Sanjaya And Friends Inexplicably Playing To Half-Empty Arenas

The American Idols Live Tour, currently winding its way around the country and dropping its spaceship of Earthly karaoke delights tonight upon Worcester, MA, offers fans of Fox's reality behemoth the opportunity to get within screaming distance of the previous season's top 12 contestants. But as Sanjaya stands alone under a pink-gelled spotlight, pitchily singing to half-empty arenas about the "Man in the Mirror," organizers are wondering what happened to the throngs of teenyboppers who dependably lined their wallets in past years. From USA Today:

· No sellouts were reported for the first 30 shows, and only one topped the 93% of capacity mark. (That was the show in Glendale, Ariz., Idol winner Jordin Sparks' home turf.) Of the 2006 tour's first 30 shows, 17 were sellouts and another 10 exceeded 93% of capacity.
· Nearly half (14) of the shows were below 60% of capacity. (Lowest was 38.9% in Birmingham, Ala., hometown of 2006 winner Taylor Hicks and 2003 champ Ruben Studdard.) In 2006, the lowest-capacity figure in the first 30 shows was 89.3%.

Blame for the lackluster ticket sales seems to be falling on this year's batch of finalists, a forgettable crew of dorky beatboxers, no-necked belters, wannabe rockers, and Timberlakealikes that melted together into a bland Idol soup. But after posting a notable ratings dip this past season, questions arise over whether the Idol phenomenon has finally peaked, or if it's just a blip on the radar, ensuring the series will be with us well into the 23rd century, presided over by a series of cloned Ryan Seacrests and judged by the brains of the show's three original hosts, suspending in a row of Coca-Cola-filled bell jars.