S11E8: It’s here! It’s here! Hollywood week is finally here! And what did we get for waiting oh-so patiently? A series of predictable “yeses,” a few shocking “nos” without explanation, and a big ol’ cliffhanger that only Idol would dare (and get away with). In case you’re a bit rusty since last season, Hollywood week works like so: half of the contestants perform the first day in groups of 10. They all sing a capella with no feedback (unless Jennifer just can’t help letting out a “beautiful, baby”), and immediately after, they’re told whether they’re in or out. That’s it.
“I realized the guy going before me was the guy Jennifer Lopez fell in love with.” –Heejun Han
First up are Johnny Keyser and Heejun Han. Both are strong singers, but as Idol points out so giddily, one’s super confident (Johnny) and one is really insecure (Heejun)! Isn’t this wacky? (Not so much.) Johnny sings “Dreamin’” by Amos Lee and this boy is golden. He’s cute and he’s got a voice like maple syrup – robust and sweet. Heejun isn’t quite to that level, but man, can he sing. He goes with “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” and by the time he finishes the song, he’s got his confidence back. And while we watch the contestants stand at attention while they wait for the judges to decide their fates, the awkwardness of this whole process is palpable. Luckily, they cut that short and the judges ask Heejun, Johnny and one other contestant we didn’t meet step forward and find out their fate. Of course, they both stay and despite how low his confidence is, Heejun is actually really likeable. Johnny’s lovable too, but that goes without saying.
Next, we get a bit of rapid-fire results as Elise Testone brings her smoky, raspy voice; blondie Bailey Brown delivers a sweet country drawl; and Hallie Day returns just as wonderfully as we remember her from her first audition. (In case you forgot, she was a sob story – one who almost committed suicide, but found new meaning in life.) These three ladies get the green light, but then it’s on to those getting the ax. As he explains the concept of being sent home, Ryan stands right by the waiting contestants whispering about how nervous they are as if they’re sloths in a jungle exhibit and he’s Nigel Thornberry. (I clearly watched more cartoons than Animal Planet, but you get my drift.) Luckily, we get a little buffer before the quick-paced exodus goes down. Jen Hirsche sings with strength and a saucy falcetto voice and Lauren Grey wows us yet again with her fantastic, bluesy, smoky voice. Both ladies get the go-ahead – even though Jen worried she was too fidgety.
The come the cast-offs. We quickly say goodbye to girls who can’t quite hit the high notes; Heather Youmans, Sasha Julian, and Candice Russell all break. Russell even begs to sing a little bit more, only to attempt to go all Mariah Carey without a spec of success.
"I can’t even sleep at night. I want this so much.” –Phil Phillips
And then it’s time for one of my favorites, Phil Phillips. The down-home boy has never been on a plane, but he makes it work so he can bring his growly, engaging voice (and adorable mug) to Hollywood. The song just rolls off his tongue, and he’s so cute, he may not be doomed to becoming an early castoff (one can only hope!). Next, is Reed Grimm – and it makes sense that he would be paired with Phil. He’s the guy who’s been singing since he was a kid and he likes to turn kid songs into jazzy tunes; this time he gave the scat treatment to “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” He’s got a velvety voice and while I’m not a fan of his flashy, cocky penchant for jazzing up kids’ songs, I can’t really deny his incredible talent. Along for the ride with these two incredible talents is the kid who dropped out high school to give Idol another shot, Travis Orlando. They refresh his sob story, but his voice is just so average. And the judges seem to understand that; they send Travis home and keep Phil and Reed onboard. And if you learn anything from Travis, let it be: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DROP OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL, KIDS.
Then we get an unfeeling, all too rushed montage of fallen contestants without even hearing what their auditions sounded like. Notable shockers were Ramiro Garcia, the man who grew up without the ability to hear, and Wolf Hamlin, the golf course mechanic from San Diego. Both of those guys were episode-ender fantastic and yet, they’re gone without so much as a shoulder shrug. Even Travis Orlando got to sing on national television; what gives, Idol? Jenny “My boyfriend says I can kiss Steven Tyler” Schick also gets sent home, but I think we’ll survive.
“My expectations of this week are that I will stay here.” –Jane Carey
Adam Brock is missing his baby girl, but he’s in Hollywood for good reason. He sings “Walking in Memphis” like a professional blues singer and I demand to know where that voice is coming from. It’s nuts. This also the point the episode at which Jennifer’s inability to stop giving feedback (because it's only like, THE RULES, Jennifer) really starts to miff me. Next, Jim Carey offspring Jane Carey is finally up, and we find out how long we can look forward to Idol exploiting her famous father. She sings “Looking Out My Back Door” and does alright, but drops every note at the end of her phrases. It’s obvious she’s not making the cut when Jennifer and Steven try their darndest to make their faces blend into the background of the theater as she searches their expressions for some semblance of an answer. Adam is in, Jane is out. Jane connects it back to her dad, who says he failed at many auditions and he’s doing alright. Yeah, we’d say so.
This gracious, but tearful exit is followed by a series of beggers. Note to Idol contestants: when you get sent home at Hollywood week, just go home. You got a free vacation and if you were good enough to be a professional performer, you wouldn’t have to beg.
“Hollywood, are you ready for me?” –David Leathers, Jr.
And now for some more good news. Shannon Magrane, the daughter of a famous pitcher (the one who was appalled when Steven said she was beautiful because she’s only 16), sings “Falling” by Alicia Keys. As she sings, Jennifer sings along so that’s probably a pretty good sign – plus, she’s one of very few people who haven’t screwed this song up. Then, little ladies’ man David Leathers, Jr. sings “Because You Love Me” and as obnoxious as his little playboy routine can be, he’s so good I can’t be mad. He’s like a tiny, soulful Michael Jackson protégé. Finally, we see the girl whose boyfriend had a stroke, and he’s there being heart-breakingly supportive. And while I said after her first audition that she only made it because of her story, her performance makes it obvious that she belongs there. Suddenly, she’s so much better. All three get good news, and Angie Zeiderman (Broadway Baby/Lady Gaga wannabe from Aspen) and NBA cheerleader Brittany Kerr do as well.
But the next set wasn’t as easy to watch for me. We’ve got the fantastic mobile DJ, Erica Van Pelt; and while she still over-performs (because she’s a wedding singer) that voice cannot be denied. She rocks. But, then there’s Creighton Fraker, who I cannot stand. The judges always pick someone with a painful tonality like this kid. Sure he can hit notes, but he’s just unpleasant. Third, we meet another ladies’ man, Aaron Marcellus and he’s solid. He’s got great high notes, and sweet lows. They’re all good to go, even though if I could stop watching until Creighton is gone, I would.
Lastly, we find Lauren Mink, girl who runs a program for people with disabilities; Jeremy Rosado, a front desk clerk and an infectious diseases office and serious germophobe; and Symone Black, an adorable singer we met in San Diego. While Lauren changes key in the middle of “Alone” by Heart, it can’t compare to Symone’s flub. (Jeremy was great; no complaints there.) She sings “Sitting on the Dock of Bay” and when they ask her why she chose the song, she says she wanted to reach an older audience and then promptly falls off the stage. They call in medical assistance, but we won’t find out if she’s okay – or if she and the other two made it – until tomorrow night! Thanks Idol. These are the kind of reality shenanigans that drive us nuts, but hey, at least it’s Hollywood week, right?
Were you surprised to see anyone get sent home? Who do you think stayed unfairly? Let me know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler
S11E3: In a special post-NFL-Playoffs episode of American Idol the judges take the show to San Diego and what San Diego-themed episode would be complete without copious references to Top Gun? We open with the theme to the classic movie and continue with the soundtrack of “Highway to The Danger Zone” as the auditions commence on the U.S.S. Midway, a classic Navy ship that sits on the San Diego Bay as a floating museum. It’s also the place where my little brother went to prom, so excuse me if I get a little protective over my hometown in this recap. Some of these folks give Southern California natives a bad name.
And while I’m finding reasons to be protective of my hometown, the episode didn’t give us too many embarrassing moments. Most of the contestants they showed were decent singers – could they be making good on that positivity promise this year? In the end, 53 people got golden tickets; here are the folks they gave some decent screen time:
“I think your voice lacks the fire that your getup does.” –Randy
And this girl is one of those folks doing the bad name-giving. Jennifer Diley shows up in a bikini top and miniscule booty shorts and in an attempt to show what a manly man he is, Ryan makes her walk up the stairs twice. HAR HAR. Then, she has the audacity to admit she’s really just trying to please the male judges, but at least she knows where her strengths lie. She sings “With You” by Jessica Simpson and she’s just awful. She insists on trying “Hero” by Mariah Carey as well, but Randy says if it’s bad she has to leave immediately, with no commentary from the judges. She’s quickly denied with yet another Top Gun reference: “Take My Breath Away.”
“Where’ve you been all this time?” –Randy
This girl started the streak of good singers. Robles is an insurance account manager, DJ and mother and it seems that her adorable daughter will have a chance to cheer her mommy on some more. Robles sang the song no one should ever try on Idol: “I Will Always Love You.” But defying all past Idol experience, she carries the song’s classic high note beautifully – the spot where even good singers on Idol usually blow it. Clearly, she’s going to Hollywood.
“It’s like the golden ticket to the Charlie – to the, the factory. What is it called?” –Jayrah
This guy is a bit of a joke. Unfortunately, he can sing so he’ll be around for a bit longer. Gibson is a songwriter; he even wrote a song for Jennifer about her moneymaker. Classy.His real song is “Just Friends” and it’s actually kind of great. Randy loves it because they haven’t had a real R&B style singer in a while. Jennifer’s only hesitation is that he sang more of a rhythmic song and not a melodic one, and I have to agree. Even so, he gets a ticket to Hollywood, where he’ll undoubtedly make more references to movies he can’t seem to remember.
“...becoming America’s Next Top Model.” –Aubree Dieckmeyer
This receptionist from San Clemente, like the singer before her, is a bit of a ditz. California girl stereotype: check. She continues by saying that her chosen song, “Feeling Good” is “by Michael Bublè.” People really need to start at least googling their songs before they audition. Anyway, she’s a good singer, but it’s a bit sticky when she switches between falcetto and vibrato. Her upper range is thin, but it’s enough to get her a ticket to Hollywood.
“You’re just crazy enough to make it” –Randy
This girl went on the Ellen DeGeneres show and walked away with the courage to try out for Idol, and it’s a good thing too, because she has a unique, fantastic voice. First, she sing/raps “Look at Me Now” which is funny and all, but Randy wants to hear a real song, because this is like, a singing competition or something. She sings a Corrine Bailey Rae song and we hear that she’s actually got the voice of a jazz singer. The likable nutjob gets a ticket to Hollywood and I foresee many more goofy montages in our future.
“I can’t wait to hear everyone sing the same Adele song for six f**king hours.” –Steven
“You sound nothing like you look.” –Randy
Next, we have a UC Berkley frat boy. I thought he was lying and paying his buddies to say he’s a ladies’ man just because he serenades pretty girls because he looks like a bit of a nerd. But then he actually sang. He dedicates “Angel of Mine” by Monica to Jennifer Lopez and he sounds like an R&B singer. Steven says it’s the “Best male voice we’ve heard yet” which is really a bit of an overstatement, but he’s certainly a surprise. Of course, if he’s going to sing like that, he’s going to need to ditch the Jason Mraz look. He gets a ticket to Hollywood.
“My dad is Jim Carrey.” –Jane Carrey
This girl is trying everything she can to not live in her father’s shadow. She doesn’t live off his money, working as a waitress and mother, because she wants to achieve success on her own. This is the same reason she’s auditioning for Idol instead of asking her dad to use his connections to get her in at a label. Jennifer is freaking out because she remembers seeing Jane as a two-year-old when she was a fly girl on In Living Color with Jim Carrey. But once we get past the whole “I feel old” schtick, Jane sings “Something to Talk About” and she’s alright, but as Jennifer points out, she needs to work on her stage presence and keep her eyes open. I’m not sure she would have made it if her dad wasn’t Jim Carrey, but we’ll see what else she can do during Hollywood week. There was just no way the producers were going to pass up on the opportunity to have her call her dad on speaker phone when she got the good news. And I took the bait: it was adorable.
“My name’s Jason, but most people call me Wolf.” –Wolf
Jason “Wolf” Hamlin
Let me just start with the fact that I absolutely love this guy. He works as a mechanic on a golf course and his father was a craftsman who built guitars by hand. His father passed away, but he brings one of his hand-made guitars along with him. I fear, however, that he’ll face a Casey Abrams fate. He sings “Midnight Special” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and he’s good, but he sounds just like John Fogerty. Steven wants to hear something else because so far, he’s good at impressions. They allow him to use his guitar (even though auditions are supposed to be a capella only!) and he blows it out of the water. Why didn’t he just start with that song? He’s soulful, jazzy and instantly one of my favorites. Plus, he’s got a little bit more of a suave, attractive vibe going for him than Casey did. He may just stick around. (I certainly hope so!)
Who was your favorite contestant of the night? Did you think Jim Carrey’s daughter was an Idol worthy singer? Let us know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler
Talk about your pulp fiction: Director Quentin Tarantino, already a force in the world of movies, is breaking into books. Tarantino's novel version of Kill Bill, a movie he's shooting for Miramax, has had its publishing rights picked up by Talk Miramax Books, Reuters reports. The book will be released next spring, while the movie, starring Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, Lucy Liu and David Carradine, will be released in the fall of 2003.
A lawsuit concerning the death of country music star Tammy Wynette has ended in a secret out-of-court settlement. Wynette's four daughters sued Wynette's doctor for $50 million, claiming Dr. Wallis Marsh had mismanaged the case. Wynette died of heart failure at the age of 55 in 1998.
The Duchess is getting out of York--almost. Fergie, the former aforementioned Duchess of York, had been sharing a house with her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, because she was in debt. Not one to completely spread her wings and fly away, the WeightWatchers spokeswoman is moving just a few miles down the road from Randy Andy's Sunninghill estate in southern England.
In the Biz
Max Payne is moving from the computer screen to the big screen. Shawn Ryan, creator of FX's critically acclaimed show The Shield, has been signed by Dimension Films to adapt the popular video game into a feature-length film. The game revolves around an undercover DEA agent wanted for a crime he didn't commit, which complicates his attempt to avenge the murders of his wife and child.
Elf, the Will Ferrell starrer about a human raised by elves at the North Pole, is about to get a present of its own. Jon Favreau, writer and director of Made, is in the final stages of signing to re-write and direct Elf.
Don't blame Canada, blame the Screen Actors Guild. The Canadian Film & Television Production Association (CFTPA), in defense of its own nationals, states it will fight SAG's attempt to enforce SAG rules on Canadian actors who belong to SAG but work in Canada. ACTRA, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, says it will not empower SAG productions outside the United States, The Associated Press reports.
Celine. Shania. Garth. Barry? Following in the footsteps Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks, Barry Manilow will be taping a one-hour concert for CBS, to be aired during May sweeps. The special, titled Ultimate Manilow, shows that CBS isn't above desperate measures.
Susan Dey and Harry Hamlin will be reunited for the first time since their L.A. Law days in Sunday's Disappearance, which will air on TBS. Dey commented on how easy it was to work with Hamlin, saying, "The connection between the two of us was [still] there."
Charity never sounded so good. The roster of VH1's fundraiser VH1 Divas Las Vegas now includes Celine Dion, The Dixie Chicks, Mary J. Blige, Cher and Shakira. The gala show, which will air live on May 23 from the MGM Grand, will benefit VH1's Save the Music Foundation.
The rumors are true: Usher and Chilli are dating. Usher told CNN Thursday, "Yes, we are dating." Chilli, a member of TLC, and Usher have both tasted Billboard's top 10, with Usher's "U Don't Have to Call" currently gracing the list.
Don't look for "Felicity" on the dean's list. Yes, the WB today did formally (and finally) renew the struggling college series, but it also placed it on the equivalent of academic probation.
While "Felicity" will return for a third season next fall, it will share its time slot with another almost-canceled show, "Jack & Jill." (The Keri Russell series will hold down the 9-10 p.m. Wednesday hour until January, at which time, "Jack & Jill" will be called on to serve your entertainment needs.)
The "Felicity"-lives storyline was the highlight of WB's fall schedule announcments, unless you're a "Roswell" fan, in which case your psyched that that almost-canceled show also did not get canned.
There's something telling, of course, about a network that has a trio of almost-canceled shows. It tells you that the network needs some shows (specifically, some high-rated shows) it doesn't want to cancel. To whit, the WB is importing a couple of ringers in its 2000-01 lineup. "The PJs," Eddie Murphy's slap-happy housing-project toon, climbs out of Fox's basement to anchor WB's Sunday night; "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," as previously announced, flies over from ABC.
Overall, the WB will launch just four brand-new series: "Hype," a sketch comedy half-hour; "Nikki," a sitcom starring "Unhappily Ever After" demi-icon Nikki Cox; "Gilmore Girls," an hourlong drama set in the potboiler that is a New England bed-and-breakfast; and, "Grosse Point," a sitcom set in the potboiler that is a soap-opera set.
In the roadkill department, that "Zoe, Duncan, Whoever, Change the Title 'Til It Works" thing is finally, officially dead. As is that painful attempt at a Harry Hamlin sitcom (aka, "Movie Stars").
Here's a night-by-night look at WB's new fall lineup:
SUNDAY: "The PJS," "The Jamie Foxx Show," "The Steve Harvey Show," "For Your Love," "HYPE", "NIKKI" MONDAY: "7th Heaven," "Roswell" TUESDAY: "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer," "Angel" WEDNESDAY: "Dawson's Creek," "Felicity"/"Jack & Jill" THURSDAY: "GILMORE GIRLS," "Charmed" FRIDAY: "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," "GROSSE POINT", "Popular"