LEE DeWYZE, a former paint store clerk from Mount Prospect, Ill., last night was named the Season 9 winner of Fox's "American Idol" in the third consecutive (but least surprising) upset of a contestant who'd seemed to be the judges' favorite - in this case, Crystal Bowersox, of Toledo, Ohio.

As always, fans of both were made to wait. And wait.

After a season in which the show's judges frequently urged contestants to make "relevant" song choices, "Idol" producers took viewers on what at times felt like a 30-year drive in a car with an eight-track tape deck, trotting out the likes of Alice Cooper, Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald, Chicago, Joe Cocker and Alanis Morrissette, along with Christina Aguilera, Janet Jackson and seven of the eight former "Idol" winners, there to serenade departing judge Simon Cowell. (Missing: Season 7's David Cook. Among those singing backup: Doylestown's Season 1 runner-up, Justin Guarini.)

"Celebrity Apprentice" winner Bret Michaels continued his cheating-death tour with his second appearance on a "reality" show finale this week, while former judge Paula Abdul joined in the roast of Cowell and then reminded him that the show would indeed go on without him.

To viewers at home, it might well have sounded like a threat.

- Ellen Gray