The option of voting via CB radio? A decidedly lucid Paula? In an interview with the New York Daily News, American Idol exec producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz says that the unstoppable reality competition will up the ante by staging "a huge event" midway through the coming season, which debuts Jan. 16, 2007. "Something we're working on is a big-event show... something that will blow America away," she teases, declining to elaborate.

One thing that is for certain is the hit-or-miss quality of the fun-to-mock tryouts. As host Ryan Seacrest told just the other day, "When we set out to audition this year, we thought, 'Well, what's going to be left?' [But] we were fulfilled. We saw plenty of naive talent, and plenty of good talent." Not at all coincidentally, "Naive But Good" was the working title of Kellie Pickler's debut album.

Additional reporting by Megan Cherkezian