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America’s Got Talent: Season 11, One Dozen Acts Live, 8/23/16

August 24th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Now that the Olympics are over, America’s Got Talent is back. I’ve heard this portion of the show being called the quarter-finals, but that implies four brackets and there’s only three. (Let’s just say the fourth bracket’s empty.) The thirty-six acts that made it past judges’ cuts have been divided into three groups of twelve, with each group being cut to seven by audience votes.  Tonight featured the last group of twelve–so which seven are the most likely to still be around after the results are announced on Wednesday?

1.  Vello Vaher, contortionist from Estonia, Simon buzzed him and I can’t see him bending and twisting for the length of a Vegas headline show.

2. Ronee Martin, 62-year-old R&B vocalist who, as Simon noted previously, the industry has somehow missed out on for all these years. She’s going to stay.

3. Kaden Bart Rockett, child magician, his sister Brooklyn’s his assistant, and these kids put new twists on magic, if America likes magic.

4.  Linkin Bridge, old-school R&B street singers, get a mixed reception from the judges.

5.  Alla and Daniel, mother-son dance team, also get a mixed reception from the judges.

6.  Blake Vogt, magician, who puts some unexpected twists of his own on magic. Will the the night’s two magic acts cancel each other out?

7.  Edgar, family music trio consisting of Ryan Edgar, Jaslyn Edgar, and Nikki Leonti-Edgar. Simon calls them his favorite act of the night.

8.  Julia Scottie, transgender comic, unfortunately delivers a spotty monologue. She gets some laughs but we can’t say she killed it.

9.  Brian Justin Crum, who’s a little like Adam Lambert, a little like Freddie Mercury, but has a tendency to over-sing. The judges and audiences love him, though.

10.  Malevo, Argentine dance troupe that Simon compares to Riverdance. He’s right, they could headline in Vegas, but I’d say right now, while Simon says, “… in two years.”

11.  The Passing Zone, juggling act, and this evening they have Howie, Mel, and Heidi swinging from bungee cords in the middle of the juggling. They’re good for some laughs but are they good enough for next week?

12.  Grace Vanderwaal, the 12-year-old singer with the ukelele, and Simon calls her singing “croaky.” (Last time he called her the next Taylor Swift.) I’d also call it loud, pitchy, and shrill. Plus she shows complete lack of experience. Very nice, Kid, now go back to your middle school talent show.

Who’s in:  bet big on Ronee Martin, Malevo, Edgar, Brian Justin Crum. Some combination of the two magic acts, Grace Vanderwaal, Linkin Bridge, and Julia Scottie are going to be in need of the Twitter save.

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America’s Got Talent, Season 11: Who’ll Get Voted Through? (8/2/16)

August 3rd, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

America’s Got Talent Season 11 is into the voting rounds, and Tuesday night’s episode presented twelve acts of which seven will be voted through to the next round. The next (and last) group of twelve must be scheduled for after the Olympics are over in twenty days.

So which acts look like they’re going to be above the cut line on Wednesday’s results show?

  • FLIP dance troupe, who are back as one of two “Wild Card” choices after being cut. Once they’re cut, they’re cut–shouldn’t that be the rule? The judges’ comments are mixed, making us wonder why the judges bothered with the callback.
  • Moya Angela, Broadway singer who’s trying to break out of the chorus, is going to be around a while.
  • Viktor Kee, a very extreme juggling act, could be below the cut line, because I’m not sure he’s Vegas headliner material.
  • Twelve-year-old country singer Kadie Lynn, and all signs say she’ll be here next week.
  • Ryan and Amberlynn caused some concern when their extreme freak-show magic act appeared to go awry. How many votes they’ll attract is questionable.
  • Sixteen-year-old singer Calysta Bevier isn’t going anywhere for a while.
  • Sophie Dossi, teenage contortionist and archer (with her feet, like The Hunger Games to a greater extreme) can do incredible stunts but I noticed a few flaws (which the judges didn’t mention). I’m not sure she’s ready to be Vegas headliner material.
  • The Clairvoyants–that’s the name of the act and that’s what Thommy and Amelie do. They have a different type of mind-reader act that’s impressive enough to get them through to the next round.
  • I’m so happy to be able to vote for Sal Valentinetti!  In one of the more shameful moments in American Idol history, this throwback Italian crooner was cut in group round despite being one of the more promising discoveries of Season 14. AGT is going to let the public decide whether to keep him or not, and tonight he showed he can headline in Vegas. He may be retro but there’s an audience for retro.
  • ThoWings, a trapeze act but without a trapeze, suffered from distracting staging–they were better when they didn’t have a strobe light. Simon didn’t like them either, pointing out that they just throw and catch. They’ll likely be below the cut line.
  • The evening’s second “Wild Card” act, Steve Brundage, is a magician who builds his act around the twisting of Rubic’s cubes. Once he’s cut, shouldn’t he stay cut? There’s supposed to be tremendous support for him on social media, but will that translate into enough votes to keep him above the cut line?
  •  Sos and Victoria bill themselves as the world’s fastest quick-change artists. Alright, so they’re masters of the ancient skill of quick-change wizardry–but is that enough for a Vegas headline act? The judges’ comments are mixed.

In summary, it looks like all four singers will be seen in the next round–but which three variety acts will join them? I’m guessing it’s the Clairvoyants, the Rubic’s cube guy, and whoever gets the Twitter save.

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America’s Got Talent, Season 11: Live Rounds Begin, 7/26/16

July 27th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Welcome back Simon Crowell!  He got me watching America’s Got Talent again. For season 11, the first night of the audience voting, let’s call the results for the first group of twelve to perform live (live on the east coast, that is). Five go home Wednesday night.  Which five?

  1. Jayna Brown, 14-year-old jazz/pop/soul singer, she’ll get to the next round.
  2. Outlawz, five teen hip-hop dancers, they’re unpolished but in a good way, except the judges gave them a mixed reception. They’re likely on the bubble.
  3. Lorie Mae Hernandez, she’s a cute “tween” comedienne but she doesn’t sound ready for Vegas. Bye, girl!
  4. Haru, amazing young Japanese magician, but he may get elbowed out by talent with home field advantage.
  5. Deadly Games, knife-thowing act w/ a Goth twist, they’ll get to the next round. I voted for them.
  6. Musicality, high school after-school choir from the rough side of Chicago, they’ll advance to the next round. I voted for them, too.
  7. Jon Dorembos, he plays for the Philadelphia Eagles and performs amazing magic tricks. He may be a little low-key for Vegas, but he’s not going anywhere for a while.
  8. Daniel Joyner, 17-year-old singer whose parents are church musicians. The judges acted unimpressed about his performance, but I suspect the voters will feel otherwise. I stuffed the ballot box for him.
  9. Tape Face, punky comic mime, who people’ll love or hate, so his fate is a question mark. I allowed myself a sympathy vote for him.
  10. Dorothy Williams, senior citizen dancer. I’m sure she wows ’em at the retirement home, but this isn’t the retirement home. Bye, girl!
  11. Sila Speca, performance art, two American dancers who perform with holograms. (A Russian artist creates the backdrops and is considered the third member of the team.) Ironically much of this performance looked a lot like what the Japanese magician Haru did in the episode’s first hour–and he did it better. This dance team may last another round, but likely the competition will get very stiff very fast.
  12. Laura Bretan, 14-year-old opera singer, she’ll make the cut.

Tune in 7/27 for the results.

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The Amazing Race: Flashback, Season 27, Holland, 11/6/15

June 24th, 2016 · No Comments

Such a long time before Season 29 of The Amazing Race starts this fall–let’s get our TAR fix with a flashback to Season 27, where we find teams racing from France to Holland, on the second half of two legs that were run as one.

While Phil is telling six teams to “keep racing” from Paris to Rotterdam, mother-son team Denise and James Earl are stuck at one detour in Paris. They’re trying to rap in French well enough to get to the pit stop. After eighteen or more tries, they pass the detour, get to the mat, and head for the train station.

All teams have been booked on a 7:22 train from Paris to Rotterdam, but most teams catch earlier trains. Tanner/Josh (Team Texas) don’t. They take time to see Paris. Justin/Diana are on the earliest train. Kelsey/Joey are on a 2nd train, Cindy/Rick and Tiffany/Krista, on the 3rd train. It looks like Logan/Chris, Team Texas, and the mother-son team got on the 4th train, the one that was booked.

Justin/Diana (Team Green) are 1st to reach Rotterdam, and their clue is a postcard of a red boat. When they arrive at the boat, they find teams are expected to camp overnight on deck. As teams arrive, they get numbers off a board, which indicate their departure times (between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.) the next morning.

Cindy/Rick (Chac Attack) think Amsterdam and Rotterdam are two names for the same city, so they continue on the train to Amsterdam, then have to backtrack when they learn their mistake. However, they’re still near the front of the pack. Overnight Rick’s eye swells up–he thinks it’s a mosquito bite.

In the morning Justin/Diana depart 1st, Tiffany/Krista 2nd, Cindy/Rick 3rd, Kelsey/Joey 4th, Tanner/Josh, 5th, Logan/Chris, 6th. The mother-son team are last.

Teams’ first clue of the new day is to make their way to a water taxi terminal and take a water taxi to a windmill farm (a kinderdijk is the Dutch word). The girls (Tiffany/Krista) are 1st, Cindy/Rick 2nd, Justin/Diana 3rd.

The clue box at the kinderdijk gives teams instructions for this leg’s roadblock:  “Who wants to pick the sunflowers?” Not tulips, but sunflowers–which refers to copies of Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh’s famous sunflower painting. They’re hidden all over the expansive windmill farm. Each team must find an exact replica of the painting before they can receive the next clue envelope, and some of the copies are not exact–flowers are at the wrong angle, things like that.

Kelsey/Joey are the 4th to start the RB but the first to finish it. Their next clue says to subtract their heart rate after this RB from their heart rate after last leg’s RB, using their Fit Bit. In a bit of product placement, everyone’s wearing a Fit Bit and is told to keep track of their heart rate and number of steps. Once a team has done the arithmetic, the answer tells them the number of tulips to pick up from one flower stand and deliver to another.

Cindy/Rick are 2nd to finish the RB. The girls are 3rd despite one girl screaming so much and so loudly she scares a goat. When teams complete the RB and deliver the tulips, they take water taxis back to the Kettle One vodka distillery and receive clue envelopes regarding this leg’s detour.

Justin/Diana are 4th to complete the RB. Team Texas is 5th, the mother-son team are 6th and Logan/Chris are 7th. Teams find the detour choices are “ship” or “skip.”

For “ship,” teams perform a virtual training exercise at Rotterdam’s harbor. In the training room, one person is the ship’s captain and the other, the navigator who reads the radar and directs the captain. First they must “deliver a pilot” to a certain ship, then “answer a distress signal” from another one. If they haven’t completed the exercise in five minutes, they have to try again. Teams have to wait their turn to get in the training room, and no team completes the detour on their first try.

For “skip,” the detour consists of learning a “Double Dutch” jump rope routine. Cheerleaders Tiffany/Krista are the only team that picks this detour. They’re cheerleaders, so the routine–which consists of clapping, jumping, and chanting–fits their skill set. They’re the first team to finish either detour. They get the clue for the pit stop:  take a train and tram to the Hague.

The other six teams all pick “ship.” Kelsey/Joey are 1st to arrive at the training room, Justin/Diana are 2nd. Cindy/Rick decide to take a bus, instead of a taxi or train, from the distillery to the training room. That costs them several slots.

Justin/Diana are the first team to complete the training exercise, making them the 2nd team to complete either detour. Kelsey/Joey are the 2nd team to complete the “ship” detour, making them 3rd place overall. Tanner/Josh are next, leaving the remaining three teams at the training room.

Justin/Diana catch a train before the girls do, so they get to the pit stop 1st. It’s their 4th time in 1st place for the season. They win one dollar for every step their Fit Bit says they’ve taken this leg–about $31,000 total. Kelsey/Joey are 2nd to hit the pit stop mat. The girls are 3rd, Tanner/Josh are 4th.

Back at the training room, Logan/Chris complete the detour. Next are Denise/James (the mother-son team). Chac Attack is last to complete either detour. Logan/Chris hit the pit stop mat in 5th place. That leaves two teams trying to stay out of last place.

At the train station, Cindy/Rick get on a train. Denise/James want to board an express train, which they think is a better deal–but it’s late. The mother-son team are in last place.

Opps!  When Chac Attack gets off their train, they get on the wrong tram!  Which will be the fatal mistake–the late train or the wrong tram?

Cindy/Rick correct their mistake too late. James Earl and Denise are the 6th team to hit the pit stop mat. Chac Attack come in last and are eliminated.



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The Voice: Season 10, Finale, 5/24/16

May 25th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Three hours of NBC primetime Tuesday night:  one hour of Voice recap (I watched the latest Hotel Hell instead) then about one hour and 45 minutes of variety (music, comedy) including commercials. Finally–with about ten minutes remaining before the late news begins–Carson Daly starts announcing the results of The Voice Season 10.

Fourth place–Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam)

Third place–Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell)

That leaves Alisan “Curly Sue” Porter (Team Christina) and Adam Wakefield (Team Blake’s studly Adam) standing together onstage like two beauty contest finalists.

Carson reads the winner’s name first, but he takes at least ten seconds to do it: Alisan!

Her victory wasn’t as sure a thing as some websites tried to make it. She was the presumed front-runner from the moment of her audition, but she had her off-nights and got tough competition (especially from Al-Saadi and Wakefield) so she didn’t completely dominate the season.

That means Christina Aguilera–after six tries–has her first Voice champion.

That also means Blake’s leading team member Adam Wakefield took only second place, and Adam Levine may spend season 11 reminding Blake about it.

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Beyond Reality – Dancing with the Stars – Season 22 Finale Part 2 Chat

May 25th, 2016 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – The Bachelorette – JoJo – Episode 1 Chat – 5/23/16

May 24th, 2016 · No Comments

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The Voice: Season 10, Final Four Sing for Votes, 5/23/16

May 24th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Final four of The Voice, Season 10:  Alisan Porter, Adam Wakefield, Laith Al-Saadi (who got last week’s Twitter save) and Hannah Huston, who somehow found enough fan support to move into the top three last week. For the first time in many seasons, all four judges/coaches have a singer in the finals.

Last night’s format called for each singer to perform one original song–all of which were ones the singers composed themselves–along with one cover, and one duet with the team coach. Who sounded like they’re going to win Season 10?  Let’s find out:

1.  Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam): He starts the evening with classic sixties’ rock–Cream’s “White Room,” which Adam wants to have be Hendrix-ish and Cocker-ish. Laith’s got the room rocking but I’m not sure how much appeal this song’s going to have to the target demographic. Classic blues-rock from the seventies or eighties might have encouraged more downloads. Blake points out, though, “You made the finale and you did it doin’ your way!” Pharrell says, “What you represent is so awesome … true test of your talent and what this show represents.”

2.  Alisan Porter (Team Christina):  Alison has written “Down that Road” about, she says, hope and second chances. Christina tells her it signifies the end of her journey on The Voice, to a new beginning. This is a great song to play up her vocal strength–a country-flavored soprano that doesn’t need much bottom end. Adam tells her that solely on “the voice” factor, her voice is the one that deserves to win.

3.  Adam Wakefield and Blake Shelton duet:  “The Conversation,” originally a song in which Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr. discuss Hank, Sr., is a strange choice for this stage of the competition, but it does allow Wakefield and Shelton to show off their lower registers.

4.  Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell):  Coach and singer talk about making “Every Breath You Take” dark and moody but that’s not what they do. It is a dark, moody, maybe even goth-flavored song, but Huston’s minor-key rendition sounds like just another cocktail-lounge cover. She doesn’t have the vocal or emotional range to take the song to a truly dark, moody place. The host, Carson Daly, says it:  the song was performed in “a James Bond way.” The judges love it, however, and it is getting an amazing number of iTunes downloads.

5.  Laith Al-Saadi and Adam Levine duet:  The rockers take several less-than-obvious choices of Beatle songs (all from Abbey Road) and rock out. Adam plays drums and sings (it’s not easy to do both at the same time, which is why you don’t see it very often) for the first part, while Laith plays guitar and blues-shouts. Then they join into a guitar-and-vocal wall-of-sound for “The End” (the end).

6.  Alisan Porter and Christina Aguilera duet:  “You’ve got a Friend” suits the friendship that coach and singer have developed.

7.  Adam Wakefield (Team Blake):  Carson Daly calls Adam, “Blake’s country-soul artist.” He debuts a song he wrote, “Lonesome, Broken, and Blue.” It’s a very soft, whispery rendition, and he tends to mumble his lines, but it’s also the number-one download on iTunes today.

8.  Hannah Huston and Pharrell Williams duet:  Hannah sings Justin Timberlake’s part on “Brand New,” a song that started as a duet for Williams and Timberlake.

9.  Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam):  Laith says he wants “Morning Light,” a song he composed, to be a “Georgia on my Mind” thing. Adam says, “You’re an acquired taste.” Laith says, “I’m the green cheese of The Voice.” In rehearsal they appear to be focusing more on guitar than vocals, with talk about, a little like Slash, and a real charming Clapton moment. The performance sounds like Ray Charles with guitar instead of piano. At the conclusion the applause goes on and on. Pharrell comments, “so cool to break the rules and have 6/8 blues featured now.” Laith’s obviously the wild card of this season–he got the Twitter save last week even though he doesn’t seem likely to have a Twitter fan base.

10.  Adam Wakefield (Team Blake):  Classic country is in the building. Wakefield sings Vince Gill’s “Nobody Answers When I Call Your Name” and evokes the flavor of George Jones or Conway Twitty. Blake raves about the watching country audience, “They know what you did with an iconic Vince Gill song!” and adds he can hardly wait to get the iTunes download.

11.  Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell):  For Hannah’s original song, she co-wrote “I Call the Shots” with Pharrell. For once, she’s found a song that plays to her vocal strengths.

12.  Alisan Porter (Team Christina):  Showing her best vocals of the season, Alisan performs “Somewhere (A Place for us)” from West Side Story. The applause goes on and on.  As the show winds up, Adam Levine tells her, “Congratulations and you know we love you!”

Alisan’s been the presumed front-runner this season but she’s had her weak moments and has faced stiff completion (especially on iTunes) from Laith and Adam. On iTunes today, Adam’s “Lonesome, Broken and Blue” is number one but he and Laith each have only one song in the top ten. Alisan and Hannah each have two. Depending on how much the iTunes downloads influence other voting methods, the field could be wide open.

I voted for Laith and Adam online. Tonight’s finale runs two hours, 9-11, and I think I heard Carson Daly say Sia was going to be a guest.


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Beyond Reality – Dancing with the Stars – Season 22 Finale Part 1 Chat

May 24th, 2016 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – Survivor 32 Kaoh Rong Finale Chat – 5/18/16

May 19th, 2016 · No Comments

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