This episode marks the last night of this season’s blind auditions. I, for one, am profoundly disappointed by the utter lack of blindness puns in the songs our hopefuls have chosen — no “Blinded by the Light,” no “I Can See Clearly Now,” nor nearly enough selections from the catalogs of Blind Melon, Third Eye Blind, and Stevie Wonder. Maybe our last crop of contestants won’t disappoint.
Natalie Hernandez skipped both her prom and her brother’s graduation — guess they filmed this at least three months ago — to audition for The Voice, making this the climactic scene in the teen movie that is her life. (Then again, when you’re 15, every day is the climactic scene in the teen movie that is your life.)
Her earthy, distinctive voice shines on “White Horse,” turning around Adam, Blake, and Christina.
Natalie’s Result: Team Christina
The producers offer yet another defrosted pop star in Rod Michael, whose boy band B3 won fame in Germany — on a scale of 1 to Hasselhoff, maybe a 2.5 — but no recognition back home. You know a group didn’t make it too big when it doesn’t appear until the third page of Google search results for its name. (Coincidentally, were you aware that B3 is the vitamin niacin, as well as the name of a city bus route in Brooklyn? The More You Know™.)
Rod’s adequate version of “Please Don’t Go” has the ladies in the house screaming, but overall, he’s simply not a standout.
Rod’s Result: Team Nobody
Caitlin Michelle says that she discovered she could sing at the age of five, which raises the question, “What 5-year-old doesn’t think he or she can sing?” A victim of intense anxiety attacks, she has found solace in music throughout her life. But I don’t know, man. When I hear “panic disorder,” I don’t think “career in show business.”
I like her retro microphone tattoo and winged eyeliner, a look perfectly complemented by her male friend backstage (siblings, or dating?) and his handlebar mustache. Caitlin brings a dramatic, bold flair to Florence + the Machine’s “Cosmic Love,” though it doesn't seem like an ideal song to showcase her voice.
Caitlin’s Result: Team Adam
A modern-day Mozart, Nicole Johnson wrote her first song at age seven (her mom doesn’t go into detail, but I think we can safely assume it was a full symphony).
Her family moved to Nashville from Louisiana so she could better pursue her music career — listening to Nicole’s buttery-smooth “Mr. Know-It-All,” it seems like that might not have been a huge mistake.
Nicole’s Result: Team Blake
Kameron Corvet, a middle-school French teacher, sings — surprisingly — something other than “Frère Jacques.” Self-accompanied on guitar, he offers a cover of “Crazy” (not the Gnarls Barkley “Crazy,” unfortunately) that’s good, but not good enough.
Kameron’s Result: Team Nobody
Chevonne sang back-up on Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour, which is impressive, but it’s this video that I just found on YouTube that’s led me to declare myself a Little Chevonnester (the first ever?).
Her “Brass in Pocket” — oh my god, I love this song, y’all — is a lot of fun, and not unlike Gaga in style.
Chevonne’s Result: Team Cee Lo
Seventeen-year-old Kayla Nevarez credits her father for fostering her interest in soul, R&B, and “doo-wops and stuff.” Sadly, he isn’t here to cheer her on because he’s ailing from a serious liver disease — a crisis that has placed financial and emotional stress on their family. She sends a tearful greeting to him back at the hospital, and because I am a horrible person, I find myself considering the possibility that he may have died since this episode was recorded.
The coaches go crazy for Kayla’s “American Boy,” and rightly so. I love this song (although I have to ask — it might just be that I’m a freakish giantess — but whose ideal man is 5’7”, Estelle?), and Kayla masterfully handles its fast, conversational pace.
“I’m your coach,” Christina informs her, seemingly unwilling to take no for an answer — too bad, because a no it is.
Kayla’s Result: Team Adam [and he’s full!]
Still only 16, Celica Westbrook was offered a place on a Bieber tour two years ago, but it didn’t pan out — we’re never told exactly why, so I can only guess that it’s because she got Justin pregnant. Also, “Celica?” It’s like her parents picked a first name out of a hat full of Toyota models, and a last name out of a hat full of prominent NBA players.
Camry Durant’s mature, effortless cover of “A Thousand Years” sets off a feeding frenzy among the three judges with spots remaining in their teams.
Celica’s Result: Team Christina [and she’s full!]
Jessica Cayne, a full-time musician from Georgia, has struggled all her life with insecurity and weight issues. She brings a bad-girl twang to “Good Girl” (honey, why you insecure when you pretty and you sing real nice?), but she goes unchosen. I have to say I’m actually bummed that no one picked her (ahem, BLAKE).
Jessica’s Result: Team Nobody
(Suddenly, Cee Lo’s cockatoo is perched on his head. I wish I could tell you what he’s saying, but I have no idea, because as I said, Cee Lo’s cockatoo is perched on his head.)
Forty-six-year-old Rudy Parris began playing music in the 1970s, but took a step back from his career to raise his daughter. Now a grandfather — though his long, jet-black hair might have you doubting that — he’s ready to give it another try.
A cover of “Every Breath You Take” reveals his full-bodied country vocals, and I’m not surprised to hear that he’s toured with Hank Williams III (whose real first name, Blake hammily points out, is Shelton).
Rudy’s Result: Team Blake [and he’s full!]
Cody Belew, the improbably (and charmingly) flamboyant son of a bull rider, believes that he must have been “an elderly black lady” in a past life. Of all the coaches, Cody prefers Cee Lo, admiring his innate sense of crazy.
His better-than-competent cover of “Hard to Handle” earns a last-second button-press from Cee Lo. Cody at first doesn’t realize that Cee Lo has chosen him, so when he finally does, he lets loose with a joyful barrage of (heavily bleeped) celebratory cursing. Cody might not win The Voice, but he’s certainly No. 1 in terms of s-grenades launched on air.
Cody’s Result: Team Cee Lo [and he’s full!]
Tonight, The Voice is back with The Best of the Blind Auditions. The battle rounds begin next Monday; I’ll be preparing myself by reading books of World War I poetry and quietly weeping. Dulce et decorum est pro patria cantare.
Find me on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credit: NBC] More: The Voice Recap: That’ll Do, Pig The Voice Recap: Ain’t That Some Shhh? The Voice Will Keep Singing for Two More Seasons, Gets New Judges
Everything appears to be status quo between humans and mutants. There’s a president who is sympathetic towards mutants Prof. Charles Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) school is thriving and Magneto (Ian McKellen) is quiet--for the moment. But when a “cure” for mutancy is discovered which would give those with the mutant gene the choice to give up their powers and become human Magneto sees red. Cure mutants? Dem’s fightin’ words. With a few more allies on his side--including the resurrected Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) who now calls herself the Phoenix and has unlimited powers--Magneto prepares to trigger the war to end all wars while the X-Men--lead by the stalwart Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and milquetoasty Storm (Halle Berry)--try to stop him. I seriously doubt this is really their Last Stand. All the usual suspects are back. Stewart is once again sufficiently wise as Xavier while McKellen’s Magneto continues to be one of the cooler comic-book villains. It’s amusing to watch him calmly mangle cars or dislodge the Golden Gate bridge with a gleam in his eye. Janssen also seems to relish playing dual roles--the tormented Grey and her evil alter ego Phoenix who is one scary broad. Unfortunately Jackman doesn’t have as much to chew on in Last Stand as he did in X2 and Berry is once again only good for drumming up fog. But the new mutants are kind of fun: Ellen Page (so deadly in Hard Candy) plays sweet this time as Kitty Pryde who can “phase” through solid material; Vinnie Jones (Snatch) is boisterous as the aptly named Juggernaut; Kelsey Grammer is diplomatic as the highly intelligent--and very blue--Dr. Hank McCoy aka Beast; and Dania Ramirez (Fat Albert) as the blink-of-an-eye quick Callisto gets to kick Storm’s ass. Cool cat fight. How dare director Bryan Singer leave his X-Men to go direct another superhero movie even if it is Superman Returns. If Wolverine had anything to say about he might have ripped Singer a new one. You really do feel Singer’s absence in The Last Stand. All of the director’s tormented pathos towards his mutant comrades and their struggles to live in the human world are not as prevalent in this third installment. Instead we’ve got happy-go-lucky director Brett Ratner of Rush Hour fame who turns The Last Stand into one giant id--big explosive and campy. Of course to his credit Ratner is pretty good at delivering a rousing albeit superficial action movie. It’s just not as gripping as X2. But listen the spirit of the comic is already built in from the previous installments so in essence we already know these characters pretty well. Do we really need more angst?
Last we heard in last year’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman Madea (Tyler Perry) was solving social cultural and familial problems. What a busy lady! Well she’s done gone and done it again after a whole new crop of problems pop up that need fixing. This time the conflicts revolve primarily around two sisters Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) and Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) both of whom are wary of their financial-minded mother Victoria (Lynn Whitfield). Vanessa is deathly afraid to love again after her husband left her and two kids and fears she might’ve met Mr. Right in the form of a bus driver (Boris Kodjoe). Meanwhile Lisa is in a physically abusive relationship with Carlos (Blair Underwood) “Atlanta’s most eligible bachelor ” but is afraid to leave him. Madea the antithesis of gold-digging Victoria solves these and many more problems as the family reunion nears. After Mad Black Woman’s surprise box office take last year bigger names were less reluctant to sign on. Accordingly the new actors in Reunion are very solid—borderline stellar collectively. The lone exception is Perry as Madea (as well as a few other characters) whose over-the-topness although expected reduces the air of professionalism from the rest. Underwood is so damn good at being so damn bad as the abusive fiancée Carlos while Whitfield matches him chill for chill in a very icy performance. The relative unknowns/newcomers are the most pleasant surprises however. Aytes has breathtaking beauty that would normally overshadow acting but not here. Anderson whose last film was ‘95’s Clockers is equally beautiful and evocative as a single mother torn. And for the female eyes there’s Kodjoe whom girls will likely fall for even more when they learn he can actually act. Perry wears many hats in Family Reunion: writer director producer star--and oh yeah he also wrote the popular stage production from which the film is adapted. Perhaps Perry’s workaholic attitude contributes to the film’s thematic overkill. There are a number of kinks in the film’s completely uneven story and the way it is told but perhaps the biggest problem stems from the fact that it still feels like a stage play. Sometimes that’s a plus for a film but it’s hard to think it was intended. This feeling is elicited by the sum of the story’s parts. Perry will be in one scene telling the tale of a beleaguered battered woman amid a linear and conventional storyline and in the next scene become Madea in her cartoonish and campy getup dishing out her tough love techniques. No doubt Reunion is an enjoyable play--only if you agree with Perry’s comedic remedies for serious issues.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.
October 28, 2003 9:08am EST
Top Story: Britney Spears Bitter About Men
Pop princess Britney Spears says she became bitter with men after her very public breakup with ex Justin Timberlake. In an interview with Newsweek magazine in its Nov. 3 issue, Spears says she swore off dating for a while after the experience. "There was a time when I was like, 'OK, I'm over men. They're mean,'" she says. "For like six months, not a single thing happened. Not like they weren't drawn to me, but there wasn't a single real attraction. I'm like, 'What's happening? I know I'm not a lesbian.'" Spears says she is still not involved with anyone and denies reports that she hooked up with 21-year-old Columbus Short, a married backup dancer. Spears also talks about her suggestive layouts for Rolling Stone, British Elle and Esquire magazines. "I did feel kind of weird after those photos," Spears says. "I was in a moment. I had, like, eight Red Bulls and said, 'OK, let's do it.' I learned my lesson and you won't see me like that for a while. I'm kinda over it myself. Not that it's dirty or tacky, but it is really revealing and I wouldn't want my kid, at 21, to be dressing like that."
Price Is Right Announcer Dies
Veteran television announcer Rod Roddy died Monday at Century City Hospital of colon and breast cancer at age 66, The Associated Press reports. For 17 years, Roddy's voice was familiar to fans of the television game show The Price Is Right for the legendary phrase: "Come on down!" Host Bob Barker said Monday that Roddy, who taped his last show two months ago, stayed with the CBS show as long as his health permitted. "The courage he showed during those difficult times was an inspiration to us all," Barker said. "He was quite a character. He was important to the success of the show." A private funeral service will be held in Texas, with a memorial service planned sometime later in Los Angeles.
California Fires Destroy Part of Aviator Set
The Southern California wildfires, which have destroyed at least 1,134 homes, killed 15 people, forced thousands to evacuate and disrupted auto and air traffic, also partially destroyed a set for Warner Bros.' Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator in the Simi Valley area over the weekend. According to Variety, the blaze at Big Sky Ranch forced the production to switch to interior shooting in Long Beach, Calif. Mike Dilorenzo of Santa Clarita Studios said his facility is operating at full capacity with CSI and Carnivale shooting, but added that the studio was on full alert with fires hoses hooked up and ready to go.
David Bowie and Iman To Appear in Hilfiger Ads
Rock icon David Bowie and his wife, supermodel Iman, will appear in their first ad campaign together. According to Billboard.com, the couple will be the new faces for designer Tommy Hilfiger's new H Hilfiger line, to be launched in spring 2004. The collection, described as "sophisticated, sexy and refined," will be part of Hilfiger's high-end line. The ad campaign, shot this month in Amsterdam by renowned photographer Ellen Von Unwerth, will debut in American magazines in April 2004.
Rosie O'Donnell, G+J Court Date Delayed
The court battle between Rosie O'Donnell and her ex-publishing partner, Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing, was put on temporary hold on yesterday as a scheduling conflict caused the judge to delay Tuesday's start date. G+J charges that everything unraveled at the now defunct Rosie magazine when O'Donnell shut down her daytime TV show in 2002 and went from being known as "fun-loving" to becoming a self-proclaimed "uber-bitch." O'Donnell, however, claims the publisher seized control of the magazine, fired editors who were loyal to her and tried to smear her reputation. Manhattan Supreme Court officials told Reuters the breach-of-contract case over the messy demise of the entertainer's namesake magazine will likely open later this week.
Fox Pulls Plug on Luis
After only four airings, Fox has decided to pull the plug on its freshman series Luis. The show starred feature character actor Luis Guzman as a doughnut shop owner in Spanish Harlem, but it opened to poor reviews and ratings, averaging 3.6 million viewers in its four airings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, production on the series, which aired Friday at 8:30 p.m., was shut down Monday. Ten episodes of the comedy were produced overall. For the next two Fridays, Fox will air original episodes of Wanda at Large at 8 and 8:30 p.m. The network had previously scheduled movies to run on the last two Fridays of the November sweep.
ABC News: Oswald Acted Alone
ABC said Monday that an in-depth investigation of the Kennedy assassination conducted by ABC News indisputably confirms that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. The network said ABC News worked with an expert who created a computer-generated reconstruction of the shooting based on maps, blueprints, physical measurements, more than 500 photographs, films and autopsy reports. Through interviews and other documentation, ABC News also concludes that Jack Ruby, who later killed Oswald, acted simply out of his love for Kennedy, the AP reports. The two-hour special on the event is scheduled to air Nov. 20, two days before the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Tim Robbins To Host Cash Tribute
Actor Tim Robbins will host the Nov. 10 musical tribute to country legend Johnny Cash, who died Sept. 12 at age 71 of complications from diabetes. According to the AP, The Bull Durham star did an audio interview with Cash for promotion of the singer's 2000 album, American III: Solitary Man. Cash also wrote and performed "In Your Mind" for the soundtrack to Dead Man Walking, a 1995 film Robbins directed. Tickets for the tribute concert, which will take place at the Ryman Auditorium, were free and distributed by lottery. John Mellencamp, Dwight Yoakam, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Hank Williams Jr., Jack Clement, Steve Earle, Larry Gatlin and Cash's daughter, Rosanne, are scheduled to perform.