|Sep 17th, 2002
Paula: Backstage with the Idols in Vegas!
Paula and R.J. Helton catch up!
Filed under: American Idol
Those perky "American Idol" kids piled into the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas this week to rehearse the song and dance numbers for their upcoming reunion show, airing 8 p.m. Monday on FOX. ET's special correspondent PAULA ABDUL was right there, hugging and cooing over each of the 30 finalists like Carol Brady with the Brady kids! She was especially excited to see baby-faced R.J. HELTON.
"He is the sweetest, most sincere kid," Paula said before asking him how his life has changed since "Idol."
"It's been insane," R.J. said. "I'm definitely not done. I'm going to the Rich's [department store] lighting of the Christmas tree in Atlanta to sing with USHER and CHARLOTTE CHURCH. I've got lots of good stuff going on."
R.J., A.J., E-JAY and the rest of the 30 finalists were rehearsing medleys of disco, Motown and country hits for the song-and-dance-athon. TAMYRA GRAY and JUSTIN GUARINI will be singing the duet "With You, I'm Born Again" and wild child RYAN STARR will sing DONNA SUMMER's "Last Dance." Later, Tamyra will warble the perennial favorite, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Naturally, winner KELLY CLARKSON will croon her new single, "A Moment Like This," which is now available in stores, and the music video for "Before Your Love" will debut sometime during the two-hour show. Country superstar REBA McENTIRE will also make a special appearance, singing a duet of "Does He Love You?" with the Texas tornado.
Kelly's star just keeps on rising. Hopefully you caught her wicked impersonation of Mr. Nasty, SIMON COWELL, on "Mad TV" Saturday night. "This is a pen, not a magic wand," she told a fake TED KOPPEL during a "Nightline: UpClose" spoof.
Meanwhile, runner-up Justin starred on the season premiere of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and -- with childhood friends like PINK to his credit -- don't expect to see him performing at weddings like he did back in his hometown of Doylestown, PA, anytime soon.
"Idol"-mania continues with the much-hyped 28-city "American Idol" tour, featuring the top 10 finalists, which begins in San Diego on October 8. There's also talk of an "American Idol" movie, and a "Best of American Idol" video featuring backstage footage of the finalists is due out Oct. 15. For the latest on Justin and Kelly, watch ET tonight!