updated 6/23/2006 1:37:20 PM ET 2006-06-23T17:37:20

Guests: Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, Elliott Yamin, Justin Guarini, Julie Jordan, Ace Young, Bo Bice, Bucky Covington, Kellie Pickler, William Hung

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Tonight, I am LIVE & DIRECT in L.A.  In this very room, the top 10 finalists for “American Idol” are getting ready for their sold out summer tour.  We got extraordinary access to all of your “Idol” favorites. 

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight on this special edition of LIVE & DIRECT: All-access “Idol.”  “The American Idol” summer tour is the show everyone‘s talking about.  Tonight, we‘re bringing the stars to you.  “Idol” winner Taylor Hicks is already on Soul Patrol with his newfound fame, and now he‘s rocking the charts. 

Plus, we go behind the scenes with the finalists as they put the finishing touches on the “Idol” summer tour.  LIVE & DIRECT, this is all-access “Idol.”

COSBY:  And tonight, we have an amazing show.  We have an all-access pass to America‘s biggest TV hit, “American Idol.”  We‘ve received thousands of emails from all of you, our viewers, and we took your questions directly to your favorite “Idols” as they prepare for their summer tour. 

And, of course, no “Idol” is more popular right now than Taylor Hicks.  In fact, Taylor is already setting records with his new hit single “Do I Make You Proud?”  It‘s already at number one on the Billboard charts, and also the fourth highest selling single in “Idol” history. 

I had the chance to get down with the leader of the Soul Patrol in L.A. today. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Taylor Hicks, the “American Idol” winner, how has life changed for you?  (inaudible).

TAYLOR HICKS, “AMERICAN IDOL” WINNER:  Well, I‘m signing more autographs now, and it was have guitar will travel; now it‘s have Sharpie, will travel. 

COSBY:  What do you think is great about you?  You‘re the real deal.  You‘ve been singing in all these bars, all these clubs for years, love music.  And then all of a sudden this.  I mean, can you go anywhere without people noticing you now? 

HICKS:  You know, if I put a hat on, maybe, but usually not. 

COSBY:  What‘s the wildest thing fans have said to you in the last few weeks? 

HICKS:  Well, they have showed me a Soul Patrol tattoo and an autograph. 

COSBY:  Where was the tattoo? 

HICKS:  On the back of the neck.  I didn‘t want to go anywhere else, you know, so. 

COSBY:  You were picked also as America‘s hottest bachelor by “People” magazine. 

HICKS:  Yes. 

COSBY:  Were you surprised by that? 

HICKS:  Yeah, I was pretty flattered.  That‘s such a flattering thing.  And I couldn‘t believe it, you know, and I still can‘t believe it.  So I‘m very flattered that they chose me.  We‘ll see what happens. 

COSBY:  Now, obviously lots of women around the country are offering, hey, look, I‘m available, we‘re single, you know.  Marriage proposals, are they flooding in? 

HICKS:  I think, yeah, by the bundles.  I get fan mail and I read a lot of that.  I‘m just—I‘m very thankful for the opportunity. 

COSBY:  Has celebrity changed you? 

HICKS:  No. 

COSBY:  At all?

HICKS:  No.

COSBY:  Are you saying to yourself, I‘m not—no matter—you have bodyguards now, you‘ve got a whole different lifestyle? 

HICKS:  No, not at all.  I‘m the same guy that I was before I started “American Idol,” that I am now.  And I think that‘s what I‘m going to stick to, you know. 

COSBY:  Snoop Dogg, you did a collaboration with him. 

HICKS:  Yeah.

COSBY:  Everybody was sort of surprised.  Are we going to see more sort of rap collaborations in the future? 

HICKS:  You know, I don‘t know.  We‘ll just have to wait and see.  Snoop Dogg is a great artist.  He‘s also a great family guy, and he‘s a great businessman.  And you know, I like performing with those people because I respect them as artists and people as well. 

COSBY:  You also did the Ford commercial. 

HICKS:  Yes.

COSBY:  Everyone is surprised.  I mean, you‘re obviously all-American. 

Why did you pick Ford sort of for your first debut? 

HICKS:  Well, you know, Ford, I mean, Ford is American.  You know, if you think of America, you think Ford.  And that‘s just something that I stuck to and I was very happy to do that. 

COSBY:  You know, we have got a lot of viewers who are writing in.  One says, “My question is: If you could rewind this past season, would you change anything you did?”

HICKS:  No, not at all, because I think—I think I made some pretty good choices.  So if I went back and made a decision, it might be the bad one. 

COSBY:  Another says, “I was curious, when did you learn to play the harmonica and why?” 

HICKS:  Well, I was about 15.  And I bought a—you know, I loved music so much at that time that I just decided to buy this $3 harmonica at a flea market.  And the rest is history. 

COSBY:  Another one asks how long before you start touring by yourself? 

HICKS:  As soon as the tour—“The American Idol” tour is over, then I will be releasing my own album, and then I will be right back on the roads by myself. 

COSBY:  Have you been back to New Orleans since you escaped Katrina last year? 

HICKS:  No, I have not.  And I‘m planning to go there soon. 

COSBY:  Another one asks, “Taylor, will you marry me?”  You get a lot of those.

HICKS:  You never know.  We‘ll see.

COSBY:  What do you think?  There is a really cute, gorgeous woman at home, I‘m sure she is beautiful who‘s writing this.  What do you want to say to her? 

HICKS:  Well, come to “The American Idol” tour.  Catch me at “The American Idol” tour.  Catch the music.

COSBY:  I know they have been talking about doing a collaboration between the two of us for a long time. 

HICKS:  Oh, yeah.

COSBY:  And I was thinking if you could, this would probably be a really good opportunity.  If you want to sing a line, I‘ll repeat it.  And then maybe we could do the next duet.  You could, you know, just (inaudible) Snoop Dog and do it with me.  So give me a line, and... 

HICKS:  Why don‘t you start the line first? 

COSBY:  You do and I‘ll repeat. 

HICKS (singing):  Georgia.

COSBY (singing):  Georgia.

HICKS (singing):  The whole day through.

COSBY (singing):  The whole day through.

HICKS (singing):  Just an old sweet song.

COSBY (singing):  Just an old sweet song.

HICKS (singing):  Keeps Rita on my mind.

COSBY (singing):  Keeps Taylor on my mind.

What do you think? 

HICKS:  I think it‘s good. 

COSBY:  Is it going to be Hicks and Cosby, or Cosby and Hicks?

HICKS:  I think Cosby and Cosby.

COSBY:  You don‘t want to be seen with me after you heard me?

HICKS:  No, that‘s not true.  That‘s not true at all.

COSBY:  What do you think on the scale of one to 10?

HICKS:  I‘ll give it an eight. 

COSBY:  Oh, my gosh, Taylor.  Taylor Hicks, will you marry me? 

HICKS:  Possibly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Everyone, you heard it here first.  And unfortunately, you heard my singing as well. 

And now let me bring you someone who really knows how to carry a great tune.  Joining me live on the phone is someone who is just about to release his third album, called “Return of the Velvet Teddy Bear.”  Season two winner on “American Idol,” the quite awesome Ruben Studdard.  Ruben, are you ready to do a duet with me after you heard me? 

RUBEN STUDDARD, “AMERICAN IDOL” WINNER:  Yes, we could hook that up. 

COSBY:  Thank you, Ruben.  You saved me.  I appreciate it.  What do you think about Taylor?  He‘s amazing, right?

STUDDARD:  Well, Taylor is a man from my hometown.  I mean, we do it real big in Birmingham, Alabama, as you see.  So I‘m really proud of him. 

COSBY:  What did you think of his style?  You know, the Soul Patrol? 

And what has he done for Birmingham, my gosh? 

STUDDARD:  Well, I think the show, not just Taylor or I, but the show has done a lot for Birmingham, just bringing exposure to our hometown.  It really has been great.  And not only him, but you know, Bo Bice is also from about five miles away in Helena, Alabama, which is, you know, maybe one exit away from my hometown.  So we have really done a lot in that area in the past three years on the show. 

COSBY:  And I love Birmingham.  You have got to tell the folks there. 

You know, as a former “Idol” winner, Ruben, what‘s in store for Taylor now?  How big and tough is that transition post-“Idol?” 

STUDDARD:  Well, Taylor—me and Taylor are kind of the same guy.  You know, I performed a lot in clubs and stuff at home before the show, and I think his transition is going to be pretty smooth, because this is something that, you know, we have prepared our whole lives for.  I think the only thing that he may have to get used to is the attention.  But the performing is going to be smooth sailing. 

COSBY:  You know, I understand you just won a $2 million lawsuit against your former manager who you say stole your money, charged up your credit cards.  What advice do you have for Taylor Hicks and these other contestants, especially from the business perspective?  I mean, all the focus is on them, a lot of money is coming in now. 

STUDDARD:  Just make sure you pay attention to everything and everybody and check everybody.  And that‘s all.

COSBY:  Good advice, Ruben.  Stick with us, if you could, my friend.  Because I have to ask you about another “Idol” superstar.  But first, let me show you what Elliott Yamin, this year‘s third place finisher, told me a few bits ago. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Are you looking forward to this tour?  What does this mean to you? 

ELLIOTT YAMIN, FINISHED THIRD ON “AMERICAN IDOL”:  This tour means the world to me.  I just—I have always wanted to travel the country, first of all, by car.  And actually now we are doing it by bus in the music capacity.  And we‘ll be doing it with nine other great musicians and artists, and great personalities.  We all click and get along really well.  And I‘m looking forward to having a great time and really seeing the country the way we have never seen it before, and really honing my skills as a performer also. 

COSBY:  You know, you went from working in a pharmacy to becoming a household name.  How has the transition been? 

YAMIN:  It‘s been very quick.  It‘s been a very fast transition.  Almost kind of like overnight.  But it‘s been great.  You know, it‘s been great to be able to share—get to share my gift with the country and just with the fans and with everybody.  And it‘s just been an honor.  And you know, I‘m out here chasing my dreams.  And you know, there‘s like 1 percent of us in this country, 1 percent of us who really get to actually live out and realize our dreams.  And I‘m just privileged to be able to do that.

COSBY:  You have got a lot of fans.  I love the names.  They have E-Train, they have all these things.  Are you surprised that you connected so much with the folks at home?

YAMIN:  I am, you know, I really am.  That‘s been kind of the different thing, is that just everything is positive.  Every time I meet somebody, they all just have something nice to say about me, about my mom, about my personality, about my gift.

COSBY:  Is your mom coming on tour?

YAMIN:  No, she won‘t be on tour, but she will be at plenty of venues.

COSBY:  Now Elliott, you know that you‘re considered a hunk, not just a great singer, OK?

YAMIN:  Oh, is that right?

COSBY:  Yes, that is right, that‘s right.

YAMIN:  That‘s news to me. 

COSBY:  See, look everyone, all the women, take a look.  See?  I can see why. 

YAMIN:  Wow.

COSBY:  Now viewers wrote in.  We had tons of viewers.  One of them wrote, the prospect that you talked about on the show with me, along with Ace, you talked about the prospect of cruising L.A. looking for honeys.  The Yaminions would like to know—these are your fans, exactly how the honeys can submit their applications to be cruised.

YAMIN:  To be cruised?  Well honeys ...

COSBY:  ... What do you want to say to the women at home?

YAMIN:  The honeys will have to get in line.  It‘s a pretty long one, wrapped around the corner.  I‘m only kidding.  You know, no time really to cruise right now.  We‘re focused on our career and this tour.  You know, that‘s stuff we‘re going to work on later on in life.  But right now, we‘re just—we have our ducks in a row, we‘ve got our priorities.  So we‘re just going to be focused on the career stuff right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  All work and no play, Elliott Yamin.  And we‘re back live on the phone now with season two winner Ruben Studdard.  Ruben, how tough is it the balancing and dealing with all the fans?  I mean, we just had Elliott and Taylor on.  Every single woman in the country, I think, is writing them.  And you had so many fans, too, you still do.

STUDDARD:  I think it‘s really fun.  I don‘t have anything negative to say about the amount of attention.  I think it‘s something that we‘ve all waited our whole lives for.  And the girls are cool.  You know what I‘m saying?

COSBY:  Was it tough to juggle it all and all of a sudden deal with instant fame?

STUDDARD:  I think the hardest thing, and I think Taylor is going to have the roughest time because he is going to have to record an album while he is on tour, and that was the one thing I had to do that the other contestants didn‘t really—you know, Clay recorded his album while we took a break before tour, and I didn‘t really have a break.  And Taylor won‘t have a break.  And I think that‘s going to be the most difficult thing for him is to get that album completed while he‘s on the road.

COSBY:  You know, speaking of Clay, you know, we talked about sort of the No. 2, No. 1, Katharine McPhee has a huge fan base.  She was No. 2.  You were sort of up against the same situation with Clay, who is obviously wildly successful like you are now.  Did you ever feel like you were eclipsed or there was such competition between the two?

STUDDARD:  There was never any competition between us.  I think the media made it more of a competition between me and him than we ever felt.  It was all about the music for us.

COSBY:  And you both were obviously so well loved by the fans.  He performed at this year‘s season finale.  Ruben, where were you?  We love you.  Where were you?

STUDDARD:  I was chilling.  I didn‘t see any of the other winners there either.

COSBY:  Well, we definitely miss you, and you are one of my favorites.  Ruben Studdard, thank you so much.  You keep up the awesome work.  We‘re going to look for your third album coming up.  When are we going to see it in stores, real quick, Ruben?

STUDDARD:  Tentative date September 26th.  Please go out and get it. 

Don‘t burn it, buy it.

COSBY:  You bet, we will definitely do that.  Thank you so much, Ruben.  Great to have you on.

And still ahead everybody, a blast, another one from the “American Idol” of the past.  You‘ll find out who it is when we come back.  And that‘s not all on tap tonight in our one-hour “American Idol” special.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Still ahead, they made it to the finals and now they are taking stage.  Bucky, Kellie Pickler, even Ace Young, and more.  They are letting loose behind the scenes of their summer tour.  Plus, the news that shocked “Idol” fans coast to coast, Katharine McPhee‘s battle with bulimia.  For the first time, her “Idol” cohorts are reaching out, giving her their support. 

Then, Rita Cosby rocks out with Bo Bice.  You‘ve have got to see this. 

And find out who‘s giving an “Idol” critique for this song and dance.

LISA TUCKER, AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT:  More Rita on “All Access Idol” in Los Angeles.  Don‘t turn that dial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN SEACREST, AMERICAN IDOL HOST:  Chris, you are going home tonight.  The journey ends.  America, you have spoken, and Chris is off the show tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And that was the very popular Chris Daughtry from this season.  We all remember that moment.  Voted off before the finale.  So what is life like for all “Idol” contestants when the competition is over?

With me now, LIVE & DIRECT right here is former “Idol” runner up for the very first season, one of our favorites, Justin Guarini.

Justin first of all, I‘ve got to ask you.  It‘s great to see you.

JUSTIN GUARINI, SEASON ONE RUNNER UP, AMERICAN IDOL:  It‘s good to see you, too.

COSBY:  It‘s good to see you in person in L.A.  You know, this whole fervor today that I experienced, there really is a great bonding among all the different contestants, right?

GUARINI:  Definitely.  When you spend that—what was for us 22 weeks together on the show and then it narrows down to one and then you finally get to all hang out again, because you live in a house.  And then now we get to go tour around on the bus, it‘s a lot of fun.

COSBY:  How tough is the bus, because these guys—they‘re going to go 60 dates, they have in the U.S., over three months.

GUARINI:  Yes, that‘s crazy.

COSBY:  How grueling and difficult is that going to be, too?

GUARINI:  Yes, it was very grueling.  I mean, we had 30 shows in 40 days all over the U.S.

COSBY:  Thirty shows in 40 days.

GUARINI:  In 40 days, all over the U.S.

COSBY:  So now they‘ve got double the amount.

GUARINI:  Yes, exactly.  So, I mean, they‘re going to be out there.  You get used to it after a while.  I mean for us, it was mostly just go to sleep on the bus while we traveled, get up, get into a hotel, sleep a little bit.  Go do an autograph signing, wait around for like two hours, do the show, get on the bus, go to sleep, travel. 

I mean it was just this constant—and you get used to it after awhile, the hum of the engines when you‘re sleeping in the bunks gets to be nonexistent after a while.  And it‘s grueling but it‘s a lot of fun at the end of the day.

COSBY:  Now you brought up the bunks, you brought up bus.  These things don‘t sound too glamorous, Justin.  How tough and also what happens?  Is there ever any heated moments, any funny moments that happen on tour?

GUARINI:  There are a lot of funny moments, definitely, without a doubt, but living on the bus is a lot of fun.  For us, I think there were four or five of us.  And it‘s a beautiful—it‘s like your own sort of mobile home.  I mean, we had a nice living room in the back.  We had all the stuff we needed and we didn‘t spend that much time on it.  When we did, we were asleep, mostly.  So, you know, it‘s fun.  Again, that‘s where the camaraderie comes in.  Usually you‘re put on the bus with the people you most get along with, so it‘s good. 

COSBY:  Well it‘s a pleasure meeting you.  Hold on a second, Justin.  Because, it is pretty amazing to look at how far this group, this season this group of contestants has come.  Let‘s take a look back at this hugely successful season. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is American Idol.

COSBY (voice-over):  From the day millions turned up to audition, 2006 was the season that turned American Idol into a national past time. 

(SINGING)

SIMON COWELL, AMERICAN IDOL JUDGE:  All right.  I can‘t take any more of that. 

COSBY:  Weeding through those millions was no easy task. 

RANDY JACKSON, AMERICAN IDOL JUDGE:  Tell me something interesting about yourself. 

COWELL:  That‘s not necessary, is it? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Something interesting about me?  Well, I‘m a very talented person and people confuse me for a girl a lot of times which I think is so funny because I just laugh my butt off. 

JACKSON:  Are you a girl? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I‘m a guy. 

JACKSON:  You are? 

COSBY:  When contestant number 74094 walked in, the real competition began. 

(SINGING)

COWELL:  Thank you.  They will not put you in the final group to be judged by the public. 

JACKSON:  That‘s not true. 

HICKS:  Give me a chance. 

COWELL:  No, you won‘t. 

PAULA ABDUL, AMERICAN IDOL JUDGE:  We won‘t know that until we see how you do.  But I say yes. 

JACKSON:  And I say yes. 

HICKS:  Yes!

COSBY:  It was off to Hollywood for Taylor Hicks and the other 174 who dreamed of being the next American Idol.

SEACREST:  So far it‘s been one of the most intense weeks in American Idol history, 175 began the journey. 

COWELL:  Moment of truth. 

SEACREST:  Now only 99 remain.  This week, the eyes of America focused on these 20 people.  Over two nights they sang for your votes and fought for their survival.  Four of them are going home. 

(SINGING)

COSBY:  Fans were shocked when Kellie Pickler didn‘t make the cut. 

(SINGING)

COSBY:  Rocker Chris Daughtry was picked by many to win the entire competition. 

(SINGING)

COSBY:  Elliott Yamin tugged at many heart strings.  Just not enough of them to win it all. 

(SINGING)

COSBY:  In the end, it was down to California beauty Katharine McPhee. 

(SINGING)

COSBY:  And Mr. Entertainment, Taylor Hicks. 

(SINGING)

SEACREST:  The winner of American Idol season five is Taylor Hicks. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And back with me now is season one runner up Justin Guarini.  What‘s your favorite highlights?  Looking back, you and I were both laughing and smiling. 

GUARINI:  There was cool stuff.  I was really fortunate to be at the final my year, and I got to attend the final this year.  And, I mean, they pulled out all the stops. 

COSBY:  You got Prince.  You got huge names

GUARINI:  Al Jarreau. 

COSBY:  How much does that raise the level and also get other folks involved?  I mean, this is the biggest viewership.  Do you think it‘s because they brought in all these different stars from different musical genres? 

GUARINI:  I think it was big before the finale, but I think they did their audience justice.  The audience was very loyal.  They came back.  Usually on reality shows you see a huge drop off after the second season, or the first season.  But I think they really gave it back to the fans and they brought out some legends.  I mean Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, I mean, some really amazing people, and exposed them to a whole new market. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  These are folks who would never even win American Idol, now they want to now come on American Idol. 

GUARINI:  It lends credibility.  It was great. 

COSBY:  Let‘s talk about sort of what‘s ahead.  If you‘re looking at some of the different folks, I watched you react when Elliott was singing.  He has a beautiful voice.  What do you think is in store for him? 

GUARINI:  You know, it‘s really interesting, with Taylor, we haven‘t seen someone like Taylor, I haven‘t seen someone like Taylor since Joe Cocker or Michael Mcdonald.  That‘s a great sort of revival of that spirit.  And Elliott for me, I mean, one of my favorite singers is Donny Hathaway. 

He reminds me so much of that smoky Donny Hathaway, George Benson quality. 

COSBY:  You love Katharine McPhee. 

GUARINI:  Oh, Katharine is absolutely beautiful and a sweetheart to boot. 

COSBY:  And you think both of those folks will do well, along with all those folks we‘re talking to.   

GUARINI:  They will be just fine, just fine.  I mean they are performing 60 shows in front of 20,000 people a night.  That‘s exposure you can‘t buy.  Going back and giving it back to the fans.  They will be absolutely fine. 

COSBY:  Well, Justin Guarini, we‘re keeping our eyes on you.  It‘s great to see you.

GUARINI:  Thank you, good to see you too.  Thank you for having me. 

COSBY:  And when we come back, we‘ll show you how the finalists are rallying around Katharine McPhee after her stunning revelation that came down just in the last 24 hours.  Plus I rock out with Ace Young.  All access Idol on LIVE AND DIRECT is coming back, everybody. 

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHARINE MCPHEE, “AMERICAN IDOL” RUNNER-UP:  As women (inaudible) starving, we should be feeding our bodies, our souls.  And there is a way to have a healthy body and not have to diet, not have to restrict yourself from food. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee just broke her silence on her five-year battle with bulimia.  She did it in an exclusive interview with “People” magazine that hits the newsstands tomorrow. 

I got reactions from two people who know her very well, her very supportive fellow “Idol” finalists.  Here is what Taylor Hicks and Mandisa had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANDISA, FORMER “IDOL” CONTESTANT:  I knew that she struggled with that.  And I‘ve got to say, I‘m so proud of her for coming out about it.  Because this world is consumed with weight issues.  And there are young girls who think that they have to do whatever it takes to look a certain way.  And so I think her coming out and talking about it is going to do a world of good. 

HICKS:  I thought, good for her.  You know, she is dealing with it.  And we all have to deal with problems in our lives at one point in time or another, and I commend her for her courage. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And joining me now live is “People” magazine‘s Los Angeles associate bureau chief, Julie Jordan.  What did Katharine tell you, and were you surprised? 

JULIE JORDAN, PEOPLE MAGAZINE:  Well, I think it was more along the lines of her feeling the need to come forward with the fact that she‘s battled this illness. 

COSBY:  And she battled it for five years before the competition.

JORDAN:  Five years.  Yes, it started when she was 17.  Once she entered “American Idol,” she knew that she had to get a grip on her bulimia because she was throwing up seven times a day. 

COSBY:  Seven times...

JORDAN:  A day, yes.

COSBY:  ... a day for five years. 

JORDAN:  Well, so I mean, that has such a horrific effect on your vocal chords.  You know, and she knew that if she had any chance in the competition, she had to get a grip, she had to go into in fact a facility really, you know, get a handle on her disease. 

COSBY:  How long was she in the facility and what kind of a facility was she in? 

JORDAN:  She went into an eating disorders clinic in Los Angeles in October.  She was there for three months.  It was pretty intense.  It was six days a week.  It was 10 hours a day.  And you know, with the support of her family and her boyfriend, she kind of just came to a new—I guess looking at food in a different way. 

It‘s really hard because it‘s intuitive eating is what she calls it.  It‘s about finding kind of a peace with food.  And she allows herself to indulge with fear foods, like doughnuts and pizza, things that she‘s always thought would make her fat.  She has just kind of made peace with herself and her own body.  And as a result, you know, she is down three dress sizes.  She‘s down 30 pounds...

COSBY:  She lost 30 pounds during the show. 

JORDAN:  And it‘s all because she is not just binging and purging anymore.  You know, her body has kind of found a natural balance.  And it really shows how great she looks. 

COSBY:  Why do you think she came out now, Julie?  Why did she feel the timing was important?

JORDAN:  Well, it was really important to her to not make it a focus during the competition.  She wanted to be known as a singer, she wanted to be known as Katharine McPhee, not someone who had just overcome an eating disorder. 

COSBY:  Is she hoping this is going to help other young women and men? 

JORDAN:  Of course.  There is such a stigma attached to eating disorders.  It‘s important for her to come forward, maybe get some other women out the strength to try and get help if they need it.  You know, it was hard for her.  And she even admits that some women want to live with an eating disorder.  And she was just not one of those women. 

COSBY:  Julie Jordan, thank you very much.  We look forward to it. 

And “People” magazine tomorrow hits the newsstands. 

JORDAN:  Yes, absolutely.  Thanks, Rita.

COSBY:  Thanks very much.  Great interview (inaudible).  Thank you.

And two other “American Idol” contestants were also in “People” magazine recently, but for a completely different reason.  Taylor Hicks and Ace Young were both recently named as two of people‘s hottest bachelors of the year.  “People” is all over the place tonight. 

Well, I had the chance not only to speak with Ace, but Julie, you have to see this because I also sang with him as well.  And it‘s easy to see why he is so popular with all of the women. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACE YOUNG, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  I think the toughest thing for everybody is just going to be getting enough rest.  Getting enough rest because they are excited, and (inaudible) presence, mind, body, and soul everywhere we go.  I think that‘s going to be the hardest thing. 

I‘m really excited, because I have said from the beginning that I can‘t wait to see the fans.  I can‘t wait to see those fans that are voting and screaming for us in their households, that allowed us into their homes.  So I‘m really excited to see the fans and really feed off their energy. 

COSBY:  How tough is it, though, to be in the spotlight?  Every single thing in your past and everything you do from here on out is going to be under the microscope. 

YOUNG:  Yes, we have been chosen to be the entertainers.  And it‘s—

I think it‘s flattery, though, because it—in a big way, we‘re role models.  So we get to speak for the millions of fans that got us here. 

COSBY:  And speaking of fans, a fan wrote in—“Can you sing ‘Butterflies‘ to me?  It would really make my day.”

YOUNG:  What‘s her name?

COSBY:  This is Courtney Rogers from New Hampshire. 

YOUNG:  Courtney.

COSBY:  Would you sing to Courtney “Butterflies?”

YOUNG:  Sure.  Ready? 

(singing):  Oh, Courtney, you give me butterflies.

COSBY:  I have been practicing.  I thought this could be my big moment. 

YOUNG:  I‘m ready.  I‘ll be the judge. 

COSBY:  Yeah, you tell me what you think. 

(singing):  Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.

YOUNG:  I‘m going to be the judge. 

COSBY:  How about in delivery?  Let‘s talk about delivery.  I had that look, didn‘t I? 

YOUNG:  We have got to go through the judges, though.  We‘ll do Paula first. 

COSBY:  Paula first.

YOUNG:  Rita, I love you.  It was so good.  It was so good.  I love you. 

Yo dog, we—you know, in the beginning, it was a little—but you pulled it off, you pulled me through.  We got a hot one tonight. 

And then Simon, right? 

COSBY:  And Simon.  I‘m afraid about Simon now. 

YOUNG:  I like your hair and I like your outfit.  The song was a little ehh.  But I think you‘ll make it through to the next round. 

COSBY:  Whoo!  Thank you, Ace, so much. 

YOUNG:  No problem.  Thank you. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Ace is obviously a very good liar, and I‘m never going to sing again.  I promise you, everybody. 

Still ahead tonight, I am going to be talking to another “Idol” heartthrob, Bo Bice.  He is ready to rock.  And find out what some “Idol” finalists have to say about Connie Chung‘s singing sensation.  I wasn‘t so bad after all.  You have got to hear this.  Do they think she would have made it to the “Idol” summer tour?  Connie Chung and some critics, coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HICKS:  Hey, don‘t change that dial.  More all-access “Idol” with Rita coming up next. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Very cute.  Very cute.  Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRI SEYMOUR, SIMON COWELL‘S GIRLFRIEND:  Simon always says they can‘t possibly get along.  He always likes to think he has a bit of conflict.  When the competition was going on, they all hated each other because they want to win, but they are really good friends. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, the busy American Idol tour schedule is expected to be tough on all of these very talented contestants.  But it‘s also an exciting opportunity for them to see their fans all across the country, see them face to face.  And no one is more excited about that than idol finalists Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKY COVINGTON, AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT:  Seeing the country. 

KELLIE PICKLER, AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT:  Being with me. 

COVINGTON:  That‘s the cherry on top.  Of course, I don‘t like cherries.  I‘m kidding. 

COSBY:  You‘re married to one of the guys.  You have a dog.  We heard all about it.  Is it going to be tough being away from your family? 

COVINGTON:  It‘s going to be a little tough being away from the family, but it‘s something that I have wanted for so long, so it‘s just ...

PICKLER:  ... And it‘s only three months out of the rest of your life. 

That‘s the way I look at it when I think about my family. 

COVINGTON:  And as soon as you get done with that, you make an album and then you‘re on tour again.  It‘s something I have always wanted. 

PICKLER:  Just shut up back here, I‘m trying to look at it in a positively, OK? 

COSBY:  What‘s next for you career wise? 

COVINGTON:  I have been writing songs.  I‘m going to put an album out, see what it does. 

COSBY:  And when do you think we‘ll hear from you in the album? 

COVINGTON:  I hope to have it out before Christmas. 

COSBY:  Country music? 

COVINGTON:  It‘s going to be country. 

PICKLER:  I think he‘s going to do a little rap. 

COVINGTON:  It‘s going to be Country/hip-hop.  No, I‘m kidding. 

PICKLER:  She‘s like, seriously?

COSBY:  You and Snoop Dogg too?

PICKLER:  Absolutely.

COSBY:  All country. 

COVINGTON:  It‘s going to be country with some rock. 

COSBY:  And what are you doing? 

PICKLER:  Absolutely rap.  No, I‘m kidding.  Obviously, country. 

COSBY:  Record for you, too? 

PICKLER:  Yes. 

COSBY:  Movie deal? 

PICKLER:  Hopefully. 

COSBY:  Is there an embarrassing moment for you? 

PICKLER:  Let‘s see.  I think sometimes I say things without thinking about what I‘m saying.  Do you think that? 

COVINGTON:  Yes, I definitely hit two of them. 

COSBY:  You mean the salmon, and the calamari. 

COVINGTON:  And the jumping up behind Freddy Mercury.  Owe.  I think Kellie hit the nail on the head on that one, not thinking before you say something.  Or even worse, thinking it, saying it, and it still come out wrong. 

COSBY:  Do you realize the whole world will be watching every little thing you say and do. 

PICKLER:  Yes, everything is so analyzed. 

COSBY:  What is on your top ten things to do before you die list? 

PICKLER:  Before I die.  Let‘s see, I have always wanted to go skydiving, but I don‘t know if I can or not.  I‘m kind of scared, but I want to. 

COVINGTON:  I‘m sure you can. 

COSBY:  I‘ve done it, from 13,000 feet.  Tandem jump.  It‘s amazing. 

You should do it. 

PICKLER:  And I want to travel the world. 

COSBY:  Anything you want to do before you die? 

COVINGTON:  Go platinum. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And there is still another southerner who has hit the big time since competing on American Idol.  Last season‘s runner up Bo Bice is getting ready to kick off his own summer tour.  He has been keeping busy on the road promoting his C.D., “The Real Thing.”  Right now Bo is performing in Atlantic City at Donald Trump‘s Taj Mahal Casino.  But he took a quick break to tell me exactly what he‘s up to there. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BO BICE, AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT:  I‘ll tell you what I‘m doing, Rita.  My good buddy, the Trumpster, Don as I call him, he calls me up the other day, he says Bo, what‘s this I hear about your buddy Lynyrd Skynyrd.  I said Don, look, we want to come out with Hank Junior, Three Doors Down, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bo Bice, and we want to do this thing with VH1 called “Decades Rock Live.”  Of course me and Don, we‘re like this.  How could he refuse me, right? 

COSBY:  What advice do you have for the folks about to go on tour?  You have these new 10 finalists.  In a matter of days, they will embark on what you went through last year. 

BICE:  You have all these personalities put into tubes and shuffled around the United States, 12 to a bus. 

COSBY:  Can they handle being together for three months? 

BICE:  You definitely learn, this is what I will say to every person out there that is ever going to do Idol from here on out.  Go buy the movie Spinal Tap and you‘ll understand what rock ‘n‘ roll is about, baby.  Ahh!

COSBY:  What advice do you have for Katharine McPhee, who came in second this season? 

BICE:  You know, my advice seriously, to everyone when they come from Idol is to try to stay true to your, what you do, but also be willing to compromise.  Don‘t ever compromise yourself but always be willing to compromise. 

COSBY:  A lot of people credit you for changing American Idol, really opening it up to non-pop artists.  This time around we saw Chris Daughtry, the rocker, we saw Taylor Hicks, soul patrol.  Do you think you sort of opened up the window musicwise for American Idol? 

BICE:  I feel like, yes, my season had something to do with changing Idol, and I‘m very appreciative when Chris Daughtry says that I inspired him and that Taylor had given me and Bucky.  That makes me feel great when they say that, that really, truly does.  American Idol offered me something that I never, ever thought that I would have.  That was every dream that I have ever had since birth. 

Every coffee table that I ever jumped off of.  Every air guitar that I ever played.  Every bit of it has been answered in one year of my life.  I‘m playing with Lynyrd Skynyrd.  I have played with Willie Nelson.  I received the Jim Croce award.  God bless American Idol. God bless all you people and you fans, because you have treated me like rock ‘n‘ roll royalty and I‘m just a redneck boy from Alabama. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  The very animated and very fun Bo Bice.  Our thanks for him taking out some time to be with us. 

Still ahead, two performances that will go down in the history books, coming up when all access Idol comes back. 

PICKLER:  I hope you‘re not thinking about changing that channel. 

We‘re here in L.A., all the idols and we‘re going to chat after this break. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM HUNG, FORMER “IDOL” CONTESTANT:  She bang, she bang!  Oh baby she moves, she moves!  I go crazy...

COWELL:  Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, he didn‘t even make it past the grueling auditions, but Simon‘s snarky remarks certainly didn‘t stop William Hung from becoming as famous as some “American Idol” winners.  Since appearing on the show in 2003, Hung has gone on to make music and also movies. 

So what is the most infamous of all audition contestants doing now?  Joining me right here LIVE & DIRECT in Los Angeles, the awesome William Hung.  It‘s good to see you. 

HUNG:  Good to see you. 

COSBY:  Are you surprised?  Look, you didn‘t even make it past auditions, but everybody remembers that moment.  Are you shocked at how famous you have become? 

HUNG:  Well, at first I was, but I‘m not surprised anymore.  It‘s already been three years. 

COSBY:  Has it been—that‘s amazing. 

HUNG:  Yes.

COSBY:  And what have you been doing over the three years?  You have been in movies... 

HUNG:  Yes, I shot my first movie in Hong Kong.  I produced three albums.  I recorded three albums. 

COSBY:  And CDs, you‘ve got a couple of other things in the works, too?

HUNG:  I did a lot of commercials and performed a lot. 

COSBY:  How does it feel?  You know, people are obviously laughing with you, they are having fun.  Are you enjoying that, or are you saying gosh, I wish they took me seriously as an artist? 

HUNG:  I think I‘m starting throughout these years, the perception is starting to change.  And then my albums also got a little bit more serious, the second and third album, you know.  I worked with a record company, and we do more serious works. 

COSBY:  How did you pick the song “She Bangs,” of course the Ricky Martin song?  Why did you pick that one?

HUNG:  That one?  Oh, that was interesting.  There‘s a lot of—a little cute story on that one.  I sang that at my talent show in my school at U.C. Berkeley, and I won the talent show.  And so I just started to try out and have some fun.  I never thought it would turn into an overnight celebrity. 

COSBY:  Were you surprised at the reaction?  Here you get booted off.  A lot of people say that‘s over.  You never hear from a lot of these other folks.  But you, this is probably one of the most famous moments of “American Idol,” period. 

HUNG:  I‘m very grateful for all the fans, for their continued support. 

COSBY:  You know, we have been looking at a lot of the things.  One thing you did mention to me, you have got a Web site, williamhung.net.  And one of the things we saw on there is that you‘re looking for a woman to marry.  Who are you looking for?  What kind of a woman are you looking for?  Someone who can sing with you? 

HUNG:  Well, I think she needs to have a good heart and likes me for who I am, because this—I mean, not just—not me—just not for—my point is I don‘t want her to just like me for being a star.  I want her to like me for my whole package.  You know, if I do hobbies, activities, whatever, my interests.  I don‘t know, just kind of together. 

COSBY:  We‘re putting the word out, William Hung, so anybody who is interested in a talented guy who has a great sense of humor and sings “She Bangs,” make sure you call William Hung.  Good to see you.

HUNG:  Thank you.  Thank you. 

COSBY:  Than you.

And William Hung isn‘t the only unlikely singer to attract a lot of attention these days.  On her last day at MSNBC, our dear friend Connie Chung left us with an unusual and humorous goodbye. 

So what do the pros think of her performance?  We decided to ask “American Idol” favorite Paris Bennett what she thought.  Take a look. 

And we‘re going to get to that a little bit later in the show. 

Actually, let‘s take a little quick break.  You guys, we‘re going to rerack it, play it right after the break.  Everybody still has (inaudible) we got some other good moments.  “Idol” finalist Bucky Covington is big on dancing, and he‘s going to show me how to do the Bucky slide.  Have you seen this?  You have got to see it.  William is going to stick around for this.  You can start calling me Rocking Rita after you see this one, everybody. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  On her last day at MSNBC, our good friend Connie Chung left us with an unusual and humorous goodbye.  We decided to ask “American Idol” favorite Paris Bennett what she thought.  Here it is, you guys.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONNIE CHUNG (singing):  Thanks for the memories.  We came to do a show for very little dough.  By little I mean I could make more working on skid row.  That‘s cable TV!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PARIS BENNETT, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  That is a hot mess.  Sorry, but I‘m just (inaudible).  That‘s a hot mess, Connie.  (inaudible) wow!

COSBY:  If you were to judge her, what would you give her? 

BENNETT:  Yeah, she—yeah, 4, maybe like, she almost did a 5.

COSBY:  On a scale of one to 100 or one to 10?  

BENNETT:  Let‘s give her one to 10, because 100, she‘s way down.  Good try, though. 

She went out with a bang, and that was a bang. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And tonight, we leave you with another funny moment that happened during our all-access “Idol” tour today.  Many of you emailed in from home, asking me to ask “Idol” finalist Bucky Covington about his famous dance move, the Bucky slide.  Well, he decided to show it to me instead.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  So Bucky Covington, a lot of our viewers wrote in and said they had to see the Bucky slide.  So if you could give us a little demonstration, maybe show me.  Maybe you could teach me? 

I don‘t have boots on, but I can try.

COVINGTON:  Well, it makes it harder, but it (inaudible).

COSBY:  Could you sing a little bit?  That might inspire me? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And we want to thank all of the “Idol” finalists for spending so much great time with us today.  We really enjoyed it.  I had a blast.  And we want to wish them all the best as they prepare to go on the road.  Their summer tour officially kicks off on July 5th in New Hampshire, everybody.  We‘re going to have a lot more with “American Idol” on Monday.

That does it for me on “LIVE & DIRECT.”  Let‘s now go to Tucker and

“THE SITUATION.”

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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