Michael Becker, Fox
Breathless anticipation reigns in Utah and L.A. as to whether David Archuleta, left, or David Cook will become next "American Idol."

LOS ANGELES — It's not exactly Fort Knox, but the Staples Center is on lockdown.

And there's no gold inside the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE, just the golden tones of the Davids — "American Idol" finalists David Archuleta (the Utahn, as all Utahns know by now) and David Cook. And, while the area surrounding the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE will be mobbed by fans tonight and Wednesday night, on Monday afternoon all the action was going on inside.

How busy are the Davids at the rehearsals? So busy that a 15-minute teleconference with TV critics was canceled — and how busy do Archuleta and Cook have to be not to spend a quarter of an hour answering questions like, "What are you going to sing?" and "How does it feel to be in the final two?"

(On second thought, any excuse to avoid that is probably worth making.)

The finals have moved this year, and while the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE doesn't have quite the cachet of the Kodak Theatre — yet — it does have more than twice as many seats. They'll squeeze more than 7,000 people into this recently opened facility adjacent to the Staples Center.

(And Wednesday night has all the making of a traffic nightmare, even for Los Angeles. While the "American Idol" finals are playing out in the NOKIA Theatre, the L.A. Lakers will be playing either the Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals next door in the Staples Center.)

The big question for today's show is — what songs will the Davids sing as they try to impress the public and win the vote? The Fox staffers setting up at the NOKIA Theatre could tell you, but then they'd have to kill you. It's all about security and surprises, after all.

Except that none other than "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe himself spilled a few of the beans on "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest's radio show — the most significant bit of info being that Archuleta will reprise his much-praised rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" on Tuesday.

According to Lythgoe, each David will sing three songs. One was selected by legendary music producer Clive Davis; one was selected by fans who voted online; and one was selected by each David himself.

And "Imagine" is Archuleta's selection.

Six songs, accompanied by much screaming and cheering from the audience and comments from judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell — which will, in turn, be accompanied by much cheering and much booing — will eat up a big chunk of today's hour.

They may be the only two left feeling the pressure of "Idol" competition, but the Davids aren't the only "Idol" finalists still rehearsing. The 10 hopefuls eliminated before them will also appear onstage on Wednesday (7 p.m., Ch. 13), when the producers have two hours of programming to fill and only about 30 seconds' worth of content — the 30 seconds surrounding which of the Davids will win.

So that two-hour finale needs plenty of filler. And, speaking to Seacrest, Lythgoe dropped a few hints about that as well — that "some young brothers" will perform (speculation centers on the Jonas Brothers, not the Naked Brothers Band); that there will be duets featuring singers who are no longer alive (through video magic, of course); and that "the biggest star in the world right now" will perform.

It's not even worth speculating who the 58-year-old Englishman considers to be the world's biggest star — as long as he's not thinking Paula Abdul, of course.

E-mail: [email protected]