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Williamsville guy passes first 'Idol' test

First things first: Brian Miller, the cute, young guy from Placentia, Calif., who gets his ticket to Hollywood in this episode, is actually from Williamsville and has studied voice with Debbie Bello of Orchard Park for four years. Miller draws 'yesses' from Randy, Paula and guest judge Olivia Newton-John, but Simon carps that although he has a "nice voice," he's "forgettable." Luckily, majority rules.

Attitude: Unlike Birmingham, where all the rejects say "thank you," at the Los Angeles audition, some really bad singers won't take no for an answer -- they plead, offer to sing more and argue about how hard they've worked.

Mom, too: The worst of the beggars has to be Marianna Riccio, the daughter of one of Dean Martin's Golddiggers, who drops to her knees and pleads after she gets the initial no, then returns to the room with her mom. Luckily, Mom just calms down Marianna, and they leave. "Mom was foxy," Simon says, surprisingly age-appropriately.

Claws out: The show spends way too much time on Mantic Manoukian, who fancied himself a panther and sang about as well as one. His goatee looked like it was half hair and half red tattoo. Nice look!

Her Idol: Phuong Pham, who appears to say her name is pronounced "Fong," but whom Simon repeatedly calls "Pong," is all about Taylor Hicks -- she even sings "Dancing in the Streets." Badly, though. Look for her to return for the finale and do a duet with the Soul Patrol guy.

Preserved: The frozen-faced celebs on last season's show (Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow) could take a tip (or at least a surgeon's name) from Olivia Newton-John, who looks refreshed but not cartoonish. Her super-arched eyebrows are oddly high, though.


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