Congrats to "American Idol" No. 7, David Cook. The biggest "American Idol" fan I know walked out of the Variety newsroom on her way to the finale certain that David Archuleta was going to win, even though David Cook deserved to win. Clearly, there was an upset in the duel of the Davids. Gotta be good for the ratings.
Thursday ayem update: Now we know. The David vs. David drama was indeed good for the ratings. Prelim Nielsen's peg the viewership for the 8-10:06 p.m. finale at an average of 31.7 million viewers and an 11.4 rating in adults 18-49. That's a gain of nearly 1 million viewers from last year's "Idol" closer. Hail hail rock 'n' roll. (Elsewhere on the dial, you gotta give credit to CBS' workhorse "Criminal Minds." Even against the flames of the last hour of "Idol," that show is rock steady, pulling in its usual 13 million viewers and 3.3 rating/8 share in adults 18-49.)
For a treat, read the finale coverage by Variety's resident "Idol" nuts, Kathy Lyford and Erin Maxwell from Variety.com's Season Pass blog. It's a hoot.
(Pictured left to right: Fox's Kevin Reilly, David Cook, Fox's Peter Liguori and the man who needs no introduction, Mike Darnell)