Thursday, April 28, 2011

American Idol: Six to Five

He tried to put a spell on the voters,
but it didn't work.
The Top Six performed a medley of Carole King songs. Let's just say, the train wreck that was last night's performance show carried over into tonight's opening number.

After the lackluster opening, we had a performance from last year's runner-up Crystal Bowersox. While Crystal is a great performer, I never saw her (or winner Lee DeWyze, for that matter) as a chart topper. Crystal's indie performance sort of proved my point.

After a cutesy Q & A with the group, each contestant was brought up individually for their results. Haley was first. She was criticized for not knowing who she was as an artist and was clearly frustrated by that. Ultimately though, she was safe.

Next up, we heard feedback about Scotty from Jimmy Iovine. Jimmy defended the consistency that some people are starting to call boring. But before we could get his results, Ryan brought up Scotty's country counterpart Lauren. Jimmy liked her poise and predicted that Lauren would be in it for the long run. The last in the trio to be called up was Casey. Jimmy called him out for all the damn growling saying, "The family dog doesn't vote," (and Marty wouldn't vote for him anyway). All three had to wait for their results.

After the break, James was up. Jimmy praised the diversity of his song choices. And not so surprisingly... he was safe and joined Haley over on the sofa. Last (and quite possibly least) was Jacob. Jimmy hated his outfit too and said that right now he was on banana peels. Out of the four, Lauren was sent to safety. Leaving us with Jacob, Casey and Scotty (for the first time) as the Bottom Three.

But we had one more performance, this one for Bruno Mars. I don't like all of his songs, but I did like this one. Don't Want to Do Anything was playful, laid-back with a reggae feel. However, I was ready for someone to go home (and I just knew that person would be Jacob).

Of course, one of the final three would be sent to safety. To my surprise, the safe one was ... Jacob. He looked about as surprised as I was! This left Scotty and Casey at the bottom. And the one the judges saved, got the boot.

He left on a rousing, growling version of I Put A Spell On You. I can't say that I'll miss him!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

American Idol: The Earth Did NOT Move

This week American Idol featured the music of Carole King. Of course, King’s best years were behind her by the time the oldest Idol was born. After last week (Songs from the 21st Century) I was kind of hoping that they would do more contemporary stuff but no… The judges got into their time machine and went back to the 60’s and 70’s (yawn). Carole King has a lot of good songs but the Idols had a hard time picking them.

Jacob kicked off the night with Not My Baby. The song? No. The arrangement? Didn't work. The outfit? What in the hell?? It was a blue plaid jacket with a yellow shirt and a bow tie. Jacob looked like a tricked out member of the Nation of Islam. Wrong, wrong, all wrong! I’ve been a Jacob fan but outside of the scatting, it was a piping hot mess of a performance. If he doesn’t go home tomorrow, I’ll be shocked.

Next up was young little Lauren. She sang Where You Lead. Let me put it this way, where she was leading, I wasn’t trying to follow. I was bored. In fact, I sort of hated it. She’ll be safe another week, but after two of these performances I didn’t have much hope for Carole King night.

Because there are six contestants and the Idol producers are hell-bent on keeping the show’s 90 minute running time, the individual performances were augmented by duets. First up were Casey and Haley. They sang one of King's biggest hits, I Feel the Earth Move. They had good chemistry (especially since they are rumored to be an item). I like Haley’s voice more than Casey’s and I think she shone more on this than he did. Let me add. Haley looked amazing. Casey looked like he’d shopped at Goodwill with an ill-fitted black jacket and matching equally ill-fitted black pants with a white tee. So wrong.

Scotty did a slowed-down, country-fied version of You Got a Friend. My dog was watching with me, or so I thought. It was at this point that I heard Marty snoring (a cute little toy poodle snore). I guess he wasn’t impressed either. If Scotty wanted to be my friend, he’d have to agree to never sing that song again.

James dropped the rocker vibe (I don't think you could have a rocker vibe with Carole King) and went with Will You Still Love You Tomorrow. I wasn't sure given the way the show was going. However, he came out and did the beginning acapella. Then went into his own interpretation of the song. It was pretty good. Not an amazing vocal but good. For for first time during this show, I wasn't bored. Marty still slept.
Next there was another duet. This was the third duet between Scotty and Lauren. It was a tepid version of On the Roof. There wasn't much else to say.
Casey came on with a bluesy Hi Dee Ho. I give him credit for always coming out with something different. And this was different.Bluesy and, as Randy said, reminiscent of his home town in Louisiana. Still, I just can't seem to get into Casey.
Haley did Beautiful. At least, it was upbeat and kind of peppy. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it. The beginning was rocky but got much better by the end. Steven said he 'saw God' in her song. I think it must have been the drug relapse talking.
The final duet between James and Jacob was next. I was curious as to how this duet would turn out. Given the overall tenor of the evening, my expectations were low. They did, I'm Into Something Good. It's a cheesy song on a good day. The boys came out in blue blazers with white pants and shirts. An extra slice of cheese. They sang it like they were competing over the girl in the song. A big hunk of cheese. Finally, they went over to the judges table and serenaded Jennifer. A pound of smelly Muenster cheese!
Bottom Three
Oh hell, I don't know but I do know Jacob is going home!

The Voice

I know there are four judges,
but I like this one. Alright???
If you have watched anything on NBC for the past month, you’ve seen promos for The Voice. It’s billed as a new singing competition. Not exactly,  it’s new to us here in the States but it’s based on a successful show called The Voice out of Holland.
It ‘s a pretty convoluted set-up. There are four judges: Christina Aguilera, Maroon Five’s Adam Levine, Cee-lo Green and country crooner Blake Shelton. As the commercial you’ve seen a million times shows you, the contestants audition for the judges while their backs are turned. If the judge like what he/she hears, they can choose to turn their chair around.

The goal is for each judge to come up with a team of eight singers. If more than one judge wants the same singer, the singer gets to choose who they want to work with.

After that, each coach works with and mentors the singers on their team. Somehow each group of eight gets whittled down to four and that’s when the real competition for The Voice begins. Somehow I missed the sneak peek of the show, but the buzz it generated was really impressive. But the big question was, would I be impressed.


I liked it! Sure it’s another vocal competition but at least it has some originality going for it. First off, all of the judges are singers and performers which they proved when they opened with Cee-Lo’s Crazy. Then, all of the contestants were at least decent singers. There were no gimmicky performers or deluded faux singers. These were all people who could sing.

I enjoyed being able to see the singers before the judges could … And, speaking of the judges, I like the way they played off of each other, and play they did. It seemed like they were enjoying themselves and having fun. It made the atmosphere looser and more engaging.

As I prepare to watch Idol, I appreciate even more the fact that these contestants from their teens through their 40s were picked on talent alone.

We have one more week where they judges will finish selecting their teams, then the mentoring process and the competition begins.

I’m in. Look for recaps here!

Glee: Super-size Me!

Kurt and Karofsky bury the hatchett.
I didn't mean that the nasty way.
After last week’s 60 minutes of suck, I approached this week’s 90 minute super-sized episode of Glee with some trepidation. I tuned in with crossed fingers but I really enjoyed this episode (except for the dreadful Barbra Streisand number!).

For months now, we’ve known that Lady Gaga’s Born This Way would feature prominently in an episode. It was fitting since the topic was self-acceptance. After getting nailed in the nose by Finn, Rachel had the opportunity to get a nose job. It was tempting. While the club members objected, Rachel seriously considered getting her nose done. But she didn’t want just any nose, she wanted Quinn’s nose.

The two of them together at the plastic surgeon’s led to a nice mash-up of West Side Story’s I Feel Pretty and TLC’s Unpretty. Speaking of unpretty, Lauren decided to run for prom queen and decided to dig up some dirt on Quinn. It turns out that our resident pretty girl wasn’t always pretty. In junior high, she was a fat, frumpy brace face with bad acne! In a move that was completely mean-spirited, Lauren plastered the school with Quinn’s old junior high school photo. However, the humiliated Quinn had the last laugh when Lauren’s trick backfired. Quinn ended up getting the respect of her high school classmates for being able to change her image. At least Lauren did apologize.

Meanwhile, Santana decided if the team wanted a shot a nationals they needed Kurt back. Of course, before he’d come back, they’d have to deal with the Karofsky issue. After what she’d overheard last week and then catching Karofsky checking out another guy’s backside, Santana put her plan in motion.

She had a come to Jesus with him where she revealed to him that she was gay too. She offered to be his beard and not to out him, if he convinced Kurt to come back. First Karofsky apologized to the glee club and then to Kurt and his dad directly. Eventually, (after Kurt told him he’d have to help him start a gay support group) Kurt agreed to come back.

We had one more song from The Warblers as they came to say goodbye to Kurt. Blaine got a little choked up singing Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know. I hope Kurt’s return doesn’t mean we’ve heard the last of The Warblers.

Meanwhile everyone tried to convince Rachel to keep her nose. Finn told her she was beautiful. Kurt and Puck orchestrated a flash mob at the mall around Duck Sauce’s Barbra Streisand (worst song of the evening, the season and just about the whole damn series).

Back in adult world, we didn’t even have as much as an appearance from Sue, but we did get the whole Will and Emma (Wilma? EmIl?) relationship back on track. To teach the self-acceptance Will wanted all the kids to wear t-shirts that featured what they needed to accept about themselves. Finn’s said Can’t Dance. Rachel’s said Nose. Mercedes’s said No Weave (yeah, I didn’t get that one either). Will wanted Emma to wear one that said OCD and set an example for the kids. She backed out and went with Ginger because she’s a red head. Emma ended up talking to a therapist and actually taking the first step to deal with her OCD.

Overall I really enjoyed the super-sized episode. I have to go on record being frustrated with Finn. On the one hand, he’s telling Rachel she’s beautiful and looking at her with longing. On the other hand, he carries a wallet-sized photo of the Junior High version of Quinn and talks about how much he loves her regardless of her appearance. The writers need to give this boy some clear direction.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrity Apprentice ... Winning at Losing

She lost her voice and her chance to
be the next Celebrity Apprentice.
Although I’m glad he’s gone, the absence of Big Wednesday was palpable on last night’s Celebrity Apprentice. They tried to get Meat Loaf to bring the crazy but that didn’t work. Nene Leakes did bring some crazy but not any Busey crazy. Oh well! Life goes on.

And so we have another week and another challenge. This week’s challenge involved the Trump hotels. Each team had to produce a four-page ad for the Trump Hotel Collection and deliver a presentation on their advertisement.

This was definitely outside of the men’s wheelhouse. So between Meat, Lil Jon and Jon Rich, JR stepped up to the project manager plate. This was, however, a no-brainer for the women. Star Jones who would tell us many times over the next two hours, loved luxury and wanted to take on the task.

Backbone had a hard time with the concept. Even after a visit from the Trump executives, they had a hard time. In fact, neither team seemed to hear what the executives were saying. They said, very clearly, they wanted something different and not a run-of-the-mill hotel ad.

Backbone came up with a concept called Live the Life which involved photos of the outside of the hotels, a server with a napkin draped over his arm and a shirt and tie photo that was suppose to remind people of Donald Trump (say it with me ‘run-of-the-mill’). Oh yeah, all four pages had paragraphs of text.

Over at A.S.A.P. Star, of course, had a fabulous idea. She’d have four different photo that emphasized luxury: Hope in a tub surrounded by rose petals, two other scenes and a big ‘ladies who lunch’ theme with all of them around the table. As LaToya said, it was not very original; but it was a Star Jones production.

In her bossy bougie element, Star set out assigning tasks and telling people what to do. She wanted Nene and LaToya to go shopping together … or maybe not. The bad feelings between those two finally boiled over and Star made the wise decision to stop everything and have them sort out their differences. After the ladies got on the same page, they thought they’d be unstoppable … but of course, all that love didn’t last long.

Forgetting about NYC traffic, the girls didn’t get back on time which put several of the photo shoots behind schedule. As Nene tried to set up her scene with Hope, Star stood behind her barking orders. Of course, Nene barked back. It was ugly … but made for good reality TV.

Putting the ads together was only half of the task. The other half was the presentation. The guys talked about their experiences at the hotels. Star took over for the ladies and had the girls back her up with random words that promoted the hotel. It was okay the first time but after that the random chorus of words “Luxurious.” “Sophisticated.” “Classic.” It got real old, real fast.

Ironically, it was the judges who provided a lot of the laughs. One of the executives compared Star’s ad to an ad for a sleazy club that someone would stick under your windshield. They also pointed out that Hope, the Playmate of the Year, was wearing a towel in the tub and drinking from an unopened bottle of champagne. When Donald Trump asked them about the ads, one of them said "It was more a car wreck than an ad campaign.” In fact, they didn’t even want to pick a winner, saying "This is really a case of the lesser of two evils. There really isn’t a winner. The loser is…"

And the loser was, … the women. Star was stunned.

Next Nene accused Hope and Marlee of ‘crawling up Star’s ass.’ At this point, the man who wants to be the nation’s president said, “By the way, much nicer now that she lost all the weight." Clearly, crawling up Star Jones’s ass must be a much more pleasant experience now that she’s slimmer! Yes, this is definitely the man I want talking to various heads of state.

Since Marlee and Hope had very little to do with the task, it was easy to figure out that both Nene and La Toya were coming back into the board room. Although Star was the project manager, she wasn’t going down without a fight. It all came down to who was the ‘weakest player’ and although she rallied and really did try to defend herself, La Toya ended up taking that long limo ride to where ever. In a telling move, on her way to the elevator, she hugged Nene goodbye and gave Star a very cold shoulder. Brrrr!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

American Idol:

Stefano Langone is gone.
Usually  I like it when the Idol Results show bypasses the insipid group opening number. I welcome the duets, trios and other incarnations of contestants. These smaller group numbers normally are well done and come off more professional and polished. Not tonight.

Lauren, Haley, Stefano and Jacob did Train's Hey Soul Sister. It's a charming song and I loved the way The Warblers did it on Glee, but here? Tonight? On American Idol? Not so much. Their voices just didn't blend. It didn't sound good at all.

Next, the three fellas were up: Scotty, James and Casey did their version of Coldplay's Viva La Vida. Their trio didn't do much better than the quartet that came before them. I guess maybe it's up to song choice and choosing contestants that sound good together.

Then it was on to the eliminations. The first up were Casey and Jacob. And Jacob became the first person in the Bottom Three. But ... before we got more results, we had a musical break from David Cook. I like David Cook but I didn't like this song and I seriously don't expect to ever hear it again.

Up next were Lauren, Stefano and James. ... Stefano joined Jacob on the stools.

Again,... before we got more results, we had another musical break. This time it was from Katy Perry. I like Katy Perry but I didn't like this song but I seriously expect to hear it ad nauseum for the next several months.

Finally, there was one seat left and it came down to Scotty and Haley ... Haley took the third stool. And just as quickly as that happened, she was sent to safety.

So there were just two guys left and for the second week in a row, a guy was going home. I just knew it would be Jacob. Imagine my surprise when after the longest pause ever ... Ryan ... Seacrest ... announced ... that ... the ... one ... going ... home ... would ... be ... (wait) ... (wait for it some more) ... (and now this is just f**kin' annoying) .... (just say it damn it) ... .... .... Stefano!

American Idol: 21st Century

The Idols were challenged this week to pick a song from this current century. It definitely beats having these teens and twenty-somethings sing something from the Rat Pack era. Instead of getting straight into the contestants, the show kicked off with a performance of Pink’s So What? from all the Idols who’ve been voted off (Paul, Pia, Karen, Thia, Naima, and Ashthon). It was an energetic performance but seeing almost all the girls on stage like that at once was jarring.

And then the real show began.

Scotty kicked things off with another country song I’d never heard before. It was Swingin’ by LeeAnn Rimes which actually seemed to have something to do with swinging in a swing and not something more –ahem – adult themed (I need to get my mind out of the gutter). What can I say? It was a safe Scotty performance. Not his best but I don’t think it was his worst. He’ll be safe to swing another week.

James Durbin took on Muse’s Uprising, walking through the audience with a cadre of marching band drummers behind him. James put on a show and had a rocker song that really allowed him to focus on his vocals. With the energy and the spectacle, this should have been the opening number. Scotty and his swing should have been second.

Haley took on Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. It’s a song about heartache and I wasn’t sure usually peppy and perky Haley would be up to the challenge but she attempted to interpret the lyrics. Albeit, I don't think she ever fully connected to them. At least she didn’t try to imitate Adele which would have been disastrous. Picking such a currently popular song though is a risk. After seeing the opening with a number from all those voted off girls, tomorrow night might not bode well for Haley.

Jacob came out (well not really) with Luther’s Dance with My Father. He’s been compared to Luther but he’s no Luther. I’m not saying that in a bad way, he’s not Luther. He’s Jacob. Anyway, the song has a lot of meaning because he lost his dad when he was 12. Personally, I wouldn’t advise someone to sing a song that personal and emotional but he managed to pull it off. It was a good interpretation but I have a feeling, it won’t be enough. Jacob could be going home.

Casey decided to cover my favorite band Maroon 5. To be honest (maybe a little too honest) I sort of threw up in my mouth a little when they said he’d be doing a Maroon 5 song (I tend to eat a late dinner). He chose Harder to Breathe and actually did a pretty good job with it until the end. The scatting was okay but after that it descended into hot mess category ... including the kiss to J Lo. People can try to sell me on Casey all day long but he's not all that as a singer and when it comes to looks and sex appeal, he is no Adam Levine!

Stefano went with Ne-Yo's Closer. This was the best song choice he could have made. The song was squarely in his vocal range. There was no deep connection he needed to make with the lyrics (because so far he's been terrible at that). He got to move around the stage and actual do a dance step or two. For the first time in this competition, I really enjoyed a Stefano performance.

Lauren Alaina, like Scotty, sang a country song I'd never heard before, Born to Fly by Sara Evans. She and Scotty must be reading from the same play book. Like Scotty she sang it well and played it safe. I thought she was boring. She could be headed for the Bottom Three.

Bottom Three:

Going home ... Jacob

Glee Is Back ...

I’ve literally been counting the days down to this new Glee episode. In fact, during another epically stressful day at work, at time, the only thing that was getting me through was the new episode of Glee. When it was all said and done? It was a let down.

New Directions needed money to go to New York but several members of the club (Mike, Tina, Artie, … and Brittany) were also members of the academic team, the Brainiacs, who couldn’t afford to attend their championship in Detroit. So New Directions decided to show support for their teammates by raising money for the Detroit trip first.

Shue who seems perennially stuck in his 90’s high school heyday, came up with the brilliant idea to sell salt water taffy. However, Holly Holiday (another appearance by Gwneth Paltrow) had the idea for a fund raising concert around a Night of Neglect theme (more on that later).

When Sue got wind of the concert idea, she gathered together her trifecta of Glee club terror known as the Legion of Doom made up up Sandy Ryerson (former glee club advisor), Dustin Goolsby (head of Vocal Adrenaline) and Will’s ex Teri. She decided to take down New Directions by having Dustin go after Holly and Sandy set up hecklers in the audience at the show.

Bright Spots
I’ll start with what I liked best because that’s the shorter list.

  •  Brittany saving the day at the Brainiac competition with her encyclopedic knowledge of cat diseases.
  • Mercedes singing Aretha Franklin’s Aint No Way
  • The promise of the League of Doom
  • Santana, Blaine and Kurt standing up to Karofsky (so does Santana know his secret now???)

Everything Else

 We knew Gwyneth was in for a short run so to have her relationship with Shue begin and end on the same episode was silly. If they were going to do a relationship arc, they should have at least stretched it over three episodes. Likewise, we did have Carl for a handful of episodes but with that blink and you’d miss it throwaway line about Carl wanting an annulment, it was a crappy way to tie up the Emma/Carl storyline. It’s John Stamos! Didn’t he at least deserve a final scene?
The whole Night of Neglect concept fizzled. Was it about artist neglected by New Directions (like Aretha Franklin)? Was it about one hit wonders like Eric Carmen (okay he had a couple hits All by Myself and Hungry Eyes from Dirty Dancing)? Gwyneth was singing Adele who is anything but neglected.
Out of nowhere Sunshine Corazon (Charice) shows up to 'help' and to sing. However, after promising her help and filling the seats with her 600 Twitter followers, she folds and doesn't show for the performance (neither do her Twitter friends). I know the girl has pipes. However, I don't know if it's her acting or her character but whatever it is it isn't working for me. The show has enough singers and if that is the extent of her contribution, they don't need her either.
Outside of Dustin Goolsby/Sergeant Handsome’s attempt to seduce, the League of Doom was just done.
And, I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, Mercedes needs a storyline that doesn’t revolve around her whining about not getting more solos. Even Tina and Mike have better storylines than Mercedes. The whole thing about her having outrageous diva demands was annoying. And while I'm at it, Lauren is just plain annoying.
Well, we do have a 90 minute episode to look forward to next week. 

Celebrity Apprentice: No More Big Wednesday!

Let's hope Big Wednesday is a little more
impressive than his thumb? Then again, I
really don't want to know that...
Dearest blog reader,

I apologize for being MIA these past few days. Work has been intense. It all kicked off on Sunday (and I normally don’t work weekends). What should have been a few hours ended up being just over 13! And it’s been crazy all week. So I did make it home in time to see Mr. Busey go bust, but writing about it just wasn’t going to happen.

So for this week, I’m going to keep it short. If you want a full recap of the show, check this out. Instead I’m going to leave you with my impressions.

The Task
Omaha Steaks were the featured product. Each team had to conduct a live cooking demonstration with three meals designed for three different occassions. They also had to create a variety pack showcasing various Omaha Steak products.

It Was About Time
I’ve enjoyed the bizarreness of Gary Busey as much as the next Apprentice fan but it was time for him to go. The kookiness was beginning to wear a little thin and at this point for him to stay would have meant that better and more dedicated players would have had to leave.

However, in his time as project manager, he proved why he should go. In the end, his decision to make Meat Loaf the chef for the task was a good idea. However, the way he did it (with no discussion with his team) was not executed well. The questions he asked to the executives for Ohama Steaks were off-the-mark ("What states do the cattle come from?" "How are they slaughtered?"). The fact that Lil Jon and John Rich just stood there and played no part whatsoever during the demonstration was noted too.

Yet, the best example of Busey-ness came during the demonstration when Gary had to talk about the occasions each dish were made for. His Father’s Day story about the kids cooking dinner for dad started off touching, moving and in line with the product. Then he veered off into kite territory. The kids got him a kite as a gift and they went outside to fly it together. Sure at the end, the kite said something about Omaha Steaks but by that time, you could see the “WTF?” looks on the faces of the audience.

In fact, when he re-told that story in the boardroom, you could see everyone stifling their laughter … including The Donald. The only one who was serious about it was Gary Busey. Yes, it was time for him to go.

John Rich FTW
I’m down with John Rich for the win. I’m loving this guy more and more every week. He’s a hard worker. He’s creative (he’s come up with some great jingles). He raised over a half million dollars for his charity. He plays it straight and best of all … he ain’t taking no crap.

He saw right through Gary Busey saying he was either crazy or a brilliant saboteur and he went with the latter. When Gary stepped to him and inquired about their relationship he told him exactly what he thought. He didn’t backtrack or mince words. He said exactly what he meant.

Apparently, there was an incident off camera where Gary called John ‘boy’ and, oh boy, that did not sit well with John! He went off about it several times. Gary denied it. Of course, he’d also denied tons of stuff we’d seen him do, so I kind of do believe he said it.

Hope What’s-Her-Name
The Playmate of the Year (because let’s be honest, with her unpronounceable last name, that’s what we all know her as) stepped up to manage the project. Who knows if she could have been a good project manager. I would like to know but Star saw her chance and pretty much managed the task herself. When the women in the board room called Hope a good manager, it was laughable.

La Toya Jackson
She can’t make a burger. Sure, as she said, she grew up with cooks, but really? She’s one of the oldest Jacksons (I think), so you mean to tell me Katherine never taught them how to make a burger way back in the day when they were still in Gary, Indiana? When she started the fire in the kitchen it was ridiculous. The only think more ridiculous was the comment Nene made about her trying to recreate the Pepsi/MJ hair on fire moment.

Next Week
Looking forward to the Star/Nene blow-up, Without Gary Busey, I'm counting on that duo to bring the crazy and I don’t think they’ll disappoint.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

American Idol: And the Award for the Lowest Number of Votes goes to ...

Those teeth! So bright!
So white! So straight!
Tonight, I have to be brief. This will be the quick and dirty (well not really dirty) version of tonight's results show. Thankfully, there was no big group open, just three performances throughout the hour. First up were Scotty and Lauren who sang a Lady Antebellum song and sang it well. I think these two could record a hit country duet.

Next up Casey and Haley did a jazzy song called Mornin' (or was it Mourin'). Haley's voice lends itself naturally to a jazzier feel. As much Idol tries to force Casey on me. I just don't get it. He is not a great jazz performer.

So the two duos were the first to face elimination and Ryan informed us that one of them was not safe. As our first duo (Scotty and Lauren) made it back to the sofa, it was either Haley or Casey who'd be taking a seat on one the the Bottom Three stools.

Next, we got another taste of country flavor when we heard from Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean. Our duets gave way to a quartet as the guys (Jacob, James, Paul and Stefano)  performed several songs from The Graduate: Sounds of Silence and Mrs. Robinson.

When it came to the four of them, it was no surprise that James was the first to be sent back to the safety of the sofa. What was sort of surprising is that Jacob was the next one sent to safety. The Bottom Three was complete with Haley, Paul and Stefano.

Next we had a slow song from Rihanna. I like some of her songs but I'm not a huge fan. I'll give her credit though, she was good. I have to say that I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate the red hair. Bozo the Clown has never been sexy.

Anyway, back to the Bottom Three. So far, as Ryan reminded us, since the Top 13, only female contestants have been eliminated. So when Haley was sent to safety, it was clear that the first male contestant would be going home. And, it was ... Paul.

Unlike last week's tearful exit. Paul went out with his Pepsodent smile and a rousing version of Maggie May.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

American Idol Goes to the Movies

Tonight's show was more flop than
The Top Eight took on songs from the movies tonight. So far this season, I have been impressed by this crop of contestants but tonight ... not so much. I wish instead of movies, they could do songs from TV. I bet Jacob could do a mean cover of the Jefferson's theme song. I digress.

Paul McDonald kicked things off with Old Time Rock-n-Roll. Okay, I think I'm sort of over Paul. I still like his energy and his smile but his voice is starting to work my nerves and please, lose the floral suits! I've heard his band Grand Magnolia and he's a solid singer with his group. But as an Idol contestant, I'm over him. If it doesn't work out with his band, maybe he could do commercials for Orbitz gum or Crest White Strips.

Lauren Alaina had an uphill battle with Miley Cyrus's The Climb. I hate this song but I usually like Lauren ... not tonight. She bored me. Sure, she hit some big notes at the end, but it was too little and too late.

Ironically, it actually could be The End of the Road for Stefano Langone. He can hit the big notes but for me his interpretation of the song is always off. Tonight, it felt rushed to me. The judges loved it but me? Meh. And what was he wearing? He looked like he was taking a walk down Sesame Street!

Scotty McCreery was going to sing Everybody's Talking At Me and I thought that would have been a great song choice. However, he changed it up and decided to do George Straight's Cross My Heart. Don't know the song but he seemed to do it justice. I always feel off-center watching Scotty. The way he tilts his head and his mic are just odd.

Casey Abrams went creepy jazzy with Nat King Cole's Nature Boy. The jazzy feel was nice. It was actually a bold choice. He gets a few points for that. However, he loses points for the weird grunts, the creepy glances and the scatting. Of course, I could be wrong, after all, he ended up getting a standing ovation!

Hayley Reinhart channeled her inner Debbie Harry and sang Call Me. As a huge Blondie fan, this song is actually harder than it seems to pull off. She started off well but by the end was way too screamy and screechy for me. Loved the dress and the boots though.

Jacob did his version of Bridge Over Troubled Water. I loved the dressing down Jimmy Iovine gave Jacob in his intro package. Jimmy asked, "How is he going to lecture 24 million viewers about The Man in the Mirror when you haven't even recorded a record yet?" Jacob needed to be humbled and he was. He emerged this week more restrained and not so full of himself. I sort of hoped he'd do the Aretha version of the song but I'm sure he didn't want to alienate people by going too gospel.

James Durbin closed the show with Heavy Metal. Jimmy and had a few different song suggestions for James but in the end he went with his gut. I'm not sure whether or not that was a good choice. He nailed it but it was really heavy metal so I don't know if he might have turned a few people off.

My picks for the Bottom Three:
  1. Lauren
  2. Haley
  3. Stefano

Monday, April 11, 2011

Celebrity Apprentice: Fool's Gold

Yes, Mark, I'm just as perplexed as you
are. Exactly what does Gary Busey have
to do to get fired?????
If he didn’t know it before, Gary Busey emerged from last week’s boardroom knowing he had a target on his back. He wasn’t happy about that. Yet, the focus quickly turned to the record-setting amount of money the teams made. Focusing on the win/win provided a desperately needed positive vibe.

The Project: This week’s project would be all about Australian Gold sun care products. Both teams would have to work with a 10 x 10 glass box and determine a theme for the products that would start in the box but also incorporate the area outside of the box. They’d be judged on creativity, brand messaging and what was going on outside and around the box.

The PMs: Mark McGrath stepped up quickly for the guys, as did LaToya for the women.

The guys started brainstorming and immediately came up with a pirate theme. They’d dress up as pirates and feature lots of hot chicks! In true rocker fashion, Mark stated, “You can never get enough chicks.” Meat Loaf, when noting that ASAP had a former Playmate of the Year on their team, said the guys had to “fight cleavage with cleavage.”

In the first of several significant moments, Gary Busey gave everybody a creepy feeling. When the representatives from Australian Gold came to talk with the guys, he interjected, “It [Australian Gold products] gives you a sexual feeling.” Immediately I got a scary visual of Gary using some Australian Gold lotion to feel ‘sexual’ and threw up in my mouth a little bit. You could see one of the female representatives actually squirming in her chair (I think she had the same visual).

In a wise move, Mark sent Gary and Lil Jon (to babysit Gary) to the costume store while he, John Rich and Meat, got down to the business of the task. When they met with the builders for the box, they knew exactly what they wanted and the builders got busy creating it.

Their box looked good. The costumes worked and the boys even had a jingle/chant about Australian Gold. Tons of fun, great energy, everything was going well until the AG reps showed up and Gary hijacked them. He went on one of his passionate, rambling, nonsensical speeches and then started trying to pitch himself as an Australian Gold spokesperson. When Mark, tried to come over and redirect the conversation and get it back on task, Gary gave him a little shove. Eventually, the guys did get it back on track, but the damage had been done.

Speaking of damages, ASAP’s brainstorming was more like brain drizzling – very light and misty. La Toya eventually came up with a gold guy and girl (models) painted in gold and having fun in the sun. It wasn’t original, but no one had anything else. It was almost as if the girls (especially Nene and Star) wanted to lose so they could get rid of her.

Since this seemed right up Hope’s alley, even though it was cold, she offered to be the bikini girl. La Toya didn’t agree. Apparently, she thought a former Playmate of the Year would be better utilized as a shopper on the task instead of the face (and body) of the task.

With no clear vision, they headed into their meeting with the builders of the box. The looks on the builders’ faces were priceless as they quickly realized that the plan was that there was no plan. The girls ended up making their own box.

The only thing La Toya really wanted was sand. She wanted lots and lots of sand. She called Nene and asked them to bring 125 fifty pound bags of sand to the site. Marlee did some quick math and determined that was over 6,000 pounds!

At the last minute, La Toya, scared that her idea wasn’t creative enough, added a snow scene to her ’vision’ because you need sun screen on snowy days too. So they had a box with a gold painted guy fanning a girl and outside the box a beach volleyball game to one side and snow on the other. And this was creative?

No it wasn’t and when Donald Jr. popped by the display Nene couldn’t wait to tell them how badly her team sucked and what a terrible project manager La Toya was. And, … she did it while holding up the head of the koala costume she had to wear.

Of course, before the boardroom the Australian Gold reps had to talk to Trump about the winner. They too had hoped that Hope would show off her ass…ets for Australian Gold.

Against all odds ASAP one and La Toya lived to annoy her team yet another day … if Nene didn’t kill her first. The women were dismissed and went to watch the proceedings on TV. Instead of being happy about pulling out a win, Nene went after La Toya for going after her in the boardroom (even though Nene has gone after La Toya with every opportunity she’s had … including the koala conversation with Donald Jr). She called La Toya “old” and told her she needed to act her age. She also called her “Casper the Ghost” which was hateful but kind of true (you know how those Jacksons love to look light!).

Mark McGrath threw himself on the sword saying if the pirate theme was the problem that he’d be the one who had to go. When Trump asked his team who should go everyone agreed … Gary. So it came down to Mark and Gary and even though he hasn’t contributed anything to any project (but kookiness), Trump kept Gary and fired Mark McGrath (who is crazy hot when he doesn’t have his hair slicked back Gordon Gekko style).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

American Idol Results: Full of Surprises!

Talk about a stunner!

Last week's duets were a nice change of pace, but this week we were back to our amusement park-like opening number - a mash-up of I Love Rock n Roll and My Baby Wrote me a Letter.

I was ready for some results ... but not so fast. We had a package featuring Russell Brand who dropped by to teach our Idol wannabes about stage presence. Well,at least they seemed to enjoy him.

The first three to learn of their fates were Lauren, Casey and Stefano. Lauren was the first to return to safety, followed by Casey. It was a bit awkward when Ryan revealed that Kelly Clarkson had a crush on him. He had nothing to say, a wise movie, especially if the rumors of he and Haley being an item are true. Stefano, well he wasn't safe, he was sent to one of the three ominous stools.

After the break, we heard from Season 4 alum and Tony Award nominee (Rock of Ages) Constantine Maroulis. He did a rock take of Unchained Melody. For me it was an odd rendition. On the bright side, he looked good.

Next up we were treated to a package about yesterday's feature stylist, Gwen Stefani. If you were wondering what the hell Lauren was thinking in those scrunchie shorts, or why Pia looked like a Jersey Girl heading to Studio 54 circa 1977, you got your answer.

The next three facing elimination were Paul, Pia and Scotty. It wasn't a surprise that Scotty was the first of the three sent to safety. However, I was completely surprised when Paul was safe and Pia was the second one sent to the Bottom Three.

Since this episode seems to be pretty package happy, we had another package where the Harvey and his team over at TMZ gave the Idols a little media training. It was funny but I was ready for some more results.

The final three were James, Haley and Jacob. Poor Jacob he looked devastated. He looked as if he knew he'd be in the bottom three and ... he was right. So there were had our troubled trio: Stefano, Pia and Jacob.

Of course, we couldn't just get to the results. We had to hear from a resurrected Iggy Pop who cavorted around the stage shirtless singing Wild One. He actually looked pretty good for his age and for not being dead (I really did think he was dead).

The first person sent to safety with a major fake-out by Ryan was Jacob. I was stunned. However, the real stunner was what happened next. Stefano was safe and Pia was sent packing.

The audience erupted with boos. The judges were ticked off. Randy was mad. Steven was upset. Jennifer was stunned. I thought the save was wasted on Casey and this proved it. She should have been saved.

She went out with class and sang, I'll Stand by You. I had her making it to the top five if not top three. Damn.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

American Idol: Cleveland Rocks!

On the banks of luscious Lake Erie
sits the jewel of Northeast Ohio, the
Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.
I was born and raised in Cleveland, and there aren't many occasions where my hometown gets a lot of love. However, we do have the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame going for us. Tonight our Fine Nine had to choose songs from Hall of Fame inductees. The great think about the Hall is that there are all kinds of inductees from Elvis to Johnny Cash to Run DMC. Everyone should be able to find a song that fits firmly in their wheelhouse (even Scotty). This would be an interesting evening.

Jacob Lusk didn't disappoint. He kicked off the night with Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror. He's been listening! Less facial contortions and a more restrained performance. The only issue I had was at the end of his introductory package he said something about if he was in the bottom three it wasn't because he didn't sing well but because America wasn't ready to look in the mirror. That arrogance will cost him some votes.

After being compared to her all season, Haley Reinhart decided to tackle the Janis Joplin classic, Piece of My Heart. The judges loved it but I didn't think she did Janis justice. If anything, she showed how much she isn't like Janis to me.

Keeping up the classic rock vibe was Casey James. With his upright bass in tow, he took on Credence Clearwater Revival's Have You Ever Seen the Rain? This was actually a good choice for him as he actually sounded a little like CCR's lead singer, John Fogerty.

Lauren Alaina put a country spin on Aretha Franklin's Natural Woman. The irony is that Gwen Stefani, who helped style the Idols this week, made sure she didn't look like a natural woman! LOL! She had her faux-hawk, and heavy make-up with bright red lipstick. Her version was sung well but it was a bit lethargic. I wanted more energy.

Energy is something we usually get from James Durbin in spades. This week he toned it down and tackled The Beatles While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Since Rock-n-Roll night was firmly in his wheelhouse, I didn't know what to expect from James, but I didn't expect this. It was a bold choice and he sang the song well and saved the scream for the end. Restraint paid off again.

Channeling his inner Elvis, Scotty shunned his country shenanigans and went straight rock. He seemed to have a good time with That's Alright. He got the crowd involved and even had an Elvis like gaggle of girls run up on stage at the end.

Pia Toscano promised she'd go more uptempo if she made it through last week. She kept her word. She went with Tina Turner's River Deep, Mountain High. She's a solid singer so she nailed it vocally. However, I've seen trees on a day with no wind that aren't as stiff as that girl. She needs to get some moves!

Finally! Stefano Langone actually connected with the lyrics. He sang Percy Sledge's When a Man Loves a Woman. For I think the first time this season, he seemed to have an emotional connection with the words.

Closing the show was Paul McDonald. He made a curious song choice, Johnny Cash's Folsom County Prison. Okay.... Paul's unique voice didn't quite seem suited for Johnny Cash. Yet he took the stage with his guitar and a few other musicians and made it feel like a concert. He actually made it work

Predictions for the Bottom Three:
Hayley Reinhart
Jacob Lusk
Stefano Langone

Monday, April 4, 2011

Celebrity Apprentice: For Those Who like Their Meatloaf Kind Of Spicy

Nobody puts Meat Loaf in a corner!
I was excited for this episode for two reasons. First, it was the first Dionne-free episode. Second, they've been hyping up the Meat Loaf meltdown all week and I wanted to see it in all of its beefy glory.

The Task: The teams were challenged to get artistic. They had to create works of art to be auctioned off. They also had to each design a baseball hat and the person with the best design would win $25,000 for their charity.

The PMs: John Rich stepped up immediately for Backbone. Both La Toya Jackson and Marlee Matlin jumped up for the women with Marlee taking the lead.

Before the task got underway, Jose Conseco approached The Donald. His father, who was suffering from cancer, had taken a turn for the worst and he would have to leave the show. My assumption is he won't be back. Trump said he would donate $25,000 to his charity.

John Rich made it clear upfront that his goal was to raise as much money as possible. He wanted to show that he was a cowboy who wasn't "all hat and no cattle."  He told everyone to call in all of their big donors because at the end of the day it was about the money and the charity. He was having some big wigs fly up from Nashville and he expected the rest of the celebrity apprentices to follow his lead.

It was off to Michael's for art supplies. Gary Busey asked Meat Loaf to buy his supplies and Meat got a little ticked off. Since Meat's artistic vision involved basketballs, he and Mark McGrath headed over to a sporting goods store and Mark tried to diffuse some of the tension.

Back at their studio space, all of the guys were finding their supplies and getting started. As best as I can tell, Meat and Gary got a lot of the same items. When Meat couldn't find his bag, he went off on Gary. I mean yelled, screamed, tried to get in his face. Gary wisely (yes, I just said "Gary wisely") chose not to respond. McGrath and Rich separated the guys and John Rich reminded them that this was all about charity. Then Meat found his bag of art supplies, so all of the drama was over nothing. While tensions still simmered they were able to get work done. In fact, they worked together so well, that they got to their studio space and set up early.

Now that he'd had time to cool off, a teary-eyed Meat Loaf (or would that be soggy Meat Loaf) offered an apology to Busey. Busey accepted his apology and offered his 'definition' of forgive: Finding Ourselves Really Giving Individuals Valuable Energy.

When it was time to open the doors, they had an impressive line of people waiting to get in. As Lil Jon offered, "It felt good to be rolling in the dough when you open the do'." They got $5,000 in cash from former Celebrity Apprentice and country singer Trace Adkins, not to mention, a few really large sales and donations including one for $470,000.

Richard Hatch was extremely nervous because as a reality star recently paroled from prison, he really didn't have friends with deep pockets. He did his best to drum up sales but he really wasn't pulling in the big bucks. He put a lot of effort into his baseball hat design, coming up with one that included little roses. The hat prompted Lil Jon to say, "Damn Richard! That's a really gay ass hat! But, hey, that's you."

Marlee Matlin wasn't having it! She started of saying there would be no backstabbing or fighting and that the women would come together. Period. It seemed to work as the women got through the Michael's shopping spree in one piece.

Marlee stated plainly (to the camera and not the group) that it was time for La Toya to step up her game. And La Toya did step up in a big way. She donated one of her brother Michael's t-shirts. It was a very limited edition of the last shirt he had approved for his tour before he passed. It was autographed and she carried it around with her daily. She knew he was all about charity and said he would have wanted her to donate it.

The ladies put some serious work into their art but it put them behind time wise. They ended up stuck in Friday evening New York traffic and didn't arrive at the studio until 30 minutes before they were set to open. In fact, several guys from Backbone (Mark and Lil Jon) decided to take a peek at how the ladies were setting up and were shocked to find their space empty.

At first, with smaller crowds and their late start, it looked like the girls were easily facing their fourth loss in a row, but Marlee and company didn't just work the crowds they worked the phones and the email. Star manned the email and the phone and started taking in some major orders.

The Boardroom
Both groups did amazing, according to Trump. In fact, in this one episode, they raised more money than they had in an entire season. John Rich was confident that Backbone had won. Marlee was just as confident. So before announcing a winner Trump asked the two if they wanted to strike a deal. Because so much money was earned, Trump wanted the loser to be able to keep the money they earned for his/her charity. They quickly agreed.

And the winner was ... ASAP! Marlee broke the losing streak by earning $986,000. John Rich wasn't too shabby either. Backbone earned over $600,000. Since she was so close , Trump donated another $14,000 to Marlee so she made a cool million.

La Toya proved herself not just with the t-shirt but by winning the baseball hat design challenge and earning $25,000 for her charity and her team.

Since Jose had left and both teams had earned a boatload of money, Trump left it up to the ladies to decide who, if anyone, should be sent home. Since they had suffered so many loses, they agreed that one of the guys had to go.

Trump let the ladies sit in on the elimination and offer their own opinions. Not surprisingly, the guys wanted Gary gone. Marlee came to his defense touting him as a creative force. The tides then turned to the one who earned the least money ... Richard Hatch. Without even giving him a chance to defend himself, he was fired.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Just Catching Up

So it’s been a busy week but I couldn’t let it go by without commenting on two shows.

Body of Proof
Sassy swagger is great but I'm going to
need more than that if I'm going to keep
a new show on my TV schedule.

Dana Delaney is a medical examiner in Body of Proof. The pilot aired Tuesday and although it was sort of rocky, I’m willing to give it another chance. Delany’s Dr. Megan Hunt is a former neurosurgeon who can no longer practice because of an injury to her hand several years ago. Clearly a career switch was in order, enter medical examination.

The case involved a jogger who was found dead by the Delaware River. Hunt and her partner, ex-cop Peter Dunlop (Nicholas Bishop) are assigned to the case. Needless to say, they clash with the homicide detectives assigned to the case, Bud Morris (John Carroll Lynch) and Samantha Baker (Sonja Sohn). Her boss is played by Jeri Ryan - who offered little more than a cameo in this episode.

This was a pilot episode so I’m willing to give it some time to gel. Right now, I enjoyed watching Dr. Hunt and her cocky brilliance, but no one else was really allowed to shine, the rest of the characters fell flat and there was little chemistry between Hunt and her partner. I’m going to need them to flesh out the supporting cast a little bit before I am completely on board with this show.

Also the de rigueur story line with the ‘evil ex-husband’ and the 'estranged' pre-teen daughter is already tired to me so I hope they take that in a more interesting direction very soon.

Grey’s goes Glee
If I watch this/ If I just watch this/
Would you promise me to/ Never do it again?
A singing dramatic episode immediately brought Cop Rock to mind. The difference being I never actually watched an episode of the short-lived, ill-fated musical drama. I did watch this. And well, it was … okay. It was wildly uneven with some questionable song choices but okay. I’m saying okay because of the non-musical elements not so much for the singing. I liked the way the relationship between Mark and Arizona and Mark and Lexie were handled. As far as the singing, it should never ever happen again. Also why have Addison come in for a cross over cameo and only give her like two lines? What was the point of that?

Back to the music. Thankfully, Callie did most of the singing. She won a Tony for Spamalot. In the first song, Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, she was joined by Broadway vet Chandra Wilson (Chicago, Carolyn or Change, Avenue Q and On the Town) and Kevin McKidd (who plays Owen), who has a strong rock vibe. The lyrics fit the scene with Callie being worked on by all of the doctors (We'll do it all / Everything / On our own / We don't need/ Anything / Or anyone / If I lay here / If I just lay here / Would you lie with me / And just forget the world?)

However, as the show rolled on, I found a lot of the songs didn’t fully fit the situation like How We Operate (Gomez). Breathe (by Anna Nalick) worked best as well as The Fray’s, How to Save a Life at the end - although the singer lost a friend because he didn't know how to save a life. Then there was Running on Sunshine which gave everyone a chance to have a little light-hearted sex romp montage while Callie and baby fought for their lives. I’d give Shondra Rhimes and company an A for effort … I mean they did try something different; but I’d give them a C on execution.