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The Voice: Season 9, Auditions, 9/28/15

September 29th, 2015 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

When The Voice is having auditions, each two-hour episode typically features eight contestants that at least one judge turns a chair for. Add some featured contestants that don’t get picked, a montage of (three) successful auditions, and the air time’s filled.  Already this season we’re seeing a trend for teens and country singers.

1.  Morgan Frazier, 22, a pretty blonde country singer, has been living in Nashville since age 16, and has played shows including at Tootsie’s, the world-famous Nashville cocktail lounge. She tries to sing “I Want You to Want Me” as a ballad.  Even though the audition runs 90 seconds it feels like she’s taking forever to finish. Gwen wants her though, and so does Blake, who pulls one of his buzzer-beaters.  Gwen thought her audition was “ridiculously creative” (I didn’t).  Blake gushes about a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Emmy Lou Harris. Of course the Nashville girl picks Blake.

2.  Amanda Ayala, a teen rocker who’s been influenced by Joan Jett and Pat Benatar, sings “Mississippi Queen.” She attracts three judges–Pharrell, Blake, and Adam. Gwen stays out of it, although Ayala previously said that was the judge she wanted. She picks Adam because he’s the one who’s in a rock band.

3.  Jeffrey Austin with bright red hair sang in high school musicals but has been working at a PR job since school. He likes John Legend and Adam Levine, but his performance only attracts Gwen. Blake thinks the other judges may regret not turning, so mark Austin as a potential steal.

4.  Lindsay Elm is a teen from the rural agricultural community of Vacaville, California, and she wears a hat and plays guitar, a little like a female version of last season’s Sawyer Fredericks. She sings a lively song, Meghan Trainor’s “Lips Are Moving.” Gwen likes her right away. Adam and Pharrell quickly follow. Blake takes his time, but joins in towards the end. It’s a four-chair turn. Lindsay’s a Gwen fan, so she picks Gwen.

5. Manny Cabo, an aging rocker of 45, could play a tough guy in a crime drama. He does a big showy metal power ballad, Whitesnake’s “Here I go Again.” He gets Adam’s attention right away, and the other three judges join in before the song’s over. Blake raves, “You turned the place into a hair band concert . You don’t have hair but you’re doin’ hair band music!” Pharrell raves, too, “Your voice just kept going into different dimensions!” Gwen likes his power and control. After all that, Cabo chooses his fellow rocker Adam. Blake says he’s sorry to have lost an eighties’ rocker.

6.  Matti Davis, a 16-year-old TX girl, sings “It’s too Late, Baby” in a whiney nasal voice–like Carole King–except she makes King sound good by comparison. For some reason Gwen and Pharrell gush over her and fight over her. They’re actually up on the stage getting in her face about it, while Adam gets cozy with Blake and watches the show. Pharrell wins the argument but Gwen vows to steal if she can. Frankly this doesn’t sound like anybody who’ll come close to winning, and Gwen would be advised to save her steal for several other possibilities.

7?  One of the unsuccessful auditions is Caleb Lee Hutchinson, a country singer whose voice and style are much more mature than his 16 years. He shows some similarity to Garth Brooks on Brooks’ hit, “Miss the Dance.” You’d think Blake would grab him but Blake advises him to work on improving his voice for a few more months and then come back. We’ll watch to see if he returns in season 10.

7?  No, a montage:  black R&B singer Cassandra Roberson goes to Adam, while Pharrell adds young Daria Jasmine and female vocalist Riley Breeder to his team.

7 (for real). Chris Crump is from TX and likes Creed. He sings an Ed Sheeran song, “Thinking Out Loud.” He says he’d like to work with Pharrell or Adam–then all four judges whip around early. Blake likes the “warmth” in Crump’s voice. Pharrell likes his “self-identity.” Gwen thinks he was “really intimate” and Adam thinks he can connect to a large audience.  Blake gets the guy.

8.  Tyler Dickerson is a singer who’s obviously destined for Team Blake. He reminds me a little of Idol season 4 runner-up Bo Bice. He came to Nashville at 15, and for a while was being mentored (managed and produced) by John Rich of Big & Rich. Then the record company he was signed to closed and he faded. His song choice is “Hard to Handle,” a song that originated with Otis Redding and has already been performed by artists ranging from Tom Jones to the Black Crowes. Dickerson attracts one judge–but that one judge is Blake, who remembers him. Blake tells the others how this guy was once hyped as the next Travis Tritt, and he suggests to Dickerson they get busy on “some Travis Tritt.”

9. Tonight does squeeze in one more audition. It’s a country duo, Jubal and Amanda, who ensure themselves of a memorable TV moment when he proposes to her after the audition.  When this happens Adam hints, “Blake’s an ordained minister.”  (What? Was that what he did before he got a record contract?) That may be rushing things a little–but the couple is ensured of more TV time because both Gwen and Pharrell want them. It’s Pharrell who gets the first duo The Voice has seen in more than a season. Pharrell talks about how he can coach them in either Southern rock or country. BTW they sang “Seven Bridges Road,” which Jubal’s father wrote for the Eagles.

The judges will probably finish filling their teams over the next two episodes. Let’s take a look at the field so far:

Blake–Barrett Baber, Chris Crump, Blind Joe, Emily Ann Roberts, Tyler Dickerson, Ms. Morgan Fraiser, and Nadjah Nicole.

Gwen–Jeffrey Austin, Kota Wade, Ellie Lawrence, Noah Jackson, Tim Atlas, Hannah Ashbrook, Lindsay Elm, and Braiden Sunshine.

Adam–Manny Cabo,  Cassandra Roberson, Amanda Ayala, Jordan Smith, Regina Love, James Dupree, and Keith Semple

Pharrel–Matti Davis, Mark Hood, Ms. Riley Breeder, Daria Jasmine, Evan McKeel, Ivonne Acera, Zach Seabaugh, Amanda and Jubal, and Siahna I’m.


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Beyond Reality – Dancing with the Stars Season 21 Episode 4 – Recap

September 29th, 2015 · No Comments

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The Amazing Race: Season 27, Premiere, 9/25/15

September 28th, 2015 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Consider this:  The Amazing Race is now in its twenty-seventh season, and we could easily watch another ten, don’t you think? Even considering the format counts two seasons per year, each season is like a whole new show.

This season begins with eleven teams gathering on Venice Beach, California, in the presence of many fans and former players (including season one winners Rob and Brennan). CBS must’ve sent the word out–by Twitter, maybe–for fans to show up at the race starting line.

Teams are still being introduced as they receive the first route info, including this race’s initial task. All teams take waiting taxis to a nearby marina, and bike-race.  The winners of the bike race will be rewarded with plane tickets to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, on a flight that leaves thirty minutes ahead of the flight that everybody else is booked on.

Here’s our first chance to get to know the teams beyond their pictures and profiles:

  • TMZ girls Kelly Berning and Shevonne Sullivan, who were probably cast with the premise they’d bring some of the edgy TMZ ‘tude along. (They’d see TAR from a TMZ perspective.)
  • Another TV team, Kelsey Gerckens and Joey Buttitta, a dating couple who report the news for KEYT in Santa Barbara. Will they “report” their way through the race?
  • A third team that’s “with the press,” this time photographers (aka Papparazzi) Chris Gordon and his girlfriend, Logan Fazzio. They aren’t celebrities themselves, they just camera-hunt celebrities.
  • Cousins Alex/Adam, who turn out to be very short guys. The PC term is “little people,” not the old-time term, “midgets.”
  • Mother/son team Denise and James Earl. (He has two first names, common in the South, where this team is from.) He’s gay and she’s having a hard time accepting it. (Trivia:  which team on which season could this sentence also describe?)
  • Jazmine/Danielle, two young black women who are top heptathletes at UC Riverside.
  • Rick and Cindy Chac, married couple from San Diego. She’s a dentist, he’s an OB/GYN. They call themselves Chac-attack.
  • Ernest/Jin, black brothers who the show says are homeless and street entertainers. Their profile on the CBS site says one does multiple jobs (including dance instruction) and the other’s a student and stock boy. So they appear to have a checkered past.
  • When I first caught sight of Justin/Diana, I thought of Team Brenchel, the all-star couple originally from Big Brother. Like Brenchel, this team loves the Irish-green spangles. He’s a radio announcer, she’s a teacher–and they prove prone to Brenchel-like meltdowns as this leg progresses. Stay tnned!
  • Tanner/Josh, this season’s manly-men beefcake team, although their jobs aren’t fitness-related. They’re both muscular guys who boast about how they’re going to charm the women.
  • Tiffany/Kirsta, NFL cheerleaders–like all-stars Jamie/Cara. Somebody who casts TAR likes cheerleaders.

When teams reach the marina, they find the bikes they’ll be riding are “water bikes,” a cross between bikes and pontoons. They have to be pedaled across the water on a very long route to the other side of the marina. Musclemen Tanner/Josh think they’ve got it but their bike chain breaks and every other team passes them.

Justin/Diana in their green spangles win the tickets for a faster flight to Rio. They boast about how they’ve got a 30-min. lead (not so fast, Team Green Spangles).

Phil continues handing out clue envelopes for the trip to Rio at the end of the water-bike route.  Tanner/Josh straggle in way behind everybody else.  Phil wants to know if they were so strong they broke the bike chain, and they agree.

The first flight with Justin/Diana gets into Rio late, the second flight with everybody else gets in early. The 30-min. lead is already diminished to about five minutes. Teams have instructions to go to a place that gives helicopter tours of Rio. When Justin/Diana arrive at the helicopter pad in 1st place, they find a fast forward in the waiting clue envelope. It’s for hang gliding–depending on weather.  The weather looks great, so they opt for the FF.

As other teams arrive at the helipad, they realize somebody else has probably taken the FF, so they get immediately in line for the helicopter tour.  Helicopters only take one team at a time, so some teams are on the next task while the stragglers are still waiting for their rides. Teams have an additional task here.  When the helicopter lands, they have to answer a question about what they’ve seen on the tour. Viewers know, but teams don’t, that it’s about the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks the city.

Justin/Diana arrive at the hang gliding site but–the company tells them strong winds make hang gliding too dangerous today. They slip from first place essentially to last, just like that. On the way back, it’s Justin who sobs uncontrollably while Diana sits stone-faced.

As teams get off their helicopter rides, a man asks, “What is the name of that monument?” and points to the Christ statue.  Some people answer the question in Portuguese, others in English, but everybody gets it right.

Next clue’s for a detour:  teams are to take taxis to Copacabana Beach–the beach that stretches for miles along the Rio waterfront. When they find the right place on the beach, one choice is to work complicated slide puzzles that are set up along the beach walkway.  (Fans of Survivor will be familiar with such puzzles because they appear frequently on that show, too.) When properly put together, the puzzles show a mosaic wave pattern similar to the walkway itself.

As for the other choice: this episode’s already seen a combination of bikes and pontoons, now we see a combination of soccer and volleyball. There are professional athletes in Brazil who play volleyball but with soccer moves–headbutts and bicycle kicks, no hands. TAR teams may play regular volleyball against two-person pro Brazilian teams, and the TAR teams need only score six points before the pros score eighteen. It still proves too hard for anybody who’s not good at volleyball.

Teams have to change into beachwear for either task. Seven teams complete the volleyball (called “foot-volley”) task.  The others complete the sliding puzzle. There are some complications as we will see.

Tanner/Josh are first to complete either detour–they score six points in “foot-volley.” The next clue is for the pit stop, atop a lookout at the other end of the beach. They ask a man if they can walk the distance and he says they can. What he doesn’t tell them is, it’s five kilometers. There’s a possibility all the other teams could take taxis and arrive ahead of the male team.

It doesn’t happen, though. Tanner/Josh win the leg. Phil awards them an express pass but explains a new rule:  they’ll have to use it by the fifth leg, then pass it along to another team, and that team would have to use it on the next leg.

UCR heptathletes Jazmine/Danielle place 2nd, Cindy/Rick 3rd, the mother-son team 4th, Logan/Chris, 5th. About this time Justin/Diana join the stragglers on the beach. Little people Alex/Adam place 6th. The black bros and the dating reporters are a close 7th and 8th.

Justin/Diana finish playing their foot-volley game. They get to the pit stop in 9th place, after boasting they’d get 1st. That leaves the TMZ girls and the NFL cheerleaders (who had bad taxi luck), sliding puzzle pieces around for hours.  (The cheerleaders tried the game but gave up.) The cheerleaders finish their puzzle ahead of Team TMZ and place tenth. That means Phil comes down to the walkway and tells TMZ–who’ve just solved their puzzle–that all the other teams have checked in, and they’re the first team to be eliminated in season 27.


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Beyond Reality – Amazing Race – Season 27 – Episode 1 Recap – 9/25/15

September 26th, 2015 · No Comments

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Survivor: Season 31 Premiere, 9/23/15

September 24th, 2015 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

So much of Survivor is unpredictable–depending on who gets into which tribe, who aligns with who, who wins immunity, who gets immunity.  Season 31, however, does have some predictability about it because all the contestants have played the game before and some of them together. Last spring CBS asked fans to vote for ten male players and ten female players to make up this fall’s cast. We got to see them in action for the first time Wednesday night, Sept. 23, during the ninety-minute premiere episode. They’re playing amid the strange temples and dangerous jungles of Cambodia, and the tribes’ names refer to Cambodian temples.

Bayon:  Joe Anglim (Worlds Apart), Jeremy Collins and Keith Nale (2nd Blood v. Water), Ciera Eastin (1st B v. W), Stephen Fishbach (the “Wizard” of Tocantins, Brazil), Tash Fox and Kass McQuillen (Cagayan), Kimmi Kappenberg (the vegetarian of Australia), Andrew Savage (Pearl Islands), Monica Padilla (Samoa).

Takao:  Jeff Varner (Australia), Woo Hwang and Spencer Bledsoe (Cagayan), Vytas Baskauskas (Arias’ brother, 1st B v. W), Terry Dietz (Pamana), Abi-Maria Gomes (Philippines), Peih-Gee Law (China), Shirin Oskool (Worlds Apart) and two variants of the name Kelly W-worth:  Kelley Wentworth (with an “ey” from 2nd B v. W) and Kelly Wiglesworth (just “y” from Borneo Season 1).

Some developing plotlines:

Young Bucks:  Joe and Spencer, meaning they’ll be targeted on the basis of sex and age.

Challenge Beasts:  Joe, Spencer, Tash, Andrew Savage, Woo, Terry Dietz, and Kelly Wiglesworth.  Even if targeted, they’ll probably be around a while, since getting rid of them all will be hard.

People who like each other:  Jeff and Kimmi, Spencer and Tash–although Tash has said even her fellow church members are encouraging her to lie and backstab.  Prediction:  if she does, it’ll backfire.

People who don’t like each other:  Kass and just about everybody, Abi-Maria and just about everybody, Jeremy and Keith–they’re agreeing to work together this time, but that’s what they agreed last time, too.

Manipulators:  Vytas, Kass, Abi-Maria, Shirin, Ciera, Peih-Gee (funny how most of them are women).

Some memorable past season moves:  Peih-Gee threw a challenge to get rid of James and it didn’t work at all. Ciera conspired against her mother. Vytas conspired against his brother. Kass caused [k]aos.

Last names:  Jeff Probst often refers to impressive players by their last names.  That means most often Andrew Savage is “Savage,” Kelly Wiglesworth is “Wiglesworth,” Jeff Varner is “Varner,” Stephen Fishbach is “Fishbach” and Terry Dietz is “Dietz.”

Now here are last night’s highlights:

As the tribes are building their shelters and getting settled, some players observe there’s a division between “old school” and “new school” that looks to set the tone for the season.  The “old school” players enjoy building the shelters, making the fires, getting food ready, while the “new school” players are constantly looking for alliances–and immunity idols or immunity idol clues.

At Takao, Spencer Bledsoe and Terry Dietz agree to work together, and Peih-Gee and Abi-Maria have a conflict over Abi losing her bag and finding her bracelet in Peih-Gee’s bag.  (What happened to Abi’s bag or what motivated her to go through Peih-Gee’s bag without asking isn’t clear).

At Bayon Jeremy and Keith agree to work together. Fishbach doesn’t fit in with the men–he’s not the physical type–but he can’t do much braiding and weaving with the women, either.  So he goes idol-hunting but doesn’t find anything.

Kelley Wentworth of Takao goes idol-hunting, too, and she finds a clue envelope hidden in a tree.  It tells her the idol is hidden within the course of the next challenge.  It’s up to her to grab it, taking the chance that someone–or everyone–will see.

The combined immunity-reward challenge is a revival of the first challenge of Season 1, called “Quest for Fire.” Tribes must row rafts and light a series of torches, then have one person tie together enough poles to reach through a gate, retrieve a key from a post, and open the gate. On the other side of the gate is one last torch.  First tribe to get to the last torch and light it wins.

Takao’s first to the gate, but Bayon catches up. It’s between Kelly Wiglesworth and Joe to get the keys.  When all eyes are watching to see which key comes off which post first, Kelley Wentworth sneaks back and grabs the idol from its hiding place.  No other contestant sees.

Joe gets his key hooked.  Since Wiglesworth’s still having trouble, Spencer tries but he’s too late.  Bayon wins.

Jeff tells Takao they must go to tribal council immediately. The tribe has already fractured into anti-Abi and anti-Vytas factions, though.  Some think Abi’s the weakest link (or the biggest threat).  Others think Vytas is the biggest threat. The vote goes 6-4 for Vytas. I couldn’t make out all the votes but it looked like it was the women against the men, and Jeff joined the women to vote out Vytas. (Or maybe Spencer, who took such a long time to decide?) Will the women continue to target the men?





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Beyond Reality – Survivor – Second Chances – Episode 1 Recap – 9/23/15

September 24th, 2015 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – Big Brother 17 – Finale Recap – 9/23/15

September 24th, 2015 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – Big Brother 17 – Updates & Spoilers 9/23/15

September 24th, 2015 · No Comments

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The Voice, Season 9: Blind Auditions, 9/22/15

September 23rd, 2015 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

As the blind auditions continue for The Voice Season 9, Blake Shelton’s starting to fill what the other judges call his country mafia, but Gwen Stefani is proving to be a very popular choice for contestants this season:

1.  Blind Joe (just Blind Joe) is a hardcore classic country singer from Oklahoma who’s just right for Blake, who turns early. However, Adam wants to fight about it, and Gwen and Pharrell pull buzzer beaters. Adam and Pharrell think the contestant’s unique and original, despite the traditional country sound. Then Blake takes charge, “You and Ronnie Milsap jammin’ … after you win,” he cajoles, and promises to introduce the singer to Nashville.  Yes, Blake’s the judge/coach for Blind Joe.

2. Ivonne Acero is the gawky 17-year-old Mexican-American who didn’t attract a judge last season but was encouraged to come back. She sings a Taylor Swift song, “Style,” and this time attracts Gwen and Pharrell on her first note. She picks Pharrell, however, her voice sounds strained to me and I doubt she’ll go deep in the season.

3.  We find our first front-runner of the season when 51-year-old radio personality Regina Love auditions. She made three gospel recordings under a prior contract, and she says she was encouraged by what Blake did with Sisaundra Lewis in season 6. Like Lewis, Love is a singer that can blow the doors off the place, and she souls out with the classic R&B of “Rock Steady.” About halfway through, she attracts Adam and Blake.  Afterwards Pharrell admits he made a mistake, while Gwen explains she was wondering what she could do to coach her. Despite Regina’s stated interest in Blake, she picks Adam, leading Blake to retort, “She may do well in spite of Adam.”

4.  Zach Seabaugh, 16, from Marietta, GA, doesn’t “look” country (Adam says he looks like Superman, meaning Clark Kent, but I’m thinking more Justin Bieber).  He sings country-pop, however, with a fairly deep voice that sounds influenced by Johnny Cash. The judges all wait on Blake, and he turns on the last line. Then Pharrell and Adam want in on the action on the last notes. Even though Pharrell makes a pitch, this is a Blake-Adam showdown. Adam asks Seabaugh to consider who would be the best coach for him. Seabaugh picks Blake, who says, “He’s one people are gonna fall in love with.”

5.  Viewers get a tease that Gwen may want teen idol type Evan McKeel, a smooth Southern pop singer. Blake tries to persuade Gwen this is a singer for her, but then he pushes his button. Only then do Gwen and the remaining judges join in. Gwen says, “I couldn’t figure out what style you were.” Pharrell asks him about style, and he says he likes Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” Pharrell asks him to sing that, so in effect he gets a second audition–this is the song he should’ve auditioned with. Then he picks Pharrell, not Gwen.

6.  Blake has a history of doing well with teen country queens, and this season he gets Tennessee girl Emily Ann Roberts, 16, who sings classic “old soul” country. Her audition is the overdone “I Hope You Dance,” but Blake and Adam both like her enough to fight over her. Adam’s determined to lure a country singer away from Blake.  The rock singer offers Roberts a choice:  she can be one of many country singers on Blake’s team, or the only one on his. “I’m sorry, I pick Blake!” she drawls.

7. A Georgia girl named Ellie Lawrence prefers to sing indy alt-rock despite her country roots. Her voice is raspy, strained, and nasal but also distinctive. She gets three judges’ attention–Blake’s the holdout. Adam notes she was straining on her high notes. Pharrell likes her raspy voice. She loves Gwen and picks her.

Montage:  Gwen picks up three more contestants, Noah Jackson, Tim Atlas, and Hannah Ashbrook who may be called a female Sawyer Fredericks.

8.  James Dupree from Louisiana got started on You Tube, then had a Nashville record contract for a while, but his You Tube popularity didn’t translate to sales.  He says his influences are Vince Gill and James Taylor. Instead of doing a country song, he does a country-flavored version of “Let Her Cry,” originally by Hootie and the Blowfish. All four judges turn but make no mistake, this is another Adam-Blake showdown over a country artist. Dupree picks Adam, but watch for a Blake steal should Adam let him go. Adam’s track record with country singers isn’t notable. He grabbed a country guy last year only to drop him in the battle round. He coached Amber Carrington to fourth place in season 4, but he coached her to go pop, diluting her country identity. Maybe Blake’s right when he suggests Adam will have Dupree singing Sublime covers.

Running tally: 

Blake gets Barrett Baber, Blind Joe, Emily Ann Roberts, and Nadjah Nicole.

Gwen gets Kota Wade, Ellie Lawrence, Noah Jackson, Tim Atlas, Hannah Ashbrook, and Braiden Sunshine.

Adam gets Jordan Smith, Regina Love, James Dupree, and Keith Semple

Pharrell gets Mark Hood, Evan McKeel, Ivonne Acera, Zach Seabaugh, and Siahna I’m.


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Beyond Reality – Dancing with the Stars Season 21 Episode 3 – Recap

September 23rd, 2015 · No Comments

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