Following the Emmys' traditional In Memorium segment, honoring a collection of television greats who sadly passed away over the course of this past year, the ceremony paid individual tribute to a particularly beloved figure: Robin Williams. Billy Crystal, a friend and colleague of Williams', took the stage to speak personally about the comedic genius. Crystal spoke wistfully of Williams' great line of works, of his many successful endeavors to make the world a funnier place. But the highlight of his well-crafted speech came from his own life experience, spending time with his pal Robin at Comic Relief events and family functions.
Crystal remembered attending a charity baseball game with fish-out-of-water Williams, who made up for his own lack of familiarity with the sport by inventing a Russian character and tossing jokes about professional ballplaying in his home country. Furthermore, Crystal recounted with adoration Williams' penchant for joking around with Billy's older relatives, describing our cherished star as always ready with a gag, no matter the situation. Crystal illustrated just how much fun Williams had with bits like these, citing such an example as the sort of shtick that would fill his eyes with light.
Following Crystal's speech, the ceremony offered clips of Williams' work on the late night circuit, on sitcom TV, and on the live stage. Despite the odd choice that was one clip of Williams performing a comedy routine about racial stereotypes (why opt for such material when he's got legions of more admirable gold to choose from?), we can't help but remember the great contribution Williams made to comedy the world over.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
One of the most iconic movie monsters of all time, Godzilla is storming his way back onto the big screen, and it takes a surprising amount of work to craft a creature that can level a city in minutes. Luckily, the latest take on Godzilla has a secret weapon: director Gareth Edwards, who has spent much of his career working in the visual effects world. His experience was not only vital to creating a monster for the ages, but also to helping the film's stars act opposite it when they have no idea what they're looking at. Edwards, producer Thomas Tull and stars Ken Watanabe and Elisabeth Olsen sat down to talk about the "obvious" inspiration for Godzilla, the challenges of acting with only your imagination, and Olsen's unexpected reaction to seeing the finished film.
Director Gareth Edwards and producer revealed the initial inspiration behind the monster himself, and talked a little bit about the process of creating Godzilla:
Edwards: "In terms of his movement, we initially had got hold of – we had a researcher get hundreds of different clips of animals fighting and animal behavior because I felt that the obvious thing to do is like, “Okay we’re just gonna use nature as a reference, we’re gonna do this realistically, let’s look at animals, let’s just copy that, that’s all we have to do.” So we got bears fighting and wolves hunting and animated him based on that and then sort of sat and watched it and were like 'Oh, there’s a problem here,' which is if you watch nature, a natural history documentary or a wildlife documentary and you don’t have any narration, you don’t know what the hell is going on...And so we ended up dialing in a lot more human performance to him and he slightly went incrementally from being purely animalistic to a lot more like a guy in a suit doing a performance because you needed to understand, in his body language, whether he was tired or angry."
The actors themselves never got to see Godzilla until the film was completed, so they had to base their performance based on the mockup animations that Edwards showed them before filming began. Ken Watanabe and Elisabeth Olsen discussed what they had to work with:
Watanabe: “[It's] just imagination and a point. Gareth had an iPad with the animation, something like that, a point.”
Olsen: “Gareth, before we shot anything that had special effects, he showed me previs, which I learned about, and it’s just these basic funny cartoons making terrible reactions to things. But you understand what they’re looking at and what the angles are, and that what was so exciting to me about doing a project like this is that imagination aspect.”
However, having to rely solely on your imagination can be difficult for an actor, especially one who has never worked with CGI before, like Olsen. She went into what she found challenging about the process, and what she hopes to take with her to The Avengers:
Olsen: “It’s difficult, because you think it’s just going to be full make-believe, and then it’s pouring rain and you have to walk seven steps that way and three steps that way and you have to get a verbal cue when you know that the camera guy has panned down from whatever is going to be there back to you, so you can turn. It’s very technical and so it’s was definitely something I’ve never really done before, but you still have to hit your marks and all that stuff. It surprisingly looks easy to me. I think that’s what I was surprised by when I saw it. I think now that I’ve done it once I have confidence knowing that I understand how it’s gonna be edited, because it’s a little scary when you’re a fish in new waters.”
In order to create an environment that Godzilla could interact with, Edwards and his team used CGI for various elements on the film, which were added to the physical set in order to create the final product. According to producer Thomas Tull, Edwards did such a good job with both aspects that the audience shouldn’t be able to tell what was built by hand and what was added in post-production:
Tull: “Gareth is, in a way, an old fashioned filmmaker. We share the passion for Amblin’s movies back in the ‘80s, things like that. So there were some things that he wanted to do practical, that I think were great. Hopefully you couldn’t tell the difference, and tell me which — other than Godzilla, probably — we didn’t do practical. It’s really looking at each set piece or each item and deciding what you can get away with and not have people bump on.”
Finally, Olsen spoke about her experience seeing everything come together in the finished film for the first time. Since Godzilla is her first effect-heavy film, she wasn’t sure what to expect from the film, and her reaction took her by surprise:
Olsen: “I was actually shocked that I wanted to cry like twice in the film, and usually I’m quite removed from the films I watch and really get critical if I’m in them, and I was amazed at how moved I was so quickly, especially with Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche. I think that shocked me. It’s just always fun, because I never really worked with anyone but Carson [Bolde], who played my son, and Aaron [Taylor-Johnson] very briefly and this other actress Jill [Teed], who played one of the nurses, so it’s just nice to see what everyone else is doing. There was part of me that was like “Maybe I should have gone to see what everyone else was doing,” because part of me was like “Oh, it’s so crazy. They’re getting such crazy stuff!” but it’s good I didn’t because I’m also not seeing everything they’re seeing. I’m seeing it from a different perspective so it was just eye-opening to see what everyone else did, and I just really liked it. I saw it with one of my best friends, and we were so excited afterwards. We were like, “Good one!”
Godzilla is now playing in theaters.
It's 2020, and we're already knee deep in kaiju chaos. Pacific Rim picks up en media res, with the interdimensional monsters' initial invasion of Earth having taken place a decade and change back and a super-powered international military of robot warship (a.k.a. Jaeger) pilots newly deemed unfit to protect the Earth from increasing threats. Beyond a quick, straightforward piece of introductory exposition, we don't spend too much time learning about the history of the species' reign on Earth — they came, we ran, we fought, they kept coming, people kind of got into it, and now we're prepping for the biggest attack yet. That's all we know.
And that's all we need to know. In what should tout itself as the biggest, flashiest movie of the summer, the "less is more" philosophy seems to have been stamped at the top of each page of the screenplay. Guillermo del Toro, a master of imagination, lets his world speak for itself — in the two hours we spend inside the filmmaker's mind, we widen our eyes over and over at engrossing fantasy lands: the futuristic home base for the Jaeger militia, the seedy underworld of kaiju organ dealers, the nightmare flashbacks of each tragedy-afflicted soldier (called upon to fuse his thoughts with his robot and co-pilot in order to fight the nefarious beasts). All stellar, engaging, and even at their darkest, wholly fun. To reiterate, the sensory charms of this movie do all of its talking, allowing our excess admiration to fill in the gaps left by... you know, plot and character.
This movie runs on the basics and makes no claims to do anything otherwise. Its plot is so simple, you can sum it up as "robots vs. monsters." Its characters are thin enough as to fit the stock catalogue almost perfectly: Charlie Hunnam plays a PTSD-stricken returning fighter, Rinko Kikuchi an aspiring soldier who wishes to avenge her family, Idris Elba (offering the best dramatic performance in the movie) the no-nonsense commanding officer with a secret soft spot, and Robert Kazinsky the hot-shot who doesn't take too kindly to Raleigh's (Hunnam) return to action. But he has a dog, so we know we're supposed to like him eventually. And a good husk of the dialogue will have you checking your phone to make sure it is not, in fact, 1996. But in embracing this identity, in cherishing these age-old tropes and traditions rather than aiming to pass them off as something altogether new, Pacific Rim wins us over. You won't groan at hokey lines or predictable character turns, you'll howl with celebratory laughter.
Humor and fun are in no short supply in Pacific Rim, better recalling Hellboy than any of the director's more severe turns. Immersive underworlds, exhilarating scenescapes, and look-how-cool-this-is battles never lose their juice. And to top the lot is the comic relief: the misfits. Charlie Day leads the pack as a character who is no far cry from his It's Always Sunny incarnation — an excitable, emotional scientist who considers his quest to understand the kaiju brain as the key to sending the wretched beasts back from whence they came.
Day's screen-time accomplices are Burn Gorman, a didactic mathematician who counters his partner's outlandish theories at every opportunity, and del Toro regular Ron Perlman as a black market top banana who gets roped into Newton's (Day... yes, his name is Newton, as it should be) harebrained scheme to obtain a living kaiju brain. Matching any one of the huge scale battle scenes in thrill factor, Day's high-stakes bickering with Gorman or his fish-out-of-water immigration into Hannibal Chau's (Perlman... yes, his name is Hannibal Chau, and the joke behind it is surreally hilarious) criminal kingdom offer a handful of Pacific Rim's high points. The shrimpy scientist has a larger role than you might anticipate, but he never overstays his welcome — this movie, with keen awareness, belongs to the soldiers, their robots, and the monsters they are dying to kill.
But the film falls short in a few of its later turns, when the self-aware goof troop is abadonend and the film falters into some decidedly unimaginative character storylines. It might sound a little backward to expect anything otherwise from a movie so deliberately delivered on the modus operandi of monster movie yore, but sweeping conclusions seem to lose sense of the tongue-in-cheek nature of the practice and succumb to a closed-eyed grab for the obvious. With as much fun as Guillermo del Toro has with his movie, and as much excitement as he stocks into every nook and cranny, you'd think he could stuff his ending up with a bit more of that fun, that excitement, and the imagination that bursts from every seam.
Even if your mind drifts here and there, called upon to reflect on old Godzilla features, Power Rangers adventures, or Always Sunny gags that you can't help but remember, you're always in the movie — it's as much of a ride as it is a story. The sights and sounds are just as important as the plot itself. So from beginning to end, you won't find yourself wanting — you'll be astonished by the big, amused by the small, and find every sense in your body nourished to completion. pacific Rim might not dazzle you too far beyond your expectations, but it'll meet them for sure. The kaiju? They're monstrous. The Jaegers? Supercharged. Del Toro's world? Breathtaking. His stars? Up to the task — some (notably Elba and Day) firing on all cylinders. Sure, you can poke fun at the dialogue, root up a plothole or two, but the film doesn't let you focus on its flaws, no matter how many there may be. It's too busy jazzing up your energy with what monster movies were built on in the first place: unadulterated fun.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter | Follow hollywood.com on Twitter @hollywood_com
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Rocker Morrissey's high school gig in Los Angeles is to hit the big screen at select cinemas across America and Mexico in August (13). Morrissey 25: Live From Hollywood High will chronicle the singer's 2 March (13) concert, which sparked controversy when the fervent vegetarian aired a video detailing how caught fish die prior to his performance and graphic clips of cow and chicken slaughters as he sang Meat is Murder.
The school gig also made headlines when the former The Smiths star ended the show by carrying a nine-year-old fan who had managed to sneak past security and onto the stage on his shoulders.
The film, which is the first authorised Morrissey concert movie to hit cinemas in nine years, celebrates the 25th anniversary of his solo career, and opens with fan tributes.
Tickets for the intimate 1,800-capacity Hollywood High School auditorium show sold out in 12 seconds.
Nosiness is far from an admirable virtue, but can it also be hazardous to your health? Sometimes you don’t even have to be actively prying into someone else’s affairs to be burdened with unfortunate truth. The fact is that the simple act of catching a glimpse, or overhearing a few words, can jeopardize your ability to continue to utilize those senses as a living organism. In Brad Anderson’s The Call, Halle Berry plays a 911 operator who overhears a serial killer claiming his next victim. Years later, traumatized from not being able to save the woman on the other end of the line, she again finds herself on the phone with the killer’s new prey.
Throughout the course of cinema, there have been several films that have served as a warning against knowing too much. These voyeur thrillers have been crafted by some of the best directors and featured a slew of astounding performers. We thought we’d alert you to some of these films with a series of clips. View at your own risk.
Probably the best example of this type of film, and a highly regarded classic, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window asks us to consider how well we really know our neighbors. Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer who, due to a broken leg, suddenly finds himself whiling away his afternoons staring out the window. He becomes convinced that his neighbor across the courtyard has murdered his wife. Is the man across the way a killer, or is our idle hero’s flashbulb going dim? Rear Windowis the standard for voyeur thriller, and Hitch’s masterful direction makes this as much a gorgeous love story as it is a taut work of suspense.
Beholding something as terrible as a murder is traumatic enough, but when the witness to that murder is a small child, and those responsible are out to silence him, a hero needs to intervene. Luckily for our titular witness, Harrison Ford is one the case. Witness has the rare distinction of falling within the voyeur thriller mold, streamlining the genre in fact with its simplified conceit, and also functioning as a fish-out-of-water dramedy. Ford must enter the Amish community from which our pint-sized lead originates, and has trouble conforming to some of their principles; not raising one’s hands in anger for example.
Brian De Palma is an avid fan of the great Alfred Hitchcock, and several of De Palma’s films hit upon the same themes as did Hitch’s masterpieces. In Blow Out, De Palma re-mixes Rear Window into the story of a movie sound engineer who inadvertently records evidence of a murder. He works obsessively to get his vital information into the right ears, but no one seems to want the tapes to surface. The film is incredibly tense and superbly performed by a young John Travolta, but it is the music and the ending that make Blow Out a truly great film.
Sorry, Wrong Number
Have you ever been so sick that you couldn’t get out of bed? Have you ever been laid-up in bed and accidentally overheard a murder being planned? Sure, that’s a slightly less common occurrence, but that is precisely the situation faced by Barbara Stanwyck in the 1948 thriller Sorry, Wrong Number. The invalid woman’s phone line gets crossed and she overhears two men finalizing the details of a ghastly deed. Based on a radio play, Sorry, Wrong Number plays directly upon the fear of helplessness and isolation. If the film were remade today, it is likely the antiquated crossed phone lines would be replaced with an email plot device. Sorry, Wrong Inbox?
Seven years prior to Blow Out, Francis Ford Coppola gave us his own story about a fateful listener. The Conversation stars Gene Hackman as a professional eavesdropper, hired by countless clients to obtain incriminating audio. His moral ambiguity is tested when he begins to realize that a couple he has put under surveillance may be the target of a murder. The film delves deeply into the idea of paranoia, and the irony of a privacy-invader becoming consumed with the fear of his own privacy being jeopardized. In this clip, he furiously looks for the bug he knows must be in his apartment.
[Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures]
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It's official, Donald Trump is truly as tasteless as one of his gold-plated faux rococo monstrosities that dot Manhattan, some of which might be without power today in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The Celebrity Apprentice host took to Twitter this morning to let President Obama know that, because of the storm, The Donald was extending his deadline for the president to release his college applications and records and his passport applications and records to extricate a $5 million bounty from Trump to donate to Obama's favorite charity. Remember, this was his big "secret" that was going to "change the course of all elections ever of the universe in the most spectacularly amazing fashion that has never before been seen by humans since the dawn of democracy." Yeah, you probably have bigger, less hairy fish to fry right now. "Because of the hurricane, I am extending my 5 million dollar offer for President Obama's favorite charity until 12PM on Thursday," he posted.
OK, a dozen people in New York City have died, hundreds of people have lost their homes to fires and flooding, a big chunk of the island of Manhattan is still without power, and this is what Trump is worried about? Do you think that Obama is really sitting around the Oval Office right now breathing a sigh of relief that he has an extra day for Trump's ridiculous ransom so that he can now figure out how to manage the destruction of the Eastern Seaboard? No, he is not. And Trump reminding us about his vicious vendetta is only making him look stupider than his hair when it's caught in the wind.
The comments on Twitter were quick and vicious. Many users called for Trump to just donate the $5 million to New York hurricane relief, a gesture that seems noble and would garner him a lot more good will than anything having to do with his silly quest to prove that Obama was somehow born in Kenya (something that even die-hard "birthers" don't believe anymore). "How about you stop being a d**k, cease your disrespectful demands and donate the money to NY disaster relief," wrote @Embassy730. Other responders were just as outraged and colorful, but none as inventive as @JohnnyPalomba, "extend your millions for the cat on your head." You took the words right out of my mouth.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Ivan Nikolov/Wenn]
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Showtime’s bloody standby Dexter left fans in a bit of a pickle in the final moments of the Season 6 finale, “This Is The Way The World Ends.” And in a way, our worlds all ended when (spoiler alert) Deb confirmed her lovey-dovey feelings for her adoptive brother and subsequently caught him performing his murderous Robin Hood act on the Doomsday Killer (Colin Hanks). That’s how you end the sixth season of what many fans consider to be an ailing former TV titan. And while the borderline incestuous plotline is a gnarly hook, I doubt I’m the only one who feels a little uncomfortable taking the bait.
Yet, we all fell hook, line, and sinker, and now Showtime is gutting us like a fish. The pay-network released its new promos for Season 7 of the killer series, and they will make any TV fan squirm. Both promos show two seemingly intertwined bodies writhing in a manner that’s both frightened and overtly sexual, before one of the Morgan siblings emerges in a cold, perturbed sweat. Simultaneously, the sheets that have both bodies trapped on a bed in this dungeon-esque locale strike a balance between black satin and the opaque plastic of the garbage bags Dexter uses to dispose of his victims. In each promo, Michael C. Hall’s chilling timbre reigns over the images and re-opens the question: What will Deb do now that she’s admitted she’s in love with Dex and can she accept his dark passenger now that she’s seen it in action?
And while Dexter weighs that question, we have to weigh our own. Can we accept the uneasy shift the series has taken? It’s certainly a risky plot and it revives the unnerving feelings we felt when we first met Dexter Morgan, but is that payoff worth the accompanying icky feeling? It’s clear from these clips that the series has no intention of easing our minds any time soon. If anything, Showtime is practically daring us to try and resist.
And it’s clear that resistance is futile, because here we are, mulling over the topic yet again. The series’ work is done. Whether we like it or not, we’ve accepted yet another of Dexter’s dark passengers, and it doesn’t look like this one’s something we’ll be able to shake.
Dexter returns for its second-to-last season Sept. 30 on Showtime.
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Apparently, the naturally built-in drama of American Idol isn’t enough. Perhaps it’s because the reality series now has to compete with series both flashier and fresher (see: The Voice, The X Factor). Perhaps it’s because the series is attempting to spice up its formula, despite the fact that that same formula has continued to deliver delicious drama year after year. (Seasons 3, 6, and 9 notwithstanding.) But between Idol’s ridiculous introduction packages that make us feel like we already live in a Hunger Games-esque dystopian society (that might explain J. Lo’s electrical tape dress. Fashion survival guide!), and the clearly manufactured romance and rivalry talk, the series is starting to feel like a soap opera fit to air on daytime television (before, of course, being replaced by a horrible, lazily produced talk show).
It’s funny, because, quite honestly, this season doesn’t need any sort of heightened drama. Minus one contestant (ahem, Hollie), the remaining Idols of season 11 are offering up performances as tasty as Godiva-filled Hostess cupcakes. (And on a night, Songs of the 2010s, featuring relevant music no less!) And enthusiasm for the crop of contestants shows, based on audience reaction — the crowd at CBS Television City was so excited to see Ryan Seacrest descend the staircase last night, you would think he offered everyone in the audience their own show on E!. And, look, I don’t blame the riled-up crowd — as a 11-season Idol fanatic (yes, I’ve seen almost every season live on tour. And yes, I’ve seen almost every season live on tour… with my mom), I literally get the shakes waiting for my favorite contestant to take the stage. This is not a healthy reaction, coming from an almost 30-year-old woman. But even with The Voice’s A-list clout, and The X Factor’s Simon Cowell factor, it’s hard to deny: American Idol’s still got it. (And proof is in the paper — Idol topped The Voice in ratings last week.) At least, that’s what I’ll continue to tell myself until the day the network replaces Idol with a show in which Snooki’s baby competes with Courtney Stodden for the love of a pawn star while sitting on spinning chairs on a deserted island.
So, Idol, don’t feel the need to pretend your contestants love or hate one another. I’m going to watch anyway, my similarly Idol-obsessed mother (who texts me wonderfully mom-like insights about the contestants week in and week out) in tow. But before my love for the show gets as out of hand as guest mentor Akon on stage, let’s get to the performances! Here we go, from worst to best!
Whether we like it or not, yes, Hollie is still around. And whether we like it or not, yes, Hollie still relies on The. Big. Note. And, yet again, Hollie still seemed unable to connect with her song, despite Jimmy’s insistence that she would score the Last Note of the Night Awards. (Which is an honor with about as much weight as the Jimmy Iovine Sunglasses During the Day Lifetime Achievement Award.)
I find it difficult week in and week out to concentrate on Hollie’s performances — her tendency to exclusively sing melodramatic tunes that are better fit for a dentist’s office elevator than the Idol stage only drives me to focus my attention on her horrible clothing choices, or the fact that I should become one of those people who brush their teeth midday in the office bathroom. This time around, rather than honing in on her vocals, I couldn’t help my mind from shifting straight to the rose floating in the backdrop, which brought my mind straight to Beauty and the Beast, which brought me straight to my DVD shelf… until I remembered I had a recapping job to do. I would say Steven agreed with me, but I’m not sure whether “it kinda laid there for me” is a good thing or not in the Aerosmith rocker’s world.
Texts From My Mom: She sucks. Ugly ugly dress. She’s awful.
NEXT: Colton vs. Phillip?
Joshua, Hollie, Jessica
Sigh. These three. Just no. I don’t have the energy, guys. I’ll let my mom describe the trio’s performance of “Stronger.”
Texts From My Mom: Stronger not good. Weaker.
I’m not sure where to begin with Elise’s performance of “Yoü and I.” First, there was the cringe-inducing Jeff, Who Lives at Home advertisement, complete with a Jason Segel cameo that made me wonder whether I should continue defending Bad Teacher. Then there was that cringe-inducing outfit that made her look like Cher after a trip through the washing machine. Then there was the fact that Elise had planned to pull a Reed Grimm (I shudder just writing the name) by beginning the song on drums, before Jimmy wisely(!) talked her out of it. And, on top of all that, there was a note at the song’s crescendo that was so butchered, even the umlaut wanted to run out of CBS Television City.
Sure, Elise’s “Yoü and I” was passable, but during Top 7 week, should passable be considered acceptable? It’s undeniable that Lady Gaga, love her or hate her, slays that song like its one of Daenerys’ dragons. Elise merely pinched it, denying its lyrics their deserved ardor. And that’s disappointing, considering Elise actually boasts a voice much stronger than Gaga’s. For someone who’s constantly teetering on the edge of Idol glory, Elise seemed more fatigued than fabulous, even after being rewarded the coveted pimp slot. Elise, this is how it’s done.
Texts From My Mom: Ugliest clothes of the night. Violin players kept busy tonight. Saloon-y, like a local band chick.
As if Elise’s pre-performance segment — brought to you by Jeff, Who Lives At Home and Embarrassment, Inc. — wasn’t manufactured enough, Idol attempted to stir up trouble between the competition’s two good ol’ boys, Colton and Phillip. And Jimmy perfectly played the part of that s**t-stirrer you don’t know why you befriended in 7th grade, who told you that your friend Hillary was telling people you look terrible in those butterfly clips while telling your friend Hillary that you told people she hadn’t washed her low-rise jeans in two months. Or something like that.
And, boy, did Colton take the bait — after Jimmy told Colton that he thought he was “behind Phillip,” while simultaneously telling Phillip that Colton has the girls on his side, Colton decided he needed to overtake his male competition. And how does an Idol contestant become the Idol Alpha? Through uncomfortable, inappropriate, smoldering stares at the camera during “Love the Way You Lie,” that’s how! (Didn’t hurt that leftover smoke from Skylar’s flaming hobo pails helped enhance the drama. More on that later.)
After all, without Colton’s Blue Steel, I would have said his performance was infinitely more passionless than any of his previous numbers. I would have said it lacked oomph. But then, during that final note, he looked at the camera… and straight into my soul. Suddenly, he transformed my opinion about the ho-hum performance like water into wine. And then transformed my wine into more wine. Oh wait, I did that. (Hey, you do what you gotta do 20 minutes through a two-hour show.)
Texts From My Mom (who typically fears Colton because of his lack of a defined derriere): Meh for me. He’s a good guy.
Elise and Phillip
For me, for you, for me, this duet didn’t feel like the Phillip and Elise I used to know — at least, the duo that performed last week’s awesomely rockin’ “Stop Dragging My Heart Around.” Rather, their ho-hum Gotye rendition only got me (get it?) checking to see if I needed a refill of wine. Of course, perhaps that’s what the backdrop’s subconscious-burrowing psycho-hypnotic spiral was trying to make me think: Boring! There can be no final two outside Joshua and Jessica! Well, I don’t know, my sweet little id. Elise and Phillip did have good harmon — But, OMG, remember when Jessica sang “I Will Always Love You?” But Phillip and Elise DO have marketable voic — Need to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia! (Apparently, my subconscious can’t avoid making continuous Zoolander references.) If nothing else, though, at least the performance gave Steven the opportunity to share his Idol fan fiction by suggesting the two contestants enjoy a romance. Of course, Elise’s supposed harassing and headband-wearing ways make them a bit less Hepburn and Tracy and more Minnelli and Gest.
Texts From My Mom: Duet better than the original.
NEXT: Colton and Skylar aren't dating. I'm not sure how many times I can tell you after you in no way asked.
Colton and Skylar
You guys, Colton and Skylar aren’t dating. No way, no how. I’m not sure how many times I can tell you after you in no way asked. So don’t you dare start believing they are a couple, not even when the two contestants constantly remind us that they aren’t together. And come on — whatever you do, don’t start thinking they have feelings towards one another because they sang “Don’t You Want To Stay” to each other. It’s just a song — why would you jump to conclusions? And, please, whatever you do, don’t talk to your friends and fellow Idol fans about their possible romance next week when they duet on “Let’s Get It On” and Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop,” okay? Not. Dating.
Texts From My (Indecisive) Mom: I hate that song. Great gun line. Skylar sounds better than Kelly. Overproduced.
Moving on to the contestant who often makes me the most uncomfortable. And not because his Twitter fan group is named #jjewels. (I’m sorry. I don’t really want to see J’s Jewels.) No, I’m uncomfortable watching Joshua week in and week out because it’s almost embarrassing how badly Idol wants him to win. Not only did the possible Season 11 winner get a special shout-out from Season 3 winner Fantasia, but Ryan even went so far as to invite Joshua’s dad on the stage to give him a post-performance hug. Look, he ran away with Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby,” sure, but even Randy had to peer pressure J. Lo and Steven to give Joshua their weekly standing ovation.
That being said, this week Joshua was more fun than his bright white-and-pink ensemble. How refreshing to see the contestant ditch the tired gospel choir act for a fabulous go-go dancer and the whitest group of trumpet players I have ever seen! Unfortunately, Joshua’s charm doesn’t quite pop off the screen like Bruno Mars’, but that won’t stop the judges from attempting to force him to sing a terrible victory song in May — Randy said he’s “gotta have it” like a Birthday Cake Remix, and Steven told Joshua, “You can sell a song like a work of art.” Tell that to Van Gogh.
Texts From My Mom: Good voice no Bruno. I don’t think he deserves the Standing O. Bruno killed that song on Grammys.
Funny what a difference a year makes. Last season, the judges’ panel tore into poor Haley Reinhart for choosing a then-unknown future hit, “Yoü and I,” by a very famous artist, Lady Gaga. This season, the judges’ praised Skylar for selecting a now-unknown song, “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You,” by an artist most famous for her Idol ties, Kellie Pickler. (Or, as Steven Tyler said, “The crows may crow, but the hen delivers the goods.” I think a man just left his apartment to hand an unmarked manila envelope to a Russian spy.) Perhaps the judges didn’t want to knock a former contestant. Perhaps this is just a continuation of their country ignorance. But I’m hoping they’re simply older and wiser and have begun to understand that choosing an unknown song is actually an intelligent strategy on the Idol stage — especially when an artist like Skylar, whose only struggle is being compared to Reba McEntire, can make virtually any song sound like it belongs on top of the country charts. Now, anyone hearing “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” will immediately associate it with Skylar, much like how her stage boyfriend Colton will be associated with White Lion’s “Broken Heart.”
Even Akon couldn’t help but love Skylar’s rendition. “Your voice is stupid,” he told her. And you know what else is? Trying to enhance the Idol stage atmosphere with a series of garbage cans on fire. The only downside to Skylar’s performance this week was the ridiculous stage flair, which only got worse since that flaming hawk attacked our TV sets last week. Garbage cans on fire? Surrounding Skylar on a guitar? Really? When Skylar is singing “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You,” is she talking about fingerless gloves?
Texts From My Mom (apparently channeling a critical Frankenstein who quickly changes his opinions): Fire dumb. Why the guitar? It doesn’t add anything. Very good. Country star.
NEXT: Jessica endangers species.
There’s no hiding it, friends. I’m a #philatic. There’s something about his Dave Matthews-esque growl that takes me back to junior high, and something about the way he sells turkey statues that takes me back to my Minnesota home state’s Prairie Chicken monument. He’s TV comfort food, serving up warm, wonderful plates of musical mac and cheese, complete with a smile and a wink that says, “Fine, Tommy Hilfiger. I’ll add some beige to my wardrobe, but only because of fans like Kate.” So I couldn’t help but devour his performance of Maroon 5’s “Give A Little More” last night, sexy sax woman and all. J. Lo might confuse his consistency for banality, but fans know exactly what kind of album to expect from Phillip post-Idol. (And that’s more that you can say for some of the season’s most confused contestants. Ahem, Hollie.) Here’s hoping he continues to give us a lot more.
Texts From My (Also Philatic) Mom: Me likey.
Jessica is a contestant that defies all Idol logic. Over the past 11 seasons, all Idol performers under the age of 18 have been passionless. (See: Jasmine Trias.) All Idol performers under the age of 18 have been precocious and cloying. (See: Sanjaya.) But Jessica manages to be as powerful and poised as a President Barbie, without the rigidity. She might be a young diva in training, but she’s still as approachable as that nice girl in your social studies class your mom keeps telling you to hang out with. And the singer was no different Wednesday night — Jessica appeared on stage, wearing a dress reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s House of Stairs, which is appropriate, since this contestant is just as confounding. How is it possible that she can sing absolutely anything? How is it possible that she can wear absolutely anything? How is it possible that we still like her? Where does the staircase end? And will Ryan Seacrest walk down it?
Gracefully sitting atop a piano while performing Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering,” Jessica, like Skylar, transformed an unknown song into a viable hit, sending me to my iTunes faster than J. Lo to her bronzer. And I’m not the only one who found Jessica effervescent — according to Randy, Jessica was so “dope,” she’ll appear on the next season of Whale Wars. If only J.Lo was likin’ it, Danny Noriega-style — the judge oddly told Jessica she was hoping to see a “Joshua-level” impact performance, a bizarre request for a contestant who so regularly gets the dramatic spotlight treatment, she might as well take up residence there. What more could Jessica have done for impact? More hobo garbage pails on fire?
Texts From My Mom: Magnificent. J. Lo was wrong. Whale is not a fish.
Thoughts, fellow Idol fanatics? Were you pleased to see that our contestants actually can perform hits in our era? Do you like American Idol: Soap Opera Edition? Which aquatic animal do you think Jessica killed? And was it in self-defense?
Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
More: Idol Top 7 Preview: For the Love of Seacrest, Avoid These Songs! American Idol Recap: Oh Yes, It's '80s Night IdolRankings: Mentor Gwen Stefani Lights a Fire Under the Top Eight
Where Kim Kardashian's love life is, a camera follows — just look at how the tabloid figure's one-time husband Kris Humphries was incorporated into her reality show lifestyle. Not only did Kourtney & Kim Take New York follow Kardashian and Humphries' relationship prior to their wedding, but the reality star also turned her nuptials into a two-part E! extravaganza. But now that Humphries is out of the picture, it seems Kardashian has found a new target (or should we say co-star?): Kanye West. Though reports have suggested that West won't be a part of the next season of Keeping up with the Kardashians, he does have a "K" in his name. Therefore, we will assume that a spin-off is inevitable. But if the newly anointed tabloid couple were to khronicle their kourtship on reality television, what would they name the series? We have some suggestions.
1. Keeping Up with Kim & Kanye
Let's keep our first suggestion simple. This series would tell the story of how West and Kardashian's eight-year-long friendship blossomed into a full-blown romance. Plus, there's that rumor that West cheated on his ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, with Karadshian — and that Kardashian cheated on Humphries with West. Now, that's that would pay for 50 years of self-tanner for executive producer Ryan Seacrest.
2. Kim & Kanye Krash Kansas City
Forget about Khloe & Lamar. In an absolute dream reality world, this show would track the lives of Kim and Kanye as they leave the Hollywood limelight and head to Kansas City (because, why not? And we're not cruel enough to send them to Kankakee). Kardashian could open a new Dash boutique, which always proves to be Major. Dilemma. And, Kanye would struggle with finally learning how to use his keyboard without his entourage. HOW DOES HE REMOVE CAPS LOCK?
3. Kim and Kanye Take Over Your Google Reader
News flash: Kim has a boyfriend. Breaking: Kim & Kanye, hot new item. This Just In: Kim has met her one, true love. Yes, it seems every media outlet has a Kim and Kanye story covering their homepage. Just pit a camera in front of your Google Reader and you get to enjoy non-stop, soul-sucking plot 24/7.
4. Kim Kardashian's Two-Part Second Fairy Tale Warning: Imma Let You Finish Your Vows... Before We Split
Oops, did it once — she can (and will!) do it again. That's get hitched on television. The only question is, would she still rack in the huge numbers for round two? And is it possible for West to crash his own wedding?
5. Kim Kardashian: Finding Happily Ever After... With West?
Kardashian says she's not to blame for her marriage to Humphries falling apart. She simply thought she fell in love, but didn't realize he wasn't the one until after saying "I do." Well, here's her chance to expense counseling! Let's place Kim with a therapist and dissect why she can't maintain a relationship. Think: In Treatment, but with martini glasses full of water (Kim doesn't drink), lots of group sessions with Kourtney and Khloe (who will overshare their gross family habits), and all of this taking place on a private jet on the way to Africa (where one of the Karadshians will adopt). Will Kim be able to cure her love ailment? If she can, Kanye will be magically waiting for her at the end of her journey. With fishsticks.
Kanye Kroons Over Kardashian In New Single
Kim and Kanye Dating?
S3:E6 “I wanna stay out of the drama and the fighting and the garbage but sometimes, you just get sucked back into it.” - Jill
Upon Jill’s return from Australia, she had lunch with Sonja, LuAnn and Kelly. She arrived at the restaurant with it in her head that if her trip had taught her anything, it was that she should stay away from the gossip, the drama, and all the other stuff that makes these women crazier than pigeons fighting over Cinnabon crumbs. Jill told all the women how much she missed them and how much she thought of them when she was away, and because they were always on her mind she brought them presents. The women got so excited that they were going to receive some kind of extravagant piece of jewelry that was made out of something a scuba diver killed, but instead they got little koala bear clips that they can attach to a pen or, as Jill suggested, their pocketbooks. Sonja immediately conveyed her disappointment by telling Jill she was going to give the toy to her daughter, but then the conversation shifted towards what happened last week at Cindy’s party for herself. LuAnn described how at the party, Ramona tried to talk to Cindy’s brother Howie about something bad she said at a wedding they both attended, and then Jill started waving her hands around and talking about how Ramona leaves dead bodies all over town and grown women crying and it was exactly like the video on Youtube where that parrot sings “let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor.” In an aside, Jill told us she just couldn’t help herself from getting involved in these types of stories again because the other women just suck her into them, and then Kelly chimed in that Ramona sent her a threatening text that was misspelled at 1:30 in the morning and that it was just atrocious, and even though it was so disgusting, she said she was having lunch with Ramona the next day. LuAnn called Kelly a masochist, and then Jill suggested they role-play a little bit so Kelly could get a feel for how Ramona was going to attack her.
“Who is that guy?” –Francois
Fucking Alex and Simon think they’re so much better than everyone else. Alex told us how she prides herself on always doing something original for her sons’ birthdays, and explained how much she loves the piano and how she played it for years when she was a kid, darling, and how much she just loves it so much that she doesn’t even play it anymore. So as we watch Alex and Simon and their two children come back home, the boys hear a piano playing from inside the living room and they ask their parents what’s happening. Simon responds that it’s probably just the iPod, but then the family walked into one of the rooms in their Brooklyn house and found a random guy sitting at their piano and playing it. Alex and Simon got totally excited and put their hands on their knees and did that thing where your knees bump together and your hands cross over each other and alternate kneecaps because they were so excited. Their children, on the other hand, were less than enthused and dealt with their nervous tension by smacking their gum around in their mouths. Alex told Francois to sit next to the guy at the piano and play it with him, and tried to get him excited about it by telling him that “he’s a very special man and he’s here to play for YOU! Isn’t that amazing?” and “hey Francois, this man is part of the New York Foundation for the Arts Young Professional’s program, and you should practice so you can be like him, ya dig?” And then Simon was like, “hey Francois, keep your fingers off the piano. It’s supposed to look like a mirror” and “Happy birthday and all, but… you know.”
“I told Sonja, I was incredibly nervous to meet with you.” – Kelly
Kelly invited Sonja to her lunch with Ramona so if there was any kind of situation, Sonja would be there to smooth it over. Kelly told Ramona that it wasn’t her job to re-write history, that she hated confrontation, and that it was her job to make sure all the women were friends. Ramona eventually apologized for sending Kelly the drunk text that said, “if you can’t support me, I cannot support you,” and Kelly just kept saying she was really concerned about Ramona. Ramona apologized if Kelly was offended by anything she’d ever done, and then went on this rant about how important it is to understand other people because if you don’t understand them, you don’t know where they’re coming from and you need to understand other people.
“There is a pecking order.” - Sonja
Sonja invited Cindy over to her apartment to chat, and Cindy went over there not knowing what was going to be discussed. They sat down to tea and after Sonja changed her outfit in front of Cindy to establish dominance, Sonja told Cindy that everyone was upset they had to drive all the way to Quogue to attend her party. Cindy said she appreciated everyone’s attendance, and Sonja told her not to get too excited because everyone was only there to support Ramona, since she introduced Cindy to the group. Then Sonja demanded to know the story behind Ramona showing up and not having any Pino Grigio at the party. Cindy couldn’t believe Sonja asked her to her house to talk about how there was no wine at her party, and Sonja tried to explain how Ramona Singer cannot even go to the zoo without having some Pino Grigio in a camouflaged canteen strapped across her torso, and that if Cindy wanted to succeed in this world, she must show her appreciation for Ramona for introducing her to the group by gluing little Monopoly hat game piece-sized wine glasses to Ramona’s toes and making sure each of them is always full.
“I’m like, you are all my friends, I love you all, come together and let’s hang out.” – Kelly
After she had tea with Sonja, Cindy took a walk with Kelly through Central Park and told her how Sonja explained that her inclusion in the group was only due to Ramona’s influence over the group, and that Cindy had dues to pay before she could move up the ladder. Then they ran into Jill, who was too busy clutching dog poop and talking to Kelly and Cindy about how it was dark chocolate to notice that her dog had left her life of fabric swatches for some meaty husky.
“I’ve cooked for royalty in my toaster oven.” – Sonja
Sonja had LuAnn and Kelly over to her house and as they entered, Sonja showed them the apron she was wearing and said it was her old butler’s but now it belonged to her. She also showed them her toaster oven, which she’d used so many times in her life that intended to write a cookbook and list all the meals you can make with a toaster oven. She maintained that she’d cooked for the Churchills with it, and other various royal figures, and so she was confident that she could use it to cook a decent meal for her esteemed friends. Sonja began explaining the toaster oven’s history, and said it had survived her divorce from her husband, and how after lost all her maids and chefs, she started using the toaster oven because it allowed her to sit with her daughter while she did her homework without having to sauté things way over at the stove while her only child sat all by her lonesome way over at the kitchen counter. However, as Sonja was preparing some fish and some asparagus for them all to eat LuAnn started micromanaging Sonja’s techniques and Sonja became so frazzled that she didn’t realize that when you cook expensive fish in a toaster oven, it comes out the size of a marble.
“You called my kids animals.” – Alex
The end of the episode consisted of two confrontations: the first was between Jill and Alex at Alex’s house, and the second was between Ramona and Cindy at the Four Seasons. Alex told Jill how much her behavior has hurt her in the last year, and she was particularly upset when Jill told the New York Post that her husband Simon drinks too much. Jill apologized, and stated the truth which was Alex can either forgive her or not, Jill can’t really do anything else than what she’s already done. Then, somehow the conversation shifted to a time when Jill called Alex’s children “animals.” Meanwhile, over at the Four Seasons, Cindy told Ramona that she didn’t appreciate how Ramona stormed into her party in Quogue and immediately demanded to know where the Pino Grigio was. Ramona said Cindy was taking it way too personally, and that maybe the reason she got upset at the party was because she’d been married to her husband for 18 years and her time with him was very precious and she didn’t want to not enjoy herself at a party during one of the very few times when they were together being adults? I don’t know. Pino Grigio deserves a writing credit somewhere.