Happy 4th of July, kidderoos! There really is nothing more American than Glee, amirite? So I can think of no better way to celebrate the birth of our great nation than reading Interweb recaps of The Glee Project — are you squeezing in your computer time somewhere between your fourth hot dog and the parade? Or are you about to run out to watch the fireworks? Firework! Speaking of fireworks, there were some — of the emotional variety — on last night’s The Glee Project (how’s that for a segue?).
The theme of last night’s episode was “Adaptability.” Which, we quickly came to learn, was a clever ploy to keep the contenders on their toes. Think you know what song you’re going to sing? Wrong! Think you know the choreography? You don’t! The mentors had scheming twinkles in their eyes as they threw the kids curveball after curveball. There are no fastballs or knuckleballs in adaptability week, only curveballs. And goofballs (I’m looking at you, Michael).
First shake-up of the night had to do with the homework assignment. This time around, the contenders wouldn’t get to pick their own lines. Oh no, the horror! Like, really, Robert? You think that’s a challenge? I scoff at your challenge; really, you just made this easier on the kiddies. Now no one had to risk damage to life and limb in a fight to the death for the best. line. ever.
Wait a sec! I totally forgot to talk about the single most important part of the episode, which happened right at the very beginning (you’ll have to pardon my scatterbrainedness, I’m just so excited about all the patriotic Jell-O I’m going to devour later today). So, the thing is, Aylin and Charlie decided to be “just friends.” This is a really good call, they both agree, because this means they can channel all the energy they used to put into frivolous activities like snuggling straight into figuring out how best to kick each other’s asses. There is not a hint of sarcasm so much as floating in the general vicinity of Charlie as he says, “Friendship. Is awesome.” Yeah, right.
Okay, back to the homework assignment. The super-secret special mentor for adaptability week is… Artie! Kevin McHale saunters into the dusty choir room, sans wheelchair, and whips off his glasses Clark Kent-style for dramatic effect. Ali bursts into a bout of uncontrollable giggling. She loves him, you see, because he never cheats when he’s using his wheelchair. But Kevin has some — dramatic pause — bad news for the kidderoos. Thought you were going to sing Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know”* as a group? Wrong! It’s solo time. Each contender will have to sing the song individually. The color drains from Shanna’s face, leaving her a lovely shade of ashy pale green — she doesn’t know the words.
*Fun fact: “You Oughta Know” was written in 1995 and is based on the tumultuous relationship Alanis had with Full House star Dave Coulier. That’s right, Uncle Joey. I guess Alanis doesn’t like impressions or hockey.
NEXT: Twist 1.5 revealed!Thankfully, for the viewers at home at least, the Glee Project’s team of ninja superstar editors splices all the solos together so we don’t have to listen to “You Oughta Know” 10 times. Kevin and Robert, however, do have to listen to Alanis’ anthem 10 times, which explains the ringing in their ears and sudden urge to break a few pieces of flatware before settling in on the sofa with a Snuggie and a pint of Chunky Monkey. Oh ‘90s music, how you make me feel things.
The winner of the homework assignment is Aylin. Congrats, Aylin. Woohoo, it’s your party.
And we’re onto twist number 1.5 (because I don’t think the first twist was really much of a twist at all, but rather more of a lil twistlet). Neither Kevin nor Robert will be announcing the song for the music video this week, because it’s a surprise. The contenders won’t learn which song they will be expected to sing until they’re in the recording booth with Nikki. Same goes for choreography. They’ll be learning their two-steps on set.
At this point, it dawns on me that adaptability week is a really good idea. Essentially, what the powers that be are doing is testing whether these kids have what it takes to be working actors. As SAG card-carrying, working actors in Hollywood, the contenders will be forced to change things up at the drop of a hat. You think Lea Michele needs more than two microseconds to learn the latest Kelly Clarkson ballad? You think Harry Shum Jr. ever needs to rehearse his choreography before the cameras are rolling? You naïve sons of guns.
Turns out, the song for this week’s music video is Jessie J’s “Price Tag,” and the premise of the video is a class war between the mean rich kids and the broke kids who just want to have fun. The recording session and video shoot are a whirlwind of cha-ching cha-chings, so here’s a list of highlights.
1. Ali decides to do a bit of spoken word in the recording booth. Nikki is not impressed.
2. Nikki is impressed with Michael, who decides to let loose and be a total goofball. Also impressive are Shanna, who didn’t “know this song from Adam,” Aylin, and Lily.
3. Abraham is freaked out about learning choreography on set. He’s just not a fast-learner, you know? He starts to rock back and forth a bit, cradling his knees to his chest.
4. Robert reminds the viewers at home that this is adaptability week. Woah, did you know the theme was adaptability? I had no idea!
5. Charlie gets into his bitchy rich person character by declaring into a fake cell phone while wearing a palm tree-printed Hawaiian shirt, “I don’t care how many ocelots you have.”
6. Mario clears things up a bit by telling us that his vibe is “girls and money.” Are you a pimp now, Mario?
7. Erik dubs Mario the problem child, stating he has never had such a difficult time with anyone on set. In doing so, Erik accidentally reveals that he has the same disorder Guy Pearce has in Memento, because how could be forget Charlie from last week?
8. Blake is an awkward dancer.
And there you have it.
NEXT: On to the reveal of the bottom three!The judges announce that Aylin had the standout performance of the week, and that Shanna, Michael, and Lily are also safe. That leaves Mario, Ali, Abraham, Charlie, Blake, and Nellie to learn their fate. In the final twist of the night, Robert announces that all six of them will have to sing for Ryan Murphy, paired up in duets. Sheeeeeit. Here’s what happens.
- Blake and Nellie are asked to sing “Waiting for a Girl/Boy Like You” by Foreigner. They’re up first. Blake and Nellie take to the stage and the lights dim; I can already tell we’re in for a treat here, folks. Blake and Nellie (Blellie?) have put together a heart-wrenching soap opera of a rendition for the judges, one filled with emotional singing into each other’s faces and a forehead kiss that’ll make your heart squee. Upon finishing the song, Ryan Murphy proclaims, “That wasn’t a Last Chance performance, that was an opera.” These two are clearly safe, and scurry off stage holding hands.
- Ali and Abraham are next, singing Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night.” This song, I think, is a trainwreck. They start off by finishing each other’s sentences, and then things go from bad to worse as their voices ricochet off one another during their harmonies. And, Abraham, would you mind looking at Ali while you’re singing? I know you dyed your hair last week and you’re super masculine now, so would at least pretend that you like her? But oh, wait, apparently I know nothing about music and don’t even have ears, now that I come to think of it, because Ryan Murphy thought their performance was charming. Ali is like a “funny little Dolly Parton,” he proclaims, which I guess is a compliment.
- Mario and Charlie are last, singing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” by Elton John and George Michael. Our brief glimpses of their rehearsal time together is beyond cringe-worthy; these two clearly can’t stand each other. On stage things get intense. Mario nearly breaks down sobbing and I daresay I see the glimmer of a tear in Charlie’s eye, which makes perfect sense because there’s nothing like an Elton John ballad to make grown men cry. Ryan Murphy thinks it was sweet, but it’s clear to everyone that one of these two cry babies is going home this week.
Robert walks into the choir room following the Last Chance performances with his head hung so low that I think he’s about to pull one of the contestants aside to tell them their grandmother died. But no, he just wants to say, “The list is up.” Robert pulls out a paisley handkerchief to wipe his eyes as he sulks out of the room.
Going home this week is Mario. Charlie and Abraham are happy because they know that neither one of them were very good this week. I’m happy because Mario’s the worst. Can’t say that I’ll miss ya, bud! Mario makes his exit as proud as ever, stating (over swells of violins) that he hopes people watching this show will find him inspiring. In a rare and fleeting moment of strength and humility, Mario declares, “Blind is the last thing on my list.”
I can’t wait for more shenanigans next week, but for now it’s time for a red, white, and blue rocket-shaped Popsicle. Viva America!
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It’s official. We’re all old. Today, June 11, is the 10th anniversary of American Idol, which means the series is basically the age of a precocious, articulate child. (Are you ready for the pre-teen years, Nigel Lythgoe?) In honor of the series that has surprised, delighted, entertained, and enraged us for the past 10 years, we’ve compiled the show’s best, worst, and WTF moments. But listing the series’ best performances would be too easy. Instead, we've decided to look back at the non-musical moments — after all, we can't forget the outrageous fights, falls, and outfits meriting a slack-jawed double-take. These are the non-competition-based moments you probably forgot (and many that you’re still trying to).
Thanks for 10 entertaining, perplexing years (and Season 9), Idol!
Best of the Best
Kelly Clarkson’s Finale Breakdown with Nikki McKibbin and Tamyra Gray: This adorable break of emotion follows what is still the best finale moment of the series (no winner’s single can beat “A Moment Like This”), but the best part was when Clarkson couldn’t manage the final line due to an overwhelming wave of emotion. And when Nikki and Tamyra joined her in a group hug and helped their girl out (Nikki perhaps a bit too much), it truly felt like an expression of family, instead of cutthroat competition.
Ruben Studdard Earns a Nickname: “The Velvet Teddy Bear”
Juanita Barber Gets Testy With Simon: She was wrong. So totally wrong. But man, did it feel good to see some dish it back to King of Mean, Simon Cowell.
Season 5’s Ayla Brown Gets Famous Again When Scott Brown Tells the World She’s “Available”: Hey, thank God her Idol fame came back into the spotlight, or she’d have to settle for just being Brown’s “available” daughter. No one wants to be famous for being pimped out by your politician father.
Sanjaya’s Ponk Hawk: There are no words for this glorious incident. Only video.
Anthony Fedorov’s Transformation: He showed up looking like Revenge of the Nerds: R&B Adventure, but by the end of his Season 4 run, he looked more like a back-up Nick Carter. How this prepared him for his future role as Jesus Christ: Superstar, remains a mystery.
Chris Sligh’s Inspiration for Auditioning Was “To Make David Hasselhoff Cry”: This guy, he’s got jokes. And that one was a classic.
Queen Couldn’t Stand Ace Young’s “We Will Rock You” Either: In rehearsals, Brian May tells Young, "I will not do that to my song," when the contestant asks if he could spice up its beats. There’s nothing quite like the vindication of knowing a legendary rock band agrees with you.
Phil Stacey’s Helluva Day: In the same day, Phil Stacey wowed the judging panel in his audition, walked away with a golden ticket, and became a father.
Kelly Pickler’s Wealth of Ditzy One-Liners: The Season 7 contestant never failed to make us laugh, even if she wasn’t sure why. From the mind-boggling “What’s a ballsy?” to the classic “I had salmon,” Miss Pickler regularly had us in stiches.
Idol Gives Back Gives Us a Good Laugh: Idol Gives Back gave us back a little hope after a dreadful Season 9 in the form of some giggles. Russell Brand and Jonah Hill attempted to make us laugh with their cross-promotional Get Him to the Greek mumbo jumbo, but it was Wanda Sykes grilling Simon that really did the trick. Plus, let us take hilarious note of Tim Urban’s ditzy moment at the 1:20 mark.
Kara and Paula Give Bikini Girl a Piece of Their Minds: The bobble-headed Bikini Girl of Season 8 has become infamous. Not only did she attempt to set women-kind back about a 100 years with her sexist stunt of an audition, but she just wasn’t that great. Leave it to the ladies, Kara and Paula, to show her what real singing sounds like… even if it did descend into the madness of a giggly screechfest.
Screechfest Part Deux: Katy Perry vs. Kara: We all knew it was almost time for Kara to take a hike, and Katy Perry was the perfect sassy lady to help her in the right direction (and throw a coke in her face).
Scotty McCreery Apologizes For Bullying Jacee Badeaux: During the Season 10 auditions, the poor 15-year-old was left without a group mere hours before group performances and no one would have the youngster. The little guy spent most of the night crying until he finally found a group, but the real tender moment came when future winner Scotty McCreery took to the stage to deliver a sincere apology for adding to the kid’s terror.
Heejun Han “Talks a Lot of Craps” About Richie The Cowboy: Best. Group Week Fight. Ever. Oh, Heejun, you need a sitcom. It was hilarious watching Richie push Heejun’s every button and hearing Heejun’s annoyed responses about “hating all cowboys… even the Dallas cowboys,” but his “apology” took the cake:
Next: And now, for the Worst moments…Worst Moments – So Bad, They’re Good
Ryan Starr’s Mind-Boggling Wardrobe: Note to future Idol contestants: Try not to look like you’re hoping to be America’s Next Singing Gladiator when you’re on that very public stage.
Clay Aiken. Singing a Grease Song. In a red leather jacket: Song choice aside, let us analyze this ridiculous get-up. Dear Clay, this was about as tough as a teddy bear in a gladiator costume. Sorry, Clay, but Tim Gunn would not approve.
William Hung Followed Up His Idol Audition With “Success”: And by that, we mean some very “discerning” consumers paid money for his “album.”
Elton John Called Voting “Racist” When Jennifer Hudson and LaToya London Were Eliminated: There’s just one small issue with Sir John’s argument. That same season, Fantasia Barrino took home the Idol title.
Jonathan Rey Throws Water at Simon: This angry auditioner didn’t like what Cowell had to say (either that or he was just as curious about what was in that mysterious Coke cup) and he upended Simon’s Coca-Cola Chalice all over the cranky judge.
The Brittenum Twins Break the Law Before Showtime: After making it through Hollywood week, these singing twins threw it all away when they were busted for identity theft and were removed from the show. Idol says: Crime Doesn’t Pay.
Season 6’s Jared Cotter Dedicates “Let’s Get It On” To His Parents: Yes, you should always thank your parents. But maybe, just maybe, check the words of the song you’re about to sing before you dedicate a sex anthem to mommy and daddy. It’s just a thought.
Danny Noriega Nabs Himself a Catchphrase: Too bad “I guess they weren’t likin' it” wasn’t what America was looking for in an Idol.
Simon Tells Ryan to “Come Out Already”: These two were constantly in hot water for their homophobic banter, but this cantankerous reply from Simon Cowell took the cake. It’s one of those things we wish we could forget, but unfortunately, it’s on YouTube.
Kristy Lee Cook Gets a Little Bold With Simon: There’s defending yourself, and then there’s sticking your foot in your mouth. Guess which one describes Kristy…
Ryan Tries to Hive-Five Scott MacIntyre: Hey Seacrest, let’s try to not grab a blind guy’s hand and force him to high five you. That’s not awkward at all.
Everything Siobhan Magnus Ever Wore: She may have had a set of pipes for days, but Siobhan consistently looked like she walked into a closet covered in glue and wore whatever managed to attach itself to her sticky figure.
Kara Picks a Fight With a Guy Who's Clearly Screwing With Her: Part of the deal for an American Idol judge is putting up with the obviously fabricated characters the producers throw at them, but usually, the judges seem to be in on the game. Kara didn't quite get that concept, especially when the handsome and terribly annoying Andrew Fenlon waltzed into the audition room.
Casey James’ Creepy Audition: Yes, Kara, you had to endure Bikini Girl, but please don’t turn what should be an innocent audition into your wild, uncomfortable fantasy. We don’t want to join you in that apparently dark place.
Jennifer Lopez Cries for Chris Medina: When the judges had to eliminate Season 10 hopeful Chris Medina, despite his incredible tear-jerker of a love story, we understood Jennifer's pain. Her drama taking up the majority of the camera time, however...
Jermaine Jones is Chastized and DQ’ed on National Television: It’s understandable that the Idol producers would like to make sure they explained Jones’ sudden departure, especially after the media broke the story before his last episode could air, but this “interview” was just cruel and unusual. It’s one thing to have your past indiscretions aired all over the media, but it’s completely another to have your past indiscretions explained to you like you’re a child in front of 14 million people.
The Birth of Randy’s “Yo” Pin: Season 11 saw Randy’s favorite accessory come out to compete against Steven Tyler’s scarf collection and Jennifer Lopez’ hair. There’s just one snag with his little plan: “Yo” is not a catchphrase, my friend.
What’s you favorite – or least favorite – non-musical Idol moment?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
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The hardest working man in entertainment isn’t Matt Damon or Tom Cruise. These days it’s actually rapper turned actor Common. Don’t believe us? Well, the man you may know as Jeremy Piven’s right hand Ivy from Smokin' Aces not only has a new album out called The Dreamer, The Believer, but a slew of movies coming and a legit role in AMC’s new period series Hell on Wheels, where we get to see his dramatic side and acting chops, playing the historic role of a former slave heading out West to find himself in the 1860s. We recently grabbed a few minutes with the budding film star to talk about his new album, portraying a slave and how he got so darn ripped for the role. (Hint - It wasn’t P90X)
Tell us about the new album The Dreamer, The Believer, how does it compare to earlier works?
It definitely has the core of what some of my earlier work was, the spirit of what hip-hop is and the art of it ... But I think it’s growth in the way that I’ve grown as a human being and at the same token as an artist. I think I’ve grown by the opportunity to act, I think being able to listen more and work with the collective.
Who can we expect to be featured on it?
One song with Nas called "Ghetto Dreams," one with Dr. Maya Angelou called "The Dreamer."
What are some of songs we can expect soon from the album?
There’s a song called "Raw (How You Like It)" and it will be coming out real soon. And a song called "Celebrate," [which is] a new single. The video will be premiering at the end of Hell on Wheels [for one episode].
Your film career is taking off now and Hell on Wheels is getting some real acclaim, what can we expect from that show moving forward?
We hope they will do a second season and ... We hope to be more rich and intriguing. We hope the truth keeps coming out in the show, just quality art and TV … people relate to it and we are going to win some awards.
Your character is Elam Ferguson, a slave trying to find his place? Any challenges playing such an iconic role?
It’s challenging just to be that because you have to do your best to become that and live in that time. It’s challenging just having that mentality of being a former slave and what slaves went through. Dealing with the prejudices and the racial discrimination, the racial hatred ... Even just challenges, I had to teach myself how to ride a horse [Laughs].
What kind of research did you do for the show?
I just started studying about that time period, especially black people and how we lived during that time period. You can just read about it and understand more about what they were dealing with.
You got absolutely shredded for the role, did you do anything in particular?
I try to stay in the zone. Maybe I’m not exactly in that shape all the time but I try to stay in that area. I work out three to five times a week if possible. Just eat healthy and eat well. Eating well is so important, it helps your whole life.
Last Sunday’s show (Episode 7), you were about to get hung, for those who haven’t seen the show yet, how do you plan on getting out of that one? I don’t know, man! If he gets out of that one, he’s a bad man, huh? If he gets out of that, he’s a bad man.
In addition to the show, you have like three movies either in the works or coming out.
New Year’s Eve was more of a cameo type role, I played Halle Berry’s husband. They had to fight me to get in that movie right? That just came out this past weekend.
What about LUV and Pawn?
LUV is an independent film that I worked with Michael Rainey, Jr., and "LUV" stands for "Learning Uncle Vincent." It’s really about a young man who spends a day with his uncle that just got out of jail. His uncle is trying to go on the right road and the day just starts going array for him, and the day starts going bad. He is spending the day with his uncle and he is learning all these things in life, and you think maybe a kid shouldn’t be put in this situation. The film just got selected to Sundance, so we are really excited about that.With Pawn, I just got the part last week and that’s with Michael Chiklis, Forest Whitaker, Ray Liotta, Nikki Reed and Sean Faris, all those good actors. So, I’m looking forward to broadening the acting scope.
What’s the plot of Pawn?
Hostages are being taken in this diner in Connecticut and you find out that diner may be mob affiliated. You are trying to find out who is behind the whole hostage taking event. Some police may be involved with it.