| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES "American Idol" fans say baby-faced
crooner David Archuleta will win the No. 1 television show's
current competition, even though they picked rival David Cook
as the most talented performer, an E-Poll/Reuters survey found.
As the top-rated U.S. TV talent show entered one of its
most-watched weeks when it hopes to raise $100 million for
charity on its "Idol Gives Back" program, fans were showing
plenty of love for the two Davids.
Archuleta, a 17-year-old native of Utah, was voted the
likely winner by 40 percent of "Idol" viewers polled, according
to the survey by E-Poll Market Research on behalf of Reuters.
Anointed the man to beat by judge Simon Cowell after he
sang John Lennon's "Imagine" in February, Archuleta tied rocker
Cook as the one whom viewers wanted to win, with both getting
25 percent of the vote.
But Cook, 25, who has reworked 1980s dance hits such as
Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and Lionel Richie's "Hello"
into edgy, slow-burning rock songs, topped Archuleta 31 percent
to 27 percent when it came to proving his talent beyond just
Irish-born belter Carly Smithson was ranked third most
talented followed by folksy Brooke White, Aussie Michael Johns,
dreadlock-sporting Jason Castro, country girl Kristy Lee Cook
and Syesha Mercado.
Past winners such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood,
and even those who didn't win such as Clay Aiken and Chris
Daughtry, have gone on to successful music careers.
"American Idol," which is hosted by Ryan Seacrest, pits
singers against one another in a months-long competition for a
professional recording contract.
The weekly show draws nearly 30 million viewers, making it
the most-watched program on U.S. television. This season's
winner will be announced during a live finale in May.
The survey, which was conducted last week, polled roughly
1,100 respondents ages 13 and over who, perhaps surprisingly,
had good things to say about razor-tongued Cowell.
Even though his No. 1 trait is "rude" according to E-Poll's
E-Score Celebrity data, Cowell was chosen by 64 percent of
respondents as their favorite judge.
His fellow judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul each
received about 17 percent of the "favorite" vote.
Some 85 percent of those polled said "American Idol" would
be worse without Cowell, and 75 percent considered him to be
the judge with the greatest influence over the way the public
votes. Jackson followed with 13 percent and Abdul at 12.
But a large majority, 83 percent, said the judges had
little or no impact on the their own votes.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Philip Barbara)