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Idol Chit-Chat
This is your place to discuss all things "American Idol." The performances, the judges, the past contestants — it’s all right here.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Inside this week's "People" magazine...

This week’s “People” cover story takes a look at the Top 10.

And because I read the magazines so you don’t have to, here are some of the tidbits found inside…

Jordin Sparks has Hanson’s “Mmm Bop” on her iPod. Now I suddenly have the urge to vote for her…

Chris Sligh sang opera at Bob Jones University. His parents are missionaries in Germany…

Melinda Doolittle went with some friends to the Memphis audition who thought it would be fun to watch the “funny singers.” But on the way they decided the whole car had to audition and she was the only one who made it. Among the performers she sang backup for was Season 3’s George Huff…

Alaina Alexander (who butchered “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice” has been sitting with Chris Richardson’s family during the shows. Chris and Alaina have also been seen hanging out in L.A. I bet Ryan’s jealous…

Blake Lewis makes his own pants and has six tattoos. He wanted to do a Robin Thicke song but he didn’t give clearance. Blake’s backstage secret? “I’m sexually frustrated”…

Sanjaya Malakar doesn’t read what the press or Internet says about him. That’s probably a good thing…

LaKisha Jones says she’s “not going the shorter skirt route again”…

Gina Glocksen was told by Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe not to wear her tongue piercing because it would lose her votes with “middle America.” She took it out for a couple of weeks and then put it back in. Gina also shared that she could relate to the Antonella scandal. “I always think that could be me…Old friends will try to put the kibosh on you.” Hmmm…

Haley Scarnato said it’s nice to have Ryan onstage to lighten the mood after the judges’ comments…

Phil Stacey has the Spice Girls on his iPod, calling them the “mac daddies of pop.” Kissing up to Idol guru Simon Fuller (who discovered and managed the Spice Girls) perhaps?...

“People” also counted the number of posts each finalist has gotten on the official “Idol” message board since February. And the winner? Blake with 43,554. He’s followed by Sanjaya, Chris R., Chris S., Melinda, Gina, LaKisha, Jordin, Phil and Haley.

The cover of this week’s magazine is a foldout with a composite photo (meaning they didn’t pose together). I don’t know how they decided who went on the main cover, but it’s ironic that Chris S. is there the very week he got eliminated (That happened after “People” went to press.).

Here’s a scan of the entire picture. Check out Haley working “her assets” as Chris S. would say…


Here’s another view. “People” calls her “the hottie”…

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Constantine Gets Bold and Beautiful...

For those of you who have been on this “Idol” train with me from the beginning, you know that in season four, my heart belonged to Constantine Maroulis…

But I’ve been a little ticked at C-man (as I call him) ever since I read an interview with “The Village Voice” where he smoked pot and pretty much told anyone who didn’t like it where they could go.

However, when I saw his smiling face in this week’s “TV Guide,” I couldn’t help but get excited…

Constantine will be joining “The Bold and the Beautiful” this summer for a music storyline. “B&B” Executive Producer Brad Bell says C-man will play a fictional version of himself as he tries to become Phoebe Forrester’s music producer. He’ll also become part of a love triangle with Phoebe and her boyfriend, Rick. Bell also promises C-man won’t be the only Idol on the show this summer.

As for his LONG awaited album, C-man hopes to release it in June on his own record label, Sixth Place Records (named for his finish on “Idol”). I hope this works out because “B&B” would be a great promotional tool for him.

I guess this means I’m starting to forgive him…

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Chart News: Katharine Makes a Jump, Elliott Debuts and "It's Not Over" for Daughtry

Katharine McPhee’s “Over It” jumped from #49 to #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week and was the chart’s greatest digital gainer. The song was recently featured on MTV’s “The Hills” creating online sales of 40,000…

Elliott Yamin’s new single, “Wait For You” debuts at #67, which is one notch above where “Movin’ On” debuted. I’m really hoping this one does well…

And while “Home” falls one spot to #49, Daughtry’s “It’s Not Over” stays at #10. “Over” is #1 on the Adult Top 40 chart…

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Fantasia Brings In the Bucks

Fantasia hasn’t even begun her Broadway run yet, but she’s already made a major impact…

“Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple” has taken in $6 million since the announcement about Fantasia joining the cast was made.

She begins her run as Celie April 10th.

By the way, Fantasia’s fellow season three finalist LaToya London is playing the role of Nettie in the Chicago show…

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Coming Attractions: Akon, Robin Thicke, the songwriting contest and more...

After Wednesday’s results, the show taped a solo performance by Akon doing the #1 hit, “Don’t Matter.” In fact, they had to do it three times after they didn’t like the first one and Akon cracked up during the second. Then, they taped a performance by Robin Thicke (with what audience was left). The show plans to air the performances at a later date (the “Gives Back” show maybe?). By the way, when you do see them, you won’t see Randy, Simon and Paula. They left right after the show and stand-ins took their place at the table…

So what’s the latest on that promised songwriting competition? It’s on hold, according to Executive Producer Ken Warwick. Warwick told “TV Week” they would still like to do some kind of Internet competition, but the special with former Idols singing the songs has been pushed aside for “Idol Gives Back”…

And there’s some bad news for Bon Jovi fans who were hoping to hear the Idols do their songs. It looks like that week will be a rock music theme and not just Bon Jovi…

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"Idol" vs. "Dancing": The Saga Continues...

Here’s an interesting twist to the “Idol” vs. “Dancing With the Stars” battle. The two shows share production space…

The shows tape next door to each other on the CBS lot in Hollywood. They share a hallway, bathrooms and some of the dressing rooms. “Idol” Executive Producer Ken Warwick says that security keeps thing separate and makes sure everyone’s in the right place.

Warwick also swears to “Access Hollywood” that this week’s extra seven minutes was not meant to mess with “Dancing” saying, “I can actually honestly say we didn’t (do it on purpose).” Warwick said they asked FOX weeks ago if the Gwen Stefani show could be two hours or even ninety minutes. FOX came back and said “the most we can give you is seven minutes. That doesn’t cause too much trouble with the affiliates.”

So how were the ratings? “House” topped the 9 p.m. hour with 22.18 million viewers, but that was 2.3 million fewer than for its last new episode. “Dancing” was watched by 17.6 million viewers, which was up 1.5 million over season three’s first results show.

The saga continues…

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The Return of the One-Hour Stallfest...

Since the results show was able to get everything in this week—including more corporate begging—it pains me even more to tell you this…

Starting April 11th, the results show will go back to an hour, and will stay that way through May 2nd.

According to “Variety,” the change was made at the request of “Idol” producers, but I’m sure that FOX had no problem extending its cash cow…

“Til Death” will wrap up its season April 11th at 8 p.m. with a one-hour finale…

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Chris Sligh: "I actually almost dropped out."

Right after I posted Chris’ thoughts on his elimination from his “Entertainment Weekly” interview, I saw this tidbit from the Associated Press:

Chris considered quitting. “I never came into this wanting to win it. I made the Top Ten. That was my goal.”

Chris expanded his thoughts to “People,” saying he considered dropping out after he was “universally trashed” for his arrangement of “Endless Love.” He said it was frustrating for him because “the judges never commented on [his] voice. Just at least say, ‘You have great vocals but I didn’t like the arrangement.’ It was never that.” Chris said his frustrations were solidified by the reaction to “Love.”

“I went to the guy from 19 (Entertainment) and I said, ‘Can I still go on the tour if I drop out?’ and he said, ‘No.’”

Chris wanted to be on the tour so he could “make music for [his] living” and not have to go back to work at the marketing company back home. The “Idol” tour comes with a nice paycheck for the Top 10 Idols…

This season just gets weirder, doesn’t it?

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Bo's "Glory" Moment...

Remember when movies had anthems?

“St. Elmo’s Fire” had “Man In Motion,” “Rocky III” had “Eye of the Tiger,” “Rocky IV” had “Burning Heart”—remember those?

Well maybe an Idol is going to bring those back…

If you go see the Will Ferrell-Jon Heder movie “Blades of Glory” this weekend, you’ll hear Bo Bice singing “Blades of Glory,” which I would definitely define as an anthem. And yes, it’s a little cheesy—but in a good way.

I actually discovered this tidbit of information while reading the movie’s review in “Hollywood Reporter.” The reviewer was pretty complimentary of the song (and the movie too)...

You can hear it for yourself at www.myspace.com/bladesofglory...

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Pickler Picks Proctorville

Sorry, I couldn't resist that headline...

Here are some more details on the news I first told you about yesterday...

Kellie Pickler is coming to the Lawrence County (Ohio) Fair.

The dates for the fair are July 7-14, but I don't know yet which date she is scheduled to perform.

I'll have much more on this as we get closer...

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Chris Speaks...

Well, it should be no surprise to anyone that Chris Sligh had plenty to say about his elimination—which he says he actually knew was coming…

Chris had originally chosen “Give a Little Bit,” while Phil was going to do “Every Little Thing,” but when Phil changed, Chris changed too fearing that his original choice was just too safe. However, he struggled with the song and Ricky Minor even gave him a metronome to help him work on the beat. But he says when Tuesday came around, it just “wasn’t clicking with the band so when [he] performed it, it was like [he] wasn’t sure,” he told “Entertainment Weekly.” But Chris says he really didn’t think it was that off (I have to agree, by the way.).

So why the “my bad”? Remember Chris’ comment to Simon about the Teletubbies? That’s why. “Idol” made Chris take down his blog when he made the top 24 (as they did with all the contestants), but the comments people left him were still going to his e-mail account and people were very angry about what he said. So he “really bit [his] tongue for the past few weeks.”

After getting blasted by the judges, Chris was so confident he was going home he packed his bags on Wednesday morning and made sure to thank the hair stylist and clothing stylist for everything they’d done. He says they told him he wasn’t going home and he responded with “Yes, I am.” And he made that bet with Phil that he was going home, so he did get $50 out of the deal…

Why so confident? In Chris’ words: “Haley has had two or three weeks where she’s been on the rise because of her hot pants. With her rising and because of my last few weeks, I knew I was falling…”

Speaking of those last few weeks, Chris admits that “glasses off was a bad choice,” but he says he likes the fact that he took chances with his songs.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, the contestants hear the questions from Ryan beforehand. Chris says he was a little surprised that his knitting and crocheting comment came off so sarcastic to some people because he was just “being silly.”

So what are his thoughts on Sanjaya? He says he is “a good kid” and that he’s getting a “bum rap. If you listen to his recordings on the ‘American Idol’ website his voice sounds good. When I was 17 years old I had no idea how to sing on stage either.” Chris says he did a double take when he first saw the Mohawk, but says it “takes cojones” to do a hairstyle like that. Chris refused to follow the hair stylist’s suggestion to flat iron his hair because he “would lose all rock credibility.”

Chris also shares that he and Phil were roommates and “really close,” and that he and Blake are “very, very tight.” And he tells “EW” that some of the older contestants had to learn to talk around Sanjaya and Jordin because “Blake and Chris definitely enjoy their cuss words,” but he says Jordin is “incredibly mature for her age.”

And even though Chris said he was “bringing chubby back,” he may not bring it back to the finale (Did you notice how much thinner he looked on Wednesday’s show?). Chris has already lost 34 pounds—with some treadmill motivational yelling from Chris Richardson—and he hopes to “show up to the finale looking completely different.”

If you’re already having Chris withdrawal, you can check out the new CD from his band, Half Past Forever called “Take a Chance on Something Beautiful.” It’s ironic that Chris stumbles after his band releases their CD, just as (in season four) Constantine stumbled right after his band released theirs. Hmmm…

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Breaking News: Is Kellie Coming To Town?

My sources tell me that Kellie Pickler may be bringing her "Red High Heels" to the Tri-State this Summer...

I hope to have more details for you soon...

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Elliott Debuts Strong

Elliott Yamin's self-titled CD debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 this week after selling 90,000 copies. It's #1 on the Independent Albums Chart.

In fact, it's the highest debut for a new artist on an independent label in Soundscan history.

And now that "Wait For You" has officially become his new single, I think his sales will go even higher.

And yes, you can count me among those 90,000 copies...

If you still haven't heard "Wait For You"--which I would count as one of the best "Idol" singles ever released--you can hear it at www.myspace.com/elliottyamin.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What happened?

Okay, so what happened? Well, one of my cardinal rules is to never admit an accident is your fault—even if it is. It’s the same thing about bad performances. Chris should have never admitted it was bad. He should have kept the sense of humor we all know and love and just shrugged it off. But his continual harping on his mistakes did him in. I didn’t really think it was that bad…

Next week it’s Tony Bennett, which I’m guessing means standards, which probably means strong weeks for both Haley and Sanjaya—as if their performances even matter any more…

I just really don’t know what else to say…

Your thoughts?...

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"Bye, Bye Curly"...

9:25 We’re back…Gina and Chris S. are left as candidates for the bottom three…They both stand…Gina looks pretty upset…Chris is in the bottom three…Uh-oh…

9:25 Time to send one to safety…Haley…needs to stand there a little longer…YES! Phil is safe…Thank goodness!!!

9:26 Ryan asks Randy and Paula who is going home and neither one answers. Simon says it’s “Bye, bye curly”…

9:27 Haley is safe. HOLY CRAP!!! Chris tries to smile, but it doesn’t really work. “Home” goodbye video…Chris is still trying to muster a smile…

9:28 Ryan calls Chris one of the cleverest contestants the show has ever had and tells him “we’ll miss you”…Chris’ wife is stunned and starts to cry…

9:29 Chris does “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”…Haley is way too happy…

9:30 Chris (who is known as the hugger) gives each of the contestants a hug…He tells Phil he owes him $50. Did Phil think he was going home too?...Blake shakes his head…

9:30 And we’re out…

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"The Sweet Escape"

9:14 We’re back…Apparently Ryan accidentally said Ryan and Stacey were in the bottom two before the break. I missed it because I was too busy kicking myself for not voting for Phil more…The American Idol Challenge…

9:15 Exxon Mobil answered Ryan’s begging for “Idol Gives Back”…

9:16 Gwen Stefani starts “The Sweet Escape” complete with the Harajuku girls…Now, Akon joins her. Where was he at the beginning?...He doesn’t really fit into her theatrics, so he takes the stage in the middle of the audience and high fives Randy…I never realized this song was so long…Haley looks sick…And Akon was apparently unaware of when the song was going to end…Gwen plugs her tour…And Ryan plugs her participation on “Idol Gives Back.” Apparently we’ll see a performance of her from the tour…After the break…

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Phil, I am so sorry...

9:06 We’re back…Ford commercial: “I Fought the Law”…The Idols are fighting Chris R. in the old west, chasing him with Ford Mustangs…Yeah, okay…

9:07 Ryan is looking for the three people with the lowest number of votes…Blake stands…He’s safe…LaKisha stands…She’s safe

9:08 Phil stands…Phil is in the bottom three. I’m so sorry, Phil!...

9:08 Melinda stands…She’s safe…Chris R. stands…He’s safe. BOO HISS!...

9:09 Sanjaya stands…And he is of course, safe. Phil, I am so sorry…

9:09 Haley stands…She’s in the bottom three and she knew it when she heard Sanjaya was safe…

9:10 Jordin stands…She’s safe. That leaves Gina and Chris. Uh-oh…

9:10 Break. Phil seems way too happy for a guy who may be going home soon…

Could Chris' "my bad" send him home?...

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The Opening Act...

8:59 Intro…Ryan says there are two important questions to answer: Who is going home and how will Sanjaya wear his hair? It’s back to normal…

9:00 Ryan comes out wearing a Mohawk wig…Randy is flabbergasted, but Sanjaya loves it…Ryan gives the rundown as he loses the wig…

9:01 Quick intro of the judges…Recap…I’m really worried that I didn’t vote enough for Phil…Haley really does deserve to go home for butchering Cyndi Lauper…

9:03 After the break…

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A little preview...

The consensus among the “experts” is that Haley will go tonight (because we’ve all given up thinking it will be Sanjaya), but at least one website says that LaKisha could be in trouble and there’s some concern about Chris Sligh…

I’m actually a little concerned about Phil…

Results in a little more than 10 minutes…

Stay with me…

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

So who's going home?

Sanjaya sang that he was “diving into his own destruction.” From your lips to America’s ears…

So do I think this is the week he finally goes? I think it’s our best shot to get rid of him with his cocky attitude and stupid Mohawk and I think he forgot some words too.

If it isn’t Sanjaya that goes, I think it will be Haley, but I’d be okay with Chris Richardson. He’s starting to annoy me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go vote for Phil so he doesn’t end up in the bottom again and Blake just because…

Your thoughts?...

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Chris butchers a No Doubt classic...

Chris Richardson, “Don’t Speak”: 12
Someone should tell Chris and the band that’s not a happy song. I HATED it! And did Gwen only give her advice to the camera, because no one listened to what she had to say.

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Blake shows the "Love" and Jordin takes a risk...

Blake Lewis, “Love Song”: 17
We all kept waiting for him to Blake-ize the song and he never did, but it was pretty (although there were several flaws) and as you know, I love him, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. But did he do some beat boxing in the song for Gwen?

Jordin Sparks, “Hey Baby”: 16
By far the gutsiest choice of the night, but it just didn’t work for me. The music was weird and Jordin seemed a little uncomfortable.

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Phil and Melinda Wow the Judges

Phil Stacey, “Every Breath You Take”: 18
I figured out why it is I like Phil. He sounds like Paul Carrack. If he gets the chance to do a Squeeze song, he should. This was a great choice and Simon liked it as well. But what was with the back-handed compliment from Gwen? “I didn’t think it was going to be that good.” Alrighty then.

Melinda Doolittle, “Heaven Knows”: 20
That’s how to do a Donna Summer song. But I agree with Simon. The outfit was awful.

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Sanjaya drowns in "Bath Water" and Haley shows her "True Colors"

Now I know why Ryan was making those faces…

Sanjaya Malakar, “Bath Water”: 2
He’s just mocking us now, isn’t he? I warned you about that Mohawk last week when it might have been appropriate, but this? Even the best Gwen Stefani could muster was a half-hearted ‘Good luck to him.” But as Simon said, it doesn’t really matter what we say, does it? However, I think that cocky attitude he showed tonight could finally undo him.

Haley Scarnato, “True Colors”: 14
Did Gwen only give that advice about not messing with the melody to the camera or did Haley just ignore it? It might have been a good choice if Haley hadn’t killed it. Notice she was still showing off the legs, though.

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Chris commits a "my bad," while Gina knocks one out...

Chris Sligh, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”: 16
It was a good song choice, but it just didn’t work. And he was trying so hard to feel the beat, he looked awkward. But I didn’t think it sounded as bad as Simon thought.

Gina Glocksen, “I’ll Stand By You”: 19
I’m not really a Gina fan, but this was really good. I gave her a five in song choice because it was perfect. That last chorus got lost in the band, though. Even Simon showed her a lot of love by saying it was her best performance—and he’s right.

And next we have Sanjaya and Haley back-to-back...

And I missed it. Why was Ryan making those faces to the camera?...

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LaKisha's "Last Dance"

LaKisha Jones, “Last Dance”: 16
I can see I’m going to be hard to please tonight. It just didn’t do it for me and I can’t tell you why. Maybe I just don’t like the song. I like that she did an upbeat one, though.

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Welcome to the show...

So, No Doubt songs and songs from The Police and The Cure? Okay…

Maybe Sanjaya will do “Hella Good”…

And did anyone else notice that Ryan didn’t hit the syllables of “American Idol” right in the intro? I hope that’s not a bad sign…

Gwen looks so innocent without her makeup…

Here we go…

Tonight's Show...

Thanks to the results of Anna Nicole's autopsy, there is very little information out there about tonight's show.

But what we do know is that Gwen Stefani will coach the Idols, who will be singing pop songs. Now what restrictions are on that, I have no idea. As you may recall, Stephanie said she was choosing between "Time After Time," "MacArthur Park" and "Nothing Compares 2 U," so could they be restricting them to the 70s and 80s?

Does that mean Sanjaya won't sing "Hollaback Girl"?...

The most interesting thing about tonight's show will probably be tomorrow's ratings. After FOX announced that it was extending "Idol" seven minutes, "Dancing With the Stars" announced that it will begin the elimination process at the very beginning of the show. Since ABC scheduled "DWTS" so people would not have to choose between it and "Idol," they're crying foul. FOX said they needed the extra time for such a major recording star...

It all gets started tonight at 8 on FOX...

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Important Programming Note About Tuesday's Show

If you’re taping Tuesday’s show to watch it later, be sure to set your timer for an extra seven minutes as Tuesday’s “Idol” will run until 9:07 p.m.

So do the producers think that Gwen Stefani deserves an extra seven minutes? No. This is a clever attempt by FOX to try and keep people from turning over to the “Dancing With the Stars” results show.

And since “Idol” is followed by the return (again) of “House,” I think it just might work…

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Jennifer Hudson in the "Spotlight"

Jennifer Hudson will be a part of the Lifetime special “Spotlight 25.”

The program, hosted by Willow Bay, takes a look at today’s 25-year-old women and will feature an interview with the 25-year-old Oscar winner.

“Spotlight 25” airs Monday, March 26th at 8 p.m. on Lifetime…

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Live From New York, It's the Return of the Fembot...

One of the few knocks against Carrie Underwood during her time on “American Idol” was that she was too stiff during her performances. Some critics even called her a “fembot.”

You’d think that almost two years of experience with the best in the business would have erased some of that, but if you caught Carrie’s performance on “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend, you know that’s not the case.

I’ve said from the beginning that I have a hard time buying Carrie singing “Before He Cheats” and I almost get the impression she’s having a hard time buying it herself. I realize that she was probably extremely nervous, but when your backup singer shows more emotion than you do in a song that clearly calls for it, I consider that a problem. I’m not saying she should have swung a baseball bat around, but she could have done more than just clutch the microphone like a lifeline. Even just a smile at a member of her band (who was outstanding, by the way) could’ve helped.

And I know the men in the audience were hoping for a little more movement in that Daisy Duke-sized skirt she was wearing…

Obviously, her stiffness hasn’t hurt her career (and she did sound great), but I would really like to see her break out of it—especially since it sometimes comes across like she doesn’t want to be there…

Thoughts?...

And by the way, if anyone saw whatever "SNL" did with Sanjaya, let me know because apparently I didn't watch long enough...

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Carrie on "SNL"

Just a reminder that Carrie Underwood will be the musical guest this Saturday (the 24th) on "Saturday Night Live"...

Do I smell an "Idol" parody with Sanjaya?...

The host will be Peyton Manning. As if we don't see that guy on TV enough these days...

"Saturday Night Live" airs Saturday at 11:30 p.m. on NBC...

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stephanie Says Goodbye...

Some people were pretty surprised about Stephanie’s departure last night, but she wasn’t one of them…

“I felt I was going home because of my performance and what the judges had to say,” she told reporters today. “I felt what they said was going to sway America’s vote.”

Stephanie said that if a contestant has diehard fans, the judges can’t sway them; but she didn’t have enough fans like that. She said that as she was performing, she was actually thinking that it was “a great song and the judges are going to love it. I had no idea the judges were going to hate it and America was not going to vote enough.”

She hasn’t watched the show back to see her performance, but she said what she’s heard in the background while doing interviews “sounded good to me.”

As further proof that she just doesn’t get it, she shared the three songs she was considering for next week’s pop music theme: “True Colors,” “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “MacArthur Park.” Does the term upbeat not exist in her vocabulary?

And do we really need to hear the “cake in the rain” song?...

Stephanie did sing for the audience after the show Wednesday, but she said it wasn’t very good since she was crying…

As for her reaction to Sanjaya-gate, Stephanie agreed it was unfair to show Ashley so much, “but that’s just how it works”…

Much more interesting was information Stephanie shared about the Idols’ down time. She said she, Sanjaya and Jordin hung out most of the time while the others were out drinking (She’s only 19.). She said that while they were out she “slept a lot because they all went out late.” If she wasn’t sleeping, she was practicing. “It worked to my advantage because LaKisha and Gina were my roommates so I had the advantage of being able to practice a lot”…

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The Latest on Sanjaya-gate...

So here’s the latest on what I am now calling Sanjaya-gate…

First, here’s the final word on the crying girl from the only media outlet I can find that actually talked to her, “The Los Angeles Times”…

The girl is Ashley Ferl, a 13-year-old from Riverside, California. She and her family got tickets to attend a taping of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” that also included tickets to a rehearsal of “Idol” or “Smarter.” Ashley’s family, of course, chose “Idol.” Ashley was so excited to see the rehearsal that she started crying. The producers took note and invited the family to attend the live show from a prime location.

Most interestingly, even though she probably helped Sanjaya make the top 10, Ashley said her favorites are Sanjaya, Melinda, Gina and Jordin and would not choose one over the others…

Meanwhile, an “Idol” fan is taking drastic measures to try and stop the madness. A girl who calls herself “J” on MySpace is staging a hunger strike until Sanjaya is voted off…

So, do I truly believe there was a conspiracy to keep Sanjaya on the show? I really hate to use that word, but it was definitely unfair to show Ashley so much during Sanjaya’s performance.

You may be asking yourself why they would want to keep Sanjaya on the show. Let’s see…Howard Stern is talking about it, all the major Internet sites and TV shows are talking about it. Could that be incentive for the show?

And I believe they think Sanjaya will sell concert tickets. I was stunned when they didn’t take the top 11 last year to include Kevin Covais, who seemed so popular with young girls (Personally, I think he would’ve been more entertaining than Lisa Tucker.).

I know I said earlier that if Sanjaya was in the top 11, the show might step in, but I think they think they’re on to something now…

But heaven help whoever has to produce this year’s “Idol” CD. What on Earth will Sanjaya sing?...

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Next Week's Theme And the Rest of the Calendar...

Since the corporate begging and Brad Garrett plugging caused the show to run over, Ryan didn’t get a chance to tell us next week’s theme…

I still don’t have full details yet, but according to “TV Guide,” the guest coach will be Gwen Stefani, as “Access Hollywood” had reported earlier. In an earlier interview, Stefani said the Idols would not only sing her songs, but also songs that have inspired her (whatever that means).

Who wants to take bets on Sanjaya doing “Hollaback Girl”?...

“TV Guide” also reports that Stefani will perform “Sweet Escape” with Akon on Wednesday’s results show…

Based on information culled from various websites, here’s how the rest of the calendar shakes out. Remember that this information is not from FOX, so it could change…

April 3rd—Since I can’t find any information for this date, process of elimination tells me it’s Tony Bennett. I’m guessing the theme will be something to do with standards.

April 10th—Jennifer Lopez will guest coach a Latin music night. And no, that is not a joke.

April 17th—Martina McBride is the coach, so I’m guessing either her songs or country in general.

April 24—“Idol Gives Back” night. The top six will sing “life anthems.” If you plan to skip a week, this is probably the one.

May 1st—Bon Jovi will coach the top five through their hits. Woo hoo!!!

May 8th—Barry Gibb is the coach so I’m guessing the theme will be music from the 70s or disco. The most logical guess would be the music of the Bee Gees, but since they already did that in season two with Robin Gibb (the night I fell in love with Clay Aiken, by the way), I don’t know if they’ll repeat it. Do you think any of the Idols will ask him about “The Barry Gibb Talk Show”?

May 15th—Since this will be the top three, that usually means they sing a song of their choice, a song chosen by the judges and a song chosen by Clive Davis

May 22nd—The final performance show, which usually means some snoozer of a ballad and other songs of the top two’s choosing

When I get more details about Gwen week, I’ll let you know…

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Final Thoughts...

I said last night that Stephanie was in trouble, but I really felt it was Phil that would go. I’m actually glad I was wrong about that because I think he has a good voice. Stephanie just made bad song choices. She really needed to sing an upbeat song and she just couldn’t get past that Beyonce comparison (Thanks a lot, LuLu.). Did she deserve to go now? No—especially not with Brad Garrett hogging all of her camera time to promote his stupid show…

But don’t say I didn’t warn you about Sanjaya. You can now look forward to seeing him in a city near you this summer…

So what’s going on? Is Howard Stern getting enough people to vote for him to keep him in? I don’t think so. Is Votefortheworst.com keeping him in? Ryan said on his show this morning that it has zero effect because of the number of votes coming in.

Did the appearance of Ashley crying in the audience help him score more points with moms and their teenage daughters? That one I believe…

Time for your thoughts now…

And we say goodbye to...

9:26 Who else is sick of these “Drive” promos? Premiere the show already! April 15th can’t come soon enough…

9:27 We’re back…Stephanie and Chris R. are standing on the stage holding hands…Boos…Stephanie is smiling…Chris looks nervous now…

9:28 Applause for Chris and Blake yells for him as he holds hands with Jordin…Chris…safe…Lots of cheers…Stephanie is going home…

9:29 “Home” goodbye video…I wonder what LuLu thinks right now…

9:30 Stephanie is crying…Credits roll…Ryan plugs “Til Death” with “Coming up next Brad Garrett’s show” and he doesn’t seem all that happy about it. She doesn’t even try to start singing and she doesn’t have time to say anything…

9:31 We’re out…

"To Sir With Love"

9:19 We’re back…Brad Garrett is holding a sign that says “Clay Aiken, Hurt Me.” What?! We’re moving so fast, Ryan didn’t even explain why Brad is there (to promote “’Til Death”)…The winner of the “American Idol Challenge” is in the audience sitting in front of Nigel. Shouldn’t he be in the production booth or somewhere? He is the Executive Producer…

9:20 Reminder about “Idol Gives Back”…Ryan, we don’t have time for this!...Ryan says that there were 30 million votes last night…Ryan begs for corporate donations…Was that necessary?...

9:21 LuLu does “To Sir With Love”…She started singing before the doors opened. I guess she wasn’t in place yet…

9:23 LuLu walks over and sings to the Idols. She was a great judge as well, if only the girls had listened…Of course, I think Stephanie did listen and that’s why she’s in the bottom two…

9:24 Chris R. is smiling…

9:24 Break…

What the?!

9:10 Ford commercial: “Another Saturday Night”…The Idols are at the Laundromat…That was a little cheesy…

9:11 Brad Garrett is sitting with the contestants tonight. We don’t have time for this promo stuff…

9:12 Lights down…Ryan sends Brad away…Blake shows him some love…Ryan asks “How are we going to fit this show in?”…

9:12 Phil, Melinda and Blake stand…Not the bottom three…Phil is understandably ecstatic…This is going to be interesting…

9:13 Chris Sligh, LaKisha, Jordin stand…Not the bottom three…

9:13 Sanjaya, Haley, Gina stand…NOT the bottom three…Holy crap…Chris R. is in the bottom ?

9:14 Chris Richardson and Stephanie are in the bottom two?!...What the?! Lots of boos…

9:15 Break

Now you know I'm not a Chris R. fan, so I wouldn't be unhappy to see him go; but I'm pretty shocked. Guess people don't like the ballads. Stephanie is not a shock...

And by the way, Ryan had the contestants stand up from different places to trick us...

"There's a Kind of Hush"...

This one’s gonna fly, so hang onto something…

8:59 Intro

9:00 Ryan introduces the judges…

9:01 Recap

Here’s a side note: Haley’s dad told the audience that Simon should remember that he was only 20 feet behind him when he talks about his daughter that way. Maybe his daughter should wear some clothes…

9:04 Peter Noone does “There’s a Kind of Hush”…I can hear the Noonatics screaming all over the country…

Another side note: I entered the Peter Noone chat room for a while last night and they were seriously pumped about last night (and tonight) and they should be. Peter was a great coach—and the guys wisely listened…

9:05 Simon looks a little bored, but the crowd and the contestants like it…

9:07 Break…

Results Show Preview...

As tonight’s results get closer, it looks like the consensus on the bottom three is Phil, Stephanie and Sanjaya with either Phil or Stephanie going home.

I’m not one to support conspiracy theories but you have to wonder about Ashley in the audience.

And I have to wonder what would have happened if Sanjaya had gone with his original hairstyle choice—a Mohawk. Apparently Sanjaya has been making all of his hair decisions this season. I guess he must have changed his mind at the last minute—unfortunately for us since that might have turned off the teenage girls…

Speaking of hair, the “Idol” hairstylist told “Access Hollywood” that he tried to convince Chris Richardson to grow out his hair, but he buzzed it over the weekend. And here I thought he was trying to separate himself from Justin Timberlake…

The stylist is also hoping Stephanie will grow out her hair to separate her from Fantasia and LaToya London. He’s also considering flat ironing Chris Sligh’s hair…

The results begin in four minutes. Stay with me…

Who Is The Crying Girl?

So I checked all my sources this morning (even Ryan's radio show) to discover the identity of the crying girl who more than likely punched Sanjaya's ticket to the top 10.

Here's what I've been able to piece together for you...

Her name, as Ryan told us last night, is Ashley and according to "People," she's 12. Apparently, she won the right to be at the show's rehearsals in a contest through OCATV.com, which provides on-camera audiences for live tapings of shows, while at a taping of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" The "Idol" producers found out she was a Sanjaya fan when she met him and when she was so upset about missing the performance show, they gave her tickets and put her front and center.

Which begs the question: Are the producers trying to keep Sanjaya on the show? Maybe they think he would sell a lot of tour tickets?

Ryan said on his radio show this morning that Sanjaya has A LOT of teenage girls voting for him...

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

So who's going home?

So who’s going home? I think it’s got to be Phil. He was in the bottom three last week, the judges didn’t like the performance, and he got burnt by the band. Mix that in with Haley’s good performance and Sanjaya hugging the little girl, and it’s bye bye, Phil.

And after listening to the recap, I think Stephanie might join him in the bottom group.

But let’s face it. The biggest news tomorrow is going to be Ashley, the crying girl. Was she Ryan’s contest winner or something? I’m sure it will be all over the Internet tomorrow.

Tomorrow night we’ll get performances from both Peter Noone and LuLu (That one should be interesting.) plus results all in a half hour as we meet the top 10 that will be going on tour in a city near you.

It’s going to be fun…

Melinda Goes Outside Her Comfort Zone?

Melinda Doolittle, “As Long As She Needs Me”: 20
Another week, another great performance from Melinda—who totally outdid LaKisha tonight. And notice how Simon was trying to drive home how nice she is. But I didn’t like the haircut, even though it’s the same one I have.

Chris S. works the audience...

Chris Sligh, “She’s Not There”: 18
It was a pretty good performance but the whole way it was staged was completely distracting. And please, Chris, for the love of God, don’t start shouting “’Fro Patro” at the end of every performance…

Gina Paints It Black...

Gina Glocksen, “Paint It Black”: 15
Score another one for LuLu. She was right about the key change but Gina just didn’t nail it.

Sanjaya makes the girls cry...

Sanjaya Malakar, “You Really Got Me”: 15
I hate to break it to you, kids, but I think Sanjaya just punched his ticket to the top 10 and he can thank that little girl in the audience because that hug probably did it. I admit, it even got me a little (Boy, is she going to be embarrassed at school tomorrow.). Peter talked him into the right choice, but did he do it to help him or to keep him from butchering his song?

And did the “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” fans notice David Ian in the audience?...

Jordin makes Simon want to jump off a bridge...

Jordin Sparks, “I Who Have Nothing”: 20
How is she only 17? LuLu gave her some great advice on the phrasing, but I wanted to see her scream like LuLu. Okay, not really…I agree with Simon that it was a little depressing, but I think it's supposed to be.

And the wild side of Sanjaya is coming up? Could I have correctly predicted his song?

LaKisha Goes Cheesy and Phil Gets Burnt By the Band

LaKisha, “Diamonds Are Forever”: 16
I have always thought this was a cheesy song and this performance didn’t change my mind. I think she should’ve listened to LuLu and maybe if LuLu had given a better performance, she would have. It didn’t help matters that the band was too much.

Phil Stacey, “Tobacco Road”: 18
This performance was completely wrecked by the band. I wish someone would remind Rickey Minor that this is about the contestants and not about how good his backup singers are. They really should have let Phil have some of those phrases by himself. He sounded fantastic with just the piano.

I'm in love with Blake...

Blake Lewis, “Time of the Season”: 20
I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I fell in love with Blake. As Randy would say, “That was hot!” Too bad he was overpowered by the band in several places.

Stephanie Loses Her Edge...

Stephanie Edwards, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”: 13
I just didn’t like this one, and I can’t really say why. It put me off from the beginning after she got that totally dramatic intro and then came out tentative. And I think LuLu may have done her a disservice by comparing her to Beyonce. And I agree she should've done an upbeat song...

Chris R. Goes Soft...

Chris Richardson, “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying”: 15
And now Chris owes Peter Noone a present. I was a little torn on this one because it was boring for me and Chris seemed a little uncomfortable, but it was a good vocal.

The judges are being really helpful tonight. Interestingly, Peter Noone had never watched “Idol” before this year. Don't know about LuLu...

Haley Rocks It?!

Haley Scarnato, “Tell Him”: 16
If Haley survives this week, she should send LuLu some flowers. Her advice on going more staccato was great, even though that doesn’t really suit Haley’s voice and she lost steam on the chorus. And yes, Simon was looking…

British Invasion Night Kicks Off...

Tonight, as we know, is British Invasion night as the Idols will sing songs from that time in the 1960s…

The mentors for this week are Peter Noone (of Herman’s Hermits) and LuLu. Peter worked with the guys and LuLu worked with the gals…

Interestingly, Haley is kicking things off…

Tonight's Show...

Here's what I know about tonight's show...

Courtesy of the Noonatics, I know that the coaching of the contestants took place on Saturday (I think they film the Ford commercial all day Sunday.)...

The FOX promos tell us we'll hear the music of the Rolling Stones and The Kinks. Who wants to bet that Sanjaya does "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"? Just kidding...I hope...

Remember that it's another drawn-out two hour deal tonight.

And because you asked for it--and because my wireless service has been working beautifully for two straight days--it's the return of the as-it-happens blog tonight. I'm betting that my service won't make it three days in a row, but we'll muddle through...

See you tonight beginning at 8...

"Set me free, why don't you, baby..."

Sorry. I can't stop!!!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

"Set me free, why don't you, baby..."

If you had been in my apartment or near my office these last few days, you would have heard me singing the same song over and over...

"Set me free, why don't you, baby. Get out of my life, why don't you, baby. 'Cause you don't really love me. You just keep me hangin' on..."
I don't know how it happened, but somehow I've become completely obsessed with Blake's performance last week. And I didn't even rate it the best...

Fortunately for me (and unfortunately for my wallet), there is a way for me to feed this obsession--two actually.

If you are out somewhere and you hear Blake singing, don't worry. It's just my cell phone. As they did last year, Cingular is offering live Idol tones each Wednesday. Blake joins my rather large collection from last season. At $2.49 a pop, you know that Cingular loves me...

You can also download the performances from AmericanIdol.com. This year, though, the downloads are new and improved MP3s that you can listen to on iTunes or Windows Media Player. This week's performances are actually full length studio recordings of the songs. I have no idea if this is the plan for all season, or if they just did that this week because of all the forgotten lyrics. Believe it or not, the studio recording just doesn't have the same zip for me, but that's not keeping me from playing it over and over. The downloads are just 99 cents each.

I really need Blake to sing a new song, so I can get this one out of my head. And I really hope he doesn't listen to the judges and does his own thing again this week.

"Set me free, why don't you, baby. Get out of my life, why don't you, baby..."

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Elliott Is "Movin' On" And He's Taking Me With Him...

I was never a fan of Elliott Yamin (except when I wanted him to get in the top two instead of Katharine), but after hearing him and Chris Daughtry rock Nickelback’s “Saving Me” during the Idols tour, I could almost see what everyone else saw in him.

And after hearing his debut CD, I can definitely see it…

“Elliott Yamin” is Brian McKnight meets Stevie Wonder meets Donnie Hathaway and I mean that as a compliment. Much of the CD has an old-school vibe, but Elliott does a great job of giving it a fresh and somewhat surprising sound as well.

The CD kicks off with the first single, “Movin’ On,” which is produced by DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit. It’s a catchy number with an old-school 80s vibe, but the real gem of the CD is the second track, “Wait For You.” I honestly hope that “Movin’ On” dies out quickly, because this ballad is slated to be the second single and it’s got top 40 hit written all over it. If you only listen to one track, this is the one.

“Find a Way” is a social consciousness song that has a nice sound but it tries a little too hard. “One Word” is a solid track followed by the second best track on the CD—another ballad—“You’re the One.” The next track is called “I’m the Man” but if you’re thinking it’s some kind of silly anthem a la Katharine’s “Open Toes,” no such luck. This one goes in the good anthem column and is probably the third best track.

After that, the CD leans a little toward the cheesy side with “Trainwreck,” “Free,” “Alright,” and “Take My Breath Away," as Elliott tries to show some groove and it falls a little flat. But unlike Katharine's attempts, you won't laugh out loud. The CD concludes with his best known “Idol” number (the one that made Paula cry), “A Song For You.” It still sounds great, but it just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the CD. Maybe with his new sound (and new look), it just doesn’t fit Elliott anymore.

If I were to rank Elliott’s CD with his fellow “Idol” competitors from season six, I would definitely put him just below Daughtry (I’m sorry. I still think Taylor’s is the best.). I’m not a big R&B fan, but Elliott’s voice is so pure, it’s hard not to like this one.

You can listen for yourself at http://music.aol.com/songs/new_releases_full_cds. "Elliott Yamin" hits stores Tuesday, March 20th.

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"Idol" Week on "Live"

"Live With Regis and Kelly" will feature several "Idol" alumni during its "Idol" week this week...

And yes, I think we all know which alum will not be a part of the week--even though his recent co-hosting stint on "The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet" showed us that Clay is a natural for it...

Elliott Yamin will start things off Tuesday, March 20th with a performance of his first single, "Movin' On." Of course, March 20th is the release date of his CD.

Then Wednesday, March 21st, Bucky Covington will perform his single, "Different World."

Thursday, March 22nd, it's Josh Gracin's turn to perform.

And on Friday, March 23rd, this week's eliminated contestant will perform. If there's any justice in the world it will be Sanjaya, but can America really handle another performance from him? Maybe it will be their punishment for keeping him in there so long...

Normally I would watch all of these performances and tell you about them, but since I have made a vow to never watch "Live" again--especially with Regis gone--you all will have to tell me about them.

I'm especially intrigued by Elliott Yamin making "Live" his first stop on his publicity junket. As those of you who watch the show know, "Live" is not the easiest place to perform with the early hour and Gelman's strict two-minute rule. It should also make Bucky's performance fairly interesting...

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Entertainment Weekly" Makes Its Pick

Once again, “Entertainment Weekly” has made its pick for the winner of this year’s “American Idol” (although they’re doing it pretty early this year).

But I wouldn’t call Vegas just yet. Last year, “EW” said Chris Daughtry was the surest thing in “Idol” history.

Here’s where they rank everyone and their odds of winning…

12) Haley Scarnato 100,001-1
11) Sanjaya Malakar 100,000-1
10) Jordin Sparks 32-1
9) Brandon Rogers 30-1
8) Phil Stacey 25-1
7) Gina Glocksen 15-1
6) Chris Richardson 10-1
5) Stephanie Edwards 8-1
4) Chris Sligh 7-1
3) LaKisha Jones 9-2
2) Blake Lewis 4-1
1) Melinda Doolittle 2-1

Obviously their picks were made before Wednesday’s results show and why they would be crazy enough to rank Brandon above Jordin, I really can’t explain (They didn’t either.). But I think they’re pretty close with the rest of it.

Thoughts?...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Paula Takes on the Rumors

In this week’s “TV Guide” (on newsstands now), Paula Abdul confronts the rumors that have been dogging her these past couple of seasons.

Here are some of the highlights…

Paula thinks this is her best season so far (I totally agree.). She said she notices the bad performances, she just doesn’t say mean things because she’s the only judge that knows what it’s like to be a solo artist…

She knows the contestants are crushed when she gives a negative comment…

She denies there was a mutual attraction between her and Simon in the beginning (He says there was.). Now she says he’s “become a really good friend.” She hangs out with Simon and his girlfriend, Terri Seymour…

Paula believes Jennifer Hudson should have thanked “Idol” during her Oscar speech…

What’s in her Coke cup? Sugar-free Red Bull or Diet Coke…

Remember last season’s comment about the moth and the melon ball that got the rumor mill stirring again? Paula says that Simon said to her during a performance, “Try to be interesting, Paula. Say ‘The moth that finds the melon ball inside the wonton will win.’” That made them laugh hysterically so Ryan asked what was going on. When she tried to repeat it, Simon acted like he didn’t know what she was talking about. Paula was so upset she told Simon later he had to stop since her integrity and reputation were at stake…

Her explanation for her sometimes slurred speech? “That’s the way I speak”…

The infamous satellite interview incident? “They let me know there was a technical difficulty, so I [assumed] I wasn’t on camera. They never frickin’ told me they were continuing to air. The whole thing sucked for me.”

Her reaction to the replacement rumors? “Honest to God, there’s no way Fremantle or FOX would destroy our chemistry”…

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Simon on "60 Minutes"

You’ve probably heard that Simon Cowell said he’s bigger than Bruce Springstein (actually he said he was worth more to his record label than Springstein)…

Now he’s saying he was offered $100,000 to judge a couple’s sex life…

You can hear what else he has to say this Sunday on “60 Minutes.”

“60 Minutes” airs Sunday, March 18th at 7 p.m. (barring any NCAA overrun) on CBS…

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Brandon Rogers: His hips don't lie, they just make him forget...

A lot of people wouldn't be happy after being voted off America's #1 show, but Brandon Rogers is. That's probably because he had already made peace with going home.

"I completely 100 percent expected it the second they told me I was in the bottom three," he told "Entertainment Weekly." Brandon even admitted what we already knew--that he never lived up to the hype. "A lot of people were waiting for me to live up to my first audition and when you never return to that top form, it's a disappointment to some people." Brandon also admitted that he was choosing songs he enjoyed and not ones that would show off his voice.

So why did he forget the words? Nerves? The pressure? Nope, his hips. Brandon said that after he did his little hip shimmy that the audience went wild and he started thinking about that and forgetting about his singing. "I enjoyed the moment a little too much."

Next week, Brandon planned to sing "Whiter Shade of Pale" which he says is the "first great song I chose." I'm afraid I'd have to agree...

By the way, one writer who was at Wednesday's show said that if Brandon had given that performance (the one we didn't see) on Tuesday, Sanjaya would absolutely have went home. The same writer said Blake and Chris R. were the most upset at Brandon's departure, as Blake even turned away at one point to compose himself...

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Did the Chrises Diss Diana?

Here's an interesting tidbit I got from "Entertainment Weekly"...

Apparently the Chrises had some interesting comments about Diana Ross Week before their performances Tuesday .

Chris Richardson said it would be hard because it's tough to make a "woman song"
a "man song." And how many seasons have the women had to sing "man" songs? It's called adapting Chris...

But the most insulting comment came from Chris Sligh. He said that the week would be difficult because Diana has a "weird range" of "only seven or eight notes. That's it." Combining that with completely redoing "Endless Love" and no wonder Diana didn't seem happy with him. Here's a piece of advice, Chris. Don't diss the judges you're going to work with. America listens to what they say (or how they're edited). Just ask Ace from last season...

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Latest on the Sexual Harassment Scandal

Here’s the latest on the sexual harassment lawsuit filed last week…

Magdaleno Olmos’ lawyer, Matt Matern, is now speaking out. Here’s what he told “Access Hollywood” about Mario Vazquez’s departure from the show…

The executive producers, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, and the attorneys for “American Idol” met with Olmos to find out what happened and then interviewed Mario. They brought Olmos back for a second interview and Lythgoe told Olmos “We know that this happened and we are going to let Mario Vasquez go, and you’re going to stay.” Matern added, “I believe [Mario’s departure] was not voluntary in any way shape or form.”

Matern also said that because of the alleged harassment, Olmos asked to see a psychologist. But according to Olmos, the only psychologist the show would allow him to see was the one previously seen by Mario (I presume this is the famous “Idol psychiatrist” we just learned about through Sundance.). Matern said Olmos was fired following “an incident” when Olmos said he was going to see a doctor and he was told he “was not excused to go see this doctor.”

According to Matern, the only reason Olmos was fired was because “he complained about being sexually harassed and his supervisor and the ‘American Idol’ people didn’t want him there.”

The lawsuit comes in just under the wire for the two-year statute of limitations on wrongful termination lawsuits in the state of California. So why the delay? As Jim already speculated, settlement talks had stalled, according to Mahern. He said that the attorneys for the production companies and “Idol” had encouraged Olmos to go after Mario since he was “the wrongdoer;” but then said it was a “consensual relationship” and they were not liable. Matern said it was this “contradiction” that led to the breakdown in negotiations.

Mario’s attorney has yet to comment…

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The Scoop on Next Week's Show: Noonatics Take Note!

So since there wasn't enough time to tell us last night, FOX released an announcement this morning about next week's performances...

As I posted last night, Tuesday, the contestants will sing hits from the 1960s British pop invasion. Their mentors will be Lulu and Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits).

On Wednesday's show, Lulu will sing her hit "To Sir, With Love" and Peter Noone will sing "There's a Kind of Hush."

And in case you're wondering, next week's results show is only a half hour.

Two performances, the Ford commercial, the Idol Challenge, AND the eliminations? They're not going to have time to do anything...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sorting it out...

Come on, tell the truth. You knew that Sanjaya wasn’t going anywhere, didn’t you? However, I’m thinking if he doesn’t get the lowest number of votes next week the show may have to intervene. Can you imagine him performing on the tour?

The good news is he was in the bottom two, so we’re getting closer. And if Brandon hadn’t forgotten his words, it may have actually happened.

So let me issue a personal plea to all of the contestants for next week: PLEASE remember the words!

Speaking of next week, though they didn’t have any time to tell you, my sources say that next week’s theme will be “British Invasion.” I presume that means songs from the 60s by British artists since Peter Noone and Lulu are scheduled to be the mentors.

And hopefully next week they’ll remember it’s only a half hour show…

And the results are...

9:27 We’re back…Really going to have to move now…Sanjaya or Haley?...It’s Sanjaya…WOO-HOO!...Please, please, please…

9:27 Bottom three: Brandon, Phil and Sanjaya…Phil goes back to safety…Thank you!

9:28 The bottom two as I predicted…Come on America!...28 million votes…Sanjaya…SAFE! The crowd is stunned, as is Brandon’s family…There are some boos…

9:29 “Home” goodbye montage…He says he kind of expected it.

9:30 And we’re out…before Brandon even gets to sing a note…

Diana the Diva...

9:18 We’re back…The “American Idol Challenge”…Ooh, it’s actually one you have to think about—almost…Of course the answer is B Carrie Underwood…Ryan introduces Diana Ross performing “More Today Than Yesterday”

9:20 Of course she makes a major diva entrance to the tune of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” performed by the background singers. What, she didn’t want to ask Sanjaya?...

9:21 Paula told “TV Guide” that sometimes she has to stand up and dance because Randy and Simon squeeze their chairs together so she can’t sit down…

9:22 Diana goes over to the contestants and asks them to sing with her…

9:23 I really like Simon in that white shirt. It matches his pearly white teeth…Ryan talks to Diana about her tour…Diana says that "Idol" is such an inspiration…Ryan asks her who’s going home…She diplomatically says me…Break…

An all guys bottom three?

9:10 We’re back. Ford commercial: “Float On”…It’s a trip through time as they’re dressed as hippies, then disco divas, then rappers, then themselves…

9:11 Ryan is looking for three lowest vote-getters. Lights dim…Lakisha…safe

9:11 Gina…safe…We are flying now.

9:12 Brandon…bottom three...No shocker there…

9:12 Jordin…safe

9:12 Chris R…safe

9:12 Melinda…the cheers are deafening…safe

9:13 Phil…bottom three…uh-oh…I’m so sorry I forgot to vote, Phil!

9:13 Chris S…safe

9:13 Stephanie…safe

9:14 Blake, Sanjaya and Haley left…Blake…safe

9:14 Now Sanjaya and Haley…Who is it?...After the break…You just knew they’d leave those two until last…

Group Sing and Recap...

9:00 Oops! Looks like FOX 11 was a little late to the ballgame. Now, if they could just make up their minds as to whether to play a commercial or stick with the show.

9:01 And they’re back to the commercials again…Now back to the judges introduction. What’s up with Simon’s white shirt? I like it…Recap of last night’s show…Why didn’t anyone do “I’m Coming Out”?...

9:03 Group sing: A Tribute to Diana Ross…Phil, you’ve got a great voice, you just need a makeover…Woah, Sanjaya actually sounded good…Chris has put his glasses back on. Thank goodness…I think Brandon forgot the words again…Haley loves those flowing tops, doesn’t she?...Okay, who’s singing this song, the backup singers or the Idols?...Chris Sligh seems totally uncomfortable with the dancing. You better get used to it, Chris…

9:07 Break. Let’s see if FOX 11 can get it straight this time…

Results Show Preview

There's some thunderstorms in the area, so let's hope that the electricity stays on long enough so we can see whether Sanjaya has finally outlived his welcome.

I should confess right here that I actually love the half-hour results show. I know that sometimes it can be mean and cruel, but it can also be tense and nail-biting. And I know that Ryan gets on a lot of people's nerves, but I happen to like him.

We're about eight minutes away, so stay with me...

A Correction to My Earlier Post...

I said in my last post that I voted for Melinda and Phil, because after I wrapped up my posting, I intended to do just that.

But then I spent an hour fighting with Blogger while I tried to update pictures for my other blog, "Stay Tuned," and then talking "24" with my second favorite Canadian. So it occurred to me this morning as I was walking out the door that I forgot to vote.

So if either Melinda or Phil goes home tonight, it's all my fault...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So who's going home?

So who’s going home? There’s absolutely ZERO doubt about who should. The question is whether he will. I thought that doing a current song would do him in, but he’s still here. Maybe butchering a classic will be his undoing…

If Sanjaya does live to see another day, I think it’s Brandon who will go home. He totally choked and the judges didn’t even try to stick up for him, like they did for Haley. I think they’re as totally over him as I am.

But if I was Chris Sligh, I might have a pretty sleepless night myself. After listening to the recap, I’m still trying to figure out what he was doing with that one. Maybe he was trying to pull a Chris Daughtry like he did with “Walk the Line.” And maybe the younger voters who don’t know “Endless Love” thought it was cool.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did vote again this week—for two people, actually: Melinda and Phil.

So what did you think? Was Diana Ross week a total snoozefest, or did you enjoy it? Who do you think was the best? Is America finally over Sanjaya?

And, be sure to let me know whether you like the “as it happens” blog or if you prefer the full recap at the end. Hopefully I can get my wireless issues resolved so I can get to your comments a little quicker…

Jordin Wows the Judges

Jordin Sparks: “If We Hold On Together”: 17
Maybe it was the song, but I didn’t get as excited about this one as the judges did and I certainly didn’t think it was a powerful enough song to close the show. But how gorgeous did she look?

Stephanie Gives Us a "Hangover" and Chris Tells Us Who Is Not "The Boss"

Stephanie Edwards, “Love Hangover”: 14
I don’t know this one, but it was definitely boring for me. I wanted her to do an upbeat song, and apparently she could have with this one. And I didn’t even notice that she forgot the words.

Chris Richardson, “The Boss”: 13
I appreciate him picking an uptempo song, but this one just didn’t work with his nasally country-toned voice.

Blake Keeps Me Hanging On...To Him

Blake Lewis, “You Keep Me Hanging On”: 18
So I disagree with the judges again. They didn’t like Blake’s contemporary spin on this one (and I’m not sure Diana did either), but I LOVED it—especially his Justin Timberlake-esque vocals at the end. And what do you want to bet that next week the judges will tell Blake he needs to make the song his own?

Kiki Does An "Idol" Staple

Lakisha Jones, “God Bless the Child”: 18
I had to knock her on song choice, because I would’ve rather heard her do an upbeat song, and this one was already an “Idol” staple. Either way, I didn’t like it as much as Melinda.

Phil Makes Me Love Him...

Phil Stacey, “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”: 19
I’ve got to disagree with the judges on this one. I thought it was great. Of course, I’ve always liked this song. The falsetto he shot up to in the middle of the song was awesome and you have to give him extra points for degree of difficulty.

Simon sticks up for a bad performance...

Haley Scarnato, “Missing You”: 10
Who decided to make this song so low? She sounded better with Diana. I take back what I said about Brandon. That was the biggest choke I’ve ever heard on the “Idol” stage. And Haley really should’ve just kept her mouth shut about that whole “worst performance ever” stuff. Simon was clearly trying to rally support for her. I’m betting he’s hoping that by convincing America she was good, he can get rid of Sanjaya.

Sanjaya Doesn't Make It Up the Mountain

Sanjaya Malakar, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”: 6
Did he lose his voice shouting “Come on” at the beginning, because most of that song was a whisper. And did you notice there weren’t that many boos when Simon trashed him? I hope that’s a good sign. And personally, I didn’t like the hair.

"Love Child" Gina Glocksen

Gina Glocksen, “Love Child”: 14
As Simon said, it was okay; but I don’t think the arrangement did her any favors. It needed a little more pep.

And Sanjaya's going to do "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"? COME ON!...

The "Young Gladys Knight" and ???

Melinda Doolittle, “Home”: 20
Simon can laugh at Paula all he wants, but I had goosebumps too. She is just AWESOME!!!

Chris Sligh, “Endless Love”: 12
You guys know I love Chris, but what was that? Did he actually mix Coldplay with “Endless Love”? And I agree with Simon. I miss the glasses too.

Brandon Rogers: You must be choking...

So after 15 minutes of stalling, we’re finally ready to kick this thing off…

Brandon Rogers, “Can’t Hurry Love”: 12
The performance was actually decent, but that’s one of the biggest chokes I’ve ever seen on the “Idol” stage. He badly forgot the words and his voice cracked majorly. The score would have been lower, but I gave him a 5 in song choice, because it was the right Diana song for him, if he had nailed it.

And speaking of choking, my wireless network has decided it doesn’t want to stay on constantly, so I may be in and out tonight. Just stay with me…

Tonight's Show...

So tonight begins the performances of the top 12 and those (sometimes) dreaded theme nights.

This week's theme is, of course, songs from the Diana Ross and the Supremes songbook. We'll see Diana Ross mentoring the contestants and she'll perform a song from her new CD on Wednesday's show.

Normally I try to make some kind of guess about who will sing what, but with the guys, I honestly have no idea. However, I think after all the tough weeks the women have had thrown at them in seasons past that it's about time the guys have a tough call to make. Sanjaya's choice should be especially interesting. Why am I feeling something like "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?"

Be sure to come back tonight for the recap as I try something a little different. As of 7 p.m. yesterday, I am now fully wireless, so I am going to attempt to blog the show as it happens. You can let me know what you think or if you like it better the old way.

Remember that "Idol" is two hours tonight ("House" fans, I feel your pain.) begining at 8 on FOX...

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A New Scandal

And here I was looking forward to a quiet day today. Thanks to Derek for the heads-up…

A new “Idol” scandal has emerged—not about one of the top 12, but about a former contestant from season four that we never really got answers about.

I have always referred to Mario Vasquez as “He Who Shall Not Be Named” since I felt he used the show to further his career and then quit to avoid its stringent contract. I never felt that was quite fair.

But now a lawsuit claims that there were other reasons for Mario’s shocking and sudden departure…

Magdaleno Olmos, a former “Idol” production assistant, has sued Mario Vasquez and “American Idol” for sexual harassment and for firing him for reporting his claims.

The lawsuit alleges that Vasquez left the show after the accusations came to light. Olmos states that people with the show demanded that he not tell anyone about the incident, including his own family. He was fired in May 2005, at the end of the fourth season.

Since I consider this a family blog, I won’t go into details about what the lawsuit alleges Vasquez did. I’ll only say that one alleged incident involved Vasquez following Olmos into the restroom. If you want to read all the sordid details for yourself, you can visit http://www.accesshollywood.com/pdf/MarioVazquezLawsuitWatermark.pdf.

I’m usually a little skeptical about lawsuits that take so long to surface, but this one I’m not sure about. We’ll see what happens from here…

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Monday, March 12, 2007

More Top 12 Scoop...

I picked up some new scoop about the Top 12 that I thought I would pass along to you…

Who will be the most marketable of the “Idol” contestants this year? Simon Cowell predicts that Antonella will “make more money than anyone who wins this show.” Guess he thinks she’ll say yes to that “Playboy” offer…

“TV Guide” reports Lakisha auditioned for season three of “Idol,” but she didn’t even get to sing for the judges…

You heard Chris Sligh say that he had very short hair. Well, “TV Guide” is reporting that Chris and his wife decided to grow out his hair after he was passed over by “Idol” two times before. Now he’s got his own fan base called the “’Fro Patro”…

Sanjaya said he thinks it would be really fun to shave off his hair, but he doesn’t know if the stylists will let him…

Melinda is friends with Mandisa, who sent her flowers…

Stephanie revealed that all of the top 12 were warned by FOX not to talk about the Antonella situation. Guess that didn’t stop her…

Simon Cowell thinks Rosie O’Donnell should apologize for calling “Idol” racist…

Blake Lewis said there are no skeletons in his closet. Hope he doesn’t live to regret those words…

And as we get ready for this week’s guest, Diana Ross, here’s a little tidbit about one of last season’s guests. Executive Producer Ken Warwick told “TV Guide” that Shakira was “a pain in the butt.” You may recall that she was the only performer who did not also mentor the contestants…

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Simon wants a diva battle and other scoop from the Top 12 party...

Thursday night after the results show, it was time to party and time for the top 12 to face the media…

When Simon Cowell entered the party, he told everyone, “Sanjaya to win! What an extraordinarily great singer!” He was kidding, of course, because Simon is actually rooting for a “battle of the divas.” Simon told MTV that he believes in that scenario Melinda Doolittle would edge out Lakisha Jones and Stephanie Edwards. He said he like’s Melinda’s humility and “the fact that she’s happy to be on the show and she’s giving 100 percent.”

As for the night’s surprises, Simon said it wouldn’t be “Idol” without them. “The fact that there’s people there who shouldn’t be there makes it “American Idol.”

The top 12 had plenty to say as well…

Chris Sligh is hoping that the producers will let him sing one of his original songs, “No.” He said that Rudy was the hardest for him to say goodbye to since they met at their audition in Memphis. Chris, who is a worship leader in his church, said his Christian faith is very important to him, but he doesn’t see himself in the contemporary Christian world. He did the DC Talk song because he thought the “message was so universal.” Bandleader Ricky Minor has dubbed Chris “Idol’s Jack Black”…

Gina Glocksen is hoping that Pink will clear “Who Knew,” her favorite song. Not surprisingly (considering all the tears), she said Leslie, her roommate was the hardest for her to say goodbye to. They both lived in Chicago and they formed a bond during the break between rounds…

Melinda Doolittle said Stevie Wonder was her biggest musical inspiration (Uh-oh). She said it’s been hard to say goodbye to everyone since she’s older. “I’m like the mama and these are my babies going home, and I can’t stand it!”

Phil Stacey auditioned because he missed a friend’s wedding. The only way the friend would forgive him was if he auditioned for “Idol.” Phil said that with the Navy Rock Band, he does My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, but he’s avoided that so far because he didn’t want any comparisons to Chris Daughtry…

Chris Richardson said he won’t do any Justin Timberlake songs because he wants to get away from that comparison. He would really like to do a Maroon 5 song. The most difficult person for him to say goodbye to was A.J. since he was his roommate and best friend on the show…

Lakisha Jones wants to sing “I Will Always Love You” since Whitney Houston is one of her musical inspirations (Yolanda Adams is the other)…

Brandon Rogers said his musical inspiration is Allison Krauss because he loves bluegrass (?!). Brandon said it was hardest for him to say goodbye to Jared because they had become pretty close and he didn’t expect him to go yet. Brandon was also excited about the congratulatory e-mail he got from his former employer, Anastacia…

Does that mean she doesn’t hate “Idol” and everything it stands for anymore?...

Jordin Sparks said she loves country music like Keith Urban and Martina McBride. The hardest for her to say goodbye to were Sundance and Jared. She said that if the music thing doesn’t work out, she wants to be a pediatrician…

Blake Lewis was psyched that 311 singer Nick Hexum approved of his performance of “All Mixed Up.” Hexum was watching because Brandon is a friend who has collaborated with his brother. Now the 311 message boards are encouraging fans to vote for Blake. Meanwhile, Blake plans to push the envelope even further with his song choices…

Stephanie Edwards said that she was very close to her roommate, Antonella, and that they were helping each other pick songs…

Sanjaya Malakar had the hardest time saying goodbye to Amy Krebs since they were “representing Seattle.” He said he needs to pick songs he can put “a lot of energy and personality into”…

DUH!...

Haley Scarnato said it’s tough to be memorable because you only get so much camera time onstage…

That’s why you have to be able to sing, dear…

I’ll have more on the top 12 before Tuesday’s show…

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sabrina, Jared, Sundance and Antonella Speak

Poor Jared, Sabrina and Sundance. Not only were they voted of “Idol,” but they were unfortunate enough to be voted off the same week as Antonella.

As I told you last week, the booted contestants do a conference call with the media on Friday. But it wasn’t until today that I finally found comments from anyone other than Antonella—and only on one website.

So, please allow me to make it two…

Sabrina Sloan (whose look of shock was certainly a classic) said she’s headed for a spa to just process everything and then figure out what’s next. All of the judges offered her words of encouragement and told her that unfortunately at this point it’s less about singing than it is about popularity. Haley, who did make it through, was Sabrina’s roommate (You know they plan this stuff out!)…


Jared Cotter is still trying to process his shock at being eliminated, but he says he saw it on the card when Ryan called him to the stage. He also said he doesn’t understand what Paula meant by the fact that he needed more “coloring,” saying that he doesn’t think Paula always understands what Paula means. I understood what she meant, Jared. You’re boring…


For Sundance Head, the day was a double whammy. After the show, he went to see the “Idol” psychiatrist (Who knew?) and found out that his second cousin had died in a house fire. Sundance also said that he had the most number of votes of all the guys in the two weeks before (I’ll take his word for that.), so he thinks that maybe America thought he was safe and didn’t vote for him. Next week, he planned to do “Reflections,” which I think might have been cool…

And finally, Antonella, who has dominated the headlines for the past two weeks, said she wants to be remembered as a singer and not for the photos (Fat chance of that, honey.). The reporters, however, weren’t playing along and the “Idol” PR Rep jumped in to stop the questions when Antonella was pressed about which pictures were actually of her. The rep later said that Antonella was about to break down. As for future plans, she’s going to stay in Los Angeles for a few weeks to field offers. And as for “Playboy,” she said no, but then told “EW” that she wanted to look at all offers—including men’s magazines.

I guess that means we haven’t seen the last of Antonella. Great…

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Did Taylor tick off the wrong people?

If you’re a long-time reader of my blogs, you know that for quite some time I’ve been questioning the lack of support that Taylor Hicks has been getting from his label, J Records.

The month-long delay for the first single, choosing to release Daughtry’s CD first, and the lack of promotion (Why didn’t he appear on “Idol”?) all seemed to indicate that Taylor didn’t have the backing that previous Idols had.

Now, we may no why…

This week’s “Entertainment Weekly” reports Taylor may have made some enemies while recording his album. “EW” quotes an “insider” who says, “He would harp on this notion that he’d been doing music for 10 years, but if he were any good, he would’ve had a deal nine and a half years ago!” The insider says that Taylor “p---ed people off.”

“EW” adds that his “resistance to the label’s ideas may have hurt his support internally.” Taylor’s manager says “the charges are blown out of proportion” and that Taylor is just a guy who’s still learning to deal with all the attention.

Let me say again that I think Taylor’s CD is good and I appreciate that it’s different from any other Idol CD. However, I think he should have fought his battles on his second CD (a la Kelly Clarkson). Now, he’s in danger of becoming nothing more than the answer to a trivia question: Who is the only “American Idol” winner to not have their debut CD go platinum?...

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

Did We Get the Right 12?

I knew there was going to be a surprise tonight, I just predicted the wrong one. I knew either Antonella or Sanjaya would get through, but I thought it would be Antonella.

But when I saw Sanjaya and Sundance standing alone, I could just feel what was going to happen next…

Tonight, we said goodbye to Jared Cotter, Antonella Barba, Sabrina Sloan, and yes, Sundance Head.

So what happened? Jared just wasn’t original enough, although I preferred him to Brandon Rogers. With Sabrina, I think it was a personality thing. She came off a little too cocky and a little too robotic. But Sundance? I really can’t say. Maybe they didn’t like him attempting Pearl Jam, or maybe they were already over him after his lousy beginning. Or maybe Sanjaya is just that popular.

I’m betting Votefortheworst.com is taking all of the credit as we speak.

As for the judges they had no explanation whatsoever. Simon said maybe the audience had the volume turned down. Paula once again gave her singing competition speech while trying not to badmouth Sanjaya. Interestingly, not one of the other contestants gave Sanjaya a hug of congratulations.

That makes your top 12 Lakisha Jones, Blake Lewis, Chris Sligh, Jordin Sparks, Phil Stacey, Melinda Doolittle, Brandon Rogers, Gina Glocksen, Chris Richardson, Stephanie Edwards, Haley Scarnato, and Sanjaya Malakar.

The show also featured a performance by Carrie Underwood, who didn’t really act like she wanted to be there and the “big announcement” Ryan had been hyping all week turned out to be a charity initiative to help impoverished people in Africa and the United States (I’ll have more on that in the coming days.).

I’ll have much more on the top 12 this weekend, but feel free to give me your initial thoughts now. Were you as surprised as the judges?

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What is the Big Announcement?

So just what is this big event that Ryan keeps teasing us with?

“Access Hollywood” speculated that the show was going to bring back the 12 eliminated contestants for a special wild card competition, making a top 13 instead of 12.

But if this is the “most groundbreaking event in ‘Idol’ history,” I’m going to be really mad…

I think that the big announcement is concerning the songwriting competition. “Idol” Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe has made no secret that he would like to do a show with former contestants singing the songwriting finalists but he was waiting for FOX to approve it. My thinking is that they finally have, and that will be the announcement tonight.

But we shall see…

Chart News: Daughtry Returns to #1, Kellie Takes a Jump and Elliott Makes a Chart Appearance

Daughtry's self-titled debut album returned to the #1 spot this week on the Billboard 200 selling another 90,000 copies. "Home" debuted at #83 on the Hot 100 singles chart, but look for it to make a big leap very soon...

Also making its debut on the Hot 100 was Elliott Yamin's first single, "Movin' On," at #61. I'll have more on Elliott's album later this week...

And after making an appearance on last week's results show, sales for Kellie Pickler's CD rose 37%. I guess other people weren't as bored with her performance as I was...

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Top 8 Girls Make It Interesting...

Thankfully for us and the show, the girls once again saved us from the blahs. And for the very first time I was compelled to vote.

Maybe next year they’ll rethink this whole six guys and six girls thing…

I really wish Ryan would have rethought that turtleneck…

Here’s the rundown…

Jordin Sparks, “Heartbreaker”: 17
You have to admire Jordin for attempting to rock out, but she missed most of the big notes. And that song really focused on the background singers a little too much to showcase her voice.

Sabrina Sloan, “Don’t Let Go (Love)”: 17
I LOVE this song and I thought it was an excellent choice. However, she sounded like she was shouting through some of it and she has very little stage presence.

Antonella Barba, “Put Your Records On”: 11
This was Antonella’s best performance, but that really doesn’t mean much. Her performance did provide some of the night’s most awkward moments as Simon took the opportunity to compliment her on how she’s handled the controversy, but blasted her singing.

Haley Scarnato, “If My Heart Had Wings”: 11
You know it was bad when I almost rated her below Antonella. This was just so cheesy I wanted to run from the room.

Stephanie Edwards, “Sweet Thing”: 16
The performance was good and she’s got a great voice, but this whole arrangement was weird.

Lakisha Jones, “I Have Nothing”: 16
I know it was a good performance, but why didn’t she do the strongest part of the song?

Gina Glocksen, “You Only Call Me When You’re Sober”: 14
This was a good performance and the band was awesome but it was a horrible song choice. Remember what I said about current songs. Simon must agree with me because he lobbied hard for her to stay.

Melinda Doolittle, “I’m a Woman”: 20
My only problem with this performance was that it was too short.

So who should go home? It’s a no-brainer: Antonella and Haley. As for who will go home? I think Haley is definitely gone—especially after her whole “clock in, clock out” comment that made her sound cocky and disinterested. But I really think Gina is in more trouble than Antonella.

And in case you’re wondering, my first votes of the season went to Melinda because I was concerned people might think she’s safe…

We’ll find out the top 12 PLUS we’ll hear the “big announcement” tomorrow at 8 p.m. on FOX…

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Top 8 Guys: Back to Blah

So for their last performances before the top 12 are announced the guys decided to go back to blah, leaving the judges to say only four of them deserve to be in the top 12 (They didn’t say which four.).

And let me take a minute to give some props to Paula Abdul who has really stepped up her game as a judge over these past few weeks. I think even Simon has been taken aback…

So, here’s a breakdown of the blah…

Blake Lewis, “All Mixed Up”: 18
His pitch wasn’t perfect but the choice was original.

Sanjaya Malakar, “Waiting for the World to Change”: 8
Remember what I said about how contestants should never do songs currently on the charts? Maybe that will finally be the end of Sanjaya. I was probably a little harsh, but I am SO done with him!

Sundance Head, “Jeremy”: 12
It was a good song choice, but hardly any of it was on key.

Chris Richardson, “Tonight I Wanna Cry”: 12
After wowing the judges with his upbeat performance Chris does a country ballad? And finally someone (Simon) said something about his nasal voice.

Jared Cotter, “If You Really Love Me”: 14
This was probably the best of Jared’s performances but I am so done with Stevie Wonder songs.

Brandon Rogers, “I Just Want to Celebrate”: 14
The fact that Simon called him Travis should tell you how unmemorable he is.

Phil Stacey, “I Need You”: 15
I actually disagree with the judges here, because I thought it was a gutsy song choice and I really liked the arrangement. He just didn’t nail it and the screaming between phrases didn’t help matters.

Chris Sligh, “We All Wanna Be Loved”: 16
This was actually a good performance, it just seemed blah to me. Maybe it was the effect of the entire night.

So who should go home? Do I even need to say it? Please America, do the right thing and send Sanjaya home. This is getting painful!

As for the other eliminated contestant, I think it’s a toss-up between Brandon, Jared and Phil. I think the four the judges were referring to were Blake, Sundance, Chris and Chris.

So, will the girls give us the same or will they bring it once again? We’ll find out tomorrow night at 8 on FOX…

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Simon Mouths Off

“American Idol” kicked off the Museum of TV and Radio’s William S. Paley Festival last week. The Festival features airings of popular shows, followed by panel discussions with cast and crew.

The “Idol” panel consisted of Executive Producer Ken Warwick, FOX reality guru Mike Darnell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest, but as usual it was Simon Cowell getting all of the attention as he unloaded about Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Hicks and contestants crying…

Thanks to Derek for the heads-up on this one…

Simon took the opportunity to confirm what we already knew—that he doesn’t like Taylor. “They [Paula and Randy] loved him. I couldn’t stand him. I didn’t get it.” Simon also admitted that just because someone wins the show doesn’t mean they will sell a lot of records. “At the end of the day you have to find a bona fide recording artist.”

The panel took place just after Thursday’s results show when most of the contestants wound up in tears. Simon seemed to think they were crocodile tears. “My theory is why would you cry if one of your competitors is kicked off? Be delighted. They know the cameras are on. Trust me.”

Simon also took exception with Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson for saying that “Idol” was a “stepping stone” for her. Simon said, “It was her big opportunity to become noticed and she got noticed and she got ‘Dreamgirls.’” Without naming names, Simon said that other past contestants “deliberately turn against the show that made them successful. The reason [they] come on the show is because all the doors had been slammed in their face.”

It’s a rare occasion when I disagree with Simon, but I do when it comes to Jennifer. Here’s what she had to say backstage at the Academy Awards: “Thank God there is such a thing as ‘Idol.’ There’s many other talents that came before that didn’t have a platform to sing, but they allowed us that platform and for that we can say thank you.”

Sorry, Simon. That doesn’t sound like an “Idol” diss to me…

However, it’s that brutal honesty that we’ve come to love about the show, as Warwick admitted during the panel. “You never had a show where someone would say, ‘You suck.’ That makes all the difference.”

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Monday, March 5, 2007

Is "Idol" Not a Singing Competition After All?

Each week after the results show, FOX has a conference call with the media featuring the eliminated contestant(s). It’s the first opportunity they have to comment on what’s been happening to them.

Occasionally, some interesting thoughts come out…

This week, Alaina Alexander said she was used to singing her own material. When someone asked her if she would have been allowed to sing original songs, she said that Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer, told her she could sing “whatever she wanted.” Alaina said she was considering doing original material next week if she had survived…

Leslie Hunt had the boldest words to say about Antonella Barba, saying “There’s a certain hype that comes with her and that’s not really something I understand.” As for the pictures that have made Antonella a household name, Leslie said, “Get over it”…

But the most interesting words this week come from the always quotable Nigel Lythgoe who said--in response to questions about less talented singers staying around--that he never wanted “Idol” to be a singing competition. “This is called ‘American Idol.’ And we would like the next one to be an Idol. They need to be a great singer, but they also need a great personality if they’re going to succeed. This isn’t only just about having a great voice, it really isn’t.”
Hmmm…

There’s also some interesting quotes running around out there from Simon Cowell, and I’ll address those tomorrow…

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More Kudos for Carrie...and Kellie

Another awards show, more kudos for Carrie Underwood…

Carrie received five nominations from the Academy of Country Music Awards today. They were Top Female Vocalist, Album of the Year (“Some Hearts”), Single Record of the Year (“Before He Cheats”), Song of the Year (“Before He Cheats”) and Video of the Year (“Before He Cheats”). Carrie won Single Record of the Year last year for “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

But Carrie wasn’t the only Idol to get attention from the ACM. Kellie Pickler received a nomination for Top New Female Vocalist, an award that Carrie won last year.

The Academy of Country Music Awards will air May 15th at 8 p.m. on CBS…

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Did America Squelch a Romance?

And here I thought that Ryan Seacrest would be the most devastated by Alaina Alexander's departure...

TVGuide.com is reporting that Alaina, who you may recall butchered the Dixie Chicks last week, and Chris Richardson, who wowed the judges with "Geek in the Pink" were an item...

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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Who Is Brian Dunkleman?

Some of you are seeing the first season of “Idol” for the very first time thanks to “American Idol Rewind.”

Then no doubt you’re wondering, just who is Brian Dunkleman?

I hope you’re also gaining a newfound respect for Ryan Seacrest, because if you think Dunkleman’s been condescending so far, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

Dunkleman was a stand-up comic/actor that FOX enlisted to co-host its new reality show with Seacrest, a popular LA DJ. As Simon Cowell tells us in his book, “I Don’t Mean to Be Rude, But…,” the two hosts were a copy of the British “Pop Idol” formula. But unlike those hosts, Dunkleman and Seacrest were “polar opposites.” Ryan was “enthusiastic,” while Brian was a cynic who “didn’t seem as if he wanted to be doing the show.”

As you’ve no doubt noticed if you’ve been watching “Rewind” (or you saw it the first time), Ryan and Brian had zero chemistry as Ryan was forced to smile at Dunkleman’s snide remarks. Brian’s outward disdain for the show and his awkwardness with the product promotions continued to get worse. By the end of the season, he was introducing himself with “I am Dunkleman” (which was ruthlessly mocked by Jimmy Fallon and many others).

In a recent “New York Post” interview, Ryan said he can’t watch “Rewind” because he’s embarrassed by those early shows. He says he’s embarrassed by his clothes and hair (and if you saw last week, you know he has reason to be) and how they had no idea what they were doing. But I’ve got to believe that watching Dunkleman make a fool of him couldn’t make it any easier…

Thankfully, in October 2002, it was announced that Dunkleman would not return for the second season. His agent had been talking to FOX about a new deal, but he backed out so he could “pursue other opportunities in the world of TV and feature film.” I have to believe that the people at FOX were ecstatic and I can’t believe they even bothered.

Simon, as usual, put it a little more strongly in his book, calling Dunkleman “an idiot.” Simon says the way he acted during that first season “will go down in history as one of the great blown opportunities in entertainment history.” Simon even tried to talk to Dunkleman, telling him he needed to have more fun and he needed to spend more time with Ryan since it looked like he hated him. But Simon says Brian was more concerned about looking like a sell out than he was with getting along with anyone.

Dunkleman resurfaced last year when he became the host of an Internet fantasy game on idolgohome.com (which has since been shut down for legal reasons). He admitted in an interview with the Associated Press that he was more interested in being a performer than introducing performers and that it may have not been the right choice. He says that he agonized over the decision, but he was having “a very difficult time with how cruel the show was.”

Yeah, right…

Apparently, he’s made his peace with the show now as he is providing new voiceovers for “Rewind.”

It may have been the worst decision Brian Dunkleman has ever made for his career, but it was quite possibly the best decision ever made for “Idol.” I’m not sure it would have been as successful with him still there…

“American Idol Rewind” airs nationally Sundays at 8 p.m. on WGN and in the Huntington area on WVAH FOX 11 Saturdays at 7 p.m. Check your local listings for the day and time in your area…

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

America Gets It Wrong...

I hate to criticize America, but you got it wrong this week…

I know that because Antonella and Sanjaya survived.

It’s official. We have met the new Jasmine Trias and Kevin Covais…

If you missed it, we said goodbye to Nick, Alaina, A.J. and Leslie. I picked Alaina to go home and I wasn’t a big fan of A.J. or Leslie, but Nick? You know I thought he brought it with his version of “Fever.”

The night’s events completely stunned Sanjaya, devastated Sundance, Gina and Jordin and forced Paula to bring out the “It’s a singing competition” speech a little earlier than usual.

But here’s an important reminder for Jordin fans: Just because she was one of the last two girls standing does NOT mean she was in the bottom two. That’s just how they decided to dramatize it tonight. We don’t learn the actual bottom two until we get to the top 12.

There were also a few moments that will once again have people criticizing making the eliminated contestants sing. Alaina was so overcome with emotion that she asked the other girls to join her, and then just let the background singers take care of it. Instead of her atrocious scatting, Leslie sang, “Why did I decide to scat? I don’t even really care for jazz.” And for the first time, we heard the same song from two eliminated contestants—the ironically named “Feelin’ Good.”

I’m just waiting for the night when a contestant curses…

One person that should be glad she’s no longer competing is Kellie Pickler, who sang a completely blah “I Wonder,” her new single. I really didn’t like her short hair and she apparently lost the top of her dress. I don’t think Ryan looked her in the eye once…

Next week, we finally get down to the Top 12 and then things get interesting, I hope…

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Final CMT Nominations Set


The final nominations for the CMT Awards have been set, and no surprise, Carrie Underwood leads the pack.

"Before He Cheats" is nominated for Female Video of the Year, Director of the Year (Roman White) and Video of the Year. Eight nominees have been announced for the Video of the Year Award, with the final four being announced at the beginning of the awards show.

Carrie is also scheduled to perform.

Kellie Pickler received a nomination for Breakthrough Video of the Year for "Red High Heels."

These awards are decided by the fans, and you can vote for your favorites at http://www.cmt.com/shows/events/cmt_music_awards/2007/vote/.

The CMT Awards air April 16th at 8 p.m. on--where else?--CMT...

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