'Idol' Talk: Justin Likely to Beat Kelly

09/03/2002 at 01:00 PM EDT

Curly Top is a shoo-in. At least, that's the conventional wisdom surrounding the outcome of the Fox summer series "American Idol," which begins its two-part finale Tuesday night.

As predicted by the New York Post (which, like FOX TV, is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News America Corp.), Texan contestant Kelly Clarkson, 20, may have been consistently rated the best singer on the series, but Pennsylvanian mop-top Justin Guarini, 23, is expected to walk away with the crown.

There are those who don't agree. "If I had to put my money on anyone winning this at the moment," judge Simon Cowell told the Post, "I'd put it on Kelly." Newspaper polls apparently concur with his assessment.

The final outcome, however, will be decided by viewers' phone calls. And according to the Post, Clarkson likely won't win, owing to the fact that viewers -- particularly in the young, female demographic group that the show attracts -- simply prefer the male heartthrob.

Says the Post: "Guarini-mania has grown to such a level that even if he sings a Metallica cover, forgets the lyrics and mumbles, 'I love me, I love me, I love me,' over and over again, his supporters will still vote over and over again to ensure he comes up a winner."

And, as winner, he gets signed to a recording contract reputed to be worth in excess of $1 million. That is, if he is the winner.

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