Although one wonders what Gwen can offer



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American Idol judge Simon Cowell.


Last night’s Idol elimination show began with what’s apparently big Idol news — the announcement of this season’s guest stars and mentors, a list that includes Diana Ross, Jon Bon Jovi, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Tony Bennett, Martina McBride, Lulu, Peter Noone and Barry Gibb.

One wonders what Gwen Stefani will be able to teach whoever remains except how to walk around in really ugly, painful-looking heels.

The cutting begins with the men — six are taken onstage and given the ritual teasing; Sundance Head survives, but barefoot Paul Kim doesn’t, which means we can expect a few post-mortem editorializing about Idol’s Asian problem.

The only advice Randy offers Paul is to “keep rockin’,” which seems cruel; would Randy tell a drowning man to “find his bliss” or “fill his boots” instead of throwing a life preserver?

Ryan Seacrest asks Lakisha Jones if she feels nervous before the first group of women are cut — she shows a remarkable amount of something like humility that she doesn’t just guffaw and put Seacrest into a headlock; this season is hers to lose.

The last girl standing in the first lineup is Antonella Barba, but she’s spared — America obviously loves gals who get topless, grope other gals and take pictures of themselves peeing.

Instead, Amy Krebs is called out from the girls and given the chop for being, well, boring.

Fantasia Barrino is introduced, and the cameras cut away to Quincy Jones picking a hair from his mouth.

It’s hard not to compare her to Lakisha Jones — and find her lacking — so when Jones is brought up for the next elimination, you wonder why Seacrest even bothers trying to wring some suspense out of the moment; Nicole Tranquillo is the next girl cut.

Rudy Cardenas is the last guy cut, and Simon’s parting advice isn’t a platitude, at least — you can’t turn an average singer into a good one.

Cruel, perhaps, but better than telling him to keep it real, or feel the love.