Hicks requests grits
By Jay Reeves - Associated Press Writer
Birmingham, Ala. - "American Idol" finalist Taylor Hicks returned home to Alabama on Friday with a made-for-TV visit that included a parade, a visit with the governor and some down-home Southern food he just can't get while taping in Los Angeles.
"You take grits for granted," the gray-haired Hicks said during an appearance at WBRC-TV, the local Fox affiliate. Afterward, he and his bandmates played on a patio atop Red Mountain overlooking Birmingham.
Thousands lined a downtown street and fanned out at a park for a ceremony where Hicks performed and received a key to the city from Mayor Bernard Kincaid. Workers hanging out of City Hall windows screamed and waved as Hicks arrived.
The crowd included Ginger Whitworth, who carried her pet groundhog in the parade.
Hicks also treated fans to a performance at Alabama's largest shopping mall before traveling to Montgomery for an appearance with Gov. Bob Riley, who is running for re-election.
L.A. has 'McPhever'
By Solvej Schou - Associated Press Writer
Los Angeles - "McPhever" mania reached a fevered pitch Friday when "American Idol" finalist Katharine McPhee returned to her old high school.
Teenage boys screamed out marriage proposals. Cheerleaders chanted "Go Katharine Go!"
Even Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa showed up to the packed gymnasium at Notre Dame High School to honor McPhee, one of three contestants left on Fox's mega-hit talent contest. The ultimate champ will be announced May 24.
"You make me feel like a winner, regardless of what happens," she told the high-energy crowd.
The 22-year-old brunette - wearing skintight jeans, a black T-shirt and hoop earrings - raced around the gym for an hour singing snippets of songs, breaking out in dance and bear-hugging former teachers.
A sea of posters filled the room, from "Vote for Katharine - Catch the McPheever" to "She's McPhine," "She's McPheerless" and "McPhee is Our Favorite."
Yamin goes 'Home'
By Kristen Gelineau - Associated Press Writer
Richmond, Va. - "American Idol" finalist Elliott Yamin took a break from Hollywood Friday to treat fans in his hometown to a performance of the appropriately titled "Home," by Michael Buble.
"This is the happiest day of my life," Yamin told about 4,000 screaming fans who crowded into a plaza to catch a glimpse of the 27-year-old, one of just three contestants left on Fox's popular singing competition.
Yamin was in town for a whirlwind tour that included a parade in his honor and a performance at the opening of the Richmond Braves minor league baseball game. Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder also presented Yamin with the key to the city.
"We know that Virginia is caught up in Elliott mania," Wilder said. "He is an ambassador for all of us, for all Virginians."
Yamin and his mother, Claudette Yamin, later visited Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who clapped and grinned as Yamin hopped out of his stretch limo through the window and greeted the governor's staff.