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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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Danny Gokey: “I’m very happy with my life right now”

If you followed my blog during the season, you know my feelings on Danny Gokey. He was my favorite from the very beginning, and then I just completely turned on him. I didn’t like his song choices, I thought he was getting too cocky, I hated how Simon was shoving him down our throats.

But when he sat across from me and looked me in the eyes, it was hard not to like him. He says, “You know what I mean?” a lot and you actually do know what he means because he’s so good at drawing you into his world.

The publicist told me I only had time for two questions with him, so I tried to get right to the heart of it. And he tried to do the same…

Angela: Since I only have two questions, let’s get right to it. Lots of rumors about the record deal. What can you say?

Danny: I can’t say nothin’.That’s what I gotta say. Put it like this. There’s good stuff happening. There’s definitely good stuff happening.

A: So your fans can be relieved that they will hear more from you?

D: Yes, they will hear more. They can be relieved.

A: I follow you on Twitter, so I know you are so busy. You’ve got a lot going on.

D: A lot going on. Absolutely. The foundation, the record, eyewear, a lot of different things. It’s good things to have, it’s dreams. How do I—It’s like, I’m very happy with my life right now. You know what I mean? A lot of people know my story and it’s not that I want to harp on it, but I’m so proud of myself for what I’ve come through and I want to encourage people to come through the same thing. Know what I mean? Not to be kind of caught up in their situations, but to just kind of, you know, dream. I’m kind of trying to round up what I feel in this little brief moment here, but like—Are you coming to the show tonight?

A: Oh yes.

D: So, like, I want to entertain people. And not only do I want to entertain, I want my foundation to inspire. And that’s what I see in the future. You know what I mean? And so I’m excited for the opportunity. It’s very interesting. I’m a very lucky man.

A: And my last question. What’s it feel like for you when you take the stage, to hear the people scream your name?

D: It definitely, it feels good, because people are, they like me. You know, it’s a good feeling. They like all of us, but it’s just nice to know that you feel affirmed when you’re up there. If they were booing, I wouldn’t want to be up there. To have them kind of welcome you by clapping, they kind of welcome you on up, show us what you’ve got. I like it. I do like it and I’m growing into it trying to become a better performer.

A: I’m going to sneak in another question while she’s not paying attention. What’s one thing that you want people to know about Danny?

D: That I’m real. I’m just a real person. I’m not like—I don’t know how to say it—I’m just a real person. And I go through things like everyone else goes through things and I’m a compassionate person and I hope people see that the charitable side of me is not to get a pat on the back, but it’s how I was raised. It’s not about me it’s about people getting together to do something collectively better as a whole. You know what I mean? I want my music to go further than me, but I want to connect with people. That’s how I feel. I was raised in the church, so I got a lot of my stuff from the church.

A: That’s fantastic. I know you’ve got to run. It was a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to the show tonight.

D: Thank you. Thanks for coming out.

Even though I had just mere minutes with him, Danny managed to come off way more sincere than he ever did on the show. Combine that with his great stage presence and that gut-wrenching performance of “What Hurts the Most” and I have to say I am more conflicted about him than ever…

Especially since I read that he told Slezak that his album will be country, but a new kind of country.

Hmmm…

Scott MacIntyre: "The future is very exciting"

When the publicist told us the Idols that would be coming to press hour, Scott wasn’t one of them, but she told us that we would probably see Scott because he liked to come. And after just a few seconds with Scott, you could see why.

Scott has a lot to say and he’s very good at saying it. He has a great ability to draw you in and you gain such a respect for him and really appreciate everything he’s been through. So, it was a real treat.

Although I have to admit that it got off to a slightly awkward beginning, because I was waiting for him to get seated in the chair before I spoke, and he was waiting for me to speak so he could figure out which side of the table I was sitting on. I think it was the first time I’ve ever been accused of being too silent…

Angela: Since we’ve only got a few minutes, I like to start with the future first. So tell me what the future holds once the tour is over.

Scott: The future is very exciting. As soon as I left the show I began work on my next album. It’s about midway through production right now and we’re hoping to get it out before Christmas. You can actually hear samples on my MySpace, myspace.com/scottmacintyre. I’m really excited about it. It’s all original, kind of along the lines of John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw, Bruce Hornsby, Vanessa Carlton—that type of singer/songwriter meets pop. I’ve also been approached by several major music publishing companies as far as representing me in writing for other artists. Because songwriting has been a big part of my past. I know I’ve talked about it a lot. I’ve been writing since I was five years old. But it wasn’t pop music back then. It was classical. I came from a very classical pianistic background. I didn’t sing until much later in life and had very little training vocally compared to the extensive training I have in classical piano performance. But right when I was 15 years old, that’s when I first started paying attention to the radio and there were some bands like Train and Fuel and Vertical Horizon. You know, that was the first alternative pop/rock I listened to. I realized that there was a really powerful combination between music and words. You can really say so much in a song that you might not be able to say in a normal conversation. That’s when that idea really captivated me. So, I’m planning on writing for myself and other people going forward. I’ve also been approached to write a book by a renowned book publisher and that’s something I’ve been wanting to do actually for a number of years and never really found the right time for it. I’m sure there will be more books to write in the future because I’m still very young. But I’ve been through a lot for my age. And I’ve received so many e-mails, thousands and thousands—obviously after being on the show—from around the world from people who have told me the most amazing stories about how the little bit of my story that they witnessed on ‘American Idol,’ the show, has meant so much to them in their own life. And I think if people were able to know the full story and finally know how meaningful the tour, this whole experience is to me because of all the things I’ve been through, it’d be a really worthwhile project. So I’ll be working on that after the tour.

A: You’re going to be very busy.

S: Yeah, that’s going to need some time to be carved out. It’s not really something I can put my head around on the road. But I’ve done a lot of writing in the past. It’s something I love to do. So that will be moving forward.

A: So what’s the tour been like for you? Because obviously there are different arrangements for you so what’s it been like for you?

S: It’s been amazing. It’s so much more enjoyable for me than the television show because it’s really about connecting with the person in the front row just as much as it is connecting with the person in the highest tier. You’re really interacting with large groups of people in the audience as a whole and I’m honored that so many people have come out to support us. It’s not so much about finite moves and choreography anymore and looking at this camera on that line of the chorus and looking at that camera on the next verse and following them around. That was all accurate guesswork on my part during the television show.

A: And you’re very good at it too, by the way.

S: Thank you. It’s not about the cameras so much. They’re there if people want to use them. I mean they’re definitely capturing the show, but it’s really much more about the audience that’s here. It’s about the ten thousand, fifteen thousand people that are under the same roof with us instead of 500 in the studio and millions through the cameras. I can feel them react. I can basically experience the music with everyone who’s come to hear.

A: What’s that feeling like for you, when you take the stage and you hear the screaming?

S: It’s amazing. It’s not even that the attention is focused on me, it’s really I think that there’s something magical, whether it’s 200 people or it’s 15,000 people in the audience and I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. I’ve done a lot of things in the middle and it’s really a magical moment when you’re making music and people react to that and you react to their reaction. There’s a chemistry there from the stage that is unparalleled by anything else I’ve experienced.

A: Do you have a favorite moment from the tour so far?

S: I don’t know. It’s a toss-up between late night conversations with the other Idols and you really get to know each other well or meeting the fans outside. I mean, we have all these private meet-and-greets all day, we talk to you guys, we do the show, we have more meet-and-greets, but then around twelve o’clock, we finally get to go out to the buses and there are usually around a thousand people out by the barricades as I’m sure you’ve seen or heard, it’s really my favorite time of the night because you go out on a high note, you really feel the support but most importantly you get the true reaction from the fans that really want to meet you. And that has really made the tour that much more exciting because that’s not something that happens on most tours. We have 10 people on this tour, I’ll definitely be back, a lot of us will keep touring. This experience with myself and these other nine people, the crew and everyone we’re working with will never happen the same way again. It’s really a once in a lifetime experience and it’s amazing that people are so excited to meet us and it’s very humbling.

A: Then it is true that you guys all get along?

S: It is. It actually is.

A: There’s no real dirt to tell?

S: There’s not. I don’t know what to say. There really isn’t. Wish there was.

A: I hear that the pranks are getting a little more severe.

S: Are they?

A: I hear that the band is—

S: Oh, right. They know what I would do if they mess with me.

A: So they don’t mess with you?

S: What are they gonna do? [laughs] I don’t wear a fedora during my set. There’s not much they can do.

A: So you knew what I was talking about.

S: I know what you’re talking about.

A: Matt was telling me that earlier.

S: You know one of these days during the piano duel, I’m just gonna—Have you seen that yet?

A: No, this will be my first time seeing you guys tonight.

S: Okay, well we keep it pretty clean and we kind of go back and forth and try to outsolo each other and one of these days I’m just going to take my fedora and chuck it across the piano and start a little [laughs]…

A: Has this experience been more than you could have hoped?

S: It has actually because I’ve dreamed about going on tour since I was a little kid. It’s everything I imagined it would be. It’s even more. There’s really no doubt inside I can tell you about. I wish I had a little more sleep, but the whole experience is completely worth any hardships or struggles of being on the road. It’s really a privilege to be here. I know that some people get sick of being on the road. If it starts to feel mundane, and it really never does, I just keep pinching myself and reminding myself that this is so amazing. Because it feels very natural to me. I’ve dreamed about being here, I’ve worked for this goal for a number of years. So it feels almost too comfortable to me. And after the first show in Portland, I really decided that I’m gonna live in the moment, every single moment of each show because when it’s over, like I said, we’ll all be doing our own thing. This is never going to happen again with these nine people and the bonds that we have and being able to do this every night on the road. So it’s really something to be treasured.

A: So you’re going to be kind of sad when the tour ends.

S: Oh, absolutely. We’ll have to look at a dueling piano tour.

A: Because it sounds to me that you’re looking forward to going on tour on your own.

S: I am. I really am. I got a huge itch a couple of weeks ago, not for the tour to end, but to really—because while I’m on tour, I can’t just lock myself in a studio day after day and really bring songs to life. As a writer or a producer, I just miss that. I miss that whole creative side of the industry. I’ve been itching to sing my own music. It’s something definitely to look forward to, so I don’t think I’m going to be depressed or anything like that when this ends at all. I’m just going to look forward to the next big thing. I’m thankful for all my fans out there. I mean, this is only the beginning, so I’d love to stay in touch with you guys and please stay in touch with me, because there’s a long road ahead. And I’m excited.

A: I think that sounds like a great way to end it.

Matt: “It’s cool to be looked upon as an artist now”

The first thing you notice when Matt Giraud comes up to you is the hat, so I had to compliment it since it has become such a part of his style.

But underneath the hat is a super sweet guy who is just so grateful for everything he’s been given. I could’ve talked to him all day…

Angela: I like the hat. Not that my opinion matters.

Matt: It does.

A: Okay, then I like the hat. So, since we only have a few minutes, I like to get right to the heart of it. Tell me about—we’ll talk about the tour in a minute—tell me about the future first. Have you already got ideas?

M: I’m definitely thinking of the future right now. I’m the new host of a show called “Make the Cut” on a website called YOBI.tv. I’m booking gigs, a couple of headlining shows, stuff like that in Michigan and around the country, which is fun, because it’s like new opportunities that you’ve never had before. But before all of that, I really want to get a deal worked out, find a good record company that I can work with and I want to get music out there for the fans I’ve got. I can’t wait. I mean, it’s weird to even say I’ve got fans across the country, you know what I mean? I was a dueling piano player and a human jukebox. It’s cool to be looked upon as an artist now and I want to run with it.

A: So, what’s the feeling for you when you take the stage and people are yelling your name?

It’s wild. I’ve always been a performer and I’ve always enjoyed that. I go out there every night and try to connect. The best thing you can do is try to connect with the audience. Try to pull them in. You know what I mean? As a dueling piano player, there were many nights that I thought no one was paying attention and I was like, I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s like now I can really connect with people and really touch people with music and that means a lot to me.

A: So what’s the kind of music you want to get out there?

I’d like to get into some rock/soul stuff. I love Gavin DeGraw. I love Black Crowes. I’m a soulful guy, but I have a rock side to me. So if I can mix that and come up with a new sound, then I’ll be happy.

A: So everybody keeps telling me you get along. You’re going to give me the real dirt, right?

M: [obviously joking] I can’t stand these guys. I can’t stand any of them.

A: [jokingly] You’ll be so happy when the tour is over.

M: Scott, Kris, all these stupid roommates. Scott, we do dueling pianos every night and I’m so much better than he is. [laughs] These cats are crazy. We’re like brothers and sisters. We make fun of each other a lot. We’re all really close still. It’s at the point now where we can just say whatever to each other. It doesn’t matter. It’s the part of the tour where practical jokes are starting to happen. They velcroed my fedora to the piano the other night. Usually in ‘Georgia [On My Mind],’ I’m like, ‘[sings] Georgia. Here’s a little somethin’ for the fans,’ and I’m like [motions like he’s struggling to remove the hat], I mean stuff is just happening and it’s getting out of control.

A: Who’s the worst prankster?

M: I thought I was the bad prankster, but I guess the band is. Our band is unbelievable. They have sprayed Megan with glitter and all kinds of crazy stuff. They soaked her with water and I was like, ‘oh my god.” Toilet paper on Allison the other night while she was on stage.

A: So we could really be in for some surprises tonight?

M: I hope not. I will straight silly string the drummer on stage.

A: Now that would be fun. I would enjoy seeing that.

M: I’m gonna get mine, get him. I’m gonna get him back.

A: So what has been your favorite moment from the tour so far?

M: I honestly think one of my favorite moments was watching Kris received in his hometown, in his home state. It was such a cool moment because Kris was my roommate in Hollywood Week. So all the way from the top 150 to the Top 13 we were roommates, going through that together. So to watch him go out there and just stand there and the crowd scream at the top of their lungs like three, four minutes straight, and all of us were just standing there like, [makes crying noise], this is so emotional. That was a cool moment. I’ll never forget that. I don’t know if I ever told him that, but I’ll never forget that.

A: So you’re the one who’s really using all the avenues to hit fans. Like, I follow you on Twitter and you’re always on there almost like a behind-the-scenes thing and that’s something that fans have never gotten before. I know that must give you new venues as an artist to get yourself out there.

M: It’s a new medium. It’s so cool that now you can see us goofing off backstage, you don’t have to go to the ‘American Idol’ website to find that stuff. You can just straight off watch us in the backroom goofing off and singing and definitely people really like that. They beg us for those bubble tweets, like, [makes begging expression] please. And a video. It’s a cool way to stay connected to fans. I actually like it. I think we’re all addicted to Twitter.

A: I love it when you tweet each other when you’re sitting right next to each other. That’s my favorite.

M: We do that a lot too. I’m like, ‘Hey dude, could you move your book off my couch?’

A: Then I have to go look up everybody else to see the rest of the conversation.

M: See, that’s the point.

A: There must be a part of you who is sad to see the tour come to a close, but I’m guessing there’s a part of you that’s ready to go home.

M: I’m a sentimentalist. I’m definitely emotional. I think towards the end, it’s weird, I mean we’ve been together for so long and we’ll finally go our separate ways. Some will fly higher than others and some won’t, but we all want to see each other do great. We’re all really proud of each other, but yeah. Part of me wants to go home and grab some fast food and drive a fast car again. But I can’t wait to see what happens in the future. I can’t wait to play music again and just keep doing what I do.

A: Is this more than you ever hoped for?

M: Sure. I’m always looking for more. I’m always looking at ways to try and hold on to it. You know what I mean? I never cared about the fame as much. I mean, the fact that I do have fans out there it means the world to me, no matter how many there are. I want to make music that’s good. I want to make quality stuff. Fame takes second place to that.

A: So is there something that you have gotten out there or not that you want everyone to know about Matt? What would that be?

M: Follow on me on Twitter. And thank you so much to every fan who believed in me before. Thank you to every fan who believes in me now after seeing me live and all that stuff. I appreciate you guys, but thank you even more to fans who have followed me since the show, who always saw something in me. That means the world to me and I won’t forget anybody. So thanks.

A: Perfect way to end it. Thanks so much. It was great to meet you and I look forward to hearing you tonight.

M: Okay, I’ll be looking for you.

At this point, I explained to Matt that I was sitting way in the back, but that didn’t stop him. He insisted that he would look for me. But with as many fans as he had Tuesday night, he didn’t need to worry about me. And I feel quite certain he gained a few new fans as well.

He certainly won me over…

Kris Allen: "I'm nuts"

The first thing I have to tell you about Kris Allen is that he is so cute in person, I wanted to cry. The minute he walked into the room, I thought I was going to faint. And when he sat down next to me, well, I’m not sure how I even put words together.

Although I should probably note that I eliminated all of the gigging from the interview transcript…

From the moment Kris sat down, he looked like he could fall over asleep at any minute, but he graciously answered all of my questions—including an answer that threw me for such a loop I ended up taking us on a tangent that led to the reigning American Idol telling me I’m not normal.

It was a completely surreal—and awesome—moment. And a tape I will keep forever…

Angela: Does this get old everyday? You can tell me.

Kris: I don’t know. I mean, it’s different everywhere, so it’s fun. I think we’re having a lot of fun.

A: We only have a few minutes so I’ve got to get right to it. Tell me about the album.

K: Um, it is coming out hopefully in the middle of November. That’s what we’re pushing for. We don’t have a complete date yet, but it is coming out. The single will be out pretty soon and everything’s looking good right now. Doing a lot of writing and spending a lot of time with different artists doing a lot of writing and stuff like that so it’s good.

A: Can you name drop a little bit for me?

K: I can name drop a couple. You know, I’ve worked with Joe King of The Fray. I’ve worked with Mat Kearney and probably that’s the only two I will name. And different songwriters.

A: So if you were to define it as a certain style?

K: I mean, it’s definitely you know in the, it would definitely be in the—I mean, I hate saying this—but it will be in that pop/rock genre, I would say. But that’s so huge though, so something in there, yeah.

A: Do you ever get tired of people calling you a winner?

K: No, [laughs], I mean, no. As long as they’re not calling me a wiener, I’m good.

A: So what’s the feeling when you take the stage every night, different town, people screaming your name?

K: You know, every show’s different. But more than anything, it’s exciting. You know? That like we, I don’t know. We were always like, I don’t know. It’s crazy to think about when you get up on the stage and people are screaming for you. They actually care about you and they feel like they know you and they kind of went through this journey with you. To know that fifteen, ten thousand people are cheering for you and actually care about what you’re doing? That’s a very cool feeling. Yeah.

A: Do you have a favorite moment from the tour so far?

K: My favorite moment, we did the show in Little Rock, my hometown, and that was by far one of the best moments of my life. I was, you know, in the tour, I come out of the stage with a big dramatic montage, light, smoke. And in most places they cheer for a while and it’s good. But in Arkansas, they would not shut up. They just kept cheering for like five minutes straight. And they got louder, and louder, and louder, so it was very cool.

A: How’s your family handling everything?

K: My family’s great. They’re kind of getting back to a normal life which is good for them.

A: Is it crazy for you because I know you’re recording while on tour, so that must be [noise that means frazzled]?

K: It’s crazy. First, it was, it was almost hard to deal with at first because you’re switching. You’re on tour mode most of the time, and then one day you have to switch over to the other—writing and recording mode. And it’s a totally different monster. It really is. And so doing these things at the same time was really weird at first. But I’ve gotten used to it and it’s getting fun. It really is. It makes me excited that I actually have an album coming out in November. That’s very exciting.

A: What’s the number one question people ask you at these things?

K: [laughs] Probably the number one question would be either how’s the tour going or how’s your wife doing.

A: They don’t ask you what Simon’s really like and that stuff?

K: Oh we get that. We get, Is Simon really mean?

A: And you tell them, yes, yes he is.

K: No, they know. He’s really not that mean. Truthful, but he’s not mean.

A: So Megan says you all get along. True? Now, tell me the real story.

K: I will tell you the real story. Here’s the scoop. [Dramatic pause] We do.

A: Come on.

K: I’m serious. We all really do get along. We have a good time together. And we’ve talked about this for a while, the tour’s almost over actually. For us it is anyway. And it’s going to be a sad day. It really is. We’ve had a great time. You know, I think we’re all really excited to start our careers and whatever, but we’ve been together for almost the past year with each other and we’ve lived in the same house, riding on the same bus. 24 hours pretty much with each other and so we have a great time together. If we didn’t get along, this would be a horrible, horrible time.

A: So part of you really wants it to end so you can move on and part of you is like, no, wait, what am I going to do without these people?

K: Absolutely. Exactly. We were like, we’re going to have to do dinner together like every month.

A: So much has been written about you, you’ve done so many interviews, what’s one thing that you want people to know, whether you’ve told it before, whatever, what would it be?

K: I hate this question.

A: I’m sorry.

K: That’s okay. I don’t know. I think that, what’s the one thing that people should know about me? People ask me what’s one thing that we don’t know about you. And probably the one thing that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I had a rib taken out when I was 13.

A: Oh wow. [Pauses to figure out what to say next] Almost like an Adam and Eve kind of thing?

K: Kind of. Except for no person was made out of this one. Hopefully, not that I know of anyway.

A: When you’re recording and on the tour at the same time, you probably wouldn’t mind cloning yourself.

K: Maybe. That’d be nice. I don’t wanna make me though. I don’t think the world could deal with two of me. I couldn’t deal with two of me. I’m nuts.

A: You’re nuts?

K: Yeah. I know I don’t seem it, but I really am.

A: Now, you’ve got to expand on that. What do you mean by that?

K: I’m not normal.

A: Okay.

K: But who is? Are you normal?

A: No.

K: There we go. You don’t seem like a normal person.

A: Thanks, Kris, I appreciate that.

K: It’s a compliment, I promise. Because what is normal? Normal’s not cool. Normal’s boring. People would say I’m boring, though.

A: See, I don’t believe that.

K: Until you get to know me. And I feel like we’ve gotten to know each other.

A: [sees the publicist hold up her finger] That’s my signal.

K: [laughs] Thank you.

A: Kris, it was a pleasure to meet you.

K: Nice seeing you.

A: I look forward to seeing you tonight.

K: Pleasure to meet you.

Megan Joy: "I'm going to do it all"

A friend of mine told me they would’ve loved to have seen my face when I realized I had to talk to Megan Joy. I’d like to think I kept my poker face on, but it was probably pretty close…

You know that Megan was my least favorite contestant from last season and since I’ve heard her do press interviews before, I know she doesn’t say much, so I struggled a little bit to find something to talk to her about. Bur if Slezak can sit down with Danny Gokey, I could handle Megan.

But in all honesty, it seemed like that publicist would never come around to give me my signal…

Megan is a nice person. I just couldn’t get that ridiculous cawing out of my head when I saw her, although I was briefly distracted by her afro—which in the press room looked cute, but on stage didn’t quite work…

Angela: So I know there’s not any question I can ask you that you haven’t been asked a zillion times…

Megan: Probably not

A: So bear with me. What’s been the best thing about the tour so far?

M: Um, the number one best thing is knowing that I get to go home and move out of my mom’s house and take care of my son on my own. But also just knowing that I can do anything I want and my dream came true.

A: How’s it been for you and your family. Is your son with you on tour?

M: On and off, but not nearly enough sadly. It’s been really hard. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but it’s worth it.

A: So I would think that once you get on stage that makes you feel better about it.

M: Oh yeah. I mean when I’m on stage I’m a different person. We just all—I don’t even know how to describe it.

A: See now, that was my next question. Describe for me when you hit that stage in a new city each night, what’s the feeling?

M: It’s incredible. I mean, thousands of people screaming your name and just stoked to be there. All of our sets are different so you can’t really compare us to each other. We’re not anything like each other. We’re out there doing what we love, we throw a splash of our own flavor in the mix and it’s amazing. It feels incredible.

A: Is it everything you imagined, more than you imagined?

M: I never even tried to imagine it before, so yeah, it’s incredible. I don’t even know how to explain it.

A: You were the one, I mean you weren’t the confident singer. I mean, everyone told you that you were a good singer, but you were like I’m not so sure, but now here you are in front of all these thousands of people, so it’s really a change for you.

M: Yeah, I was just going to be a stay-at-home mom, so I’m just stoked to get to do what I love and be with my son.

A: Got any idea what the future holds after the tour?

M: I’m going to be modeling, I’ve got TV shows in the works and I have a band started, so I’m going to do it all.

A: Wow, that’s a lot. You’re going to be a regular renaissance woman?

M: Yep.

A: Now, I realize this is for print and I have no pictures but I would be very remiss if I didn’t ask you about your most identifiable thing. [Looking at the tattoo that takes up most of her right arm] know it tells a story. Tell me a little bit about it.

M: It’s my castle. It’s my fairytale in stained glass in the windows. There’s me and Prince Charming isn’t colored, because I don’t know who he is yet. Cheesy, but this is how I live. Then my mom, my brother and my son and my dad. Classic stained glass because I love it.

A: [Pointing at the portion of the tattoo under Megan’s arm] And that’s the part that’s not done yet?

M: No, this isn’t done because it’s incredibly painful and I’ve been too busy. But he’s not colored, just because I don’t know. So he’s the only thing that will remain uncolored.

A: Well that makes sense. That’s very cool. So, for anybody who will be reading this later, what’s something that you want people to know about Megan that maybe we don’t know, maybe we haven’t heard?

M: Um, I don’t know. Everyone’s pretty much heard everything out of my mouth. Um, stay tuned. I’m not going anywhere.

A: Will there be any cawing on stage tonight?

M: I always caw.

A: Okay, I’ll look forward to seeing it. It’s always exciting here in this opening stage, because you’ve got so much ahead of you so you’re probably anxious to get it started.

M: We’re ready to go home. We love it, and luckily we love each other which is key to enjoying this whole tour, but we’re all so fortunate that we all just get along.

A: Honestly?

M: Honestly.

A: Do the guys like to play pranks on the girls?

M: We’re the pranksters. And the boys aren’t into it at all, so we prank the band.

A: Because usually there are one or two pranksters, so this time it’s the girls.

M: Us three girls against the band.

A: Is it tough with just three girls and the rest guys?

M: No, because our personalities are so big. We are inseparable and we’re like a big huge force.

A: What’s the best moment on the tour for you so far that you can think of?

M: I can’t think of one specific moment. It’s all been incredible and something I’ll never, ever, ever forget.

A: Are you keeping a diary or a scrapbook or anything so you can remember all this?

M: Yep, all sorts of memorabilia.

A: Because it will be great for your son to see later.

M: Absolutely.

A: I look forward to seeing you at the show tonight. It was nice to meet you.

M: Nice meeting you.

An Introduction to My Idol Interviews

So while I was in my new house with no TV and no Internet service, with nothing else to do but continue to make myself dizzy going around in circles looking for stuff, I decided to sit down and transcribe the interviews from last week’s press hour during the Idols Live Tour stop in Columbus.

Then, I snuck away to an Internet connection so I could share them with you…

Let me explain how the whole thing worked. Before we started, we were told a whole list of no-nos: No autographs, no pictures, no asking the Idols to sing, no asking them to call friends or record voice mail messages. We could ask about Paula Abdul, but none of them had any inside information and the best we would get was “We love Paula and we’ll miss her” (In other words, don’t ask, we’re sick of hearing it.).

Each tour stop, they rotate what Idols go to press hour. The others are doing radio interviews, meet-and-greets, vocal lessons and all kinds of other stuff. For this press hour, we got Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy, Scott MacIntyre and Lil Rounds. The publicist would bring each Idol to us for a one-on-one interview and then when she thought you had enough time (five minutes or so), she’d give you a signal to wrap it up. Then you’d wait until another Idol was free to come to you.

The publicist actually forgot that I hadn’t spoken to Lil, so I didn’t talk to her. But that was okay, because that would’ve kept me from getting my very brief interview with Danny…

I’m posting these in the order that I spoke with them starting with Megan and ending with Danny…

And for just the highlights of my interviews, be sure to read my column in today’s “Herald-Dispatch”…

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Deepest Apologies...

So I know I promised you interviews with some of the Idols by the end of last week, but then the last four days turned into a giant blur of packing and moving and it didn't happen. I hope you guys can find it in your hearts to forgive me...

You can see a sneak preview of the interviews in my column in Monday's "Herald-Dispatch."

Now, here's the other thing I have to apologize for. I will be away from the blog for a few days while I wait for my Internet service to become active at my new home.

We'll chat then...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Complete Recap of the Idols Live in Columbus

You guys count on me to be as thorough as possible, so let me start my recap of the Columbus stop on the “American Idols Live Tour 2009” with a word or two about the venue…

I have to give MAJOR props to the people at the Schottenstein Center for switching one of the men’s restrooms to a women’s since there were WAY more women at the show. Although, I have to say that it was a little freaky walking into a men’s room…

I also have to give them props for opening the doors an hour and a half before showtime, since I was there so early because of the afternoon press hour. It gave me a chance to chill out and have a little snack before the show.

But it also gave me a chance to sweat out the lack of people in the arena. I was a little concerned when five minutes before the show started, the front row wasn’t even full yet. I guess everyone was just running late, because when the spotlight started to roam the crowd, the floor was full. But the upper sections never did fill up. I would say it was a ways away from a sellout…

At first, I was impressed at the massive improvement in the graphics and lights from the last Idols concert I attended (the season six edition), but they quickly got annoying. And during a few sets, they were downright nauseating. Clearly, no one had ever sat dead center in the upper level and saw the effect they had on people…

The season six show altered the tour format and had the Idols sing in different combinations. But last year they went back to the tried-and-true one-at-a-time in order of elimination format. This year, it was handled almost like a countdown show as each Idol was introduced with a graphics package and an announcement of their number…

Up first, was #10 Michael Sarver. Michael was a great way to get it started as he came out with a high energy rendition of “In Love With a Girl” (Gavin DeGraw). He tried the same with his second song, “Closer” (Ne-Yo), but Michael just wasn’t meant to do an upbeat R&B song and it came off a little karaoke…

Then, it was Megan’s turn. And I’m afraid she did nothing to change my previous opinion of her. Her version of “Put Your Records On” was actually decent, but those word pronunciations are still so weird. Then Megan did “Tears Dry On Their Own” (Amy Winehouse) and it just didn’t work at all. The performance was not that good, the song was kind of strange and the graphics department did Megan no favors with a weird animation on the big screen that looked like the rejected opening credits for “Down With Love.” It was totally cheesy. Megan, by the way, was sporting a new afro for the first time. It looked cute in the press room, but it just didn’t translate as well with her hot pink Marilyn Monroe-style dress…

Scott MacIntyre rose from the floor seated at the piano. Scott is a super-talented pianist, but his vocals have improved since the show as well. The Keane song “Bend & Break” was a good choice for him, even though it wasn’t all that familiar. Scott then talked to the crowd about the “high-five heard around the world” before taking his seat back at the piano to do “A Thousand Miles” (Vanessa Carlton). I questioned this song choice when I first heard it, but I was wrong because any song that allows Scott to play the piano a lot is a good choice…

Michael did a decent job getting the crowd into it, but Megan seemed to completely lose them. Scott got them back to a certain extent, but Lil Rounds never had a chance. At the risk of sounding like Paula Abdul, I would say she looked great and she had incredible stage presence. But the vocals just weren’t there. And sadly, she was the first Idol who got to do three songs. I would have much rather heard Scott play the piano some more. Lil did “Be Without You” before breaking into “Just Fine” (both by Mary J. Blige) and she should have knocked them out of the park, but she didn’t come anywhere close. “No One” (Alicia Keys) was a little better, but she blew any goodwill she earned with her rendition of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).” She made a big deal about working with Beyonce’s choreographer, but then barely showed us any of the moves. And the vocals were incredibly spotty, especially since she let the backup singers take most of the notes on the chorus...

At this point, I was really starting to have serious buyers’ remorse. But then Anoop Desai took the stage and really surprised me. In fact, it was the first time I let out any kind of yell at all. Anoop had a big following among the college students in the arena and he wowed them and me with “Always On My Mind” (Willie Nelson/Elvis Presley). His vocals are silky smooth live and he did a lot of really cool vocal acrobatics. “Mad” (Ne-Yo) was also solid, but the silly graphics of water drops probably just made people need to run to the bathroom. Anoop closed out his set with his crowd pleaser, “My Prerogative” (Bobby Brown). It was a solid performance, so I was a little disappointed that the crowd didn’t get more into it.

The crowd pleasers continued with Matt Giraud rocking out “Hard to Handle” (Otis Redding/Black Crowes). But what the crowd really wanted to hear was “Georgia On My Mind” (Ray Charles). Matt is an extremely talented piano player and he had a lot of fun with his arrangement on this one. It’s also when he put on his hat for the first time. Matt’s set concluded with “You Found Me” (The Fray), and he did a much better job with it here than he did on the show, but it still had its issues vocally. Matt’s piano playing, however, had no issues…

It was then time for Megan to return the stage (in a new outfit) to start “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” (Four Seasons/Andy Williams). She was later joined by Lil (also in a new outfit). And if I thought these two were weak on their own, well, together was even worse…

Thankfully, they were replaced by Scott and Matt rising from the floor seated at pianos doing a duet of “Tell Her About It” (Billy Joel), which ended in a bit of a piano duel. I could have listened to the two of them all night, so I really wish they could have done more songs together. I also have to give the show props for the way they made things as easy as possible for Scott…

Michael then re-emerged (in a suit) for “Suspicious Minds” (Elvis Presley) and it was pretty good, but then he was totally blown off the stage with the smooth sounds of Anoop returning to start out “Beggin’” (Madcon/Four Seasons). He was joined by Matt, Scott, Michael, Lil and Megan, who each took turns in the spotlight. And then all of them (including Scott) sported some pretty cool choreography (and some pretty cool duds). It was a good way to end the first act…

Then the 20-minute intermission was announced, and the crowd promptly booed. Probably because they knew that would only delay the appearance of Adam Lambert on the stage…

Don’t believe me? During the intermission, the big screens showed a commercial for the “American Idol Experience” at Disney World and every time Adam appeared on the screen, the crowd screamed. I knew if they were screaming that much at a little video, that they were going to go nuts when he actually appeared on stage…

But first, it was Allison’s turn. And as much as I hate to admit it, I was pretty disappointed with Allison’s set. The first thing to note is that the volume was turned up tremendously, and Allison got a little lost in the band. And the nausea-inducing spinning swirls on the big screen didn’t help her any. She shouted most of “So What” (P!nk) and in all honesty, watching a 16-year-old sing about her ex-husband just didn’t work for me. “Cry Baby” was better, but she seemed to totally lose the crowd through the spoken part of the song. I think I would have cut that part out. Her set concluded with “Barracuda” and the band was so loud, it just got completely lost. I think they should have found a younger, more crowd-friendly song for her…

If Allison lost the crowd (and I believe she did), Danny Gokey quickly got them back with “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” (Michael Jackson). I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the performance. He even managed to do a good job with “Maria Maria” (Santana), which I had thought was a bad choice for him. However, he should have seriously left out the dance moves as they were not good. If you followed my blog last season, you know the big 180 I did with Danny, but I have to admit that he is a pretty good performer. And he managed to hook me with his almost gut-wrenching performance of “What Hurts the Most” (Rascal Flatts). Then, after an inspirational pep talk for the audience, he closed his set with “My Wish” (Rascal Flatts), leaving me as conflicted about him as ever…

But I didn’t have much time to think about that as Danny had barely left the stage when the chants for Adam Lambert began…

Now, at this point in the show, I had a decision to make. As a member of the media, I had the opportunity to go down to the stage and take some pictures of the last part of Kris’ set and the final group number. But in order to do that, I would have to leave the arena to go meet our escort and that would mean missing Adam Lambert’s entire set. So, did I try and take a good picture for you guys, or did I stay and watch Adam? I think the lack of pictures in this post tells you my decision…

And for the record, I don’t regret it. Sorry…

When Adam’s bold, bright and loud intro package hit the screens, the place went nuts.
Adam emerged through a mass of bright lights to do “Whole Lotta Love” (Led Zeppelin) and he completely embraced his role as a rock god. His stage presence is something I can’t even explain. You know how when people parody fashion photographers they always say, “Make love to the camera”? Well, it almost seemed like Adam was making love to cameras all over the arena and the crowd loved it. Adam then did “Starlight” (Muse) and he showed every rock god pose in his repertoire. He then took a seat for a gorgeous rendition of “Mad World,” which the crowd—and I—loved. Adam then welcomed Allison back to the stage to do “Slow Ride,” which was Allison’s best song of the night. They have a great chemistry and sound fantastic together. Adam had some fun with Allison by smacking her on the behind with one of the bras someone had thrown on stage (Yes, there were several underwear items thrown on the stage during Adam’s set.). Adam closed his set with a David Bowie medley of “Life On Mars”/“Fame”/“Let’s Dance.” During “Fame,” Adam removed his jacket and did some more suggestive dance moves. And the more risqué Adam got, the more the crowd loved it.

I said in my earlier post that Adam is a freak of nature, and I mean that as a total compliment. His singing is so effortless and his stage presence is beyond words. If this guy is handled correctly, he could be a gigantic star. And yes, I’m totally upset that he was not part of yesterday’s press hour…

Finally, the countdown reached #1, quieting the Adam chants. Kris Allen got a lot of cheers himself, but it was a totally different kind of energy. Kris started his set with a great rendition of “Heartless” (Kanye West/The Fray) and then went into the song that replaced “No Boundaries,” “All These Things I’ve Done” (The Killers). I was concerned about that one, but it was a good performance and the crowd got into singing the “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier” refrain. The crowd really got excited when Kris sat at the piano to do “Ain’t No Sunshine,” (Bill Withers) and it was gorgeous—even though he once again just barely missed that last note. Kris then went into “Bright Lights” (Matchbox Twenty) at the piano and it was probably one of the shrewdest choices for any of the Idols. It made me wish that Kris had done more Matchbox Twenty/Rob Thomas songs on the show. Kris closed his set with “Hey Jude,” which elicited an “Awww” from the crowd. Everyone in the arena sang along on the “Na Na Na Nas” and Kris was joined by several of the other Idols at the song’s end…

Usually at this point, the performers do a fake exit when you know they’re returning for an encore. But they didn’t even attempt to fake anyone out and instead launched right into Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” bringing the Idols out two at a time kicking off with Matt and Scott coming out of the floor with pianos. Kris and Adam came out last—also out of the floor—to lots of screaming from the crowd. Even though that song is starting to get seriously overused, it still worked. The Idols threw in a chorus of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” in the middle just for the fun of it, before closing with the final refrain of “Stop”…

Overall, I would say the show was good, but that’s as strong of a compliment as I can muster. In the first act, Anoop and Matt—as well as the “Beggin’” number—were solid, but they weren’t enough to save the act from the issues of Megan and Lil. In fact, I would say that the two acts were like night and day both in style and—unfortunately for my ear—in volume. Adam was amazing, but I would’ve liked for him to sing some more recognizable, crowd-friendly songs. And Kris was amazing as well, but after the spectacle of Adam, his set kind of lost something. I think they should’ve staggered the performers like they did in season six when Blake performed before the intermission. Maybe they were afraid people would leave (I did see some people leaving after Adam’s set.)…

Usually after a show there’s one performance that I just can’t stop talking about, and that just wasn’t there for me after this one. If I had to choose a favorite, I would probably go with Adam’s “Mad World,” followed by—believe it or not—Anoop’s “Always On My Mind.” I also really liked the group number, “Beggin’.”

I would say that it was worth the money just for Adam and Kris, but it would have been nice if the ladies could have stepped it up a little too…

So were any of you there? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought…

And later this week, I will share with you my complete interviews with Matt, Megan, Scott, Danny and yes, Kris. So stay tuned…

Some Initial Observations About Columbus...

So I know you’re all wanting details on last night’s Columbus tour stop, and I do have LOTS to say, but since I didn’t get home until the wee hours of the morning and then I overslept this morning, and I have a raging headache from that crazy lightshow, I’m going to have to keep you waiting until tonight…

However, here are some initial observations in the meantime…

Megan and Lil should never sing together. Matt and Scott should sing (and play) together more…

I never gave Anoop enough credit for his vocals…

Whoever designed the lights and graphics for the show clearly never sat back and really watched them…

Adam is a freak of nature. And I mean that as a total compliment…

Kris should have exercised his rights as the winner and asked to go first so he didn’t have to follow Adam…

My love/hate relationship with Danny continues…

Kris is SO cute I wanted to cry…

I’ll have much more for you later, including a complete concert recap and interviews with some of the Idols—although I will warn you that Adam isn’t one of them. He wasn’t a part of yesterday’s press hour.

Stay Tuned…

Monday, August 24, 2009

Phil Stacey CD Review: So Good It Almost Hurts

For me, a song is a good one when it makes me break out into a smile.

But with Phil Stacey’s new CD, “Into the Light,” I smiled so much it almost hurt…

You guys know that I am already a big Phil fan, and this CD just cements that. It’s always great to see and/or hear someone doing what they are meant to do. And even though I enjoyed Phil’s country CD, Christian music is truly his calling—especially when he conveys his message in such a beautiful way.

As I’ve said before, sometimes you just need something relentlessly cheerful, and that’s how I would describe the beginning of “Light.” With the catchy chorus of “From the inside out/From the outside in/Let Your truth and Your grace change me/From the man I am and have always been/To the man that You want me to be” the album opener, “Inside Out,” hooks you instantly. And you’ll be hooked right through the slower “It’s Gotta Be Love,” the fantastic “Sanctuary,” which shows off some vocal acrobatics and the rockier “You’re Not Shaken,” which Phil co-wrote.

I was enjoying the upbeat stuff so much that I got a little concerned when the album hit its first real power ballad. That is until I realized it was the beyond gorgeous, “One,” another Phil co-write. With a chorus like “One drop in the ocean/One prayer from your heart/One mercy, one struggle/One cup of cold water/One dollar, one promise/Even though it seems small/Sometimes One is the biggest thing of all” combined with Phil’s gorgeous soaring voice, how could you possibly go wrong?

Sometimes Christian CDs can lose a little something musically when they strengthen their message, but that’s not the case here. When Phil goes the worship song route with “With All My Heart,” it works beautifully. The title track, “Into the Light” has a strong message as well, but the sound is as pop as it gets—and that’s a good thing. That pop sound continues with another Phil co-write, “Some Kind of Love,” which reminds me of a classic 80s tune from Go West or Johnny Hates Jazz (and I mean that as a big compliment). But not to worry, we get one more soaring chorus with “Glorious,” which Phil also co-wrote.

Then, it’s the song I would call the CD’s only misstep—and it’s only a slight one—the Rich Mullins tune “Hard to Get.” It’s a good song, but the arrangement is just a touch too country for my taste.

Phil closes out the CD with his concert crowd pleaser (that he wrote on his own), “Old Glory,” and it sounds just as gorgeous as ever.

Phil has such an amazing pop voice so it’s great to hear him be able to use it in such a positive way. It may just be my imagination, but I think I can hear a happier, more confident Phil on this album. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

There goes that smile again…

“Into the Light” hits stores Tuesday, August 25th…

Photo Credit: Reunion Records

Tomorrow Night's the Night!

So what better distraction from the trials and travails of new home ownership than a night with the Idols...

Tomorrow night is the American Idols Live! tour stop in Columbus, and I will be there...


And not only will I be there for the show, but I will also be participating in the media activities before the show, so I hope to have great stuff from some of your favorite Idols.


So, Stay Tuned!
Photo Credit: 19 Entertainment

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Paula’s Manager: “No discussions whatsoever about Idol”

Yesterday, “The Los Angeles Times” ran an exclusive interview with Paula Abdul’s manager, David Sonenberg, who squelched the rumors that Paula is in negotiations to return to “Idol.”

“Sonenberg said that there have been ‘no discussions whatsoever about Idol,’ and added that while he would ‘never count anything out,’ Abdul's priorities are elsewhere.”

He said that the offers have been coming in “at a fast and furious rate.”

The story also mentions a report that FOX is doing focus groups to determine if people like the guest judges, but FOX “insiders” deny that story…

You can read the entire story here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Simon Cowell on Paula: "She was the heart of the show"

Last week, Simon Cowell gave his most extended statement yet on the Paula situation to FOX News Channel’s “Pop-Tarts” blog…

“She's taken the decision in her life now, which you have to respect her for making the decision. I didn't want to get involved in what was going on because it wasn't really any of my business but I spoke to her a lot through the whole process. I always thought she was the heart of the show. I'm not the heart, I'm not even the brain actually. But she was the heart, so you've taken that away so it's a different show. I’m sad, I am. I'll probably see her next week. I'm going to listen to what she wants to do next. I will support her in anything she wants to do next. I think she is TV gold, genuinely.”

Randy Jackson told the blog that he was proud of Paula for standing her ground. “Me and Ryan and Simon and her started this journey together so I’m really shocked and really proud and really just couldn't believe she’s not here. We love her I'm sure she’s going to be great whatever she decides to do. Spoke to her couple days ago. I think she's doing pretty good. It was a really a tough time as you can imagine.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Breaking News: Daughtry Coming to Huntington!

Daughtry announced its new arena tour dates today and Huntington is on the list...

According to the band's official website, they will hit the Big Sandy Superstore Arena November 14th. Tickets go on sale Saturday, September 19th...

Breaking News: Kelly Clarkson to Guest Judge

"The Los Angeles Times" is reporting that Kelly Clarkson will return to "Idol" as a guest judge.

The report also says that Joe Jonas is in talks to be a guest judge.

Kelly, I get, but Joe Jonas? I guess we're trying to reach the tween demo...

Jordin Joins the "Circus"

From the Jonas Brothers to Britney Spears. I’ll let you guys write your own jokes for that one…

Jordin Sparks will join the U.S. portion of the second North American leg of Britney’s “Circus” tour beginning August 24th in New York City.

In the press release from Jive Records, Jordin said, “Britney's show is incredible and for me to be a part of it is a great opportunity.”

From the Pussycat Dolls to Jordin Sparks. Talk about a change in direction…

The Latest on Paula and a New Fourth Judge...

So here’s the latest roundup of Paula/fourth host news…

Last week, the “New York Times” ran a story about what happened during Paula’s negotiations. The story says she felt devalued by people at the show and that she was upset they didn’t defend her more against allegations of drug/alcohol abuse. Also according to the report, there are those at “Idol” who are fed up with Paula and wanted her gone.

You can read the whole sordid story here.

Meanwhile, Perez Hilton reported on his blog, that his sources tell him Paula will be back on the show…

There was a lot of buzz that Paula was going to end up as a judge on “Dancing With the Stars” after she met with ABC President Steve McPherson. But according to TMZ, Paula and Carrie Ann Inaba don’t get along, so that was squashed. And the “Dancing” cast was announced Monday without Paula’s name on it...

Paula was also in talks to guest star on “Ugly Betty,” but those talks apparently fell apart…

For her part this week, Paula has been tweeting vague inspirational quotes about new opportunities…

Meanwhile, Victoria Beckham extended her stint in the fourth judge chair to another city even though her appearance on the show was supposed to be a one shot deal. This has led to speculation that “Idol” guru Simon Fuller (who created the Spice Girls) is trying to get her in the chair permanently.

This has also led to another protest song from my hero Michael Slezak at EW.com. You can see that here. I don’t know that I completely agree with Slezak since she was so adorable as a judge on “Project Runway.” But maybe that’s because she knows more about fashion than she does singing…

Mary J. Blige is filling the fourth chair in Atlanta this week and People.com reported that Shania Twain may fill it next…

There was also a report yesterday that Joe Simpson was trying to get his daughter, Jessica, into Paula’s chair permanently. I think we can all agree that would definitely keep the ditzy factor going…

You know there will be MUCH more on this, so stay tuned…

On a Personal Note...

Allow me to interrupt this blog with something personal…

You have no doubt noticed that my posts have been a little spotty lately and that I have been late with or missed altogether some important “Idol” events.

I just wanted to take a second and apologize for that, but I hope you’ll accept my excuse…

I am in the process of buying a house and for any of you who have done that, you know how stressful that can be. Plus, I have to be out of my apartment by the end of this month.

So, while I am apologizing for the spottiness of my posts recently, let me warn you that they’re probably going to get even spottier in the next few weeks. And at some point, they will be nonexistent for a few days while I get a new Internet service up and running. I hope you will all just bear with me…

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Idol" is the Teen Choice

The Teen Choice Awards aired last night on FOX and “Idol” was well represented…

“American Idol” won Choice TV: Reality/Competition Show and Ryan Seacrest won Choice TV: Personality. Adam Lambert won Choice TV: Male Reality/Variety Star.

David Archuleta won Choice Music: Breakout Artist and Choice Music: Love Song for “Crush.” His tour with Demi Lovato won Choice Music: Tour.

Also, Jordin Sparks was a presenter during the show…

Photo Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Paula May Be Gone, But Simon is Staying

Late last night, “The Hollywood Reporter” reported that Simon Cowell is in the midst of finalizing a new three-year deal with “American Idol.”

According to “THR,” that announcement was made by CKX (19 Entertainment’s parent company) executives during an earnings conference call. CKX Chairman and CEO Robert Sillerman said, “We've heard from Fox, who has asked us for approval for Simon Cowell to appear for three more years on ‘Idol.’ They, in their negotiations with Cowell, have asked us to pre-approve him not only for ‘American Idol’ ‘09, which has begun taping, but they have also asked us for approval for ‘10 and ‘11, indicating to us that they're finishing their negotiation with Cowell. We did grant approval for that quite obviously.”

Allthough 19 is the brainchild behind “Idol,” FOX writes the checks for the talent. 19 and co-producer Fremantle Media propose their choices and FOX signs off, according to Sillerman.

Sillerman did not talk figures, but reports have Simon getting a raise to $45 million a year, up from last year’s $36 million.

FOX has yet to comment on the report.

I really thought that Simon would reconsider without Paula, but I guess for $45 million, he can put up with Kara…

Photo Credit: FOX

Monday, August 10, 2009

Clay Aiken Signs a New Deal

Clay Aiken has finally signed a new record deal.

His official website broke the news today:

“Clay Aiken signs record deal with Universal Music’s Decca Records. Expect new music in the first half of 2010! Keep checking back here for more details to come.”

WOO-HOO!

The Decca roster includes Andrea Bocelli, Boyz II Men, Paula Cole and Sting…

Photo Credit: Eric Liebowitz/CW

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life After Paula: Simon Speaks

Simon Cowell finally broke his silence about Paula Abdul Friday when he spoke very briefly to “People.”

He told the magazine, “I’m going to miss her. She’s my buddy.” He went on to say that he has talked to her every day since her famous tweet last Tuesday. “Paula has been very cool about the whole thing. And let me tell you, Paula is going to be fine.”

Simon gave the comments in Denver, where filming for season nine of “Idol” has begun. Kara arrived at the auditions wearing a black dress, which she told “People” was because she was in mourning over Paula.

Randy Jackson echoed Kara’s sentiments by saying, “I think I may cry today. It’s weird.”

You can read more of the story at People.com.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Did Constantine Get Attacked Over Paula?

Of all the Paula stories this week, this one has to be the craziest…

According to the “New York Daily News,” Constantine Maroulis got into a scuffle at a party after he said he’d like to see Paula return to “Idol.” He was apparently attacked by someone who wants Paula gone.

A witness told the “Daily News” that the man “body-slammed him and punched him in the face and then just stood up, straightened his tie, and said ‘B---h, don’t you ever,’ before walking away.”

Constantine tweeted about the incident writing, “It broke up quick, didn’t even know him. Or throw one punch. I don’t mind a fight ... but only when it’s fair and I’m looking…I’m fine! Some drunk dude tackled me in the middle of the concert and jumped on me.”

He did not mention in his tweets that the fight was over Paula…

According to the “Daily News,” the incident occurred Wednesday night at Casio’s G-Shock party at Cipirani Wall Street…
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Kara on Paula: “I’m hoping she’ll reconsider.”

On Ryan Seacrest’s radio show this morning, Kara DioGuardi said she’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of Paula Abdul on “Idol”:

According to “US Weekly,” Kara said, “I’m hoping she’ll reconsider. I’ve left her a lot of messages.”

Kara also quelled the rumors that she was brought on as a replacement for Paula. “I never was here to replace her. It would be impossible to replace Paula Abdul. She’s an incredible talent. If anything, she was really somebody who helped me.”

Kara also admitted to Ryan that the show was “tough at times” since she got “beat up a bit. I’m hoping this year that people are more accepting.”

If it’s without Paula, I wouldn’t count on it, dear…

Ryan also had guest judge Victoria Beckham on his show. She told him that she wants to “be nice to people.” I smell another Olivia Newton John here…

And I didn’t mean that as a compliment. She was boring…

Thursday, August 6, 2009

So Will Paula "Dance"?

Paula Abdul was also a popular topic at the “So You Think You Can Dance” panel at the TCA Tour today…

Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe said he would “absolutely” be interested in having Paula join “SYTYCD.” He told the critics that he had spoken to Paula yesterday morning. “I said we were going to Vegas for Season 6 and I asked her if she would be available [to join us]. She’s going to come out and meet me [and discuss it].”

But Nigel added that he’s not sure she’s done with “Idol.” “I don’t even know that she’s going to leave ‘Idol.’ Until ‘Idol’ goes on the air [in January], there are still opportunities for renegotiations.” It’s important to note that Nigel’s comments came before FOX Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice made his.

Nigel invited Paula to tonight’s “SYTYCD” finale, but she is working on the east coast and couldn’t come (Paula tweeted today that she is filming an episode of “Drop Dead Diva.”).

But before you start readying a fourth chair for the “SYTYCD” judges’ table, Nigel later clarified his comments by saying he’s not interested in Paula being a full-time judge, just a guest judge. “I don’t mind a fourth guest judge now and then…So, no, I’m not talking about [Abdul permanently] filling a third chair or a fourth chair.”
I still say there’s a possibility Paula will end up on “Dancing With the Stars”…
You can read all of the details on the “Dance” panel from Michael Ausiello at EW.com
Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

FOX Exec: “Paula will not be returning”

This week television critics are in LA for the event known as press tour. It’s when the networks bring out their stars to promote their shows.

But for FOX, most of the questions today were about one thing—Paula, Paula, Paula…

And FOX Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice had an answer: “Paula is not returning to ‘Idol’…We are very sad she is not coming back. She was an important part of the Idol family…[It was] not our choice, not what we wanted to happen.”

When someone asked if there was still a possibility she could return, Rice said, “We have concluded our negotiations and Paula has announced that she is not [returning].”

I think that leaves the door open a crack, but who knows?

In the meantime, FOX will use guest judges to fill the fourth seat during the auditions. Victoria Beckham and Katy Perry have already signed on (Ryan Seacrest tweeted today that Beckham will join the judges in Denver tomorrow.). Rice promised a more permanent solution will be found between now and January.

Rice also added that at this point it’s not definite that Paula will be replaced, but it is “probable.” He said they’ll be looking for someone who has “great chemistry” with Kara, Simon and Randy.

Rice also gave the critics a peek into the negotiations by saying FOX offered her a “substantial” raise. He also cleared up some details on Ryan’s contract saying the $15 million a year is for more projects than just “Idol.” In other words, he’s not getting that money just to host “Idol.” I wonder if Paula’s new manager explained that to her before she walked away?

Rice concluded his Paula comments by telling the critics, “We have to look at it as an opportunity to bring a new energy to the show.”

But wouldn’t it be a better energy if they went back to three hosts? I thought we already figured out that four doesn’t work…
Thanks to Michael Ausiello and EW.com for their TCA reports...
Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Katharine McPhee's New Look

The new issue of “People” features a picture of Katharine McPhee, but you may not recognize her at first glance…

Katharine will sport a short blonde shag for her new album cover. Kat says that the music is a little more edgy so she wanted a look to reflect that.

“Unbroken” is scheduled to hit stores October 6th.

You can see her new look here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Paula's Departure: Her Best (and Worst) Moments

“The Hollywood Reporter” put together some of Paula’s greatest moments in one place for our viewing pleasure.

You can see the clips here.

See what I mean about the show not being the same without her?

Paula's Departure: Ryan and Randy React

Late last night, Ryan Seacrest tweeted this:

“About to go to sleep when I started seeing my blackberry blow up. I have read what u have read and I am shocked and saddened about paula. Idol and the cast have grown with each other over the last 8 seasons..I can't imagine the panel without paula. She's a star @ a great friend. Spoke to randy..hope to speak with paula privately overnight.”

He expanded his thoughts on his radio show this morning:

“I was shocked. I'm just bummed because we've worked together for so many years. I got on the phone to track down whoever I could before I went to sleep and I was told, ‘Yeah, it's sad but true. She's leaving.’ This week, Randy, Simon, Kara and I are in Denver at the end of the week so I'm sure I'll have more to tell you.”

Ryan also said that as far as he knows, this is “not a publicity stunt.”

Randy Jackson issued a statement to “Us Magazine” saying, “I am shocked. Paula is a dear friend and will be missed.”

Simon Cowell has not issued any statements as of yet. I can’t help but think he’s not doing some work behind the scenes here…

I also can't help but think that the fact Paula didn't call Ryan or Randy to tell them she was leaving before she tweeted lends some credence to the negotiating ploy theory...

Stay Tuned...
Photo Credit: FOX

Paula’s Departure: The Day After

Late last night, FOX confirmed Paula’s news with a statement:

“Paula Abdul has been an important part of the American Idol family over the last eight seasons and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show. While Paula will not be continuing with us, she’s a tremendous talent and we wish her the best.”

Though that seems to close the door, there are those that think Paula could still possibly return. My hero, EW’s Michael Slezak, appeared on “The Early Show” this morning and discussed exactly that possibility saying, “You never know. It’s Paula Abdul.”

“The Early Show” also reported that Paula was offered a 30 percent pay raise. “The New York Times” reported that she demanded $20 million after making $2 million last season. The $20 million figure makes sense since it would give her more than Ryan Seacrest just got…

Meanwhile, Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer of “So You Think You Can Dance” has said Paula is welcome to appear on “Dance” and the “New York Post” reported that NBC is interested in doing a reality show with Paula. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Paula show up on “Dancing With the Stars” since that has been rumored to be a dream of hers for quite some time.

I rarely disagree with Slezak, but I really think the door is closed on this one. However, this is one time I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

You can see the report on the “Early Show” here…


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Breaking News: Paula Is Gone UPDATED

A friend of mine just sent me an e-mail directing me to Paula Abdul’s Twitter page to read this:

With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return to #IDOL. I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all..Cont'd...

I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent,but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day1become an international phenomenon.

What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me

It truly has been breathtaking, especially over the past month

I do without any doubt have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all...

Let me just say that I think this is a HUGE mistake. I think FOX should have given Paula the money. The show is not going to be the same and nowhere near as fun.

And I think that Simon and Randy will give Kara such a hard time, she’ll wish that Paula had returned instead of her.

What do you guys think? Will you miss Paula as much as I will?

UPDATE: I should say that there is still a chance this is a negotiating ploy, but I don't think so. I think she's gone. MJ of MJ's Big Blog disagrees and says she thinks that Paula timed her tweets just as tonight's Idols Live concert was ending so that fans following the concert on Twitter would get outraged and start another movement. If they do, I'm on board...






Photo Credit: FOX

Constantine will "Rock" On

Those of you still hoping to catch Constantine Maroulis in “Rock of Ages” now have until next summer.

The show announced today that Constantine has extended his contract with the show through summer 2010. He was originally only contracted through September of this year.

When making the announcement on Twitter, Constantine said his contract allows him time for other projects. An article in “Playbill” says that a new solo album is forthcoming.

And you know I’m happy about that…

For more about “Rock of Ages,” visit the show’s website here.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Monday, August 3, 2009

What About Paula?

So now that the return of Kara is official, what about Paula Abdul?
FOX has not made any official announcement about Paula and she’s been a little vague on her Twitter page.

Last week in a tweet about her appearance on HSN, she mentioned “all the Idol drama.” Also last week, she promised to keep us as updated as she could about what was going on with Idol. And today, she said she had been in meetings all day (but she didn’t say what kind of meetings).

According to EW.com, “Idol” is set to start filming this Thursday, so something will have to happen very soon.

Again, let me just say that I think Paula is essential to “Idol.” Now let’s see what FOX thinks…

Stay Tuned…

FOX Makes It Official: Kara Will Be Back

I missed this one in my e-mail inbox this morning.

Then again, maybe I just didn’t want to see it…

FOX made it official today with a press release announcing that Kara DioGuardi will return as a judge on “Idol.”

Allow me to lead everyone in a collective BOO HISS!

Here are the quotes of support straight from the press release:

“We are so happy to welcome back Kara for her second season with IDOL,” said Simon Fuller, Creator/Executive Producer, AMERICAN IDOL. “She is a breath of fresh air, and her passion for music and her understanding of talent is invaluable. This show is all about discovering new talent, and Kara’s championing of Adam Lambert is proof positive of her great instinct.”

“Kara brings her own special style and sensibility to the show, which includes her innate talent to identify, nurture and direct a performer’s potential,” said Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Executive Producer, AMERICAN IDOL. “We’re very pleased with her contributions as the fourth judge on the panel.”

"Kara’s spitfire personality and sharp musical sensibility infused AMERICAN IDOL with a new energy last year,” said Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “She clearly has a keen eye for talent – spotting Adam Lambert’s superstar quality early on last season – and her performance on the Season Eight finale was one of the most memorable in recent IDOL history.”

Although I agree that her finale performance was quite memorable, even a total idiot would have seen the talent of Adam Lambert.

Wait a minute…

The press release goes on to try and win me over by telling me that Kara co-wrote one of my favorite current songs (the irresistible ditty “Good Girls Go Bad” by Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester). But alas, it didn’t work. I’m still bummed…

I find it ironic that a show built around listening to the opinions of the viewers would totally ignore them with this decision. Overwhelmingly, fans were against Kara returning, but our wishes fell on deaf ears. And I can’t help but think that will hurt the show in the long run…

What do you guys think? Are you unhappy that Kara is returning, or do you think FOX made the right choice?

Photo Credit: FOX

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Will Kara Be Back?

I’m afraid that the news does not look good in the Kara DioGuardi department.

For us, I mean. It looks great for her…

Both People.com and EOnline.com are reporting that Kara will be back for another season of “Idol.” FOX has yet to comment.

I could tell you all what a terrible mistake I think this is, but as usual, my “Idol” blogging hero, EW.com’s Michael Slezak, has done it so much better with his musical rant set to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.”

Check it out here

Photo Credit: FOX