America's got a new millionaire


OK, I didn't see that coming: Right to the final moments, I thought Jackie Evancho -- the little 10-year-old who has a classical soprano trapped in her larnyx -- would win "America's Got Talent."

She only finished second; Michael Grimm, a bluesy singer with talent and the only sort-of-normal act in the final four, won.

Maybe it's better that way. The prize -- in addition to $1 million, which is worth noting -- is a Las Vegas show. How do you build a Vegas show around a sweet little girl singing "Ave Maria"? You can't really add jugglers, tigers and topless showgirls.

The other acts in the final four -- Fighting Gravity and the bizarre-and-talented Prince Poppycock -- are Vegas-ready. Grimm is someone you can build a show around. As for little Jackie -- she'll wow people on the "Talent" tour, the show's first, but is best heard in concert halls.

That was part of a night of four reality finals. Here they are, listed in ascending order of their cash prizes:

-- "Top Chef" ($125,000): Kevin Sbraga of New Jersey won.

-- "MasterChef" ($250,000): Whitney Miller, 22, a student from Mississippi and the youngest person in the competition, won this contest designed for amateur cooks. She beat David Miller (no relation), 29, a software engineer from Newton, Mass.

-- "Big Brother" ($500,000): Hayden Moss, a college student and former baseball player, beat Lane Elenberg. Both are 24.

-- "America's Got Talent" ($1 million): Grimm won. So did NBC, which drew big ratings for this show. CBS' "Big Brother" -- which launched the reality surge (with "Survivor") in the summer of 2000, also drew large audiences. Competition shows will be with us for many more summers.