: Bucky, what do you think?

YOUNG: ... do that.

KING: Bucky?

COVINGTON: I think the best way to put it is I believe we've all seen Jerry Springer, yes?


COVINGTON: I was sitting back stage one time with Katherine McPhee. We were watching Jerry Springer. And Katherine looks over at it and she says there's no way people do that for real. The producers have got to pay them or tell them to do it.

I looked at her...


COVINGTON: ... and I said have you never seen "American Idol?"




COVINGTON: Hey, just put a camera on it. They'll do it theirself.

CALDWELL: We stood in line with our people. We know they're for real.

GUARINI: Yes. That...

KING: We have a...


KING: We have an e-mail question from Nick in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey.

The question is: "I'd like to know what the idols go through once being kicked off the show."

What was it like, Justin?

GUARINI: It depends.


GUARINI: Yes, it's a lot of press. I mean, you know, I was fortune to make it to runner-up. So once you get to that last show, I mean it's kind of like...


GUARINI: ... it's, yes. But still, I mean, when you're off you go through all the morning shows and...


GUARINI: ... and, you know, it's just about taking as much advantage of the press as you can.


KING: Did you consider yourself kicked off...


KING: Hold it.

Did you consider yourself kicked off, Kimberly?

CALDWELL: Did I consider myself kicked off?

KING: Um-hmm.

CALDWELL: When it first happened, I just thought, you know, I'll go back to the house and it'll just -- I'll just, you know, practice my song and come back next week and sing Cher. But that didn't happen.

So, I mean, yes, it was sad at first. It really was. And then I realized, listen, I can take this opportunity and I can make it into something for myself or I can decide to go back to Katy, Texas and sit there and try to sing at like a local pub. And that's not what I wanted for myself.

So I decided to take the bigger step and stay in Los Angeles and really pursue everything.

KING: Ace?


KING: Did you think you were kicked off?

YOUNG: I was -- I was kicked off. And...


YOUNG: And the funny thing is, I landed in New York to do the press and I was walking down the street and I saw a big muscular gentleman come up to me with tattoos all up and down his arms. And he goes, "Ace!"

I thought he was coming to beat me up. But he came up to me and he gave me a big hug and he goes, "You got screwed, man."

And he gave me a big hug and he was the coolest guy ever. And he said, "If I don't get a picture with you, my girlfriend is never going to talk to me again."

So I got a picture and I got to meet him and...

KING: That's nice.

YOUNG: ... and I was blown away. I've met such a...

KING: Bucky...

YOUNG: ... such nice people.

KING: Bucky, did you consider yourself kicked off?

COVINGTON: Well, I liked to call it invited to leave.


COVINGTON: I was definitely -- I definitely got the boot, hard. But, hey, you know, the good thing about "American Idol" is you don't have to win it to do something with it. I think that's the biggest thing about the show is that a lot of people that don't win still end up in careers. Hey, look at what Jennifer Hudson, yes?



KING: Not bad.


COVINGTON: Incredible good job. So -- and it takes people like that, you know, to the other people go out. And I just really think the best part about it is that you don't have to win. And the way I looked at it is if you ain't stopped me by now...

KING: We're going to take a break.

Coming up later, William Hung. He rocked the world in season three, but in an unconventional way, with a song called "She Bangs."

He just made a celebrity type entrance here at CNN building and will be along to rock your world a little later. And we'll spend some time with some of the -- last night's unsuccessful idols, when I learn to read right, right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't be afraid, hey, baby. Just ask. You know I'm gonna give it to you.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll know this day's even worse, tell them ramble of the gumble of the back biter. Tell them that god's gonna cut them down.


Welcome to Hollywood.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to Hollywood!



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ooh, superstar.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Our panel of successful people who were turned down by "American Idol" will remain with us through the show.

Joining us now in New York is Ian Bernardo.

He auditioned for this season's "American Idol." He was not sent on to Hollywood, by the way. He's not shy. He's from the Bronx. He got a lot of "American Idol" stardom attention -- a full page in the "New York Post," a lot of buzz. He was on Ryan Seacrest's radio show this morning.

What do you make of all this, Ian, since you didn't make the show?


I, you know what? I'm a very unique person and obviously America has seen that I have a lot of talent in the sense that I am a personality and that I have a lot to offer.

So I see my future as being very bright. I have a record that's just been produced by a major label, Reisa Label, which is on the Billboard Charts right now. It is number four. And I'm going to be performing across America.

So everything is working out for me pretty well. And I just want to thank "American Idol" for giving me this great publicity, because everyone sees that I'm a unique person now.

KING: All of that came from that one appearance?

BERNARDO: Well, you know what?

All my life I've been doing a lot of things. But this appearance definitely. It's the number one rated show on television and anybody, you know, with a sense of humor or anybody that knows talent and sees an entertaining person sees that, you know, I have a lot to offer. And I'm not a moron like maybe they tried to portray me, you know, with editing and everything.

I'm -- I have a...

KING: You're all right...

BERNARDO: I see myself with a bright future with everything.

KING: All right, Ian, let's take a look at your performance on last night's "Idol" audition then we'll get the thoughts of the panel.



BERNARDO: Gloria, don't you think you're falling? If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody calling? You don't have to answer. Leave them hanging on the line. Hey, hey, hey, calling Gloria. Gloria, how you gonna go down?


BERNARDO: Will you meet him on the main line...


BERNARDO: ... or will you catch him on the rebound?



BERNARDO: Will u marry for...



BERNARDO: Rubbish.


BERNARDO: That's British for garbage? Like what is that? Like rubbish? Who says that word even?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ian, you know what, Ian...

BERNARDO: No, I don't...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're doing your shtick.

BERNARDO: Who says that word?


BERNARDO: Who are you?

My face should be right here and you have the audacity that I'm getting outside by security because I'm such a threat? You're thing -- you're not even American and you're in my country and you're going to tell me what an American Idol is?




KING: Do you think they took advantage of you?

BERNARDO: No. You know what?

I -- I got -- out of the great experience and the fact that I got publicity and everything, I got my name out there, I don't -- I don't feel taken advantage of. You know, they edited it to -- to do whatever kind of -- on these TV shows, people have to understand that in reality TV, it's not so much reality, because they do paint a picture.

It's its own art form, in a sense, and I felt like Simon -- I finally spoke up to Simon and he just couldn't handle it. I mean I've never seen him call security on someone who just talks back to him. He had nothing to say. He's so used to putting down people who are afraid of him or people who have special needs and cannot stand up to him.

Finally somebody like me, who has a mouth, he couldn't handle.

KING: Ian...


KING: ... good luck to you.

We'll be following your career.

BERNARDO: Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: Ian Bernardo.

What do you think of him, Justin?

GUARINI: I -- 100 percent congratulations to him.

KING: Why?

GUARINI: You know, he took advantage of the show...


GUARINI: ... just like they took advantage of him. And, you know, I'm glad that I actually got to hear him talk and say something, because the show kind of makes him look like he's just -- like he said, unintelligent, whereas, you know, he seems very...

KING: No, he's intelligent, yes.


GUARINI: ... for what he's gotten and he's obviously got a great personality. And I hope he goes far, you know?

KING: Pretty impressive, wasn't he, Kimberly?

I thought he was.

CALDWELL: He's intelligent enough to be on LARRY KING LIVE tonight with the best of us, right?


KING: What do you think, Ace? YOUNG: I would have to say that Simon said something. You know, it's -- it's an opportunity for everybody. So, you know, the fact that he got it out there...

KING: Good cop out, Ace.

YOUNG: ... and he's willing to take it...



YOUNG: ... you know, that's a great deal.

KING: Bucky?

YOUNG: But Simon did say something.

KING: Bucky, what do you think?

Bucky, what did you think?

COVINGTON: Ace, what was the hesitation for?


YOUNG: Hey, Bucky, you look great.

COVINGTON: Hey, thank you, sir.

YOUNG: You look great, Bucky.

COVINGTON: Thank you.

You (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Yes, you know, congratulations to him and everything. I didn't get a chance to see it. I was actually taping -- I had somebody tape it for me but I can't find a VCR to watch it in. So I hope I'll get to check it out and the best of luck -- the best of luck to you.


We'll be right back.

Coming up next, the "Idol" contestant -- well, I guess one of the "Idol" contestants who did something is next.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All night long, hold -- sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All night long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All night long. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All night long. All night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All night long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All night long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Um, oh, what a feeling when we're dancing on the ceiling.

Wait. Is that the wrong Lionel Richie song?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And life is like a song.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we'll share tomorrow together. May I touch your hand?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I left a good job in the city, working for the man every night and day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These final hours, I will lay down my heart...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. That was very good.



KING: We're back.

Justin Guarini, Kimberly Caldwell, Ace Young and Bucky Covington remain.

Joining us from New York now is Sarah Goldberg.

She auditioned for this season's "American Idol," was not sent to Hollywood.

Sarah, I understand you went to the auditions to support a friend who was a serious singer and you decided to audition on a whim, on a whim, right?

What happened to your friend?


KING: And neither did you.

GOLDBERG: Well, no, but I made it a little while, you know? I...

KING: You sure did.

All right, let's take a look at your appearance on the "American Idol" audition show.

This is Sarah Goldberg.


GOLDBERG: Til tomorrow, I'll be holding you tight and there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be.

I think you don't have to sing to be an American Idol. I really don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a singing competition. It's not a competition of like trying to find the best person that can't sing but really wants to.

GOLDBERG: But I could be the only American Idol who has never sang before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I can't sing either.

GOLDBERG: Look at this! I'm unique! Whoooo! Just because we don't have a million dollars and we don't have singing deals doesn't mean that we don't have lives and it doesn't mean that we don't have important things in our lives.


KING: Sarah, Goldberg, do you still feel the same way?

GOLDBERG: Hey, yes.

You know, they were really rude to us, that I actually -- if you count the time that I spent at the big arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey and then coming back for two rounds of auditions, I was actually there for 35 hours for those five minutes on -- on camera. And, you know, that's ridiculous.

KING: Do you think you were treated poorly?

GOLDBERG: Yes. You know, I don't think that they were nice to me. But I mean I'm -- I'm not a singer. Like this was just for fun.

KING: Well, why would an admitted non-singer want to go into a competition for singers, which is the number one rated show in the country? What would you add to that if you can't sing?

GOLDBERG: Well, you know, I just tried out because I came to support a friend and I figured I'm up at 4:30 in the morning, I might as well try out. And they put me through because they thought I was funny. And, you know, I have to tell you, I got suckered in. That it's pretty intense when you're in this room. You have a lot of stress on you and, you know, I kind of bought into the whole mentality, which is kind of ridiculous because I'm not a singer.

I don't -- I don't really care about the show.

KING: So you think -- you think you were taken advantage of?

GOLDBERG: No. I mean I don't think they were particularly nice to me. Not necessarily to me, actually, but to all the contestants. That, you know, they showed up really late both days; that they flew in the night before at 3:00 in the morning. And I'm sorry, this is the number one show in America. They have a lot of money. They can afford to fly in the judges earlier than 3:00 in the morning.

I mean this is New York. It's not like it's the middle of nowhere. There are flights every half hour. And the next day they didn't show up until 1:00. I was there for two days because they had me come back the second day.

KING: Sarah, you made a -- you made a good point.

Thank you, dear.

Good luck.

Sarah Goldberg.

What did you think of her point, Justin?

GUARINI: I think she was right when she said she got suckered in. And unfortunately a lot of people like her do buy into it and then end up sort of losing their minds on national television.


GUARINI: And she -- she let her emotions definitely get the better of her.

KING: But with all she had gone through waiting around 45 hours...

GUARINI: Look, anybody who's ever been to a...

CALDWELL: That's what we all do.

GUARINI: ... Broadway audition.

CALDWELL: That's what we all do, you know?

GUARINI: Anybody who has ever been to any sort of major audition knows that it's hurry up and wait.

CALDWELL: And wait. And that's just part of the business.


KING: Kimberly, so do you think she has a point, though, or not?

CALDWELL: For sure I think she has a point. I don't think that there is any reason for anybody to be rude to anybody for any reason, bottom line. And the fact that she did wait in line, you know, they should give her respect for auditioning and putting her through.

But at the same time, she has to give them respect, as well, you know, because they've been seeing talent that isn't the next "American Idol" all day, you know?

KING: Ace Young, what did you think?

YOUNG: I think that's a -- I think she got on TV and she -- she had a lot of guts for trying out and she waited just like, you know, the other 100,000 people that waited this year. I mean that's how it was. And she got on TV out of all those people. So you've got to -- you've got to work that. I mean everybody (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: But isn't...

YOUNG: And...

KING: Bucky, isn't there something...

YOUNG: And the fact that they...

KING: Bucky, isn't there something sad about that?

COVINGTON: Well, I mean, she was probably going to standing in line with her friend anyway, yes?

KING: Yes, but 45 hours and then you get on and you know you can't sing. Now, obviously, she shouldn't have sung. But...

COVINGTON: The way I look at it, now the contracts could be changed or whatever, you know?

But after you've passed that first round, you sign a contract and, you know, if you didn't read it, there's lesson number one. Read your contract. But it says that if there's anything funny about you, we're going to go after it. And...



COVINGTON: ... you know, we try no to hurt -- you know, we're going to hurt your feelings. This -- that's why it is a number one hit TV show.

So thanks.

KING: In other words, we are -- sign this, we are going to hurt your feelings?

COVINGTON: I mean, you know, yes. (CROSSTALK)

COVINGTON: With all due respect.

CALDWELL: That's right.


KING: That's delightful.

COVINGTON: I remember reading that line in there. It says if there's something funny about you, we're going to go after it.

Did everybody else read that?


KING: That's funny.

All right, we'll be taking -- we'll be taking a break and come back with lots more.

We'll have lots more winners and losers on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.

Coming and still ahead, the former "Idol" non-winner who became famous anyway, William Hung. He's getting touched up in our makeup room right now, and he'll be with Sorta (ph). He'll be here later to sing his new song.

And up next, another unsuccessful "Idol" contestant -- well, I can't see what I'm saying.

Stick around.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The no club is a big club today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But a good person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no idea how to perform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll take it two times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You looked and sounded completely insane through that audition.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came here to go to Hollywood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems trained.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too over the top.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A terrible audition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's too desperate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This right here, Simon can kiss all of that.



KING: We're back with our panel. Before we meet our next losing contestant, we have an e-mail question from Barbara in Brea, California. "Do contestants ever have romances with each other while on the show?

CALDWELL: Justin Guarini.

GUARINI: I plead the fifth.

KING: You have met someone from the show?

GUARINI: No, I would say -- I would find it very hard to believe that you don't have that kind of thing. When you're in a house all the time.

CALDWELL: It was actually on TV that I dated another contestant, J.D. Adams, who is a friend of mine now and, you know -- I mean there are cute guys and cute girls around. What do you expect.

GUARINI: Yeah I mean, come on.

KING: Let's check in with Chris Henry, he auditioned for this season's "American Idol," was not sent on to Hollywood. He was another of the "Idol" aspirants featured in this week's show, on the New York City auditions. Let's take a look at your tape and then we'll talk to you, Chris. Let's watch.



HENRY: Yeah, you probably heard already, I'm the famous look alike right now.

JACKSON: You look like Simon Cowell.

HENRY: Yeah.


HENRY: I don't really see it that much. I wasn't really living, I never lived, I never lived before.

COWELL: You should be singing in a dress and stilettos. I'm not being rude.

HENRY: To me that was extremely rude.

COWELL: Let me finish. I'm trying to help you here.


KING: Was that rude, Chris?

HENRY: You know, it's really -- it's the name of the game. Simon was just doing his job. That's kind of, you know, it's the politics of the show. One of the people there just mentioned earlier that, you know, you sign on for this, knowing that there is a chance that, you know they could say something, you know, a little bit disparaging to you. And just like any audition, except this is in front of 6 million people, you take it with a grain of salt and you just pick yourself up and move on because there is nothing else you can do in this business when it comes to that.

KING: Was it a bad experience for you?

HENRY: No, well you know, I'm not going to lie that while it was happening, it wasn't exactly fun. But, you know, afterwards, looking back it was a great experience to see the hustle bustle and see what was going on so much behind the scenes. Because it's so true that a lot of those people working behind there, you know, you rarely ever see them get their due. And there is a lot that makes that well oiled machine run. It just -- it all goes very smoothly because there are a lot of hard working people making it go.

KING: Would you audition again?

HENRY: Probably not. You know, I think that I learned -- they look for a very specific thing. And obviously I just wasn't what they were looking for. You know I've -- I basically I was coming back. You know, I was a tiny bit upset, but you know, I was told, you know, Chris, you didn't get into, you know, music theater college for nothing. You didn't -- my parents who are musicians are like, you know we didn't push you through this if you weren't good. And, you know I've gotten a lot of very great responses from people over the Internet, saying we really liked your voice. We wanted you to go through and radio interviews. And I've got a lot of offers from some great people in terms of Broadway and some other areas. So I'm thankful at the same time, you know. It's cliche and a overused statement, but you know, everything does happen for a reason. And it just wasn't right for -- wasn't meant to be for me. But hopefully something good will come out of it.

KING: Are you a pure tenor?

HENRY: You know, I just -- yeah I've been trained since I was younger. I sang the song, you know I didn't sing it with the intention of being a gender bender or singing high. I mean, you know, a lot of that, you know, isn't really my head voice, it just happens to be, you know where my voice goes, just where it feels comfortable. And, you know, I certainly didn't do it for any political reasons. It's usually sort of gotten good responses but I understand why it's a little bit weird to see a guy with that high of a range, especially that full voice. So, you know, I take it, I understand completely. It just -- you know it happens. And, you know, I just -- I'm a singer, that's what I love to do. And, you know, hopefully the story doesn't end for me here.

KING: All right. Wish you the best of luck and you acquitted yourself very nice this evening by the way, very well.

HENRY: Thank you very much Larry, I appreciate that. Thank you.

KING: Ace what do you make of Chris?

YOUNG: I think that you already had a great offer come, Chris. You said you had a lot of Broadway stuff coming and I could totally see you in that. And, you know, from one guy with the high range as well, to another, you know, that's one thing I was known for when I sang "Butterflies" on the show. So another thing, just so you know it was 37 million viewers. So a lot of people heard you, my man.

KING: Bucky Covington, do you think Simon was cruel to him?

COVINGTON: Might have been a little rude, but Larry again, it's the point of the show. First of all, hats off to you, Chris, I appreciate you taking a lot of that man. I mean it's -- everybody loses, it's the sixth year it's been on. So everybody knows how that show goes. If you're mediocre, you don't even make it to the second or third round. If you're bad, of course you make it to the third round and they're going to ridicule you. So just hats off to Chris man for handling it like that because that's what the show is about.

KING: There is a cruel aspect to it, isn't there?

GUARINI: When you're dealing with Simon Cowell, that's what people tuned in for in the very beginning, you know. They want to know who this English guy was.

KING: He's evil right, he is the bad guy?

CALDWELL: Well I just don't think that the show would be half as successful as it is today without his personality. And I think that people really enjoy him saying what they might be thinking but at the same time there is no reason for anybody to say, you should be singing that in a dress and heels to a man, you know I think that was just unacceptable. KING: Thanks again Chris. We'll get a break. Thank you, Chris and good luck. We'll get a break and be back with more. We're going to meet Frank Byers who auditioned for this season's "American Idol" and then later William Hung. This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.



KING: Now we'll meet another contestant who auditioned for this season's Hollywood "Idol" and was not sent to Hollywood. He is Frank Byers, he's in Little Rock, Arkansas. Let's watch Frank's audition and then we'll talk with him. Go.


COWELL: I hated it. I thought it was corny, over the top, cabaret.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Captain of the cheerleading squad over the top.

BYERS: But you know what? We still going to have fun. Give me --

COWELL: I'm not being rude, but can you shut up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone is a bit of a [ bleep ] today.

COWELL: Well, you know we're trying to do auditions.


KING: Frank, I got to tell you, you sounded pretty good. Were you shocked at that utter rejection?

FRANK BYERS, AUDITIONED FOR THIS SEASON'S AMERICAN IDOL, REJECTED: Well, actually, I was kind of after watching it. But I mean, things happen in life and that's one thing that I learned from this, that at this point, I guess God did not have this for me. So I wasn't upset. But I was kind of shocked at myself because I spent the past few months thinking I must have done real bad for -- to get turned down. But after watching that, I wasn't -- I didn't think I did as bad but I did see room for improvement.

KING: Did they advise you to take singing lessons, is that right?

BYERS: Yes, sir they did advise me to take voice lessons and I've started taking from Miss Diana Caldwell, from Conway, Arkansas, so I'm working on it, getting ready to go back next year.

KING: You want to be a professional singer?

BYERS: Yes, sir. I would love to be a contemporary Christian artist. It's my heart, it's my passion, it's something that God has blessed me with and I look forward to sharing that each and every day of my life, yes, sir. I definitely love the industry, the entertainment, that gift of giving someone that sweet place to go, like if you go to a concert, you're there to be taken away from your problems back home, or your school work or your bills. You want to feel like there is not a problem in the world, you want to have a great time. And enjoy yourself and God has blessed me with that and I want to share that with the world.

KING: What did you make of those cheerleaders?

BYERS: I love them to death. That's one thing I have to say, they were there for me to support me and the thing was, I wanted to have fun. "American Idol" is all about fun. And I got to share that with my friends, it was a great opportunity for all of us. Something that we would take to the grave with us. We will share that moment forever.

KING: Congratulations. We'll see you next year and I'll bet you next year you make it.

BYERS: Thank you. Thank you guys so much.

KING: Clearly he was a talent.

CALDWELL: Sure, I thought he was great.

KING: We have an e-mail from Kim in Oceanside, New York, it's for Bucky. "What are your feelings about making your debut at the Grand Ole Opry March 9th?"

COVINGTON: My feelings about making -- oh my goodness, man that's kind of like singing at the Daytona 500.

KING: Yeah, you're not kidding.

COVINGTON: That is just going to be awesome. Man I am really looking forward to it. I just hope I don't screw up.

KING: That would be a bad place.

COVINGTON: Shut up, Ace.

YOUNG: Hey, Bucky, just remember your words, man.

COVINGTON: Hey, let me tell you something -- you're looking at me on TV right now.

KING: Let me get a break guys and we'll be back. And William Hung will chip in and join us. Right now let's check in with Anderson Cooper in New York to host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. What's up tonight Anderson?

CALDWELL: I love you, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER: Hey, well thank you very much.

KING: She loves you, Anderson.

COOPER: Thank you very much. Wish I could sing. Tonight the war over the war is heating up. Senators now in both parties getting ready to send President Bush a message on his plan to send more troops, not what the president wants to hear. And all that talk of bipartisanship well it is being put to the test. One senator calling Vice President Cheney delusional and he's not backing down. We'll talk to him. Also tonight, the battle on the border here at home. Tonight a battle you might not know is even going on in tunnels, even sewers underneath the U.S. Mexican border. And remarkable advice on how to live to 100 and beyond and how not to. A murder mystery that involves a love triangle, skydivers and sabotaged parachutes. One woman is dead, police say another skydiver is to blame. All that and more Larry at the top of the hour.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. "AC 360" at the top of the hour, 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific. Coming soon to a TV screen near you, William Hung, the she banging wannabe who became famous for his atypical talent. He's ready to rock. But are you ready for his new redo of a classic country song? Find out for yourself when we come back with William Hung next. Don't go away.


WILLIAM HUNG: Let me tell you what I'm going to sing. I'm singing Ricky Martin "She Bangs".


HUNG: Yes.

HUNG: She bangs, she bangs, oh baby, she moves, she moves I go crazy.

You know I have no professional training of singing.




KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Finally joining us now is William Hung who became an overnight sensation with his audition performance of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" in "American Idol's" third season. He has a new CD out called "Miracle Happy Summer from William Hung." Thanks for joining us, William. You probably are the most famous "Idol" who didn't get to be actually an "Idol." So we'll take a look at the audition that made you a sensation and we'll talk about it. Watch.



HUNG: I already gave my best and I have no regrets at all. ABDUL: Good for you.

JACKSON: That's good. Now that's good.

ABDUL: That's right William, that's the best attitude yet.

HUNG: You know I have no professional training of singing.

COWELL: No. Well there is the surprise of the century.


KING: Why did you enter?

WILLIAM HUNG, BECAME OVERNIGHT SENSATION AFTER AUDITIONING FOR IDOL AND BEING REJECTED: I won a talent show at UC Berkeley singing the very same song "She Bangs."

KING: What kind of singer are you? How would you describe the William Hung voice?

HUNG: Well, I'm willing to try many kinds of music. In particular I like pop, Latin, maybe some ballads.

KING: Did you feel humiliated when they put you down?

HUNG: Not really. I understand that many people -- most people don't make it through, so I just took it as it is. And -- but, of course, I never thought I would achieve such success of this.

KING: You weren't offended?


KING: How do you explain the success? What happened?

HUNG: Well, it is very -- it is so sudden that I just gotten over like 150 e-mails that very same night they broadcast my audition. And some of those e-mails were, like, job offers. Interviews requests, movie requests, things like that.

KING: And since then you got a recording contract, you do concerts, you make personal appearances.

HUNG: Yes, I do.

KING: Can you explain this? You don't think you're a great talent, right? Or what do you think?

HUNG: I just -- well, I -- despite that, I don't think I have the -- despite I might not have the best talent, I always work really hard and strive for the best.

KING: Do you think he has that thing which someone once said is the only thing you can't buy? Justin, people like him? GUARINI: Yeah. I would say yeah. You cannot buy A, the exposure that we all got on the show. And, you know what people enjoy what William does.

KING: Look at all the other people who are made fun of as he was but he goes on --

GUARINI: Well you know what, somebody said I like this kid and I'm going to give him a shot. I'm going to give him an offer. I see -- somebody saw something in William and has -- along with William made a great deal of success out of it.

KING: Kimberly, how do you explain it?

CALDWELL: I mean it's different. I mean you're the only -- you really are -- just like you said, one of the, you know, "Idol" rejects that did it just like us, we're "Idol" rejects too, you know, it's just -- he's --

KING: But he never made it out of the amateur status. He never made it beyond --

GUARINI: He's a professional in his own right.

CALDWELL: But the thing is all he had to do was one audition and then everybody fell in love with him. We were on there for a year.

KING: Ace, is this one of the great show business stories?

YOUNG: I think it definitely is. It's entertainment. And William, you are a ball of energy, my man. We all enjoy watching you. I'm actually in Walt Disney World right now, and today I met Jackie Roman, scat girl that auditioned the same year that you did. And she got a lot of attention as well. So, you know, she took me on a tour guide today and she talks about you on the highest level so I just want to say congrats, my man, to all your success.

KING: What do you do in concert?

HUNG: Well, it depends on what kind of concert, but usually I sing, like, you know, anywhere from three to six songs.

KING: How do you -- I'll get to you in a minute, Bucky. How are you dealing with fame? How are you handling this?

HUNG: At first it was very difficult for me to understand the circumstances, such as people walking up to me, you know, asking for pictures, autographs, pointing fingers and saying, I knew that guy that did "She Bangs" on the show. Things like that. But as time goes by, I really took it -- I thought I took it well. I'm really grateful.

KING: You're well within yourself. Bucky, what do you make of this?

COVINGTON: Well, I mean, hey, I think Ace said it best. It's entertainment at its best. I mean I personally love it, I'm a big fan of a bunch of comedies and everything else. I love it. I think it's hilarious.

KING: You think you're a comic act?

HUNG: Well, I don't --

KING: What's with the hands?

HUNG: Well, that --

KING: I like that.

HUNG: At the time --

KING: Looks like you're doing gymnastics.

HUNG: At the time, as I told the judges, I didn't have professional training at that time. So I just did my best watching Ricky Martin's live performance.

KING: I got you. All right, enough talking. When we come back, William Hung will shut up and sing a preview of his new country song is just ahead.




KING: Welcome back if there had been an election on "American Idol's" third season auditions for least likely to succeed, William Hung just might have won it hands down. Despite that, here he is to sing his new single "Achy Breaky Heart." William?


CALDWELL: We want to have you on our show, William.

KING: Come on over, William.

GUARINI: The notes were on, man. You definitely have improved note wise, definitely.

CALDWELL: We're going to steal you.

KING: He's improved a lot?

GUARINI: Yeah, since that first --

CALDWELL: You have to come on our show --

KING: Ace what do you think?

YOUNG: Yeah, I was waiting to see him dance. KING: Bucky, you're the country artist. What did you think? Stop laughing.

GUARINI: Bucky, stop it, my man.

KING: Hey hold it. William, you've made over a million dollars so far.

HUNG: It's safe to say.

KING: Ok. He's made over a million Bucky, how are you doing?

COVINGTON: Hey, congratulations. Like I said, I said I love it. I just wish I could have saw it.

KING: I wish you a very successful career.

HUNG: Oh thank you very much.

KING: Thank you and I'm glad losers can win.

CALDWELL: Yeah, thank you, pleasure.

KING: We thank Justin Guarini and Kimberly Caldwell, Ace Young and Bucky Covington and our special guest as well, William Hung. Who proves, you can come and do it. Never give up.

Tomorrow night, the story you've been waiting to hear, Larry Birkhead will be here. Mr. Birkhead, spoke to him last week. He says he's the father of Anna Nicole Smith's little daughter, says he can prove it. Larry Birkhead, tomorrow night. Right now, we head to New York, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?