February 11, 2013 3:00am EST
Even if you're of the mindset that the awards no longer matter, it's hard not see the Grammys as a free televised concert coutesy of the biggest names in music. (Thanks, guys!) And while it's all the spirit of togetherness and musicianship, it's hard not to pit performers against each other. Who blew us away and who sank like rock in the Ocean?
Most Confusing Horror/Literary Reference: Taylor Swift
Her performance of "We Are Never Getting Back Together" opened with a Jigsaw lookalike reciting lines from "The Raven," before adding Alice in Wonderland characters to Taylor's sparkly ringleader, all so she could tie Glasses Guy to a psychadelic torture device for even thinking that they could like, ever, ever, ever get back together. It's still got a little too much of that T-Swizzle hubris though. Color us confused and amused.
RELATED: 2013 Grammys Winners List
Most Baby-Making Performance: Miguel and Wiz Khalifa
Were you distracted by the sheer amount of stripes onstage during this performance? If your answer is "yes" then your TV's volume clearly wasn't turned up high enough. Miguel's vocals were everything we dreamed they would be live, and man, were they sexy. Yes, Wiz Khalifa was there too. But Miguel, you guys. The Grammys cruelly made him cap off his performance by announcing the Solo Country Performance nominees, and it was jarring, but that performance was still perfection.
Most Lena-Dunham-Pleasing Performance: fun.
Alright, this was cute, albeit a little lackluster. Their performance of "Carry On," what with its little floating light orbs and lack of Lena Dunham cutaways (she's dating the guitarist) was simply nice. After learning every last word to "Some Nights" and "We Are Young," two endlessly rousing pop songs, it's just hard to get really into it when they slow it down. Plus, when the mid-performance rainstorm came down on them, I was too distracted by wondering what happened to the instruments to really give the tune a chance. Lena Dunham sure liked it though.
Most Awkwardly Heartbreaking Performance: Frank Ocean
Ocean's performance was saved for last (we refuse to count the LL Cool J performance that was basically what happens when the Karaoke DJ closes down the bar for the night), and by all rights it should have been the best of the night. Ocean is widely regarded as one of the most important new voices in the music industry for both his talent and the courage it took for him to be openly gay in a community that's largely without that brand of honesty. So when he took the stage with "Forrest Gump," a song that openly celebrates his lifestyle, we wanted it to be perfect. But Ocean's vocals were off, causing him to go flat for most of the song. It was heartbreaking, and the radio silence from everyone, including the Staples Center audience, was a clear sign that a flub from Ocean was something none of us was able to really wrap our heads around.
RELATED: Taylor Swift Sings Along to Every Grammy Performance - PICS
Best Justin Timberlake Comeback: Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z
The self-promotion was getting a little nutty, but by the time Ellen and Beyonce were girling out over JT onstage together, all annoyances were forgiven. JT is back! And he's in sepia tone! (Which is a move he may have stolen from Bruno Mars' last Grammy performance, but he pulls it off way better so we're going to go ahead and let that go.) And with a standing ovation from the Grammys crowd! JT didn't get nearly as dancey as he's generally wont to do, but watching him perform "Suit and Tie" with Jay-Z was an epic moment in musical history. And for the "Suit and Tie" haters, Justin tacked on "Pusher Love Girl" — a wonderful song until that point where you realize he's singing about Jessica Biel and not you.
Most Familiar, But Not in Annoying Way, Performance: Mumford and Sons
This looked a heck of a lot like the band's 2011 Grammy performance alongside Bob Dylan — between the straight line formation and the flashing lights behind them, it was all a little too familiar. But then, Marcus Mumford started breaking it down and melting hearts and suddenly, the staging mattered not. We will wait for you all damn day, boys. (And if we're not there, you can be sure super fan Taylor Swift will be.) Video coming soon
NEXT: Worst Psych! Performance Ever...
Worst Psych! Performance Ever: Bruno Mars' Bob Marley Tribute
Once the performance added Sting, Rihanna, and Ziggy and Damien Marley to get the crowd going for "Could You Be Loved," this sweet little tribute to Mr. Marley picked up and became something of a momentary beach party. But when it (and by "it," I mean a tribute to Bob Marley and not a moment of Bruno Mars' self-promo time) started, the first song sounded a hell of a lot like "Locked Out of Heaven," which is a Bruno Mars song and not a Marley tune. Oh, that's because it was? What other tribute started with someone's own music as opposed to the person being honored? Oh, none of them? So, Bruno Mars is the only ego-maniac dropping his own song into a tribute. Okay. Glad we got that straight.
RELATED: 10 Looks That Violated CBS' Grammy Rules
Most Unintentionally Disturbing Performance: Rihanna
In what should have been a great, intimate performance of "Stay," Rihanna made us all very uncomfortable. We knew she was at the show with Chris Brown, and we know how autobiographical she can be in her art. It was hard not to feel like she was singing this song to the man none of us can believe she's gone back to. Sorry, Gavin Purcell. Your assist was fine, but we're a little distracted here.
Performance Most Likely to Serve as a Really Affective Lullaby: It's a Tie! Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley/Ed Sheeran and Elton John
Miranda's a great singer, and she looked great in her sparkly dress, but there was something so sleepy about this performance. No level of Bruce Springsteen impression from Mr. Bentley could change that. And while aesthetics aren't really the crux of a good performance, the strange tree, Lambert's endlessly sparkly dress, and Bentley's devil-may-care chic went together about as well as Chris Brown and anything we like. The best part was watching Blake Shelton's proud gaze at his pretty wife, but that could just be because it was over.
Sir Elton, you are a legend. Ed (can I call you "Eddie"?), you're an adorable British singer-songwriter. This should have been more engaging. But this rendition of Sheeran's "The A-Team" just had me wondering, "Why isn't Beyonce performing tonight?" Hell, even Elton looked bored.
Performance That Was Most Likely to Be Way Better if Adam Levine Wasn't Involved: Alicia Keys
RELATED: Taylor Swift Tries Something New: Embarrassing or Cool?
Alicia Keys, wearing a sexy dress and banging the hell out of some drums before singing "This girl is on fire" like an Amazonian battle call, would have been a highlight of the evening if it wasn't followed by the Maroon 5 frontman trying to keep up with her. The last thing Ms. Keys needs is a sidekick.
Most Straight Up Incredible Performance: It's a Tie! The Black Keys with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band/Jack White
The Black Keys are already incredible live, and that's without any elaborate set pieces or flashy costumes. But when they added the New Orleans flair of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to "Lonely Boy" (even if they Kelly-and-Michelle-ed the horn section's volume), it made the ubiqitous song brand new and thus, even more incredible.
Jack White, you magnificent bastard. As someone who's not normally a follower of our pastey friend, I have to admit, his performance of "Love Interruption" was a thing of beauty. Plus, he did it with the help of a band of lady musicians who look like they were plucked from a Victorian Uptopia. You've got me, Jack White.
NEXT: Best Redemption from a Past Idol Performance....
Best Redemption from a Past Performance on American Idol: Kelly Clarkson
Saying Kelly Clarkson ever wasn't perfect during a performance doesn't happen often, but when she sang "Natural Woman" on Idol, she was, well, less than perfect. But when Clarkson sang "Tennesse Waltz" for Patti Page and then "Natural Woman" as a tribute to Carole King. It was beautiful, and incredibly moving, and coming from someone as genuine as Kelly, it's a performance that's hard not to love.
Best Unadorned, Yet Perfect Performance: The Lumineers
All they did was stand together and sing "Ho Hey" with a few twinkly lights in the background. And it was perfect.
Worst Dance Moves: Carrie Underwood
For a girl who can sing the hell out of any song, especially "Blown Away," her performance blew us away for all the wrong reasons. Her vocals were great as always but the strange use of her Barbie prom dress as a movie screen for butterflies and clip art roses ruined it all. And if the light show wasn't distracting enough, the fact that there was clearly some life-size Barbie rack hidden under that dress preventing her from moving anywhere was disconcerting. If she would have just gone up there in a pretty dress and did her thing, she'd probably be remembered as one of the better performers of the night.
Best Ignored Tribute Because the Performers Aren't Mainstream Enough: Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Kenny Garrett
This year, the jazz world lost Dave Brubeck, and the loss was crushing. Watching these guys deliver a sweet, simple rendition of Brubeck's "Take Five" was the perfect way to say "Thank you" to the legend, but apparently, this performance doesn't get an introduction from a pretty musical celeb. (It was so awesome, no one has yet put a video on the Internet.)
Most Surprisingly Awesome (And Not At All Annoying) Tribute From Five or More Performers: The Levon Helm Tribute
Elton John, Zac Brown, Mumford and Sons, Elton John, T Bone Burnett, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard from the Alabama Shakes on one stage? It sounds like a combination too overloaded to work, but when all these voices came together to deliver "The Weight," the song made famous by The Band, it was perfect harmony. Of course, Howard had to go and show everyone up (even Staples was impressed) with her too-perfect-words closing verse. Can we see an Alabama Shakes cover of the song soon, please?
Best Terrible American Idol Audition: Juanes
Dude, have you ever heard "Your Song" before? It doesn't sound like this. If this was American Idol, Nicki Minaj would be giving you a nickname, telling her she loves you boo, and sending you home to pursue other dreams.
Best Performance That Was Shorter Than a Teaser Trailer for the Actual Movie Trailer: Hunter Hayes
Dude, they give you a piano with your lyrics written all over it, and all you get to do is sing a few bars and then throw it Carrie Underwood and her technicolor dream dress?
Performance Most Likely to Make the Performer a Laughing Stock For the Foreseeable Future: LL Cool J
After Mumford and Sons were awarded their Album of the Year trophy, we were all ready to say goodnight, but LL Cool J insisted on continuing the show, like the guy who can't accept the bar is closing at 4 AM. He was still singing at the top of his lungs (or in this case, rapping) as the commercials started rolling and folks started filing out of the Staples Center. Sorry LL, but you're going to get a lot of s**t for this one.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
December 04, 2012 4:46am EST
Welcome back to The Voice! With the departure of Dez Duron, Christina has become the first coach in the show’s history to see all her team members eliminated before the finale. Nevertheless, Xtina seems cheerful, though she is dressed all in black — and as I’ve learned from Downton Abbey, sequins and fishnets were traditional components of post-Edwardian mourning clothes. This week, the six remaining contestants will each perform twice — one song chosen by their coach, and another chosen by themselves.
Up first, Nicholas David performs a track picked by coach Cee Lo Green: Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September.” Train’s Pat Monaghan covers for Cee Lo (who is out sick) in rehearsals this week. As Nicholas walks in, Pat warmly jokes, “I know you from TV.” Nick smiles blankly, and I am instantly sure that he — old-soul Minnesota hippie that he is — has no idea who Monaghan is. Gold.
Pat, who I’m surprised doesn't speak in falsetto, encourages Nicholas to take risks and explore the furthest reaches of his vocal range. After all, there is an entire verse of “Hey, Soul Sister” that only dogs can hear.
The disco energy represents a stylistic departure for Nicholas that I enjoy — but as Adam points out, he lets his background singers almost entirely handle the chorus, the clear highlight of the song. What would “September” be without its glorious bah dee ya’s?
With the success of her “Over You” cover in mind, Blake Shelton assigns Cassadee Pope another country song. She performs Rascal Flatts’ “Stand,” for which each audience member has been mysteriously equipped with a tampon-esque glowstick. She nails it, garnering rave reviews from the coaches — especially Christina, who has officially restyled herself as Cassadee’s “co-coach/supporter.”
Apparently concerned that all this country will make us forget how Punk Rock she is, Cassadee has incorporated blue streaks in her hair. I gather the bottle of dye must have been communal, because — up in the Sprint Skybox®™ — we see that Melanie Martinez’s trademark two-tone scalp is now half blue as well.
In a rare stroke of genius, Adam Levine asks Amanda Brown to perform “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” The power, finesse, and exuberance she brings to the song are killer. I would pay money — several monies, even — to see this in concert. “There’s nothing I adore more than to see a woman feel natural,” Cee Lo comments, because it’s been a few weeks since he’s said something truly creepy.
Terry McDermott elects to perform Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” inspired by the loss of his mother. The pared-down production design suits the emotional gravity of the song: alone on a dark stage with only a cellist and pianist,Terry is visibly overcome with feeling as he sings. It’s certainly good, but by no means my favorite of Terry’s work (to be fair, I kind of can’t stand this song).
Another gem for the Blake highlight reel: He refers to that cello first as a “whatever that violin thing’s called,” and then as “a Cee Lo.”
Trevin Hunte takes on “Walking on Sunshine” (Cee Lo’s choice), resulting in the spontaneous formation of ska circles in living rooms across the country. We’ve seen the disaster that resulted from Trevin trading ballads for beats — remember Ushergate? — and similarly, I never would’ve guessed that such a poppy song would work for him.But that’s the reason why Cee Lo’s a coach on The Voice and I’m not (the only reason). It’s a charismatic, vibrant performance, and Trevin ably meets the challenges of the fast-paced original.
Melanie takes a risk with Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” — i.e., Cee Lo’s biggest hit that doesn't contain an expletive in its title. But what’s really crazy here is the staging: She plays a miniature pink keyboard with one hand, surrounded by faceless, guitar-holding mannequins with bows in their non-hair. It’s weird. The performance is a little pitchy, but her trademark coo is less overdone than usual.
I’m sure you have a long career ahead of you, Melanie, but promise me this — whatever your manager says, please don’t get your adorable teeth fixed. Dat diastema.
Terry is back with Rod Stewart’s “Stay with Me.” Well played, coach Blake. This is a smart choice: It’s a classic rock staple, but with the playfully dirty, bad-boy edge that asexually adorable Terry generally lacks. Unfortunately, the sound mixing seems slightly off, and McDermott’s voice blends too much into the rest of the track — it’s a fun song, but far from an ideal showcase of his talent.
In his second outing, Trevin takes on Jennifer Hudson’s “And I Am Telling You.” The man-diva (divo? Devo?) we fell for in the blind auditions has returned. This performance gives me goosebumps. I’m officially back on the Trevin train, and so is Christina, who promises to take him “under her wing” after the show’s over.
Coach Cee Lo feels so confident in Trevin’s chances that he requests “a moment of silence” to “mourn” the other contestants (awkward for teammate Nicholas David, don’t you think?). The season is over now. You can go home.
Adam attempts to recapture the rock-and-roll magic of Amanda Brown’s “Dream On” cover with Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” It’s good, and gritty, and she works the lady-falsetto like a pro.
For her second performance, Melanie offers Lenka’s “The Show,” chosen by Adam to highlight her “playful side.” Vocally, it’s a strong showing for Melanie (the song is a great fit), but I find everything else about this unsettling.
The set is straight out of Sesame Street. Hammy, grinning stagehands carry out giant painted cut-outs — a car, a sailboat, a rainbow — for Melanie to interact with. It’s way too cutesy, way too “little girl,” and even a bit disturbing, in a Baby Jane sort of way.
Part of the problem is that Melanie is obviously embarrassed — instead of playing up the props, she acts like her parents are making her pose for a lame face-in-hole photo at the county fair. God, Dad, leave me alone!
In other news, I’m increasingly convinced that the blue cup in front of Christina contains something stronger than water, as she has now resorted to singing her comments for attention.
Cassadee is back with her “dream song,” Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You.” This was inevitable. She reminds me so much of Avril; when “Cassadee” is finally eliminated, she’ll peel off her mask and wig to reveal her true Canadian superstar form.
It’s a nice cover — a string section and the country flair to Cassadee’s voice bring out the song’s sweetness. She’s probably not the best singer in the top six, but she might have the most commercial potential of all her competitors.
Nicholas David closes out the night with his mother’s favorite song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It’s nice to see him back behind a piano, and he presents a gently funkified version that retains enough of the timeless original melody to be satisfying. But all of this pales in comparison to Cee Lo’s characteristically bizarre closing remarks, in which he wishes a happy birthday to someone named Mr. Beans.
Now go to bed, kids. Mama needs private time to watch Blake Shelton’s Not-So-Family Christmas Special, or as she has renamed it, 50 Shades of Blake.
The Voice returns tomorrow night at 8 p.m., when the two artists with the fewest audience votes will be eliminated. Follow Molly on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC (2)]
The Voice Recap: The Cee-Bow Connection
The Voice Recap: Somebody Too Close to Love Someone Like You
The Voice Recap: Thanksgiving-sing
From Our Partners:
Inside ‘Bachelorette’ Stars Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum’s Wedding — EXCLUSIVE DETAILS
Mario Lopez, Courtney Mazza’s Wedding Pictures Revealed!
November 27, 2012 11:52am EST
Sometimes a director has a favorite actor that they jibe with whom they cast in a whole whack of movies in a row. Think Scorsese and DiCaprio Wes Anderson and Bill Murray or Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst. It's a sort of professional infatuation that can serve a project well but it can also lull them into self-indulgence. Although this is only the second time that Killing Them Softly's writer/director Andrew Dominik has worked with Brad Pitt it feels like they have a certain camaraderie. The symbiosis previously worked in their favor in 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This time around they never quite find the same rhythm.
Of course Killing Them Softly has an entirely difference cadence than that golden-hued meditative Western; it's stylishly violent and blackly hilarious. After all the catalyst for this whole affair is a half-cocked scheme cooked up by a wanna-be gangster nicknamed Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) and carried out by a desperate ex-con (Scoot McNairy) and a scummy Australian junkie (Ben Mendelsohn) who steals and sells purebred dogs for cash. Their plan to knock over a mobbed-up card game is air tight (or so it seems): the game runner Markie (Ray Liotta) has confessed to setting up a heist of his own game in the past. The knuckleheads think the card-players will blame him again.
Unfortunately for them Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is called in to investigate the matter. His record is impeccable his glasses mirror-slick and his hands steady. His technique is of course to kill his victims "softly " from a distance. "It's so embarrassing " he comments to a middleman played by Richard Jenkins to watch his targets plead and cry and lose control of their bodily functions. It's just as embarrassing to see his colleagues lose their mettle like Mickey (James Gandolfini) a gangster he called in to help out. Mickey is a dogged drunk and a womanizer who's given to rapturous platitudes about a prostitute he knew in Florida. "There's no ass in the whole world like a young Jewish girl who's hooking " he tells an increasingly frustrated Jackie. Grossly funny scenes like this the scatological problems one encounters while driving dog-napped pups across country and an explosion gone awry are outweighed by a weirdly bloated narrative that makes pits stops so characters can loll in junkie nods to the tunes of the Velvet Underground.
The changing political climate of the era is used as a clumsy foil for this underground economy. At first it's interesting and makes you feel a bit clever to notice the TV in the background playing an old clip of George W. Bush droning on about the economy or a huge political ad on a billboard looming over a desolate area. As time goes on Bush is replaced by Obama (first as senator later as president) on TV but nothing really changes for these people or their situations. Midway through it's obvious and by the end overbearing especially as Jackie lectures Jenkins's lawyer (and us) about why the system is as screwed as the characters. "America's not a country it's a business. Now f**king pay me " he tells Jenkins's Driver in an echo of the classic Goodfellas line uttered by Liotta.
Dominik has only made three films but he's a formidable writer and director with a keen eye for assembling ensemble casts. It's possible that time and multiple viewings will treat Killing Them Softly as well as it has The Assassination of Jesse James or Chopper but for now it works better as a character study or perhaps a showpiece for its talented performers than an overall experience.
November 20, 2012 4:00am EST
Welcome back to The Voice. The top 10 contestants brought their A-game for last night’s live episode — knowing the bottom two will be eliminated tonight.
In support of Christina Aguilera’s new album Lotus — which Carson Daly dutifully reminds us about every 45 seconds — Blake Shelton joins Xtina (who is, adorably, about three feet shorter than he is) for the country-tinged ballad “Just a Fool.” It’s a lovely song, but the absurd production values we've grown accustomed to on this show make anything short of a full-on fireworks display seem a little dull.
In rehearsals, 19-year-old diva Sylvia Yacoub is immediately upstaged by Coach Christina, in an uncannily matching coral eyeliner-lips-hair trifecta — that’s why she’s a superstar, people. This week, Christina is assisted by record executive Ron Fair, who I mistook as Elvis Costello for two wonderful seconds. Ron has clumsily donned a fedora, the universal symbol for “I’m not a suit, I’m totally creative, and this has nothing to do with my worsening baldness — right, guys?”
Sylvia is back on the piano for “Girl on Fire.“ Although she kills it on the refrain — a perfect fit for her powerful voice — it’s not her best outing. But that’s not saying much. Unless otherwise noted, assume all of Yacoub’s performances are excellent.
It’s amazing to see how Sylvia’s metamorphosed since her blind audition — from a boxy blazer and teenage curls to expensive make-up and a metallic peplum (that's right, fashion, I know what your words mean) mini-dress.
The producers have clearly tried to work that same magic on unapologetically mulleted Terry McDermott, succeeding only in semi-flattening his hair. Blake sticks with Terry’s classic rock strengths and assigns him “Summer of ’69.” How does he hit those high notes? “A good old wedgie,” Terry explains.
As always, McDermott delivers. His rock-n’-roll style cannot be improved upon — I’m so relieved that the show hasn’t felt compelled to push him out of his genre of choice. He’s also the only contestant to regularly acknowledge the existence of his band members, playfully interacting with them like a real frontman.
If there can only be one, I wouldn’t mind if it’s Terry. I honestly don’t think he’ll win The Voice — though he’s a lock for the top eight — but I’d happily buy advance tickets now for Terry’s national tour, Sixty-Year-Old White Dudes’ Favorite Songs Live.
Carson takes a moment to acknowledge the cast of Guys with Kids in the audience, including Jamie-Lynn “Why Is Meadow Soprano on a Crappy Sitcom?” Siegler, who — lest we forget — was once an aspiring pop star herself. “If you’re here, where are the kids?” Carson asks, because he believes that all television shows are documentaries.
Melanie Martinez, the youngest remaining contestant, covers the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” on guitar. I do like Melanie, but as I’ve said before, her cutie-pie whisper has largely lost its charm. She identifies herself as a “softer singer,” which seems like an understatement. If she stood within a few feet of Sylvia on stage, she’d be blown away like a tiny, two-tone tumbleweed.
“Seven Nation Army” is an interesting, relatively gritty song choice — Adam Levine reports that Melanie pressed for it herself — and I like that her own surreal, butterfly-heavy photography is incorporated into a slideshow behind the stage as well as the print of her dress. Nevertheless, she fails to impress.
Cee Lo Green’s unsinkable Cody Belew is up next, co-mentored by — holy Dreamgirls, Batman — Jennifer Hudson, dangerously crossing the American Idol and Voice streams. I love it when male singers cover Beyoncé (He-yoncé?), so I’m excited to hear he’ll perform “Crazy in Love.”
I am still a [hashtag] Belewer, but this performance falls flat for me. Looking like an evil chain-mail Michael Jackson from the future (and a slick of eyeliner away from Adam Lambert), he brings the “bam bam,” but the song doesn’t really suit his voice. Hudson had advised him to adjust the key in rehearsals — I can’t decide if it should be higher or lower, but it’s still not quite there.
Yet, as Christina says, he “worked it like a true diva.” Cody remains a force to be reckoned with.
Bronx native Bryan Keith takes on Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” for coach Adam. Bryan is blossoming into a formidable crooner — his simple, lovely version of the song is anchored in his calm and confident stage presence. Cee Lo rightly praises him for singing “like a man’s man.” More Billy Joel, please. If you want to keep the Mom vote locked down, Bryan, how about a little “Just the Way You Are?”
After a relatively weak performance last week, Amanda Brown is ready to bring it. Grace Potter’s “Stars” is a slower, more emotional choice than what she’s offered lately, but the risk pays off. Her gorgeous, vulnerable performance has one-time coach Cee Lo pining for his “favorite mistake.”
Even Nicholas David is looking suspiciously well groomed — his long locks have been lustrously blown out, and I expect it’s only a matter of time before we see some Farrah Fawcett layers. Backed by a full gospel choir, he sings the Bill Withers classic “Lean on Me” and plays the piano.
I can’t imagine a better song to showcase his talents — his cover is beautifully mellow and polished. On the strength of this performance, Cee Lo hails Nicholas as “the voice of a generation,” and eager beaver Blake calls this the best episode of The Voice ever.
Oh, dear. Sweet, sweet Trevin Hunte is going rogue — against the advice of Cee Lo and J-Huds, he decides to abandon the ballads that have made his reputation and explore a new side of himself with Usher’s “Scream.”
I hate to say it, but this is the episode’s weakest performance. Trevin can’t seem to handle the accelerated pace of a dance song. He’s off-key throughout the chorus, and there’s an awkward disparity in volume between his vocals and the background track. The overall effect is uncomfortable.
I do appreciate the change in style, and I expect that Trevin — long a favorite to win the season — can overcome this misstep. To quote Adam, still confident in Trevin’s chances, he “could sing the dictionary.”
Cassadee Pope’s outfit looks like she borrowed Miss Teen Minnesota’s evening gown for the night, but then accidentally tore open the dress backstage with only thirty seconds to air and desperately threw on leggings underneath.
She covers Miranda Lambert’s “Over You,” a song co-written by coach Blake about the untimely passing of his brother. I’d written off Cassadee as a drugstore generic for Avril Lavigne, but this raw, poignant performance is a surprise. I love it.
A few seconds of watching a moist-eyed Blake proudly watch Cassadee perform “the most personal” song of his career aaaaaand I’m tearing up. I hope she’ll continue to experiment with songs outside her pop-punk comfort zone.
Full disclosure: I’m not convinced that beady-eyed Dez Duron isn’t a psychopath — something along the lines of Patrick Bateman, or worse, Tom Cruise. That makes it all the more painful for me to tell you that he killed it last night. His jazzy, confident cover of Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good” brings the house down. Dapper in a white tuxedo jacket, Dez doesn’t just act like Sinatra, he somehow manages to sound like him, too.
The Voice returns tonight at 8 p.m, after all the votes have been counted. Follow Molly on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credit: NBC (2)]
The Voice Recap: Stayin’ Alive (Until Next Week)
The Voice Recap: hit the Road, Jack
The Voice Recap: How Am I Supposed to Live Without Trevin?
From Our Partners:
Miley Cyrus Debuts Even Shorter Shaved Hairdo (PHOTOS)
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher Kiss During Romantic Date Night in Rome (PHOTOS) (Celebuzz)
October 24, 2012 5:50am EST
The Voice’s final battles aired last night. This is where I’d make an elaborate World War II reference if the public school system hadn’t failed me.
Team Christina opens the proceedings with Brooklyn-born Adriana Louise and Disney alum Jordan Pruitt, her eye on an ever-elusive post-pubescent career. Christina assigns them Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” — kind of an obvious choice? After all, in the blind auditions, Jordan covered “The One That Got Away” and Adriana performed “Domino.” (Yes, that’s by Jessie J, but I thought it was a Katy Perry song for at least six months.)
Visibly nervous, Adriana is encouraged not to hold back in rehearsals. She’s “just” a waitress, she worries aloud, whereas Jordan once toured with the Jonases. Hell, Jordan’s probably even touched a Jonas, or at least uncomfortably shuffled past one in a narrow backstage hallway.
Despite its surprisingly low-quality karaoke backing track, their live duet is heated; Cee Lo calls the battle “the Olympics” of The Voice. Denying her Mouseketeer-Disney-Illuminati roots, Christina sends Adriana on to the knockout round. The other coaches have used up all their steals — Jordan is out of luck.
Next, Team Blake matches up country sweetheart Kelly Crapa (girlfriend thinks she can convince us it’s pronounced cray-pa) and mohawked Michaela Paige. These young women are only 15 and 16, respectively, so brb while I chug a vial of Death Becomes Her potion.
Shelton chooses Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself for Loving You” for this battle. With a song like that, it’s hard to think that the deck isn’t stacked in favor of the punk rocker, but Blake nevertheless warns Michaela not to “oversing” and corrupt the melody. As they rehearse, Blake paces the studio with earbuds in; I have chosen to imagine that he’s actually blasting one of his own songs to drown out all this god-awful non-country.
For their final performance, Kelly has aggressively crimped her hair into some kind of window treatment, while Michaela’s ensemble looks like it was assembled after a Supermarket Sweep-style sprint through Hot Topic. Adam calls the performance “very sweet,” “a musical pillow fight.” To me, it feels like something out of Kidz Bop.
Kelly seems far more than a year younger than her competitor, and somehow frailer — despite the fact that she has at least six inches on Paige, not counting the mohawk. Unsurprisingly, Blake chooses Michaela.
The last battle of the season brings together Team Cee Lo’s dancer-turned-singer Avery Wilson and Chevonne, a former backing vocalist for Lady Gaga. Both killed in their blind auditions — particularly Avery, whose “Without You” earned a four-chair turnaround. (Remind me why he went with Cee Lo?) I have a soft spot for tiny, badass Chevonne, whose body mass is at least 60 percent hair. At first, Chevonne’s belting on “Titanium” gives baby-faced qtpie Avery the yips, but his voice quickly recovers its gorgeous body.
The live performance is one of the best we’ve seen, perhaps second to Trevin Hunte and Amanda Brown’s. Their energy is intoxicating — both are headliners in their own right. All of a sudden, Chevonne is bending over backwards doing some kind of crazy Little Monster gymnastics, and then Avery’s spinning and spinning more and I don’t understand what’s happening but it is excellent.
As much as I love Chevonne, Avery is next-level great. Cee Lo duly picks him. Christina instantly steals Chevonne, to her delight: This lady belongs on Team Xtina. And so the battles end on a high note (see what I did there?).
The Voice is back next Monday with a brand-new knockout round. Each team of ten will be reduced to only five — there are no more steals, and each artist will choose which song he or she performs. Pitch your best (and worst) cover suggestions to me on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC (2)]
The Voice Recap: Rosa-Biden 2012
The Voice Recap: ‘We Are the Borg’
The Voice Recap: Blake and Julio Down By the Schoolyard
From Our Partners:
Donald Trump Speaks Out on Ripping Kristen Stewart on Twitter, Warns Robert Pattinson: ‘Back Off...She’s Bad News!’ — EXCLUSIVE
Emily VanCamp, Lea Michele, January Jones: Celebrities Who Show Major Cleavage in GQ — GALLERY
October 09, 2012 5:19am EST
Last night’s episode of The Voice marked the beginning of the battle rounds. Performers face off against members of their own team, with one competitor to be eliminated after each duet. (This is where I’d make a timely Hunger Games reference, if I knew anything about The Hunger Games besides a. Jennifer Lawrence and b. teenagers killing each other with arrows?)
This season, coaches can steal a losing contestant away from another team with by pressing their buttons. (“We paid for the freakin’ things,” I can imagine a grizzled props manager grunting, “We might as well use them.”)
In other news, Adam, Blake, Christina, and Cee Lo have finally changed out of the outfits they wore throughout all the blind auditions — presumably to make editing out-of-order for heightened drama possible — and I no longer have to worry that they’ve been locked without food and water in the auditorium weeks at a time. But just in case: If you’re being held against your will, Xtina, look bored and unimpressed during every performance. I’ll send help.
Aided by mentor Michael “Hamm and Bublé” Bublé, Blake pairs up Casey Muessigmann — remember his ass-spanking rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama”? — and Scottish rocker Terry McDermott. Both singers auditioned with rock anthems, so Blake assigns them the Kansas classic “Carry On Wayward Son.”
Casey’s omnipresent cowboy hat (a Hulk Hogan-esque ploy to conceal premature baldness?) makes for an entertaining contrast with Terry, who looks like an aging Justin Bieber that fired his manager and neglected to trim his hair for months.
Though Casey’s country take on “Carry On” is fun, he’s easily overpowered by Terry’s formidable rock-and-roll chops — even country boy Blake has to agree, choosing McDermott. None of the other coaches steal Casey, and I feel improbably sad, like The Voice has suddenly become an ASPCA commercial about dogs that don’t get adopted (please, for the love of god, no Sarah McLachlan covers tonight).
Next up, Adam and mentor Mary J. Blige pit Bryan Keith, son of a Grammy-winning Latin artist, against pleasant, enormous-faced Collin McLoughlin.
Sublime’s “Santeria” challenges the artists to nail a difficult balance of toughness and sweetness. In rehearsals, Adam compliments Collin’s “razor-sharp pitch” but encourages him to explore the song’s emotional complexity. The coach also grows increasingly frustrated by Bryan’s apparent inability to deliver a convincing Adam Levine impression.
In their battle, Collin brings a likeable reggae flair to “Santeria,” but Bryan’s winning personality lets him do exactly that: win. Fortunately, Forehead McGee’s fairy tale doesn’t end here — Blake steals him for Team Shelton.
Native Peruvian Diego Val and YouTube star JR Aquino duke it out on “Jessie’s Girl” for Cee Lo and team mentor Rob Thomas. Diego struggles with memorizing the song’s lyrics (uh, really?), while Cee Lo pushes JR to “dirty” up his pristine, nonthreatening voice.
Ultimately, neither performance is exceptional. JR delivers an emotionally unsatisfying but well-executed cover, but Diego — whose mannerisms, full disclosure, have started to annoy me — sounds a little pitchy. Nevertheless, Diego it is, and JR is sent home to the small comfort (ahem) of his nearly 500,000 video subscribers.
With Billie Joe Armstrong (who is, ermahgerd, totally watching this episode from rehab right now) at her side, Christina chooses “Message in a Bottle” for the charmingly genuine Nelly’s Echo and the adorably androgynous De’Borah.
Between Billie Joe’s cheerfully constructive criticism (“Even the mistakes you’re making sound amazing,” he tells De’Borah) and Nelly’s reference to finding one’s “best self,” this segment feels like a group therapy session, and maybe even an ill-conceived network tie-in with NBC’s five hundred hourly promos for Go On.
Though De’Borah is initially flustered by Nelly’s connection with the song, they both excel in front of the coaches, performing a creative, lively, and well-matched duet. Christina finally picks De’Borah, if only for her fantastic outfit (part NBA hipster, part Steve Urkel). As De’Borah’s parents tearfully embrace her backstage, I experience many feels inside my heartholes.
In Team Blake’s second battle of the night, yodeling Gracia Harrison takes on mother-daughter duo 2Steel Girls. As the three rehearse the Dixie Chicks’ “Sin Wagon,” Mama Steel grows nervous that the song doesn’t suit her voice, while Gracia works to overcome her natural shyness.
But during the battle, Harrison radiates confidence, looking like a cowgirl version of Glinda in an Oz-ready pink minidress and boots. Though 2Steel Girls harmonize beautifully, having three performers on stage makes for awkward choreography — mom and daughter become unwitting back-up singers, nervously standing to the side while Gracia rocks out center stage. Unsurprisingly, it’s she who wins the battle. Though 2Steel Girls are, in Carson’s words, “available to steal” (or are they available… 2STEEL?), no one claims them.
The episode ends with another Cee Lo match-up: former Adele background singer Amanda Brown vs. 18-year-old Trevin Hunte, who previously brought down the house with a cover of Beyoncé’s “Listen.”
Cee Lo picks Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” to test the pair’s power and control, but it soon becomes clear that these two are more than he bargained for. Rob Thomas throws his hands in the air in surprise as Amanda, who is distractingly gorgeous, immediately starts flawlessly belting the song — leaving the already characteristically nervous Trevin visibly shaken.
Their live performance escalates beautifully, electrifying yet amazing controlled. Jeebus, I have no idea who is better; neither, it seems, does anyone else. Undeterred, Adam climbs atop his chair and commits to steal whichever performer their coach doesn’t choose.
Cee Lo, who must make terrible March Madness brackets, admits he was foolish to undervalue Amanda, but decides on Trevin instead. Don’t worry, Amanda — Adam is more than happy with his sloppy seconds.
The Voice is back with more battles tonight at 8 pm. If there’s any justice in this world, at least one pair of singers will wear Brady Bunch-style matching jumpsuits and bust out an elaborate, synchronized line dancing routine (that one’s for free, producers).
Find me on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credits: NBC]
The Voice Preview: It’s Time to Battle It Out! — VIDEO
Fun With Ratings: The Voice and Revolution Win Again
The Voice/i> Recap: I Was Blind, But Now I See
September 20, 2012 2:14pm EST
When you're in high school it feels like the whole world is against you. In writer/director Stephen Chbosky's high school-set The Perks of Being a Wallflower the whole world may actually be against Charlie (Logan Lerman) whose freshman year of high school should be listed in the dictionary under "Murphy's Law." Plagued by memories of two significant deaths as well as general social anxiety Charlie takes a passive approach to ninth grade. A few days of general bullying later he falls into a friendship with two misfit seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) who teach him how to live life without fear. Perks starts off with a disadvantage: introverts aren't terribly engaging but Chbosky surrounds Charlie with a vivid cast of characters who help him blossom and inject the coming-of-age tale with a necessary energy.
Set in a timeless version of the '90s Charlie's world is full of handwritten journals mixtapes and a just-tolerable amount of tweed. He writes letters to a nameless recipient as a way of venting a preventative measure to keep the teen from repeating a vague incident that previously left him hospitalized. The drab background of Pittsburgh fits perfectly with Charlie's blank existence. And when he finally comes to life as part of Patrick and Sam's off-beat clique so does the city. Like the archaic vinyl records Sam lusters over (The Smiths of course!) Chbosky visualizes Charlie's journey through the underbelly of suburban Pennsylvania with a raw emotion blooming lights and film grit at every turn. Michael Brook's score and an adeptly curated soundtrack accompanies the episodic affair which centers on Charlie's search for a song he hears during the most important moment of his life.
The charm that keeps The Perks of Being a Wallflower from collapsing under its own super seriousness come from Chbosky's perfectly cast ensemble. Lerman has a thankless job playing Charlie; often constrained to a half-smile and shy shrug Lerman is never allowed to grapple with Charlie's greatest fears and problems until (too) late in the film. Watson nails the spunky object-of-everyone's-affection but she's outshined by Mae Whitman as Mary Elizabeth another rebellious friend in the pack who takes a liking to Charlie. The real star turn is Miller riding high from We Need to Talk About Kevin and taking a complete 180 with Patrick a rambunctious wiseass who struggles to have an openly gay relationship with the football captain but covers his pain with humor. A scene of confrontation — at where else the cafeteria — is one of the best scenes of the year.
Chbosky adapted Perks of Being a Wallflower from his own book and the movie feels stifled by a looming structure. But it nails the emotional beats — there is no obvious path to surviving high school. It's messy shocking and occasionally beautiful. That about sums up Perks.
September 15, 2012 5:13pm EST
Saturday was a big day for the TV world as the 2012 Creative Emmys took place. Hollywood.com was both backstage and on the carpet, bringing you the scoop direct from the source. HBO and its epic hit Game of Thrones were the night's biggest winners, with the network taking home 17 statues — six of them for GoT. CBS wasn't far behind with 13 wins, followed by PBS with 11. Frozen Planet, Great Expectations, and Saturday Night Live each took home four awards, resulting in a three-way-tie for second place after Game of Thrones. See below for the list of winners:
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series: Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein, Judy Henderson, Craig Fincannon, Lisa Mae Fincannon for Homeland
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: David Rubin, Richard Hicks, Pat Moran, Kathleen Chopin for Game Change
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series: Jennifer Euston for Girls
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Kathy Bates for Two and A Half Men
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: Greg Nicotero, Jake Garber, Andy Schoneberg, Kevin Wasner, Gino Crognale, Carey Jonse, Garrett Immel for The Walking Dead
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or a Movie (Non-Prosthetic): Mario Michisanti, Francesca Tampieri for Hatfields & McCoys
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic): Paul Engelen, Melissa Lackersteen for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic): Zena Shteysel, Angela Moos, Patti Ramsey Bortoli, Barbara Fonte, Sarah Woolf, Nadege Schoenfeld for Dancing With the Stars
Outstanding Costumes for a Series: Michele Clapton, Alexander Fordham, Chloe Aubry for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: Annie Symons, Yvonne Duckett for Great Expectations
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie: Monte C. Haught, Samantha Wade, Melanie Verkins, Natalie Driscoll, Michelle Ceglia for American Horror Story
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special: Bettie O. Rogers, Jodi Mancuso, Inga Thrasher, Jennifer Stauffer, Cara Hannah Sullivan, Christal Schanes for Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series: Anne "Nosh" Oldham, Christine Greenwood for Downton Abbey
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Jeremy Davies for Justified
Outstanding Choreography: Joshua Bergasse for Smash ("National Pastime", "Let's Be Bad", "Never Met A Wolf")
Outstanding Music Direction: Rob Berman, Rob Mathes for The Kennedy Center Honors
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score): John Lunn for Downton Abbey
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special (Original Dramatic Score): Javier Navarrete for Hemingway & Gellhorn
Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics: Adam Schlesinger, David Javerbaum for the 65th Annual Tony Awards ("It's Not Just for Gays Anymore")
Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series: Glenda Rovello, Amy Feldman for 2 Broke Girls ("And The Rich People Problems", "And The Reality Check", And The Pop Up Sale")
Outstanding Art Direction for Variety or Nonfiction Programming: Brian Stonestreet, Alana Billingsley, Matt Steinbrenner for The 54th Annual Grammy Awards, and Steve Bass, Seth Easter for The 65th Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie: David Roger, Paul Ghirardani, Jo Kornstein for Great Expectations
Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series: Bill Groom, Adam Scher, Carol Silverman for Boardwalk Empire, and Gemma Jackson, Frank Walsh, Tina Jones for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series: Jordan Goldman, David Latham for Homeland
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: Steven A. Rasch for Curb Your Enthusiasm ("Palestinian Chicken")
Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: Sue Federman for How I Met Your Mother ("Trilogy Time")
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie: Don Cassidy for Hatfields & McCoys - Part 2
Outstanding Picture Editing for Short-Form Segments and Variety Specials: Bill DeRonde, Chris Lovett, Mark Stepp, Pi Ware, John Zimmer, Ben Folts for 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming: Andy Netley, Sharon Gillooly for Frozen Planet ("Ends of the Earth")
Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming: Josh Earl, Alex Durham for Deadliest Catch ("I Don't Wanna Die")
Outstanding Animated Program: Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle, Bret Haaland, Nick Filippi, Chris Neuhahn, Ant Ward, Andrew Heubner, David Knott, Shaun Cashman, Steve Loter, Christo Stamboliev for The Penguins of Madagascar: The Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole
Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program: Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Curtis Lelash, Rob Sorcher, JG Quintel, Mike Roth, Janet Dimon, Matt Price, Jack Thomas, John Infantino, Robert Alvarez for Regular Show ("Eggscellent")
Outstanding Voice-Over Performance: Maurice LaMarche for Futurama
Syd Cassyd Founders Award: Dick Askin
Governors Award: Dan Savage, Terry Miller for "It Gets Better"
Outstanding Special Visual Effects: Rainer Gombos, Juri Stanossek, Sven Martin, Steve Kullback, Jan Fielder, Chris Stenner, Tobias Mannewitz, Thilo Ewers, Adam Chazen for Game of Thrones ("Valar Morghulis")
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role: Dave Taritero, Robert Stromberg, Richard Friedlander, Eran Dinur, David W. Reynolds, Matthew Conner, Austin Meyers, Jonathan Dorfman, Steve Kirshoff for Boardwalk Empire ("Georgia Peaches")
Outstanding Stunt Coordination: Peewee Piemonte for Southland
Outstanding Main Title Design: Nic Benns, Rodi Kaya, Tom Bromwich for Great Expectations
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music: Paul Englishby for Page Eight
Outstanding Commercial: "Best Job" (Procter & Gamble Corporate Brand) – Wieden + Kennedy, Ad Agency; Anonymous Content, Production Company
Outstanding Sound Mixing For Nonfiction Programming: Tom Paul for Paul Simon’s Graceland Journey: Under African Skies
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour): Matthew Waters, Onnalee Blank, Ronan Hill, Mervyn Moore for Game Of Thrones ("Blackwater")
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie: Stanomir Dragos, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern for Hatfields & McCoys — Part 1
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation: Stephen A. Tibbo, Dean Okrand, Brian R. Harman for Modern Family ("Dude Ranch")
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special: Paul Sandweiss, Tommy Vicari, Pablo Munguia, Kristian Pedregon for 84th Annual Academy Awards
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: Douglas Murray, Peter Horner, Kim Foscato, Steve Boeddeker, Casey Langfelder, Andrea Gard, Pat Jackson, Daniel Laurie, Goro Koyama, Andy Malcolm, Joanie Diener for Hemingway & Gellhorn
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera): Kate Hopkins, Tim Owens, Paul Fisher for Frozen Planet — Ends of the Earth
Outstanding Sound Editing For a Series: Peter Brown, Kira Roessler, Tim Hands, Paul Aulicino, Stephen P. Robinson, Vanessa Lapato, Brett Voss, James Moriana, Jeffrey Wilhoit, David Klotz for Game of Thrones ("Blackwater")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series: Steven V. Silver for Two and a Half Men ("Sips, Sonnets, and Sodomy")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series: Jonathan Freeman for Boardwalk Empire ("21")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie: Florian Hoffmeister for Great Expectations
Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming: The Deadliest Catch team ("I Don't Want To Die")
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming: The Frozen Planet team ("Ends of the Earth")
Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series: Steven Cimino, John Pinto, Paul J. Cangialosi, Len Weschler, Barry Frischer, Eric A. Einstein, Susan Noll, Frank Grisanti for Saturday Night Live (Host Mick Jagger)
Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or Special: Steven Cimino, Paul J. Cangialosi, John Pinto, Chuck Goslin, Barry Frischer, Jeff Latonero, Len Weschler, Susan Noll, J.M. Hurley for Memphis (Great Performances)
Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series: Robert Barnhart, Matt Firestone, Pete Radice, Patrick Boozer for So You Think You Can Dance (Season Eight Finale)
Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special: Robert A. Dickinson, Jon Kusner, Travis Hagenbuch, Andy O'Reilly for The 54th Annual Grammy Awards
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Jimmy Fallon for Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming: Martin Scorsese for George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming: Geoffrey C. Ward for Prohibition — A Nation of Hypocrites
Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking: Connie Field, Lois Vossen, Sally Jo Fifer for Have You Heard From Johannesburg (Independent Lens)
Outstanding Nonfiction Special: Margaret Bodde, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Blair Foster, Olivia Harrison, Nigel Sinclair, Martin Scorsese for George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Outstanding Nonfiction Series: Alastair Fothergill, Susan Winslow, Vanessa Berlowitz for Frozen Planet
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series: Don Roy King for Saturday Night Live (Host Mick Jagger)
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series: Tim Carvell, Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Wyatt Cenac, Hallie Haglund, JR Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Outstanding Variety Special: George Stevens, Jr., Michael M. Stevens for The Kennedy Center Honors
Outstanding Special Class Programs: Ricky Kirshner, Glenn Weiss, Neil Patrick Harris for 65th Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding Special Class: Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Programs: Rob Corddry, Jonathan Stern, David Wain, Keith Crofford, Nick Weidenfeld, Rich Rosenthal for Children's Hospital
Outstanding Special-Class: Short-Format Nonfiction Programs: Michael M. Stevens for DGA Moments In Time
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Enhancement to a Television Program or Series: John Wooden, Aaron Bleyaert, Conan O'Brien, Timothy Campbell for The Team Coco Sync App
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Original Interactive Television Programming: Fourth Wall Studios for Dirty Work
Outstanding Children's Program: Ben Montanio, Vince Cheung, Todd J. Greenwald, Gigi McCreery, Perry Rein, Richard Goodman, Greg A. Hampson for Wizards of Waverly Place
Outstanding Children's Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program: Carol-lynn Parente, Melissa Dino, Mason Rather, Kevin Clash for Sesame Street: Growing Hope Against Hunger
Outstanding Reality Program: Eli Holzman, Stephen Lambert, Chris Carlson, Scott Cooper, Sandi Johnson, Rachelle Mendez, Lety Quintanar, Rebekah Fry for Undercover Boss
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Martha Plimpton for The Good Wife
Emmys Idle Threats: Give Bill Hader an Emmy or I'll Sic DJ Baby Bok Choy On You
The First-Ever (Fake) Annual Reality TV Emmy Awards
What Jimmy Kimmel Can Learn From Past Emmy Hosts
July 09, 2012 10:36am EST
American Idol is getting a facelift and then some.
While the series clearly knows it’s dead in the water without host Ryan Seacrest, who signed a deal in April to stay on for two more seasons, the judges’ table is a whole other matter. When word circulated that Jennifer Lopez had no plans to return to the judging table for Season 12, the mystery of her replacement was the next hot topic. And now, sources reveal to E! that Fox has got Idol alum Adam Lambert in its crosshairs and that the fate of both Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler is still in question. (A rep from Fox could not be reached for comment.)
While rumors swirl of vacant seats and former Idols as judges, something is stirred in an Idol fan. If the series is changing and former contestants are being looked to as experts, who else could fill those illustrious, Coke-sponsored seats?
The Shoe-In: Kelly Clarkson
Clarkson already became a traitor when she took a judging post on ABC’s low-rated singing competition Duets, but she may have a chance to make it right by taking a seat at the Idol table. And whose advice are you really going to listen to? The girl who actually made it through every round on the series or a guy whose feedback consists of made-up words and colorful variations on the phrase “you’re beautiful”? (Sorry, Steven.)
The Reassurance: Jennifer Hudson
When it comes time to watch those top 10 contestants sing for their lives, it seems like everything depends on staying on that stage as long as possible. The cut feels like a severed tether to each contestants’ dreams, but one woman in particular knows that’s not true. J.Hud. famously became a 7th place finisher during Season 3, but the woman went on to win an Oscar and was chosen to deliver a heartfelt tribute to the late Whitney Houston at the 2012 Grammys. She knows that Idol is a launching pad, but it’s not the end of the world. It might be refreshing to have that sort of perspective for once.
The Fork in ‘er: Heejun Han
In recent years, the judging panel has become more like a table of sparkly yahoos, doing their best to utter the most quotable quote, regardless of how knowledgeable said commentary was. Was it helpful? Hell to the no. Did it make me laugh so hard that my beer came out of my nose? Absolutely. If Idol decides to throw in the towel and give into the fact that the judges are increasingly used as entertaining bookends instead of actual help an commentary (that’s what Jimmy Iovine is for), they may as well throw Season 11’s class clown up there. His musical numbers may have been snoozeville, but that kid gave Chris Sligh a run for his money.
The Jessica Simpson Effect: Kellie Pickler
It worked for Newlyweds so perhaps it could work for Idol too. Pickler’s “sal-mon” heard ‘round the world wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as Simpson’s Chicken of the Sea debacle (did she ever learn if it was chicken or fish?). But you have to bet there’s a lot more where that came from. Appointing Pickler would be a move along the lines of placing Heejun Han on the panel, and while her ditzy moments are entertaining, exploiting her… let’s call them “tendencies” for such purposes could bring about the decline of civilization. Just sayin’.
The Heart-warmer: Jordin Sparks
Jordin Sparks isn’t the colossal success that your Kelly Clarksons and Carrie Underwoods are, but the Season 6 winner has certainly found her place in the music industry. She struggled with her body image as well as the ability to stay on the charts after her mega hit “No Air” with Chris Brown became (at the time) the best-selling post-Idol single ever. Her genuine manner is what won her America’s hearts in the first place, and as a judge, she can occupy that space of kindness and tough love because she understands what feels like to be at each point of the process.
The Loose and Wacky Jazz Man: Casey Abrams
If we lose Steven Tyler and his scatting, meandering commentary, it might behoove Idol to find a real jazz man (or at least a younger model) who might be able to handle the more free-spirited side of the commentary. Casey was often chastised, by judges and fans alike, for going too off the rails, so he might have some perspective on how to better channel that creative energy to avoid getting the axe.
The Cautionary Tale: Lee DeWyze
Can we all just agree that Season 9 was the worst? Okay. Now that we’ve got that sorted, who’d be better to scare these green contestants with tales of the cruelty of the music industry than that season’s winner Lee Dwyze? He could perhaps impart a little humility on these kids and remind them that a glitter shower during the finale does not equal instant success. Dads everywhere will appreciate the no-nonsense tone and the message that success is earned, not given like a shiny, little present. Realism: that’s definitely what Idol needs.
What former contestant would you choose to judge?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
Idol's Jessica Sanchez in Talks For a Glee Season 4 Arc
American Idol Recap: And The Winner Is...
Does American Idol Need An Electoral College?
Adam Lambert on Idol
June 20, 2012 2:07pm EST
Instead of following a ragtag team of brutes hired for a suicide mission to destroy an Earth-bound meteor Seeking a Friend for the End of the World plays out the apocalyptic "what if?" scenario from the everyman vantage point. Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) the film pairs average joe Dodge (Steve Carell) with wallflower Penny (Keira Knightley) for a journey across the east coast a hunt for Dodge's college sweetheart. Scafaria takes a character-first approach to her anti-blockbuster examining the end of the world with a pitch black sense of humor. But the road trip loses steam as it chugs along with the film's insistence to avoid Hollywood disaster tropes taking a toll on the entertainment value. Dodge and Penny are so normal they aren't that interesting to watch. In turn neither is Seeking a Friend.
Worse for Dodge than the whole "destruction of humanity" thing is the fact that he's facing it alone; his wife leaves him he has no real family and he hates nearly all of his friends. While everyone he knows is either hooking up or shooting up in hopes of going out on a high note Dodge buckles under the weight of an existential crisis that feels all too familiar. To his rescue is next-door neighbor Penny who insists the two hit the road together to go find Dodge's one-that-got-away. They don't have much of a choice as New York City is quickly overrun by Malatov cocktail-hurling riots.
When the catastrophe and societal chaos is seen through Dodge's eyes and Carell's complex interpretation of the straight man Scafaria hits all the marks. Watching Dodge tell his cleaning lady to go home because "What's the point?" is heartbreaking while his good friend's descent into frat boy madness for the same reasons nails mankind's vile tendencies. And through it all it's funny thanks to Carell's impeccable timing. When Dodge is eventually paired up with Penny the film meanders the two never unearthing what it is about each other that keeps them sticking together. The duo run into a kindly truck driver (who's hired an assassin to off him when he's unaware) a TGIFriday's-esque restaurant full of zany drugged up waiters and even one of Penny's ex-boyfriends whose locked down with automatic rifles and Ruffles chips in anticipation of the end. But Dodge and Penny's quest is mostly about the in-between moments the quitter grounded human reactions to the apocalypse. Even with great performers at the helm Seeking a Friend doesn't organically shape those moments so much as contrive them. In one scene Penny fondly recalls the wonders of listening to music on vinyl Dodge listening carefully and learning. It's a soft and low key discussion perfect juxtaposition against the big-scale problem at hand but when a twenty-something is explaining records to a guy nearing 50 it comes off as twee instead of truthful. The problem infiltrates most of Seeking a Friend's character moments.
Scafaria has an ear and eye for comedy but Seeking a Friend boldly reaches for something more. Sadly ambition doesn't translate to success a messy tonal mix that fail to make it all that engaging or emotional. Carell and Knightley serve the material as best they can but this is the end of the world an even that requires a little weight a little sensationalism and a little more than a casual road movie.