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American Idol: Kansas City Auditions, 1/14/15

January 16th, 2015 · No Comments

We got a look at the freaky side of this season’s American Idol field on the third night of auditions.  We didn’t much in the way of potential finalists (the returning Casey Thrasher and one or two others aside), but we saw some people who were likely given tickets to Hollywood so they could provide some good TV during Hollywood Week.:

1.  Rontarius Wilson, aka “Big Ron” except he’s “Big Sexy” when he sings “Let’s Get it on” to J-Lo.  The guys put on a (pre-planned?) show of not paying much attention but join J-Lo in giving the guy “yes” votes.  I didn’t think he was good enough for Idol but I suspect Hollywood Week is going to have fun with the “J-Lo and Big Sexy” plotline.

2.  A montage of three successful auditions:  a girl named Ashley, a longhaired guy named Josh,  and Casey Thrasher, returning from last season when he, Dexter Roberts and Bill Brilley called themselves the Backstreet Cowboys in the group round.  Roberts and Brilley became finalists but Thrasher was cut.  Will he get further this time?

3.  Joy Cook has bobbed blue hair and plays the accordion.  She’s got a ukulele, too.  She’s not really a singer, she’s more theatrical, more performance art.  Harry, J-Lo, and Keith all love her, though.  Harry cautions her about being close to a novelty act.  (She’s not “close to,” Harry, she is a novelty act.)  She gets three “yes” votes, probably so she may provide some comic relief in the next rounds.

4.  Alexis Gomez describes herself as a Mexican hippie hillbilly and says she wants to give country a makeover.  Country star Keith is unimpressed, which may indicate her level of promise, but J-Lo and Harry vote “yes.”

5.  Speaking of backstreet cowboys, Anton Busher is a black country singer, cowboy hat and all.  He sings “Tonight I Won’t Cry” (and I thought I heard somebody say it was a Keith Urban song).  Harry likes him, votes “yes,” J-Lo likes him, votes “yes.” Keith likes him and votes “yes,” too.

6.  Cedric (not the Entertainer) is a black hip-hoppy guy who’s the subject of a Twitter poll about whether or not he should get through.  The numbers fluctuate wildly between the “yes” and the “no.” Both sides take turns being ahead but the final score is “yes” by a substantial margin.  The judges do put him through.

7.  Stephanie Grammett has a speaking voice and personality that may border on the ridiculous, but her singing voice is sublime. She sings much, much better than she speaks.  She’s supposed to have been influenced by James Taylor and Stevie Nicks.  For the second time tonight Keith votes “no” but J-Lo and Harry outvote him.

8.  Tonight we’ve already seen a blue-haired girl with an accordion.  Now we get Ellen Pearson, a blonde-haired girl with a banjo.  She sounds great, picking out “I Want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” and she can yodel, too.  She may be the first new country music discovery of the season.  The judges give her three “yes” votes.  Then, since the episode’s almost over, it’s time for the judges to provide some good TV.  Since the girl plays hillbilly music and is going to Hollywood, Harry requests she sing the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies. She’s sandwiched in a trio with Harry and Keith while J-Lo gives them an audience.

9.  In a season that looks to be loading up on throwback personalities, Kolton Posquell is living a vagabond existence right out of the anti-establishment days of the sixties folk scene.  He travels around hitching, camping, and singing on the street where he can.  He’s a character with long blond hair, a gravelly voice, and a guitar, but whether he can win Idol votes is questionable.  However, he wins three “yes” votes from the judges, so he’s off to a good start.  Harry challenges him that the next rounds are going to put him out of his comfort zone.

Ryan Seacrest says 37 singers auditioned successfully in Kansas City.  Next stop is J-Lo’s hometown, New York.

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American Idol – Season 14 Episode 4 Auditions Recap – 1/15/15

January 16th, 2015 · No Comments

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Celebrity Apprentice – S7 E5 Recap – 1/12/15

January 15th, 2015 · No Comments

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American Idol – Season 14 Episode 3 Auditions Recap – 1/14/15

January 15th, 2015 · No Comments

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Celebrity Apprentice – S7 E4 Recap – 1/12/15

January 13th, 2015 · No Comments

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The Bachelor – Chris Soules – Episode 2 Recap 1/12/15

January 13th, 2015 · No Comments

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American Idol: Season 14, Auditions, 1/8/15

January 9th, 2015 · No Comments

American Idol took up two hours on Thurs. with the first hr. in Nashville and the second hr. in Kansas City, where people chosen during the “bus auditions” got their time in front of the celebrity judges.  We rushed through more than 18 successful auditions (and some unsuccessful ones), and were treated to some of the first front-runners of Season 14, including the return of Savion Wright:

1.  Andrew Amelo from Alabama, is an overweight guy who says he has ADHD.  (He acts hyperactive, too.)  He hits bum notes all over his rendition of “Signed, Sealed, and Delivered.”  Harry generously asks for another song.  This time the guy hits bum notes all over “My Girl.”  The judges generously give him three “yes” votes.  Maybe they just wanted to leave no doubt they were being kind to the disabled.

2.  Lauren Lott looks like a young Diana Ross, and sounds a little like her, too–only nowhere near in Ms. Ross’ league.  Harry and Keith argue about whether the judging is about singing or “what stands out.” Harry votes “No,” Keith votes “Yes,” and softie J-Lo coughs up a ticket to Hollywood.

3.  Trevor has a high quirky voice.  He’s a physics geek with glasses.  J-Lo likes him.  (J-Lo likes a lot of people.)  Keith and J-Lo send him to Hollywood.

4.  Piper Jones, an overweight black woman, isn’t a powerhouse, she’s just plain loud.  The judges are very forgiving of shrillness and pitch issues this year.  They generously send the woman along to Hollywood for whatever reasons are in their heads.

5.  Kelly Kime, a young mother with a daughter who can’t be more than four, provide the kind of cheap cloying nonsense that explains why some people hate American Idol.  The daughter’s way too young to audition, and she can’t sing, but the judges are sweet and give the little sweetie a ticket anyway, then it’s up to her mother to get a ticket, too.  We know immediately this woman’s going to Hollywood, even if she sounds like a toad in a bucket.  Turns out she can sing–but we’d have been happy for her, kid or no kid.  Every young parent in America should be allowed to bring their sweet babe into the audition and let the judges do the sweet thing.

6.  Garrett Miles, 25, from Alabama, is blind.  His father guides him and sets up his equipment for him.  He sings “Proud Mary” in a voice that’s polished and ready for the radio.  For once the judges’ raves sound genuine.  J-Lo likes the guy so much, and he likes her, and they sing a Selena song in Spanish together.  J-Lo walks his ticket to Hollywood over to him. We’ve found the first breakout of this season.

7.  Clark Beckham, a New York street singer, auditions with “It’s a Man’s World” but I’ve heard the song done better.  Just the same, J-Lo raves about his “nice bluesy sweetness” and Harry likes him, too.  For once it’s Keith who’s unimpressed, saying he didn’t get enough intensity.  Then he turns around and votes “Yes” while Harry votes “No” and of course we know how J-Lo voted.  Harry was brought onto the show to be the tough head judge, like Simon Crowell used to be, but if he’s not going to be anything more than a dissenting vote to the two softies, then maybe the panel needs a second tough judge.

8.  Gina (Jena?) Venere totes along so many instruments, and plays them all, that Ryan Seacrest calls her a one-woman band.  J-Lo speaks for the judges, calling her “so funky.”  The judges come up with three “yes” votes.  If this girl goes deep into the competition, she could emerge as a female Casey Abrams.

9.  Alex, a soulful-voiced reject from last year, gets through this time with two “yes” votes from (guess) softies J-Lo and Keith.

10.  Cody Fry, a tall blond good-looking guy, is a working musician and guitarist.  He’s Southern but he sings “Over the Rainbow” with a Broadway-quality voice.  The judges praise his “throwback vibe” (it worked for Taylor Hicks) and give him three “yes” votes.  We’ve found our second front-runner!

11.  Hector Montenegro is a burly Hispanic-looking cosmetologist (hairdresser) who plays guitar. He’s bluesy, pitchy, and loud (not a powerhouse, just loud).  Harry criticizes his presentation, but votes “Yes” anyway.  J-Lo thinks he’s kind of nice (she thinks that about a lot of people).  Keith votes “Yes,” too, so J-Lo doesn’t even have to vote.

12.  Serena Joy Crow, has auditioned four times without success.  She’s loud and pitchy–which means this season she fits right in.  (Last season was heavy on bluesy singers, this season’s crammed with loud pitchy ones.)  This season she gets her ticket to Hollywood.

13.  As part of a montage of three quick auditions, a geeky dark-haired guy appears and about the most interesting thing that happens is when Keith says something about “sounds like a [or your?] toilet after Mexican” and J-Lo gives him a dirty look.  The singer got his ticket to Hollywood, whatever that was all about.

14.  Savion Wright is back!  He puts his combination of jazz, soul and blues into Eric Clapton’s “Change the World.”  He says he’s worked on improvement.  It’s true he does sound better than last year, and Harry talks about his ton of harmony.  J-Lo observes more confidence.  They take him–for now–but if he doesn’t show up in the group of 24 that was teased at the opening, I just may ditch this whole season.

15.  The scene shifts to Kansas City, where the first successful featured audition is a guy that went to the same high school as David Cook.  Zack Koltenbach auditions with Bruno Mars’ “Grenade,” a popular song on these TV singing contests.  He’s got a nice tone but he’s no David Cook.  Harry says “No” but softies J-Lo and Keith strike again.

16. Naomi Tatsuoka has a Japanese-American name but she has a jazzy, bluesy African-American voice, along with a bleached-blonde Mohawk.  For once the audition isn’t just loud–this woman really does sound like she might blow the doors off the place.  She’s got three “Yes” votes.

17.  Jamal from Oakland is Asian-American and has OCD.  He’s got face paint and glasses, and plays guitar and makes origami for the judges.  He sings an alt-coffeehouse “Baby Girl.”  The judges talk about how it’s not his voice, it’s his style and how he touches people, and put him through to the next round.

This is as good a time as any to say I’ve been wondering where those giggles have been coming from when some of the judges make jokes sometimes.  It’s canned, it’s not live, and it’s so, so fake.  My guess is, that other TV singing contest with a live audience during audition rounds made the Idol show-runner(s) say, “We’ve got to have laughs when the judges joke.”

18.  Lovie James has J-Lo telling her that her name and voice go together.  (Her looks do, too–she’s tall, blonde, and pretty, although only 16.)  Harry likes her, too, and tells her she sounds like singers on the radio.  She’s through to the next round. 

19.   Jess Lamb is already a veteran musician–at 28, she’s at the upper end of the Idol age range–and she’s got style like Cher.  She walks in the audition room, dressed all in black, black hat, black boots, black skimpy dress, feathers in her long dark hair.  She plays piano and sings “Ain’t No Sunshine.”  It’s not the perfect song choice but it shows the power and range in her alto.  (Her dark voice matches her dark looks.) The judges absolutely love her, rave about her.  Harry says, “You’re the definition of creativity.”  J-Lo says, “You have a point of view.”  Harry likes her so much he gets up to jam with her on piano.  (The judges appear to be coached to show more personality this year.)  Of course the lady gets three “Yes” votes.  At last we have our first female breakout of Season 14!

Next Wed. continues with a 2nd hr. of Kansas City auditions.




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American Idol – Season 14 Auditions Recap – 1/8/15

January 9th, 2015 · No Comments

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American Idol: Season 14 Premiere, 1/7/15

January 8th, 2015 · No Comments

On the last season of American Idol, any connection between who was featured in the auditions and who actually made it to the voting rounds proved to be pure coincidence.  It’s time to tune into Season 14 and see if this year’s auditions produce any front-runners or if we have to wait for the voting to discover who’s going to dominate the season.

Ryan Seacrest opens the premiere with a tease, that for the first time ever, the show is going to open with a look at the top 24.  Actually it’s generous to call it a look.  We see silhouettes and shadowy figures, we see hair and hats, and we do hear one very distinctive voice.  Watch/listen for the curly-haired guy with the belting rock voice because, whoever he is, he could be this season’s Caleb Johnson.

This year the auditions are covering 17 cities including the ones the judges call home.  First up is Keith Urban’s adopted hometown of Nashville.  We heard seven successful auditions but I haven’t heard anybody I think is going to be the next American Idol yet. Softies J-Lo and Keith are outvoting harsh judge Harry again, but this is just the first night, so we’ll watch as the final pool continues to fill.  Here were the first singers into the pool:

1.  Riley Bria, a 17-year-old guitarist who previously played with Keith as part of a Grammy contest, sings with a light still-juvenile tenor.  His song choice is an obscure Keith Urban track.  The judges say he’s their first audition of the day (the season) and give him three yes votes.

BTW the bromance to rival that other TV singing contest looks to be back:  Keith sits in Harry’s lap.

2,  Priscilla, a dark-haired 19-year-old with a heavy Southern accent, copies Tanya Tucker’s singing of “Delta Dawn” from the seventies. She strikes me a too breathy/throaty/pitchy. Harry said something about Bigfoot and I’m not sure what he meant, but then he votes “Yes.”  For once J-Lo says, “No,” but Keith gives a reluctant “Yes.”

3.  Cameron Bedell, at 25 one of the more mature singers, has a beard, a bluesy tenor, and plays guitar.  (If tonight’s any example there will be many, many guitarists this season.)  Harry compares him to Sam Cooke. He gets three “Yes” votes.

4.  Amber Walker, young black girl with pink hair from the wrong side of Memphis.  She gushes when she sees J-Lo.  She gets loud, and that’s about all, with “Heartbreak Hotel.” I agree with harsh judge Harry, who votes, “No” but softies Keith and J-Lo outvote him.  J-Lo admits, “She wasn’t perfect, I just liked her.” Keith comments that he wanted to get her out of the place she’s living in.

5.  Corey, who was working at the coffee shop across the street and had to get off his shift to make his audition, is a conservative-looking white guy with a beard. To me he sounds strained and pitchy on “I Can’t Make You Love Me” but J-Lo gets her goosies (her first goosies of season 14).  The guy gets his golden ticket to Hollywood.  He and Ryan Seacrest go across the street to show his boss his golden ticket and ask for the rest of the day off.  The request is granted.

6.  Michael Simeon from Mississippi works on a farm (like Dexter Roberts of Season 13).  He plays guitar and sings Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” (a different song from the Ben E. King classic). He sounds a little like John Mayer.  He gets three “yes” votes, then somehow ends up close-dancing with J-Lo while Harry plays keyboards and Keith plays guitar.  (Isn’t there a rule against judges fraternizing with contestants?  Check Twitter for the comments on this bit. I think #idolslowdance is the hashtag.)

7.  Emily Brooks is only 15 and acts it, gushing about Ryan on her TV and how hard she’s worked for how long to get here.  (She’s only 15, how long can that be?)  She’s a blonde Southern cutie like Carrie Underwood–and she actually can sing Carrie’s “Blown Away” in a voice that’s reasonably close to Underwood’s.  The judges all say “Yes.”  She probably won’t be the next Carrie, as such, but she could make things interesting as the country portion of the pool fills. (She might not be the next Carrie but she might be the next Kellie Pickler.)

Tonight:  two more hours of Nashville auditions.


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Survivor: Flashback, Season 28, Final Five, Air Date 5/14/14

January 6th, 2015 · No Comments

Survivor Season 30 will begin with three tribes:  White Collar, Blue Collar, and No Collar.  Survivor Season 28 began with three tribes:  Brawn, Brains, and Beauty.  Will one tribe dominate the new season the way the Brawn tribe dominated Season 28?

Backstory:  By the time the original three tribes of Season 28 merged into one, only three Brain members were left:  attorney Kass, accountant Latasha (nicknamed “Tasha” or “Tash”), and college student Spencer. Kass backstabbed Tash and Spencer, going over to the majority alliance.

Night 33:  Coming back from tribal council, the game is down to five players–original Brawn tribe members Tony, Trish, and Woo, original Brain member Spencer, and Kass, a Brain who votes with the Brawn. Spencer wants to know why Kass and Woo bothered to include him in a scheme to vote out Tony, if all they really wanted to do was vote out Tash. “They were just toying with you,” Tony says.

Day 34:  While fishing, Tony and Woo agree Kass’ll get no jury votes if she’s in the final. Woo tells Tony how Kass was in on the previous day’s scheme to get Tony out. Tony tells Woo he’ll take him to the end, although he tells the camera that taking Woo to the end would be stupid.

Reward challenge:  contestants have to coat themselves with mud and scrape it off into a bucket.  Whoever has the most mud in their bucket after 10 min. wins pizza.  This challenge is similar to one performed back on season one. Tony wins.  When Jeff tells him the award is pizza for two, he selects Trish, who’s the Survivor closest to starvation.

While sharing pizza, Tony tells Trish what’s special about his special idol is that he can use it at the final four, to advance to the final three.  It’s not true but Trish doesn’t know it’s not true. They agree Spencer is the next choice to vote off, so they have to do what they can to prevent him from winning immunity.

Tony would like to get Kass out but he wants to compete with her for jury votes. He pulls Kass aside and says he’d like to take her and Trish to the final three.  He swears on his wife and baby, he’ll take her to the final three.  (Every time somebody swears on something in Survivor, run!)  He tells Kass he thinks Woo can beat him but he and Kass will be more evenly split on jury votes (after he told Woo that Kass wouldn’t get any).

Kass confronts Woo and Tony about Tony’s promises to take them both to the final three.  Apparently she thinks that means she or Woo is actually getting only fourth place. Woo doesn’t say much but Tony and Kass argue about who, what and when.

Tony and Kass are still arguing the next day, while the rest of the camp listens. Kass thinks she can pull in Woo and Spencer in another scheme to vote out Tony–but she also thinks she can beat Tony for the title of Sole Survivor.

Spencer tells Woo and Kass, “If I go out, Tony and Trish decide which of you go to the end.” Kass and Spencer discuss taking away one of Tony’s options by voting out Trish.

Trish overhears Kass saying something about get rid of Trish, get rid of the goat (after Kass was so mad when she thought she heard Tony call her a bitch).

Immunity challenge:  Contestants first have to untangle a key from a set of ropes. Each key unlocks a trunk that contains rungs for a ladder.  Contestants have to build themselves a ladder up to a second level, then build a staircase up to the top level.  When contestants climb to the top, there are sliding puzzles that, when solved, form the Survivor logo. There are five puzzles, one for each contestant.  The first person to solve his/her own puzzle wins.

Tony’s first to get his key, first to complete his ladder, and first to climb up his staircase.  He’s first to start the puzzle but Spencer is 2nd.  Everyone else is stuck on building the ladders. Jeff notes how Tony’s madly sliding puzzle pieces around while Spencer’s taking a slower, more methodical approach.  Spencer’s approach pays off. He overtakes Tony and wins immunity.

Tony complains, “Now we have to speed up elimination from our own alliance.”

Back at camp Trish confronts Kass about what Kass said about her (the “get rid of the goat” comment). Trish has barely said anything for 35 days but she goes off on Kass big-time.

Spencer tells Kass, if the other three want to vote you off, there’s nothing that can be done. The three remaining Brawn contestants–Tony, Woo, and Trish–talk about voting Kass off. Tony and Woo argue about Tony telling Kass she was final three but Tony still says Kass is going home.

Woo confesses his thoughts to the camera:  If Tony has to choose between Woo and Trish, he’ll keep Trish.  Therefore Woo thinks maybe it’s time to vote out Trish.  He suggests to Spencer and Kass they work to be final three (again) and vote out Trish.  Tony overhears them.

Tribal council:  Tony and Kass argue again about who said what and when about final three. Trish says she’s never had a fight or confrontation with anybody on the jury–only that one fight today with Kass. Tony has two idols.  The other castaways don’t know it but this is the last night he can use either one. He plays the one that must be played before the votes are read.

Trish’s words about never having a fight with the jury may have influenced tonight’s outcome. Trish votes for Kass, like she thinks everyone except Kass is doing.  Everyone else, including Tony, votes for Trish, sending her to the jury.  Four are left–and in Survivor, fourth place and third place finish in the money, even if they don’t get to the final jury vote.



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