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America’s Got Talent: Season 11, 10 Finalists, 9/13/16

September 14th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

America’s Got Talent announces the winner of Season 11 on Wednesday, but first let’s take a look at what the ten finalists did to win America’s votes on Tuesday. Five musical acts could win, five variety acts could win, and they’ve all got the judges and audience loving ’em. So who’s most likely to win the one million dollars and the Vegas headline show? In some past seasons singers have dominated, other times have favored a more eclectic selection. Given the level of talent, and the votes of past weeks, this season could go a number of ways.

1.  Sal Valentinetti, he who channels great classic Italian-American lounge crooners, could headline in Vegas tomorrow. He turns in a personalized one-of-a-kind performance of “Mac the Knife.” The judges rave and everyone gives him a standing ovation. He’s definitely one of the top contenders.

2. Fourteen-year-old contortionist Sophie Dossi is one of three young girls to make it this far, and she needed a “Save” last week to do it. Likely she’ll have to wait ’til she’s more ready for Vegas.

3.  Linkin Bridge aren’t the most polished singers, but the four black men from urban Kentucky have a sentimental backstory and give what the judges suggest is their best performance.

4.  Laura Bretan, the fourteen-year-old opera singer, is more suited to the classical scene than the Vegas scene. Plus she’s got competition from other singers and other girls who attract similar demographics.

5.  Are The Clairvoyants able to predict a future for themselves in Vegas? The young couple keep coming up with fresh twists on their psychic skills.

6.  Brian Justin Crum puts a fresh interpretation on “Man in the Mirror,” showing he’s one of the acts most ready for a headline show in Vegas. I keep comparing him to Adam Lambert, but having singing talent comparable to Lambert is a good thing. Plus he’s got a sentimental backstory.

7.  As Nick Cannon notes, we can always expect the unexpected with punky comic mime Tape Face. He’s able to come up with a fresh off-the-wall routine every time, so maybe he can sustain a Vegas show. Being the only comedy act left, he could get a surprising number of votes. The judges and audience loved him tonight, although Mel B, not so much. Let’s just say the act used her.

8.  Ukrainian juggler Victor Kee has stayed in the competition much longer than expected. His juggling has elements of magic, and he’s able to keep coming up with fresh routines. He’s somebody for whom making top ten is an accomplishment.

9. Jon Dorenbos has two jobs. One is playing football for the Philadelphia Eagles, and the other is being able to perform card tricks no one would’ve thought possible. His act, though, probably plays better on TV than in a Vegas showroom.

10.  You Tube sensation Grace Vanderwaal is a promising twelve-year-old musician–she sings, composes songs, and plays ukulele. She’s  very promising–but she’s twelve. I don’t think she’s ready to headline a Vegas showroom. America may think otherwise.

I’m going to say a singer’s winning this year. I just don’t see any of the variety acts elbowing past all five musical ones. Of the musical acts, I still think Valentinetti’s got the broadest appeal, although Crum and Vanderwaal have attracted a major share of votes, too.


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America’s Got Talent: Season 11, 2nd Half of Semi-finals, 9/6/16

September 7th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Last week on America’s Got Talent, five acts advanced to next week’s finals. On Tuesday this week, we saw the remaining eleven acts compete for the remaining five slots. Who’ll be above the cut line when the results are announced on Wednesday?

  • Jayna Brown is one of tonight’s five young girls (counting the female half of a magic act) so that voting demographic may get spread thin. Brown didn’t do anything to get voted off (“You set the bar,” judge Howie Mandel told her) but there are better vocalists in the field.
  • Kaden Bart Rocket is a magician in fifth grade but his little sister Brooklyn has evolved from his assistant to a co-headliner these past few rounds. Tonight wasn’t their best trick, so they may be in jeopardy.
  • Twelve-year-old Kadie Lynn didn’t do anything to get voted off and, as Mel B pointed out, she’s this season’s only country singer. That means she’ll have the Heartland demographic in her favor.
  • Victor Kee doesn’t just juggle, he’s a magic act. I’m not sure it’s the kind of act that’s going to attract a large voting base, though.
  • The judges erred last week when they kept Linkin Bridge around over a more Vegas-worthy act (old-school R&B singer Ronee Martin). The guys in this street-corner singing group have an inspirational back story, but they’re not polished enough for Vegas. They’re more a “sing-off” act, should that talent show ever be revived.
  • I suspect a set-up. The Passing Zone jugglers have been using the judges (very much using the judges) all season. They get the judges’ Wild Card pass. That means they were voted off, but the judges called them back anyway. It’s all so they can use Simon Cowell. Everybody gets a laugh (even Simon’s a good sport) but the fact remains this slot could’ve gone to Ronee Martin. Or Julia Scottie. Or Deadly Games. Or–
  • Tonight’s third young girl vocalist, Calista Bevier, sings beautifully and gracefully. She and Kadie Lynn are my top choices to advance. 
  • Steven Brundage does magical things with Rubic’s cubes, but he seems more suited to an intimate lounge act than a showroom headliner. We’re looking for the next name in lights to rival Elvis, Frankie, etc., and we’re getting a guy that twists cubes around.
  • Teen contortionist Sophie Dossi departs tonight from the extreme bow-and-arrow tricks she did before, and stages an extreme spectacle that’s half-ballet and half-trapeze act (flavored with extreme gymnastics). She’s marvelous at what she does but I don’t think she’s ready to headline a Vegas showroom.
  • Simon calls The Clairvoyants “a ghost movie” and Howie says, “You amazed us all season.” I think they’ll amaze a Vegas showroom crowd, too.
  • I can’t stop comparing singer Brian Justin Crum to Adam Lambert, and he’s not as versatile as Lambert. However, except for the three young girls, he’s the only vocalist in tonight’s field, and he’s worthy of a talent-show final. When the results are announced tomorrow, I’m guessing he’ll be one of the acts competing for a save.

Who’s likely to be in the finals next week:  Calista Bevier and Kadie Lynn sing like finalists on The Voice or American Idol, so there’s no doubt they’ve got enough votes to make the finals of America’s Got Talent, Season 11. Powerful vocalists Jayna Brown and Brian Justin Crum could make the finals, too, because it’s hard to imagine three variety acts crowding them both out. I judge the Clairvoyants as the most likely variety act to make top five.

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America’s Got Talent: Season 11, Semi-finals, 8/30/16

August 31st, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

For this week and next, semi-finals are happening on America’s Got Talent. Tuesday America voted for five acts (out of eleven) to send to the semi-finals. The previous round consisted of three groups of twelve acts, with five eliminations in each group, meaning a total of twenty-one acts remain. That sounds like the semi-final brackets aren’t balanced–so unless some twist is coming, next week we’ll see ten acts. For now let’s just focus on who’s likely to make the final round in two weeks:

  1. Sal Valentinetti turns on his Sinatra voice for “That’s Life.” The judges love him, and so does the audience. He has the potential to win, but he barely squeaked through last round. Even if he gets squeezed out, he at least got to sing for America’s vote, which is better than what American Idol allowed him.
  2.  Magician Blake Vogt gave a spotty performance and got a mixed reception from the judges tonight. He’s supposed to be someone who’s known in the world of magic already, but he hasn’t shown himself to be Vegas headliner material. (He’s more Vegas lounge act material.) Maybe he’s got enough name recognition to get votes, but he’s not the only magician with name recognition on tonight’s bill.
  3. Family musical trio Edgar has all the ingredients to win, being the kind of act that appeals to the Heartland.
  4. Tonight’s young girls (see 9. and 11. below) risk cancelling each other out. Comic Lori Mae Hernandez barely squeaked by last round, and she didn’t exactly kill it tonight.
  5. Youth choir Musicality are inspirational but whether that’s enough, given the strength of tonight’s competition, is in doubt.
  6.  Deadly Games shows it’s possible to be a dark romantic Gothic knife-throwing act, especially one that’s spiced up with whips and arrows. They’d fit in at a Goth-rock fest, but they were on the bubble last round.
  7. Tape Face, comic mime with punk ‘tude, doesn’t have the kind of Heartland appeal that wins TV talent shows.
  8. Of the two magicians tonight, Jon Dorenbos put on the more Vegas-level act. The fact that he plays for the Philadelphia Eagles means he’s got name recognition, too.
  9. The judges keep gushing about how America will remember the first time they saw Grace Vanderwaal. Funny, I can’t remember her from week to week.  I admit the 12-year-old with the ukulele and the quirky voice hasn’t had any problem attracting votes so far.
  10. In the last round Simon Cowell called Malevo an Argentine version of Riverdance. They’re the one dance troupe left in the field but they were on the bubble last round. America’s voters may prefer home-team acts.
  11. Fourteen-year-old Laura Bretan could be opera’s next big thing, but AGT is looking for Vegas’ next big thing.  Mel B said the contestant “literally” blew the roof off the place. She didn’t–no roofs were harmed in the making of tonight’s episode.

Most likely to advance:  Edgar isn’t going anywhere. Musicality, Laura Bretan, and Grace Vanderwaal also have had no problem advancing this far, and they didn’t do anything to lose votes tonight. If any of the remaining musical acts elbow their way in, both magicians could be crowded out, and so could Tape Face. As much as I’d like to see Sal Valentinetti and Malevo in the finals, they were on the bubble in the previous round. So were Lori Mae Hernandez and Deadly Games. All four are in the position of having to move up several slots to make the finals.   

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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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