American Idol, Top 6

Michael Becker / FOX

"Surprising" is the perfect word to describe Casey Abrams' elimination from the Idol stage Thursday night. We kind of knew he wasn't going to win it all, but we were betting it would be Jacob Lusk packing his bags after the show. However, Casey's exit from the spotlight pales in comparison to the commercial-break drama buidling between producer Nigel Lythgoe, Ryan Seacrest and the judges. So what exactly happened? And how was the mood after the show was over?

It's no secret Nigel is a bit of a control freak. At every show he's either pulling girls from the audience to rush the stage and attack Scotty McCreery with love, having deep discussions with the judges, or keeping a watchful eye on the contestants. On Thursday's elimination show, he seemed to be all about micro-managing Ryan and even took their conversation backstage and out of audience view.

From our seat behind the judges table we were surprised to see the frantic conversation Nigel was having with Ryan during the commercial breaks. Make-up was by Ryan's side giving him two emergency powder pat-downs while Nigel seemed to be hounding him and giving him strict directions. Following that up with wild hand gestures and quick conversations with the stage manager, Nigel took Ryan backstage, catching the attention of the Idols on the couch and the audience around us.

While the cameras rolled and results were being read, Nigel had his hands on his head looking totally stressed. At the next commercial break, Nigel went to the judges table and it appeared he was giving them a talking to about how the evening's show was playing out. Then he ran back up to Ryan, said something and then went back to his corner looking irritated. Although Ryan kept his cool and smiled through it all, it seemed to us Nigel was doing everything in his power to up the drama that eventually lead to Casey's elimination. Sheesh!

Speaking of results, as Casey celebrated his time on Idol with his enthusiastic, funny and heartfelt swan song, rumored love interest Haley Reinhart wiped away tears as his memory montage was played. Lauren Alaina was by her side giving her consoling pats on the back and helpful smiles. Even though Casey wasn't the fan favorite, it's obvious he was stole the hearts of all the judges. After the cameras stopped rolling, the audience was chanting Casey's name, and he was swarmed by production staff, the judges, and of course his fellow contestants. Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez all took an extra amount of time to give him a pep talk, long hugs and we even spotted Jennifer wiping away a tear. Casey took time to give a short speech to the audience, an Idol first, thanking them for their support and said he was excited for the future.

While some fans were disappointed that Casey is no longer in the Idol running, more disappointment stemmed from yet another pre-taped performance, this time by Bruno Mars. We witnessed the taping a month ago after an elimination show, and tonight we heard the ripple of disappointed murmurs in the audience when they found out music's "it boy" wasn't in the building. Fact is, like Katy Perry's performance, Bruno's entailed a long set up, a run through and two performances to get what you saw in your living room. Well, what can we say? That's the "magic" of Hollywood!

Do you think Casey was the wrong Idol to be eliminated? Do you think Nigel should stop staging drama on the show? Who do you think is the judges' favorite now? Let us know in the comments!

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