Inside Move: ‘Idol’s’ vocal gymnastics

Show's finale has rivals contorting in sweep

Like the Oscars and the Super Bowl, next month’s second season finale of Fox’s “American Idol” is shaping up to be the sort of mega-event that causes competing nets to seek cover.

“It’s going to be a monster,” one rival webhead says. Industry observers expect the two-hour “Idol” finale — airing Wednesday, May 21 from 8-10 p.m. — to snag one of the biggest audiences of the May sweeps, if not the season.

No surprise, then, that ABC has quietly opted against skedding the season-ender of its reality hit “The Bachelor” against “Idol’s” climax.

Instead, net now plans to wrap the skein Sunday, May 18. Its main competish: part one of the controversial CBS mini “Hitler.”

ABC’s not the only net retreating: NBC has moved up the season finale of “The West Wing” by a week, slotting an original “Law & Order” episode against “Idol.” The WB’s big Wednesday shows, “Dawson’s Creek” and “Angel,” will also wrap earlier in the month.

An Alphabet rep admits the “Bachelor” shift is, in part, a reaction to “Idol’s” expected dominance. But it also has some strategic value, she says: By airing the “Bachelor” finale on a Sunday, ABC can sneak in a “Bachelor: Where are They Now” special on the final Wednesday of sweeps.

CBS, however, refuses to be intimidated by Fox’s singing youngsters. Net is sticking to its long-planned broadcast of the Academy of Country Music Awards.

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