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CNN Larry King Live

Encore: Interview with "American Idol" Winner and Finalists

Aired May 25, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive -- they're all here live for the first time since America's new idol was first crowned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winner is David Cook.


KING: David and the nine finalists take you behind-the-scenes and let you in on what they were thinking and what they were feeling on the most incredible night of their lives. Find out what you didn't see and hear in the "American Idol" finale.




KING: They're taking your calls, too, next and only on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with the seventh winner of "American Idol's" series, David Cook.

And we'll be joined later by the runner-up, David Archuleta.

And then the two of them will be together and then the whole cast. And on Monday night, the whole cast for the whole show -- the whole cast being the winner and the nine finalists.

David, congratulations.


Thank you.

KING: Nice having you with us.

Were you a little concerned that apparently -- and this is a media feeling -- that the younger David was favored all week?

D. COOK: You know, honestly, I didn't pay too much attention all week. I was just kind of trying to focus on having a good time because it was such a crazy moment, you know, to be on the finale of "American Idol". And to share it with somebody as cool as Archie, I was just trying to enjoy it.

And so when they called my name -- I've watched it back a couple of times now. And I think I was genuinely shocked, you know?

I thought Archie David an amazing job on Tuesday and I pretty much resigned myself to second, so.

KING: You did?

D. COOK: Yes.

KING: Some winners have honestly sometimes admitted to me, I thought I was going to win.

D. COOK: You know, I honestly didn't. I went into this with no expectations and I didn't want to, at any point, have any. So, you know, but based on what the judges said on Tuesday, I certainly thought that -- I certainly thought I was taking silver.

KING: Let's take another look at that winning moment, which David Cook and his mother will never forget.

Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go, America!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, David and David. The winner by 12 million votes of "American Idol" 2008 is David Cook.


KING: What's it like to see it again?

D. COOK: It's a bit of a different experience, to be honest. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that this was going to be how it went for me. I figured when I hit 24 that I was going to stay a week. But that's the great thing about this show is it's very unexpected and here I am.

KING: Tell me how you came to enter.

D. COOK: I was standing in line in Omaha, Nebraska with my little brother Andrew. He had wanted to audition for years and finally got the courage to do it. He asked if I'd come as moral support. So I had -- I went with no intention of auditioning. And then we're standing in line, it's 5:30 in the morning. And the producer comes up with a camera, interviews my brother, turns to me and I'm like whoa, I'm not auditioning. And he goes, well, you are now.

And, you know, life has a crazy way of working itself out sometimes.

KING: No kidding.

D. COOK: Yes.

KING: How does Andrew feel about all this?

D. COOK: You know, when we walked out of the arena after the first round of auditions -- Andrew and I actually auditioned together and I made it and he didn't. And I asked him, you know, if he wanted me to do this, because if he didn't, I wouldn't. And he said if he didn't, he would kick my expletive. And so he's been amazing.

KING: Yes?

D. COOK: You know, to have his support from the get made the whole thing for me.

KING: How's he feel now?


D. COOK: He feels -- he feels like now, hopefully, he can enjoy, you know, some of the fruits of my labor so.

KING: Your other brother is ill, right?

D. COOK: Yes.

KING: It's brain cancer he has?

D. COOK: Yes. My brother has had a brain tumor now for about a decade, yes.

KING: Ten years?

D. COOK: Yes. It's amazing, you know?

KING: How's he doing?

D. COOK: He's fighting, you know. And I tried to keep it out of the public when I was out on the show just because, you know, win or lose, I wanted to make sure -- and he wanted the same thing -- for me to have success of failure based on my own merit. And, you know, so it's exciting now to kind of be out in the open and be able to kind of make -- hopefully, it will help shed some light on this. It's obviously a terrible thing and -- but he's fine.

KING: But 10 years is significant I think...

D. COOK: Yes. Yes. He's been -- he's, you know, he's my "American Idol" to kind of use a cheesy paraphrase.

KING: Yes.

D. COOK: He's -- to be able -- to be able to watch him these last 10 years kind of fight this head on, you know, it's amazing.

KING: And now with the Ted Kennedy story, more national focus on it. D. COOK: Yes. And, you know, hopefully all these things -- all these terrible, terrible things that are going on, people being diagnosed, I can only hope that it leads to a cure, you know?

KING: How's the family, though, dealing with it?

Here we've got the highest moment you could have in your life, but still a sadness at home.

D. COOK: You know, for me, it was kind of -- I welcomed it in a very strange way. You know, to be able to walk on stage knowing that there are things that are way more important to me than whether or not I win this title, you know, probably gave me a little better perspective to know that, you know, there's people dealing with way worse things than Simon saying something nasty.

KING: What happens to David Cook now?

Do you get a record contract?

D. COOK: We're working out the kinks on a record deal. And I'm hopefully going to get into a recording studio here very quickly and start working on a record.

Meanwhile, we've got -- we've got this "American Idol" tour this summer. It starts July 1 in Glendale and I think we go until September 13 in Tulsa.

KING: Wow!

D. COOK: So I'm stoked. To be able to wake up in a different city everyday is going to be really exciting.

KING: Let me get an e-mail question in and then we'll meet your compatriot in crime.


KING: This is from is from Karla in Puyallup, Washington: "It's so apparent that you and Michael Johns are close friends. So inquiring minds would really love to know what he whispered in your ear Wednesday night as you finished singing "Time of My Life."

D. COOK: Oh, wow! I honestly have no idea. You know, Mike is -- is standup, you know? And I met...

KING: He's a free spirit.

D. COOK: Yes. I met him -- I met him and Jason Yeager and Luke Menard day one of Hollywood Week. And we all just kind of bonded and we started calling ourselves the four horsemen. And to have Mike there for that experience was really, really cool...

KING: But you don't remember what...

D. COOK: But I was so lost that moment, I have no idea what he said.

KING: All right, we'll take a break.

When we come back we'll meet the runner-up, David Archuleta, and then the David will come back. They'll all be gathering. Getting ready to join us is David Archuleta, who gave Mr. Cook a run for his money. Archie is here, right after the break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Hollywood, David.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to Hollywood!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're destined for superstardom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely on the money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the bomb. This boy is the one to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't let the sun go down on me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not a bad place to be, is it?



KING: I mean, I don't know where there got it.

Please welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, David Archuleta, the first runner-up for "American Idol".

You're standing on the stage. They're about to announce it.

Did you think it was going to be you?



ARCHULETA: No. I already -- you know, Cook, I think, you know, I know that Simon said stuff on Tuesday night and I really appreciated what he had to say. But I didn't think he give enough credit to Cook anyway. I think Cook did so great. I think he really proved, you know, that -- we both worked so hard this past week. I mean, you know, this was the last week and this is the last chance to show what -- just give everything we have on that stage.

KING: Your rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" was a huge hit early on. You sang it again Tuesday night.

Let's take a look.

D. COOK: All right.


D. COOK: Take my hand and join us and the world will live as one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dude, you are so good tonight. You are exactly what this show is about -- finding the best singer we can find and the best singer sees himself and is right there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were stunning tonight. You were stunning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what we have we've witnessed is a knock out.


KING: Do you think, in a weird way, those over the top congratulatory exclamations by the judges might have hurt you?

ARCHULETA: I don't know. I didn't -- you know, I really -- I don't know if I would agree with Simon that it was with a knock out, just because I don't think that could -- I don't know.


KING: But when you heard it, did you think wow, I'm going to win?

ARCHULETA: I never really thought, you know, I'm going to win. I just think...


ARCHULETA: No. You know, just because it wasn't based on that night, first of all, even though we did -- I did really try to give it all I did. I mean I really used up all my energy on every performance that night. But, you know, it was based on, you know, each week. It wasn't just that night. It would become sad if it was just one night after all that hard work that we were -- we had had to show.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Karl in San Antonio: "How much did your father direct your path to "American Idol?" Was his involvement a problem? Was it a problem for the show's producers at all?"

ARCHULETA: Well, we didn't see the producers too much. You know, I'd see them every now and then and then talk and stuff. But, you know, he was just -- he was -- he had to be there for guardian. I always had a guardian (INAUDIBLE).

KING: And was he pushy? ARCHULETA: You know, he always has his opinion about things. And, you know, a lot of times I'd (INAUDIBLE) what he -- his suggestions. And I didn't always, you know -- you know, sometimes it's like, oh, yes, that's -- you know, thanks for your advice, but, you know, I'm just going to go for this and stuff like that. You know, it's just about taking risks and, you know, there are some things that I was kind of scared to try and I just went for it and it was, you know, a great learning experience.

KING: You needed a guardian because you're under 18?

ARCHULETA: Yes. I actually have my teacher here, too, because, you know, I have to do school, you know?

KING: Oh, yes.

School, remember that?



KING: Do you have a recording contract now?

ARCHULETA: You know, I talked to Simon and -- Simon Foreman (ph) and them after the show and we discussed some things. And I'm just really excited to be able to work on an album now and just see what -- where it goes from here. Just, you know, you never know what will happen.

KING: Are you going to work with his record company?

ARCHULETA: I think they said something about Jag Records. I'm not really quite sure what's going on with that, just because it was crazy that night and -- but, you know, we'll just be listening to songs now and...

KING: Are you and your father close, by the way?

ARCHULETA: Oh, yes. Yes. You have to, to go through all this, you know, him having to always be there. He was my roommate so -- well, I had Chikezie, too. And he was a good roommate too. But after Chikezie left, I just had my dad there.

KING: You've been doing this -- you went on "Star Search," right?


KING: When you were 12.


KING: And you've been sing since -- since when?

ARCHULETA: You know, I always liked singing since I was like seven. My dad showed me this "Les Miserables" tape. Well, he just played it for us kids while we were like packing into our house. We were moving into it at the time. And I just kept rewinding it and playing it back. And I just couldn't stop watching it. And, you know, I've loved music since then and I really enjoyed performing the stuff when the first season of "American Idol" started. I just like imitated everything they did and I just -- it was so, you know, strange to see people performing and just showing them express themselves so much in a song.

This one performance by Tamyra Gray just was like so moving for me. And I was just like well -- I was like what was that?

I mean I -- what was it that I felt when she sang that?

It was so weird. And I loved it.

KING: Where did you try out?

ARCHULETA: I tried out in San Diego for this season.

KING: Had you tried before?

ARCHULETA: Oh, no. No, I didn't. Not once.

KING: Was the tryout nervous?

ARCHULETA: You know, I just was like, you know, I'm just going to have fun with this. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't even know if I'm going to make it past the first round. But I just was like, you know, I'll just try to have as much fun with it and just take this as a learning experience. And the two judges at the table for that first stadium audition -- you know, we were in a row of four people.

And, each of us stepped out and sang like 20 seconds. And then they said, you know, unfortunately, none of you have what we're looking for. Thanks for coming out, though. And I was like, oh, OK. Well, that was fun, I guess. Go back home now.

KING: What happened?

ARCHULETA: And on our way leaving out of the stadium, they said wait, come over here. Come over here.

And I was like are they talking to me?

So I just kept walking. And they were like wait, come here. And I came over. And they just said you're through.

I was just like what, are you kidding me?

I thought you just told me I'm going home.

KING: You're through meaning you're on your way?

ARCHULETA: Yes, you're through to the next round. And I just couldn't believe it. I was just so shocked because, you know, I was not expecting that.

KING: David Archuleta.

What a story.

We have a second all new hour of "Idol" worship on Monday. Send them your e-mails and "I Ask" questions. Go to

More with the two Davids next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get ready to rumble!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now it's time for Dave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought he was phenomenal.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one can take it away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you picked the time to peak, baby (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And may the best man win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winner of "American Idol" 2008 is David Cook.


KING: I wonder how many times we're going to run that.


KING: They hype it a little, huh?

D. COOK: Right.

KING: OK, you know, some people may not be surprised at which one of you won the "American Idol" or that both of you were the finalists, because the judges were on this show in mid-April.

And watch what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the guy I would actually choose to listen to on a personal level.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, forget what I think about the business, I like this guy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's very good.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, a talented dude, man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's just -- he's like insanely talented.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he really has that presence. He knows who he is.

KING: Simon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the one to beat, Larry. He really is the one to beat. I mean this...

KING: Not David Cook?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, this guy is going to have the teen vote. He's going to have like all the...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...the granny vote.


KING: OK. They loved you both, but they thought Archuleta would win. And you thought Archuleta would win.

D. COOK: Oh, no, absolutely. I -- you know, to go into the season, I mean all you heard about was how great David Archuleta was.


D. COOK: You laugh all you want.

But, you know...

KING: So why do you -- what led to this reversal of fortune?

D. COOK: You know, that -- I'm the last person to ask.

KING: How do we know?

D. COOK: It's -- the show is very strange sometimes. But honestly, you know, he came in and -- he came in from day one and knew exactly who he was and exactly what he wanted to do and he did it. And so...

ARCHULETA: So did you.

D. COOK: And I -- well, you know, and that's probably why we're both sitting here but...

KING: So you weren't -- so you weren't surprised when they -- when Ryan said Cook?

ARCHULETA: No. Of course -- I don't know, I just thought, you know, I already knew this guy was just -- just so talented. I mean he's just someone -- he's actually someone I've looked up to since the beginning. And we just -- you know, all my friends have been rooting for Cook, too. You know, they're just -- like three people -- I told him three people on MySpace, three of my friends on their sites, they had his song on there. I just thought that was really funny. It was -- it was cool.

D. COOK: Yes.

KING: All right, guys, where do you want to go with this?

D. COOK: Some friends.


KING: David, what do you want to do?

D. COOK: Well, you know, I kind of half jokingly said at the beginning of the season that I wanted to win an Oscar and a Grammy. And now I'm in a position where, you know, I get to try.

So, but first off, I just want to -- I want to put out a record with some substance and something that's going to be able to stand on its own in 10 years. You know, that's the goal.

KING: We have an e-mail for David Cook from Tyler in Crown Point, Indiana: "I'm eight years old. I've been studying guitar since I was six."

D. COOK: Oh, wow!

KING: "How old were you when you started guitar lessons and what advice would you give me?"

D. COOK: I started playing guitar when I was 12 or 13. And there are a couple pieces of advice. One is it gets really tedious in the beginning, but you've got to push through it. And, secondly, your fingers are going to hurt, as you probably already know by now. But if you can work through that, I mean it's -- it's one of the best instruments, I think, to play just because, you know, what's cooler than playing guitar, so...

KING: It sounds great. D. COOK: Yes.

KING: We have an e-mail for David Archuleta from T.D. In Bakersfield: "Are you going to focus on pursuing a record contract and a musical career or do you plan to attend college?"

ARCHULETA: Well, you know, music is my love -- you know, the love of my life. And I just -- it's something I've always enjoyed and it's really changed my life. And so that's just definitely something I've always dreamed about doing. And now that I have the opportunity, that's definitely something that I'd like to do.

And if music doesn't work out, I'd still like to try and -- you know, I'm still looking, you know, I'm still pretty young and I'm still trying to look at what other things interest me. I haven't quite figured it out yet, other than music.

KING: Yes, well...

ARCHULETA: But I'm still -- I'm still looking at things and, you know, different...

KING: You're off to a good start.

Did you feel, David, relieved when it was over?

D. COOK: Yes, you know, in a way. The whole show, you know, the eight month process from first audition to this, it feels like you're holding your breath a little bit. And I've been asked a few times why I cried at the end. And for me, that was just an exhale, you know, to step back and really think about what just happened. It's pretty heavy.

So, yes, I am relieved, because, you know, now I get to move on to the next phase of all this, which is, you know, a record and a tour and all the good stuff, so.

KING: David, are you relieved?



ARCHULETA: You know, it's been -- it's been a pretty long few months here. But, you know, it's been a lot of fun and I just had great times, great memories.

KING: You'd recommend it to people?

ARCHULETA: Oh, definitely. If you...

KING: Go for it.

ARCHULETA: If they really love music and really want to do this, it's definitely an experience of a lifetime. You're going to learn so much from this. KING: OK. We've got a lot more to come. We're going to meet all the other contestants. Then the whole gang will be with us again on Monday.

We've got a great "American Idol" contest with a terrific prize tonight and Monday. And I'll tell you all about it coming up.

And we want to hear from you about something else.

Who's your favorite of the American Idols?

Head to right now and cast your vote. From Kelly Clarkson to David Cook, they're all there for you to consider.

Hang around for Syesha and Jason. They're in the wings and joining us after the break.



D. COOK: My name is David Cook and I'm 24, from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the use of dreaming if you don't have faith? There's nothing worth believing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You actually could win this entire show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I feel like I'm already looking at the "American Idol".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might be the one to win the whole lot.


KING: We're back.

We're joined now by Syesha Mercado, "American Idol" finalist, and Jason Castro, another "American Idol" finalist -- two terrific talents.

What did you think, Syesha, of the battle of the Davids?

SYESHA MERCADO, "AMERICAN IDOL," FINALIST: These guys are great. You guys are awesome. He's always smiling, very humble. You're always cracking jokes. Very nice.

KING: Their talent?

MERCADO: Talent.

KING: Talent, what the show was about.

MERCADO: I mean, great guys and awesome talent. They're so talented and creative.

KING: Were you surprised, not that David doesn't have talent, but that there was so much emphasis put on the young one?

JASON CASTRO, "AMERICAN IDOL," FINALIST: You can't be surprised with these two. Everybody knows they don't judge based on one night, even if one has a strong run. Even history shows, even if you do have a strong night, it doesn't always mean your safe or the winner. No, there's no surprise.

KING: Were you shocked when Paula Abdul criticized you for two songs and you had only sung one?

CASTRO: Yes, I was a little bewildered.

KING: Were you surprised.

COOK: We were standing next to each other and we were worried that maybe she was talking about me.

CASTRO: The second song --


CASTRO: We weren't looking, but I was glancing like --

KING: You were in the final three?


KING: What was that like?

MERCADO: I was -- I don't want to say shocked. There were weeks when I thought I wasn't going to be there because of the negative comments I got.

KING: About what?

MERCADO: About my performances and being in the bottom three so many times. I tried to remain positive throughout the entire experience. I think that's what really helped me, staying positive and meditating and talking to family and friend. They kept me on track.

KING: Do you think, hey, I'm going to win?

MERCADO: No, I didn't think that. I was focused on doing my best every time I went out there on that stage.

KING: You weren't thinking about winning or losing?

MERCADO: There were times at the beginning where I was like, I want to win. Then I was like, it's not about winning, it's about doing my best.

KING: In an interview in "Blender Magazine," Simon Cowell says, Jason, he thinks you gave up on the competition and it frustrated him. Did you give up? CASTRO: I never gave up. I really think what people don't see is how really new I was at this. It just started to get way more than I could handle. Just -- I don't know. I gave it all I could, but my way of doing things wasn't cutting it.

KING: David Cook, what do you think of these two talents?

COOK: What can be said that hasn't already been said? To call Castro a talent, first off, is a huge under statement. He mentioned how new he is at this. And to come into an amazing situation like this, with little to no experience, and to do as well as he did, my hats off to him. Syesha, I said this all season, one of the strongest vocalists that this season had was Syesha. I thought she came out every week and killed it. I was always really surprised when she was in the bottom three, because if it's a singing competition, she's sitting here and I'm sitting all the way at the end.

KING: What do you think, David?

ARCHULETA: It's so amazing to be sitting among these amazingly talented people. It's been fun getting to hang out with these people and learn from them. They are both really funny. I don't think people know that about them. They are both so funny. We've had good times and it just -- you know.

Syesha is really such an amazing vocalist and performer and so talented. It's so weird when she'd do one of the most unbelievable performances I ever heard in my life, and the judges were like, I don't know. It's like, OK, what is wrong here? What's the problem? Did you not just hear that?

Then Jason is so --

KING: You're having trouble getting it out, Archie.

ARCHULETA: It's been really cool to show his uniqueness and, you know, he's just such a funny --

KING: Since it's the viewers that decide, do you really care about what the judges say?

CASTRO: Of course you hear what they say and it goes through your mind. You filter it. I guess, I don't know, you can't let it really matter. It seems like they are the only three watching, and the only three that matter, but in reality, you know they're not the only ones you're singing for.

MERCADO: You care, but at the same time, it's like the most important thing to me is how I feel about it when I'm done, how I feel about it.

KING: Simon told you to leave, right?


KING: But you didn't? CASTRO: I did that week. I think I did that week, the one week he told me that.

COOK: I think the best way to attack it, at least for me, was they are going to say what they are going to say. The goal is to try find the constructive criticism in it. Sometime's it's harder than it is with others. Simon, especially, is just one of those very bluntly honest person. If you can take what he's saying with a grain of salt and really tune in to the constructive aspect of it, it usually is a lot of help.

KING: We're just get warmed up. Brooke and Carly, you're in the hot seat next when LARRY KING LIVE returns. We'll be taking calls too.


KING: Joined by Brooke White and Carly Smithson.

What did you think about battle of the Davids?

BROOKE WHITE, "AMERICAN IDOL," FINALIST: We've known each other for a while now and gotten to know each other. People always asked me, who's going to win? I had honestly no idea. They are both very good at what they do. It wasn't a matter of who's better. They are different. They're not even comparable. When I watched the show on Tuesday night in the audience, I was just like, they both did well. I had no idea what was going to happen. Either way --

KING: Neither way would have shocked you?


KING: Carly, what did you think?

CARLY SMITHSON, "AMERICAN IDOL," FINALIST: I actually am just very proud of both of them. The week we had before the show, with choreography, like, we were overwhelmed with what we had to learn. They had ten times the amount of stuff that we had to learn. The fact they even got through that night I thought it was amazing.

KING: Brooke, you had some mess ups. You forget a lyric. You started over?


KING: You had to have extraordinary talent to get where you got? When you think about it, you're like the ice skate who fell, who got a bronze medal.

WHITE: Exactly. You know what? It's a lot of pressure up there and it's live television. And obviously, if I could have, I would never have forgotten the lyrics. The first time with the piano was I missed my cue. I didn't hear it because Ryan Seacrest was behind me. I didn't forget the lyrics that time. But the second time, absolutely, it was like a blank wall in front of me. I was very grateful that I was able to get through it. It could have gone a lot worse.

KING: That's the number one panic for a singer.


KING: Carly, you once had a major recording label contract, MCA, right? You would have been one of the early favorites here. What happened? You had a step ahead of everybody.

SMITHSON: Probably the fact that the media broke that story and it became so huge. There were a lot of other people that had records. It just wasn't brought to everyone's attention as much as mine was.

COOK: I think Carly got a bum rap this season. I'm going to take this platform. You got a bum rap in that the show is not -- the show is for unfound talent. And just because you had a record or done anything musically, I don't feel like that should disqualify you in the public's eye.

WHITE: We all had prior experience, all of us.


WHITE: We worked really hard to be here. You know what I mean? Whether you had a record deal or put together your own album or whatever, we were all striving to make --

SMITHSON: I think I know what it was. There was one article that was written about me about ten years ago and it brought up a large figure. It said that there was a lot of money spent on my record. It was untrue. Unfortunately, it has kind of followed me, that figure. So I'm happy that I'm on Larry King now.

KING: Do you think being from Ireland hurt you, since you were in the "American Idol" contest?

SMITHSON: I maybe thought about it early on briefly, but I saw there were other foreign people on the show that made it very far. I believe that I probably wouldn't have made sixth place if it was such a big deal. I don't know. I never really thought about. We don't have "American Idol" -- We don't have Idol in Ireland. We have "American Idol."

KING: Why are you tattooed?

SMITHSON: Because I like. I don't know.

KING: It's very attractive.

SMITHSON: You're going to come down to my shop, right?

KING: I'm going to come down to your shop.

SMITHSON: I love it. They are really cool.

KING: Jason, what do you think of Brooke? CASTRO: What do I think of Brooke?

KING: As a talent, what do you think of Brooke?

CASTRO: She's one of my favorite voices. It's cool. I don't know. It's different.

KING: Archie, what do you think of Carly?

ARCHULETA: Carly is amazing. She's been like my momma on the show.

SMITHSON: I looked after him. I heard what you said about Blackford too, that's sweet.


KING: Michael, Kristy Lee and Chikezie -- I love it. Now I got it. We'll round up the group next. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. He couldn't be with us tonight, he's in Las Vegas, but we wanted to spend a couple of moments with Michael Johns, one of the final ten on "American Idol." By the way, Michael, thanks so much for joining us. The whole crowd says hello to you.


KING: Michael, did you enjoy doing this show?

MICHAEL JOHNS, "AMERICAN IDOL," FINALIST: I absolutely loved it. I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to, honestly. I was a bit the same, didn't know what to expect coming in, whether or not you were going to make friends or there was going to be a bunch of music geeks. Everyone was so great. I've made some lifelong friends, so that's a benefit.

KING: Is the show seen in Australia?

JOHNS: Yes, this is the first year it went live on Fox in Australia, four or five hours delayed, that was it. So my whole family -- I went down Australia to do press a couple weeks ago. Everyone in Australia knows who I am now. It's very strange.

KING: Were you nervous?

JOHNS: Yes, of course. I was more nervous in the audition rounds than I was in the actually performing nights, because you're in more control in the actually performance nights than you were when you're in front of Simon and Randy and Paula for the first time. They could say yes or no and you're gone. I was more nervous then.

KING: When you left the show, was that a down night for you, or did you feel rewarded, I'm glad I did it? JOHNS: I went off on a complete shocker. I was never in the bottom three. I thought I was coming off some good weeks there. And yes, the rug was pulled from under me. The next day you do about 15 hours worth of press. Having the media say, yes, you were robbed and this and that, that was really nice to hear. So I felt like, OK, now it's time to get on with a career.

KING: Michael, thanks so much. Best of luck continued. Great success. See you Monday night.

JOHNS: Thanks Larry. See you, guys.

KING: Breaking news tonight, a large tornado is on the ground in Greensburg, Kansas. That's the same community destroyed in May of last year. We'll have more on this story as it develops and a lot more at the top of the hour. Joining us now, Kristy Lee Cook, an "American Idol" finalist, as is Ramiele Malubay and -- I'll pronounce it right -- Chikezie, the man with one name.

Was all this, Kristy, worth it for you?

KRISTY LEE COOK, "AMERICAN IDOL," FINALIST: It was definitely worth it. I wouldn't have traded anything. Nothing. I wouldn't have given anything up. This is the best experience I've done in my entire life.

KING: Did friendships develop out of it?

K. COOK: Yes, I'm friends with everybody. We have our moments where we're fed up with each other, but then we get over it and we're friends again the next day.

KING: Did you enjoy it?

RAMIELE MALUBAY, "AMERICAN IDOL," FINALIST: Yes, it's so much fun. Trying to think back on what I was doing at this moment last year, I never thought I would be here. I had a regular job and went to school. "American Idol" and tour.

KING: Do you ever think, I should have done this number, not that number. If I had done this number, I'd have gone further.

MALUBAY: Sometimes I think that. But if I really think about it, it's just like, if I didn't sing all the songs I sang, where would I be? What place would I have gone? I sang what I was supposed to sing. Not a lot of people liked some songs and a lot of people like other songs, but I was happy.

KING: Chickezie, You tried before to make "American Idol," right?

CHIKEZIE, "AMERICAN IDOL," FINALIST: Yes, this is my fourth time trying?

KING: Do you think this will vault your career? CHIKEZIE: Yes, Definitely. To be able to get on the stage -- honestly, this summer, to be able to go on tour throughout the U.S., Idol tour '08, check it out. It's an awesome opportunity that I've been given. In an industry that hands you very little, I've been handed an amazing opportunity.

KING: Do you think, David Cook, that this was an extraordinary group of talent here?

D. COOK: I've been a residual fan of the show.

KING: That's why I asked.

D. COOK: Yes, I definitely got the vibe from everybody coming into this season that this was the most talented group the show has had. In my limited capacity as a knowledgeable person on the subject, I have to say yes. Everybody brought it every night and everybody had an idea who they were and brought it out. So --

KING: Archie, you agree?


KING: You think anyone could have won?

ARCHULETA: Definitely. Everyone is just so talented. At first, it's like who knows what's going to happen.

KING: As we call it in the business, thanks for leaving me hanging. The Idols are coming back for an all new LARRY KING LIVE on Monday night. They will take your e-mails. As always, head to or send them questions.

We'll be back with our exciting conclusion of this exclusive hour after the break.


KING: The summer tour begins for this "American Idol" troupe. They will go to 50 cities. It starts July 1.

What are you going to sing?

D. COOK: I'm going to sing the winners single, "Time of My Life."

KING: Archie, what are you definitely going to sing?

ARCHULETA: I'm going to sing Angels.

KING: What are you going to sing, dear?

MERCADO: One of the last songs that I sang, which was "If I ain't got you," Alicia Keyes.

KING: Jason? CASTRO: I'm for sure busting out the yukalaylee.

KING: The yukalaylee, going to Hawaii? Brooke?

WHITE: I'm going to be back on the piano.

KING: Carly?

SMITHSON: I'm singing "Bring Me to Life."

KING: Kristy Lee?

K. COOK: "God Bless the USA."

KING: Ramiele?

MALUBAY: "I Want You Back," Jackson Five.

KING: And my man Chikezie?

CHIKEZIE: A full harmonica solo, about three minutes long.

KING: That will keep them going.

CHIKEZIE: "I Believe to My Soul" by Johnny Hathoway.

KING: By the way, we have a great contest for you. The first person to e-mail us a complete list of the songs David Cook sang solo during the "American Idol" competition -- competition is the key word -- will win a pair of my suspenders autographed by the "American Idol" finalists. You go to to enter and hopefully to win.

David wanted to say something?

D. COOK: I just wanted to, on behalf of everybody, give a quick shout out to Luke Menard. He's top 16 this season and he just got diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma, and I wanted to make sure we all wish him the best. We love you.


KING: He was in the final 16. We've been told to call you guys the "American Idol" class of 2008. We have some yearbook awards.

Who would be voted class clown?

D. COOK: Michael Johns.

KING: Hands down. Who would be named class flirt?

CASTRO: Michael Johns.

KING: Is there a cutest couple?

D. COOK: I'm going to go with Brooke and Dave. Her husband Dave, not David. KING: Who would be class brain?

WHITE: David Cook?

D. COOK: Indubitably.

KING: Who would be the most laid back?

MERCADO: Castro.

WHITE: Colonel Napper.

KING: What about, who would be most likely to be caught making trouble?

CASTRO: Michael Johns.

KING: There are a lot of Web sites about "American Idol," some nice, some nasty. Do you read them?

D. COOK: I try not to. Occasionally, I think curiosity gives in. For the most part, no.

SMITHSON: I think you try not to, and then your friends call you and tell you everything it says.

WHITE: Exactly.

MALUBAY: Everybody else tells you what they read.

KING: Do you read the tabloids?

SMITHSON: I do every day.

KING: Would it be hard to be a quick song, acapella?

D. COOK: Can we go? Castro, don't pick the key.

KING: We only got a minute.


KING: Keep going. Archie, get in there.


COOK: It all comes together in the end.

KING: When you're called upon in the clutch, true talent comes through. By the way, the best of luck to all of you.


KING: Nothing but great careers ahead. Don't forget, the tour starts July 1, 50 cities in all. You can watch these great talents. They will be coming certainly to a city near you. D. COOK: Thank you, Larry.

KING: We're launching something new tonight that we're really excited about. It's the Larry King text message. Here's how you do it: Are you out and about and want to know who we've got on the show? Sign up for my daily text message. Just text 26688 from your cell phone and text LKLAlert. That's 26688, LKLAlert, one word. Or go to Sign up for Larry King on the go.

We now have 42 things that we can offer you at our Web site. Keep going. Don't forget about the contest and our quick vote, who's your favorite of the American Idols? Go now to you can download our latest podcast too. That's Jesse Ventura.

And I want to remind you about Monday's show. It's an all-new Idol hour. They will be answering your e-mails. "American Idol" and you Monday night on LARRY KING LIVE. Have a safe Memorial Day Weekend.