nearly 40 million watch end of finale; FOX investigating tallies, blames Ryan.

nearly 40 million watch end of finale; FOX investigating tallies, blames Ryan.
Nearly 40 million people watched the end of the American Idol 2 finale to see Ruben Studdard crowned the winner. During the rest of the show, 33.7 million people watched, which was 600,000 more than watched the Academy Awards, The AP reports. In Atlanta, 1 million viewers watched, nearly a quarter of the city’s population; half of the city’s population watched the final minutes. The finale easily beat the first season, which drew about 28 million viewers during its final minutes, although the finales of both Joe Millionaire and the first Survivor had more viewers. Meanwhile, the controversy over the number of votes that separated Ruben and Clay Aiken lingers. A source tells Matt Drudge that “FOX will launch an internal review of what led to the voter tally confusion,” but a spokesperson blames it entirely on Ryan Seacrest: “The host simply read incorrect information on a live broadcast.” (Update: FOX now says that Ryan was given incorrect information both times, on the TelePrompTer and on the card at the very end.) Some dummies are claiming a conspiracy because the lines were busy, while nearly a quarter of a million others dialed the wrong phone number.
+ also: Slate’s Michael Joseph Gross reports on the “weird vibe” on the set, and reports that after the credits, “[s]tagehands started dismantling the judges’ podium immediately.”
+ and: the top four best-selling CDs on are all American Idol-related.

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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.