LOS ANGELES — David Archuleta got another taste of what the future may hold for him Wednesday, walking the red carpet outside the NOKIA Theatre at L.A. LIVE before the "American Idol" finale.

He was there only briefly. Long enough to have his picture taken with the top two executives at the Fox network — and that will be a LOT more of that kind of thing if he sticks it out in show business. Long enough to essentially jog past all the writers and photographers gathered to talk to him and take his picture.

Running down the line, he had time for nothing more than "Hey!" and "Can you believe this?" And, of course, "Gosh!"

Well, he did add, "Tell everybody back in Utah I love them!" but that was just because he (and he alone) probably recognized the placard indicating Deseret News on the fence between the actually red carpet and the pen where they kept the media.

There were a number of non-"Idol" celebrities on hand, a lot of them with kids (or grandchildren) in tow. Celebrities including Garry Marshall, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Jerry Springer, Dave Winfield, Graham Nash, Camryn Manheim, Teri Hatcher and the members of ZZ Top.

And Archuleta received some unexpected "even unlikely" support.

"They're both really great, but we're big David Archuleta fans," said Jeri Ryan ("Shark," "Star Trek: Voyager"). "I mean, that kid has a voice like an angel. It's amazing."

"I think he's going to win," music legend Graham Nash said before, of course, Archuleta did not. "I was really moved by 'Imagine' last night. Last night he poured his heart and soul into it."

And how about this from the wicked witch of "America's Top Model," Janice Dickinson: "I'm for Archuleta. He's pretty darn hot."

But, this was not exactly the Oscars, Emmys or Grammys in terms of star turnout. (The Emmys and Grammys would certainly love to have "Idol's" TV ratings.)

When you're a big star — and, at the moment, they don't come much bigger than the Davids — you just have to smile and wave and make nice with powerful executives. It wasn't that much fun for the horde of former "Idol" finalists who weren't just walking the red carpet, they were working it.

It probably would have hurt their feelings, but most of them were, at best, barely recognizable to people who cover show business for a living. Publicists worked the sidelines, pitching interviews to whomever would bite. At the very least, it was a way to figure out who these people were.

(They were, at least, a rung up from a slew of "So You Think You Can Dance" finalists who looked more than a bit out of place.)

The ex-"Idol" finalists ranged from the better known, such as Bo Bice, Fantasia (still with the bizarre red hair), Sanjaya Malakar, Justin Guarini, Constantine Maroulis and Jon Peter Lewis to the likes of Melinda Doolittle, LaKisha Jones, Jasmine Trias, LaToya London, A.J. Gill and Chris Sligh.

Everybody wanted to talk about their upcoming projects. Everybody insisted that big success was just around the corner.

Ace Young went so far as to carry a copy of his soon-to-be- released CD, holding it up and getting it in as many pictures as he possibly could.

"Everybody keeps asking me what I'm doing," Young said. "So, I wanted to show them that this is what I'm doing."

At least people are still asking.

It's not like this is the inevitable fate of a finalist who finishes second. Clay Aiken, for one, is too big to have time for an "Idol" finale.

"You don't have to win to have a big career," said Maroulis, who finished sixth in Season 4.

Even though the track record of the second-place finishers has been, well, spotty at best?

"That was then. This is about now," Maroulis said. "And these guys are both so talented that they're doing to do great."


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