Kimberly Caldwell and Rosanna Tavarez take on <EM>American Idol</EM>. Kimberly Caldwell and Rosanna Tavarez take on American Idol.

Call 'em the Great Eight. As Blake, Chris R., Haley, Jordin, LaKisha, Melinda, Phil and Sanjaya move a big step closer to the finish line, has questions. Like, did rocker gal Gina Glocksen get punk'd? Is Phil perhaps better than we think? Can Haley's pins earn her another free pass? We asked Kimberly Caldwell and Rosanna Tavarez, the hosts of TV Guide Channel's Idol Chat, Idol Tonight and Reality Chat, for their expert takes on these topics and more. How high were you on Gina? Did you expect her to last much further than the top nine?
Rosanna Tavarez: I would say at least another week. I thought she did a really good job and the judges seemed to like her performance, so... it was weird.
Kimberly Caldwell: I expected her to make at least the top five. I was a big fan of hers and think she added a lot to the show. I think we will see a void with her gone. I told Gina that had she originally sung "Smile" the way she did Wednesday night as her "farewell," she still might be in this. Agree/disagree?
Either way, she should not have gone this soon. It's a lot easier to sing once you are kicked off because you don't have to hear the remarks after.
Rosanna: We've noticed [the improved encore] with a lot of contestants. It's their last goodbye so they want to be sure they sound good. But Gina's first performance [of "Smile"] was good, too, so it was definitely a suspect decision. While you-know-who is this season's obvious "What the...?!" hanger-on, can we talk about how Phil is still in this? Is it just the military vote? Or does he have "mad skillz" I'm just not appreciating?
Rosanna: I think you're not appreciating him. I think he is a very good singer, but the judges said it best: Sometimes he doesn't connect to the songs, so his voice is doing one thing and you see maybe his mind going somewhere else. Maybe it's stage fright.
Kimberly: Phil has an amazing tone to his voice and a big range. I think it does help your chances when you are involved with the military, yes, but Phil is really improving every week and people love to see that. How terrific is Melinda's haircut?
Rosanna: I love it! Shorter haircuts look good on her! Do you think guest singer Michael Bublé should have been voted off last week? I mean, didn't the dude forget some words?
Rosanna: See, didn't I tell you that even professionals forget the words?! It doesn't surprise me. This is interesting, actually, because I have an Ella Fitzgerald album of her singing all these standards that everyone knows the words to, and on "Mack the Knife," of all songs, when she gets to the second chorus, she starts [Singing] "What's the second chorus?/I always forget.... " She starts improvising, which is really funny because it's Ella Fitzgerald singing "Mack the Knife"! What made her an artist is that she improvised, and that makes it more memorable than if she just crumbled under the pressure. Haley seems to be sticking with Rosanna's advice regarding "Legs, legs, legs." I have a feeling that will serve her well during this week's Jennifer Lopez/Latino theme.
Rosanna: [Laughs] J.Lo will probably agree with me.
Kimberly: Haley has some lovely stems. If you've got it, flaunt it. Any thoughts on who might have the most difficulty with this week's theme?
Rosanna: "Latino music" is sort of a big umbrella category — you can go anywhere from bossa nova to Miami Sound Machine, so I have no clue what that means. Are they going to sing salsa? If it's all Miami Sound Machine we're all good, but I'm not really sure how to foresee the week going down.
Kimberly: I don't think Phil has much Latino in him, but I'm sure he will conform. I'm guessing Haley might be out of her element, because she's "Broadway." Last week, Idol producer Ken Warwick said that anything — meaning Sanjaya — that can get his show some buzz is a good thing. But isn't anything — again meaning Sanjaya — that calls into question the voting system's fidelity a bad thing, a liability for America's most-watched, yet less- and less-watched, program?
Kimberly: They have always said that any publicity is good publicity. But even though this Sanjaya thing is somewhat "amusing" and he's a cute kid, if he wins the show could possibly be in trouble next year. People won't take it as seriously anymore.
Rosanna: The question is really how exactly it calls into question the voting system. Obviously Sanjaya is staying around because people are voting for him, and that proves that the American public is deciding on who's staying in. It may not necessarily be based on who's the best singer but other things like personality, charisma.... Lastly, my biweekly call for any backstage gossip/rumblings. Hit me with your best shot!
Kimberly: I've got nothin', sorry!
Rosanna: "Backstage gossip".... [Chuckles] I don't really have any. You know, it's not like we lurk around the corner of the American Idol stage to see who's fighting with whom. Oh, so there are no instances of catching so-and-so making out with so-and-so?
Rosanna: I wish!

The public reacts to Sanjaya in this video.

Idol Chat and Idol Tonight air exclusively on the TV Guide Channel. Click here for complete listings. 

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