'Idol' Gives Back ... To Itself?

See Brad Pitt! See Miley Cyrus! See Mariah Carey! Apparently the only thing you can't see at "Idol Gives Back" are last year's accounting records. For the past month, Fox has blasted viewers with constant reminders that last year's American Idol charity show pulled in $76 million. Yet, according to the New York Times, less than half of this money has actually been distributed to the nine charities involved and, "Some $5 million of last year's proceeds and interest remains undistributed."

Where could this money have gone? Perhaps it slipped into the budget for series development at Fox, and they are currently brainstorming a primetime cross between Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and Cops. Or maybe it went to the Brian Dunkleman Fund for out-of-work comedians. The public won't know for sure until the end of May, when the government - which is currently auditing the accounting of last year's "Idol Gives Back" - forces them to release their records. (Although we hear the Feds have requested that some records never be released: Specifically, those of Amanda Overmyer and Ramiele Malubay.)

Nevermind that Fox has the most valuable ad space in primetime. Or that they charge $1 per text vote, which by my math - and I only got a perfect score on the SAT math, so don't hold me to this - means they "raise" about $100 million every three weeks for their own pockets. This week, as you sit on your couch and enjoy the roller coaster of emotion and gutteral reactions that is "Idol Gives Back" ("Fergie and Heart are nailing Barracuda... Oh my god, are flies coming out of that kid's eye... Rihanna looks so pretty in her fancy dress... Is that a woman actually drowning in Hurricane Katrina?") just know this: You can sit back and feel good, knowing that your charitable contribution is definitely helping the needy. Just maybe not as much as Fox would like you to think.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]