Kate Ward
Kate Ward is the current Executive Editor for, a former editor and writer for Entertainment Weekly and, and a forever fan of pop culture. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Ward — whose work has also appeared in Glamour magazine — loves talking about nutgrafs and hates exclamation points, despite using them on a regular basis. Specializing in reality TV, ’90s nostalgia, and bad movies, Ward is likely the oldest person to attend "American Idols LIVE!" every year with her mom.
  • 'American Idol' Recap: Hollie Go-Lightly-Away
    By: Kate Ward May 10, 2012
    Does American Idol's dark horse gallop on? After shocking America by surviving several shocking straight weeks of eliminations (Rest In Peace Idol Tour Rehearsals, Colton and Skylar!), Hollie Cavanagh pleaded with the voting public during California Night Wednesday to allow her to continue her California dreamin'. Alas, it was too little too late — Hollie couldn't make America love her, and was sent straight out of CBS Television City. But as much as we can harp on the contestant for outlasting more deserving singers, we do have to give her Randy-esque mad props not only for having the survival instincts of a Twinkie in nuclear war, but also for going out on a high note. A very, very literal high note. Sure, we could call Hollie the Tatiana Del Toro of Season 11, being the master of only one song, but the girl schools Miley Cyrus like a math test. Not the highest compliment, of course, but it does make it a little clearer why Hollie fit into the Season 11 equation so seamlessly. Of course, it could be worse for Hollie: The singer’s post-elimination trauma can’t come anywhere close to our post-Jennifer Lopez trauma. As much as I’m impressed with the judge’s ability to clone her own boyfriend into an army of washboard robots fueled by dancing and what looks like futuristic ‘90s mini-backpacks, you’d think she’d grow tired of the ab-tacular attention. It’s like when you start bopping your head to one John Mayer song, and suddenly, four albums later, you find yourself with a collection of CDs and tribute Xanga that only embarrasses loved ones around you. (Just me?) Even poor Idol must have been contractually obligated to keep the cameras rolling long enough for Jennifer to tell the audience, “He’s so cute.” Ugh. Jennifer. We get it. You’re famous, beautiful, successful, and dating someone much, much younger than you. But keep in mind his name is Casper, and there’s simply no beating 1995 Devon Sawa. Thanks god David Cook played the delightful cheese plate to Jennifer’s rich, over-the-top main course. Perhaps I simply can’t let go of the glory days of Season 7, but there simply is no sadder song title from Cook than “The Last Song I’ll Write For You.” Please, don’t let this be true, Cook! Do I have to gather a merry band of cougars for you to stick around? I hear they’re on TBS now. And in my mother’s living room. But from our living rooms next week, we’ll get to watch our final three — Phillip, Joshua, and Jessica — head to their respective homes for hometown visit week, the sobbingly-est of all Idol weeks. Of course, Joshua got the waterworks started early during Thursday night’s elimination, bawling when best bud Hollie was sent packing. A sweet moment for sure, and one that makes me feel slightly guilty for knocking the singer for the judges’ favoritism. Or perhaps I’m just feeling less enraged knowing that Idol has one honest voice, Jimmy Iovine — otherwise known as the only non-contestant with ears. Once again, the mentor judged our final four much more accurately than our actual judges, ribbing Joshua for choosing a corny “pomp and circumstance” song like “You Raise Me Up,” recognizing the subtle genius of Phillip’s “Volcano,” threatening Jessica with Tommy Mottola, and transforming into an 8th grade mean girl by delivering Hollie the best back-handed compliment of the season. (“She peaked … in the wrong direction!”) So, sadly for Hollie, she will go lightly away tonight. But she also never stood a chance against Phillip — now that the contestant has mentioned “chicken and cheese nachos,” I am incapable for separating him from deliciousness. And incapable of not being jealous of all the free Mexican food he’ll be treated to come next week. But have we been treated to the proper Top 3, friends? Does Phillip’s absence during the Ford Music Video shoots continue to be jarring, or has Idol just decided it’s better for everyone to spare him the embarrassment of lip-synching while dressing up as a bee? Are the other contestants shoving his poor health in his face while singing “Feeling So Good”? Does Idol feed Phillip magnetic poetry to place awkward words together during his soundbites? Do we care that, as Steven sagely said, Phillip has found himself and still doesn’t care? Did the choreography during the “California Dreamin’” group number prove we have a long season of SYTYCD ahead of us? (Oh NappyTabs, you could do better than that.) Are you, like me, relieved that I finally got to use my long-awaited headline? And can we expect an army of shirtless men with buzz cuts to eventually pull a coup d’état over our government? They’re growing! Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard More: Phillip Phillips Backstage at Idol: 'I Was So Nervous, I Didn't Know What Was Going On.' American Idol Recap: The Long, Long, Long Winding Road Idol's Biggest Underdogs — GALLERY American Idol
  • 'American Idol' Recap: The Long, Long, Long Winding Road
    By: Kate Ward May 09, 2012
    If the gods of television announced tomorrow that all original programming would be canceled and replaced with American Idol reruns, you’d find no one happier than yours truly. Since 2001, I have withstood the freezing winters through sheer Idolation, relying on Ryan Seacrest’s voice telling me that This. Is. American. Idol to survive. I have needed to hear the word “dawg” uttered at least twice a week in order to fuel myself through the weekend until the next Wednesday. And, come the warmer months of April and May, I’ve relied solely on Jennifer Lopez’s beaming bronzer to get my Vitamin C. The obsessed fan in me simply needs Idol, and will willingly argue with any detractor who thinks The Voice has caused the reality series to jump the “Against All Odds”-singing shark. (Randy Jackson sees your crazy hat, Xtina, and raises you a bananas lapel pin.) But as much as I love you more than you love literal backdrops, Idol, I gotta keep it real with you: Please, once we have whittled down to our Top 4, shorten your Wednesday performance shows to one hour. I’m never one to ask for less Idol, but Wednesday night’s California Night was as lukewarm as a seat vacated by Kim Kardashian. It was clear the contestants had little time to prepare — while three out of the four managed to deliver at least one stellar performance, all floundered in successfully executing another. Add in two middling duets, a group performance so forgettable, I just forgot that I even wrote “group performance,” and a long commercial for Tom Cruise’s airbrushed ads, and even I overdosed on two full hours of unnecessary Idol programming. Take Phillip, who even admitted in his introduction package that he’s “trying to push himself” through the competition. And talked to Ryan about his difficulty memorizing the lyrics to CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” (This sentence brought to you by Idol Conspiracy Theorists of America , a.k.a. ICTA: Was this conversation Idol’s attempt to force Phillip in an unflattering light to make family man Joshua seem more likeable? As the President of the Paranoid Chapter, I vote yes. Discuss.) But for a contestant that came into the competition as a visionary, able to rework songs like “Superstition” and “Movin’ Out” into original masterpieces, Phillip has only surprised fans in recent weeks by choosing to perform faithful versions of popular hits. And whenever you see Phillip without his guitar — as he was during “Rain” — you know he wasn’t given enough prep time to ace a performance. NEXT: Steven Tyler Poetry Hour!And, quite honestly, it shows. Even Phillip’s grandmother would agree that “Rain” was, yes, “pretty rough,” even if the judges refused to critique the song. (ICTA members: An attempt to quell the sympathy vote for Phillip to gain more traction for Joshua? Discuss!) Steven went so far as to bring his book of poetry Wednesday night, telling Phillip, “All the mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe!” But Steven should have reserved his words for Phillip’s follow-up, “Volcano,” by Damien Rice. It was yet another faithful rendition, yes, but staying true to the song seems to make sense in this context: If Phillip had wished he had written the song, why would he change it up? Perhaps the performance just made me nostalgic for the nights I sat faux-sad in my dorm room, mourning a boy I had just unwisely taken to Closer on a first date, but Phillip’s “Volcano” simply exploded on stage, despite the odd fact that he was singing to a hologram. It was gorgeous, meaningful, and subtle — all adjectives one of Phillip’s fellow Top 4 finishers would be wise to adopt. I’m speaking, of course, of Idol favorite son Joshua, who I’ve knocked for weeks now for being the subject of the judges’ unyielding and infuriating fervor. But I have gotten so tired of discussing the obvious favoritism that I simply cannot bring myself to criticize the show for pimping Joshua’s loving family for votes ahead of Mother’s Day. I am so fed up with describing the show’s pleas for Joshua’s win that I will not talk in detail about the fact that the producers literally raised the contestant on a pedestal during his rendition of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up”… which we saw Chris Mann perform better on The Voice earlier this week. And I am so sick of mentioning Joshua’s 13+ standing ovations from the judges, I will not even address how Randy — fresh off the set of Bye Bye Birdie — called the contestant’s screechy “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” one of the best performances on any singing show, and how Steven told the singer “Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black and the dark street winds and bends.” Because, sorry judges, as much as I can appreciate a brilliant run or two during Joshua’s performances, the singer does not connect with his lyrics. He’s music’s version of a serial killer, bonding with his lyrics and gaining their trust, only to end up pulverizing every phrase, stomping each lyric six feet into the floor below him at CBS Television City. Joshua wouldn’t know subtlety if it stood up with Jennifer Lopez and kissed his feet. But I can’t blame Joshua — he hasn’t received a shred of constructive criticism on this show to learn to do otherwise. If it ain’t broke enough to keep you from getting an undeserved standing ovation, why fix it? NEXT: 50 Shades of Phillip.Instead, I far preferred Joshua’s fun-loving, laid-back duet of Maroon 5’s “This Love” with Phillip — shocking, considering I figured they’d butcher the hit to keep their NBC competition at bay. But somehow, the song — backed by Sergeant Doakes on the piano — allowed Phillip and Joshua’s voices to mesh, and gave girls plenty of opportunity to scream. Giving Phillip the dirtiest parts of the song to sing, Idol? Perhaps you are making this a fair fight. (ICTA: OR are they just counting on conservative voters to push against Phillip? Discuss!) Surprisingly, Joshua wasn’t gifted the pimp spot tonight, though — our dear Jessica, who had yet to enjoy the enviable position, finally bagged the slot and delivered the first truly entertaining song of the night, with Etta James’ “Sail Away.” Between the powerful vocals and the much more conservative garb — was the spiky heart a chastity necklace? — Jessica proved that she should win this whole shebang. The 16-year-old’s talent is so mature, she makes an unintentional mid-song squeal sound like a gorgeous note written on the page. (If only she wasn’t surrounded by all that literal baggage.) The judges, however, didn’t quite give the glistening “Steal Away” the respect it deserved, instead opting to compliment Joshua while Steven said, “The fact that I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, and so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door.” They did, however, grant Jessica a standing ovation for “And I Am Telling You,” which, unfortunately, was no better than Tamyra Gray’s Season 1 version, Frenchie Davis’ Season 2 version, LaKisha Jones’ Season 6 version, and Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar-winning version. (But, thankfully, far superior to Nick Mitchell’s Season 8 version.) But it was still was as powerful and passionate as it gets for a 16-year-old with no life experiences an emoticon can’t express, and will hopefully convince America to love her, unoriginality be damned. NEXT: From The Climb to the fall.Hollie, however, might not be so lucky, having chosen a song that’s far too perfect a send-off, Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” (Apparently, based on her song choices, Hollie wishes she had written the entire soundtrack to a trip to the gynecologist’s office.) After hitting her stride in recent weeks, the contestant took a step back, relying far too much on her ability to beautifully finish a song with a strong crescendo. What Hollie is forgetting is the build-up, particularly during her pitchy “Faithfully,” which dragged on longer than a Ryan Seacrest Comedy Bit ™. Hollie can’t overwhelm an audience with a strong finish if the beginning only has you wondering how Jennifer Lopez transformed Casper Smart into sequins so she could have him wrapped around her at all times. Even the judges couldn’t love “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” with J. Lo criticizing Hollie’s vibrato and Steven telling her, “New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits, Chinese food makes me sick.” But, friends, even thinking about the judges is making me sick, so I leave this to you. Can we talk about the "Eternal Flame" swings? Because I can't go through that alone. Is it shocking to think that J. Lo and Co., ever refused Joshua? If Joshua’s first song was dedicated to his father, and the second to his mother, who was “This Love” dedicated to? Did you, like me, laugh when Joshua admitted he didn’t have Jimmy’s phone number after the mentor so casually told him to call for guidance? Are you, like me, also ashamed to admit that you laughed at Ryan’s engagement fake-out? Why did Randy’s tie change its mind? And, finally, is it me, or does America seem very uncreative, giving Jason Derulo lyrics like “Whoa-oa-oa-oa” and “Oooh-oh-oh-oh” for “Undefeated”? Should I submit my lyric, “Ahhhh-ah-ah-ah”? Would it have a shot? Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard More: Idol's Biggest Underdogs — GALLERY American Idol Recap: Sky-Fall American Idol Recap: Hollie Scrapes By But Who Takes the Fall?
  • 'American Idol': We Rank the Top 4!
    By: Kate Ward May 09, 2012
    It's hard to believe it's been a whole four months since we watched our Top 4 nab golden tickets to Hollywood. Sniff. They grow up so fast. (God, I grow up so fast. These kids were mere babies when I was focused on the ever-important goal of completing my ALF pog collection. But I digress.) But, on Wednesday night, American Idol's producers focused on the Golden State's hometown heroes, asking the Top 4 to perform hits from Californians. And now, I will be the first person to ask... No Beach Boys?!?! Still, which of the Top 4 shined on California night? And which should have been booted from L.A. along with the entire Kardashian family? Check out my rankings below, and come back later for a full recap! 4. Hollie 3. Joshua 2. Phillip 1. Jessica Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard More: Idol's Biggest Underdogs — GALLERY American Idol Recap: Sky-Fall American Idol Recap: Hollie Scrapes By But Who Takes the Fall?
  • 'Celebrity Apprentice': Did Donald Trump Get the Final Three Right?
    By: Kate Ward May 07, 2012
    On last night’s Celebrity Apprentice, we were treated to two banal firings. Banal because the first “star” sent packing, Teresa Giudice, was one we knew was bound to leave us prior to the final three, and the second “star” sent to the elevator of shame, Lisa Lampanelli, went out in a blaze of warm fuzzies, disappointing any viewer hoping to see the Celebrity Apprentice mean girl depart amidst a flurry of verbal slurs. So, yes, the firings might have been banal, but the more important question is: Were they deserved? For one, despite the CHI and Elle executives’ beliefs to the contrary, Teresa actually should have bagged a victory for their task — though the Real Housewives of New Jersey star has proved to be a bumbling and boring Project Manager (you know it’s bad when Eric Trump can steal your spotlight), Unanimous’ ad campaign, complete with a hysterically self-promoting Aubrey O’Day as a model, was far superior to Forte’s hardly strong treatment of the hair dryer. You could tell even the producers thought so — we were offered a mere glimpse or two of Forte’s unattractive, confounding, and wordy advertorial, making it difficult, but not impossible for the viewer to tell it was far weaker than Teresa’s team. But Trump couldn’t fire Lisa for the CHI task — otherwise, that would rob the episode of its final half-hour intrigue. (Teresa acing a final interview is about just as likely as Eric Trump not taking a bite out of your neck to suck up your soul.) So Trump enforced his no-rules-but-my-inexplicable-rules policy and bumped Teresa, making the final half hour anyone’s game. The final four was nearly Celebrity Apprentice’s strongest (it would have been more of a nail-biter had Penn Jillette not been fired weeks back) — Aubrey, Lisa, Clay Aiken, and Arsenio Hall all could have easily earned spots in the final two. So after Marlee Matlin and John Rich both fulfilled their contracts to return to Celebrity Apprentice to kiss Trump’s ass interview the final hour, Trump’s final decision was surprising, considering how much Marlee and John bonded with Lisa. John, for one, was easiest on the dirty comic — he appeared to develop a stronger bond with Lisa than with his own cowboy hat, despite tearing apart the other three for a) not stepping up enough (Clay), b) not incorporating high-powered friends into the challenge (Aubrey, though, despite his insistence otherwise, I’m guessing John has not seen Making the Band), and c) not winning enough money for their charities (Arsenio, though that’s likely because this season of Celebrity Apprentice has featured far fewer rolodex challenges than previous seasons). But though Trump loves drama more then a beautiful woman half his age, he also has a history of cutting emotional trainwrecks (see: Meat Loaf) just prior to the finale. (After all, why give them a shot at the win when you can invite them back to instill terror in the top two’s final task?) So out went Lisa, with surprising class and sans verbal fireworks. Disappointing for anyone who enjoyed watching her spar with Dayana Mendoza, but — just like our favorite wide-shouldered and vicious Terminator — she’ll be back. But who will she be helping in his or her final challenge? Trump has so many possible combinations to consider: Trump has a soft spot for Arsenio, and how could he resist forcing the comedian to face off against his greatest enemy in the game, Aubrey? Then again, Trump has never been tied to gender equality in Celebrity Apprentice — perhaps the good-hearted Clay and Arsenio are the best twosome for the finale. But on the other hand, it would make sense to pit Clay and Aubrey against one another — after all, they have played against each other twice as Project Managers, both winning once. Best two out of three? And it wouldn’t be a satisfying Celebrity Apprentice finale unless Aubrey takes credit for the winning task, the Trump empire, Barack Obama’s presidency, Two and a Half Men’s absurdly high ratings, and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. With which combination would you most be at peace with the future of Celebrity Apprentice? And should Unanimous — with Teresa as Project Manager — have lost the Chia challenge? Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard [Image Credit: NBC] More: Celebrity Apprentice: Now THAT’s What I Call a Boardroom! Celebrity Apprentice: Could Dayana Mendoza Make It to the Finals? Celebrity Apprentice: How Has Lisa Lampanelli Lasted This Long?Celebrity Apprentice
  • 'American Idol' Recap: Sky-Fall
    By: Kate Ward May 03, 2012
    The way Season 11 has progressed, the only cut that would have been truly shocking on American Idol was if Hollie Cavanagh was sent out the door. Not only because the contestant has proven to have the staying power of a pimple on prom night, but also because Wednesday night featured a theme, British Night, that played right into her roots. So it's really not all that shocking that one of our early frontrunners, Skylar Laine, was the contestant actually sent straight out of CBS Television City. Sad? Yes. Shocking? Not entirely. I even predicted her possible elimination following her stellar performance night Wednesday. Not that I ever wanted her to be sent packing — Skylar was one of the most consistent performers to ever hit the Idol stage. But that was precisely her problem — in order to find success on Idol, you need an intriguing storyline that extends past your love for ATVs and gunfire. The singer might be far more professional and recording-ready than the likes of Hollie, but the latter contestant is currently enjoying the benefits of the “dark horse” label that fueled previous contestants like Season 10’s Haley Reinhart and Season 7’s Syesha Mercado straight to the Top 3. Skylar, on the other hand, was simply an awe-inspiring performer week in and week out, which is hardly enough to inspire drama-loving teens to race their phones faster than Jennifer Lopez can say, "WeloveyouJoshuayoumustwinpleasesing'Blue(DaBaDee)'formesoIcaninexplicablyoverpraiseit."  Luckily, Skylar will be just fine. If Season 5’s sixth place finisher, Kellie Pickler, can use Idol to jumpstart a lucrative country career with her red high heels, so can Skylar with her diamond-studded pistol. And, dear fellow Idol fans wondering if Skylar’s cut means we are indeed “headed straight for hell” — as the outgoing contestant sang — the rest of Season 11 will be just fine too. In fact, Hollie’s mere presence might just make this season even more exciting. (I know what you’re thinking: What? No! But bear with me, friends.) As I mentioned in my recap last night, Idol viewers love to root against a contestant who they perceive undeservedly outlasted their favorite. (See: Danny Gokey, Scott Savol, Sanjaya Malakar.) From a pure talent standpoint, the Top 4 might have been better off with Skylar, but from a drama standpoint? Hollie certainly dazzles. Thursday night’s Idol did, however, deliver a shock more stunning than Skylar’s cut: A terrible performance from Season 4 winner/superstar/owner of amazing legs Carrie Underwood, who I can only hope was braving a sickness during “Blown Away.” Country royalty or no, even Simon Cowell would call the number “dreadful” and ask Carrie if she went to the same tanning booth as Willy Wonka’s workers. Seriously, the only thing that blew harder than Carrie during that performance was the ridiculous wind machine. ZING! So we shouldn’t fear for our dear Skylar — she managed to outperform a superstar like Carrie with “Gunpowder and Lead,” even after being dealt a crushing, not-quite-expected blow. Here’s hoping she seeks solace in faux boyfriend/fellow undeserved fallen Idol Colton Dixon. But were you surprised by the cut, readers? Shouldn’t we at least be glad Hollie will be able to dine on Twinkies and Spam after the Apocalypse? Are you, like me, the teensy bit angry that Joshua got another opportunity to enjoy standalone praise that should shoot him straight to victory? Was Jessica’s dress really almost the most damaging style choice on TV since Keri Russell’s haircut-that-shall-not-be-named? Did anyone else notice Phillips’ absence during the Ford Music Video (and feel relieved he didn’t have to dress like a fairy tale version of Mystery like Joshua)? Has Phillip stopped caring so much that he chews gum on stage?! And wasn’t Coldplay Coldplay? Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard More: Phillip Phillips Backstage at Idol: 'I'm not trying to be some boy that tries to look good.' American Idol Recap: Playing Favorites Idol Winner Kris Allen on His New Album, Colton Dixon’s Defeat, and Phillip PhillipsAmerican Idol
  • 'American Idol' Recap: Playing Favorites
    By: Kate Ward May 02, 2012
    Over the course of its 11 seasons, American Idol has produced a healthy supply of classic Idols. I’m not talking about the Carrie Underwoods or Jennifer Hudsons, superstars who, during their tenure on the show, only teased their future abilities, making us unsure as to whether they actually did have a shot to become an A-lister after the glitz of reality TV wore off. I’m talking about the classic Idols who not only accumulated an overzealous fanbase, but also managed to make an already addictive Idol even more intriguing, no matter their success level following the show. I’m referring Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Bo Bice, David Cook, Kris Allen, Adam Lambert, Haley Reinhart, and, yes, I’d even say Blake Lewis, who revolutionized the series in ways no one gave him credit for. (No one truly made any song, as Randy would say, his or her own until Blake beat-boxed his way into our hearts, and then into obscurity, during Season 6.) These Idols might not have been the most successful to grace the stage (Kelly withstanding), but they certainly were the most entertaining. They blew us away with their passion and talent, and drew us in even further with intriguing personalities. If we brought this to a rank, they might very well make up my Top 10, if we’re solely counting entertainment value on the Idol stage. So it’s surprising to hear the judges’ panel rank Joshua Ledet as one of the two best Idols of all time, when I’d be hard pressed to find him a spot in the Top 20. Don’t get me wrong: Dude is talented and he might transform into an industry superstar, which is good since his “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” suit made it clear he has no future as a botanist. But, unlike the judges, I can’t see what’s unique and exciting about the singer, who’s failed to garner enough criticism to encourage him to show us anything unique and exciting. Instead, week in and week out, our judges give him standing ovations for churning out performances more fit for season 3 than a post-David Cook season 11. Not only that, but they named him one of the best singers to ever exist in 50 years. So, sorry, Aretha Franklin, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, and Beyoncé. Joshua, a star of a reality show on a network that made a name for itself airing a show about bored police officers that bust drunk idiots, has got you had. Look, I understand hyperbole. It’s likely the judges don’t actually feel Joshua could be stacked against those greats, no matter how many times the ejector button shoots them out of their seats. But Joshua’s “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was a faithful cover of The Temptations hit that was only slightly better than George Huff’s rendition in Season 3. And, while Joshua ended “To Love Somebody” on many a high note, the performance was just as listenable as Clay Aiken’s version in Season 2, but no more. But perhaps nothing shows the judges’ unfair favoritism towards Joshua than their high praise of Joshua and Phillip’s duet of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” a performance not only horrendous because of its pitchiness, but also because of the fact that Joshua and Phillip failed to play sweaty shirtless volleyball after the performance. Steven, in fact, labeled it “perfect,” despite the contestants’ inability to keep a straight face during the entire performance — they broke so often during the song, all it was missing was Jimmy Fallon. NEXT: Phillip's Self-Sabotage? One could even say the judges also harbor favoritism for our favorite pawn shop worker, Phillip, who brought us self-sabotage of Jason Castro levels last night. There was the aforementioned “Lovin’ Feeling,” the worst duet to hit the Idol stage since James Durbin’s and Jacob Lusk’s “I’m Into Something Good.” There was his take on The Zombies’ “Time of the Season,” which saw him struggling on high notes he should have never attempted to hit. (The judges might have been surprised with his straight-forward take, saying, “He can really sing the melody!” but they failed to take into account that he couldn’t sing it well.) Then there was the biggest Idol no-no of all: The heartthrob brought his girlfriend to CBS Television City. Phillip had to have known that would send a flurry of his fans straight to their Lisa Frank diaries, where they bitterly write down Joshua’s phone number, sniffling away the tears as they realized that maybe Phillip wasn’t singing right at them every Wednesday night after all. Sniff. But, as much as I adore Phillip and the gray, cringe-y way he makes Tommy Hilfiger cringe, self-sabotage is hardly as dumb as pairing with the cowboy during group week. In fact, Phillip would be much better off being sent home Thursday night, a scenario as plausible as the possibility that J. Lo will wear sequins and make me wonder who her very talented doctor is. As we’ve seen over the course of the past 11 seasons, a rock star winner on Idol is faced with a disadvantage. Forced into the music scene as a solo act showered in confetti on reality television, rock winners — see: David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze — have found it difficult to build cred in the industry. On the other hand, an artist like Chris Daughtry — who was just as recording-ready as Phillip during his tenure on Idol in Season 4 — managed to accumulate a group of fans dedicated to making sure he built the acclaim and respect he so deserved on the reality show. Because, at this point, Phillip doesn’t need Idol. He know who he is and what kind of album he needs to record — one that should include lovely and listenable performances like “The Letter.” As guest mentor Steven Van Zandt said, “Leave him alone. He’s good. Badabing, badaboom, parkway, other New Jersey stereotypical phrases.” It’s hard to believe I’m imagining an Idol world in which Phillip goes home, and Hollie may stay. What is this, opposite night? Am I now supposed to compliment Brian Dunkleman on his hosting skills last night? Where am I? What year is it? How did I get here? Who does No. 2 work for? But not only do I believe Hollie will stay, but I believe she should stay. Granted, Idol set up her underdog storyline perfectly: After being at the receiving end of insults from judges and fans alike, Hollie began her Idol climb last week with, appropriately, “The Climb.” And now, we hand the British lass a British Night theme. Cut to: A tepid performance of Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” that the judges conveniently failed to criticize as much as Jessica Sanchez’s Tina Turner cover, and a version of “Bleeding Love” that allows audiences to compare her with another reality show winner, the U.K. X Factor’s Leona Lewis. (Even though Steven couldn’t, since he managed to avoid all radios and doctor’s offices in 2007, having never heard the song before.) It’s no surprise the show seems to be supporting the contestant: Idol would be better off with Hollie on the show — there’s nothing the reality series’ viewers love more than to bash a contestant that undeservingly outlasted their favorite. (See: Danny Gokey, Sanjaya Malakar, Syesha Mercado, Scott Savol, etc.) To rid Idol of Hollie rids the show of some of some desirable intrigue that could make The Voice-hating ratings fairies at Fox celebrate. NEXT: Where does Skylar fit in? So I wouldn’t be surprised if Hollie’s reality-friendly storyline picked up the young female vote. Which means Season 11’s other young girls might also be in jeopardy come Thursday, especially if audiences failed to connect with Jessica’s spirited-but-disturbingly-sexy cover of “Proud Mary,” presumably performed against a backdrop of set items stolen from the set of Chicago. (I’ll take “Potently Inappropriate Dresses For a Teenager” for $600, Alex!) And it doesn’t help her cause that the judges criticized her for taking on the dragon that is Tina Turner, without having doled out the same criticism to supposed slayer Hollie. (Not to mention the fact that J. Lo wondered rhetorically, “How could you let this girl go home?” which pretty much introduces the possibility that Jessica could leave CBS Television City Thursday night.) But I’d find it impossible if anyone in the viewing was unable to connect with Jessica’s fittingly beautiful version of “You Are So Beautiful,” which was so alluring and perfectly executed, it’s despicable to think the young singer has never been gifted Idol’s pimp spot. (Predictably, Joshua scored the spot Wednesday night for the second time.) Come on, Nigel! She’s sitting on the floor! In the name of Fantasia and Katharine McPhee, don’t you know that floor-sitting leads to an automatic Idol moment?! And then that leaves us with Skylar, the consummate professional who, week in and week out, offers up fun performances so contagious, I hope a trip with CBS Television City comes complete with a CDC vaccine shot. But that’s precisely her problem: Skylar lacks not only the tearful histrionics that garners votes, but the intriguing storyline that sends fans racing to their cell phones. Joshua is the anointed one, Phillip is the rebel, Jessica is the victim, and Hollie is the dark horse. But how do you categorize Skylar? Sure, her “Fortunate Son,” was a perfect song to show off her stage presence, and anyone who didn’t fall for “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” is as weird as that couple on the bench. But the CCR song’s counter-culture theme might not gel with her fanbase, and Skylar’s latter performance is far too perfect a swan song to quell my nerves surrounding her fate Thursday night. And after her bottom three visit last week, perhaps only luck will keep her from riding an ATV right out of CBS Television City. Perhaps she should have performed “Knock on Wood” after all. Do you get the Joshua hype, readers? Who’s headed home Thursday? Did Jessica, Skylar, and Hollie sing “Higher and Higher,” or was the song performed by a series of American Girl Dolls? Why did Elise Testone get a goodbye montage in the opening credits, but Colton Dixon didn’t last week? And did Steven Van Zandt learn his chair-sitting etiquette from Flashdance? Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard More: American Idol Recap: Order Restored American Idol Recap: They Want to Break Free Ryan Seacrest Re-Ups with American Idol: Why We're Thanking Our Lucky StarsAmerican Idol
  • 'American Idol': We Rank the Top 5!
    By: Kate Ward May 02, 2012
    I was hardly cheer(io)y leading up to tonight's British Music night. American Idol, why give our contestants yet another opportunity to butcher Adele like she was part of Lady Gaga's wardrobe? Why not let Amy Winehouse rest in peace at least one year before asking her to roll over? (And why hand over a genre that so clearly favors our resident brit Hollie Cavanagh?) But blimey! Our Top 5 actually managed to resist any ill-advised urge they might have had. That's not to say they made surprising choices: The Bee Gees should have been banned from Idol after Clay Aiken's red leather jacket-clad "Grease" (no matter how much Joshua did them justice), and Blake Lewis already scored (yes, you heard me right) with his "Time of the Season" in season 6. But how did our Top 5 fare? And was their second song, from the 1960s, groovy? See below for my rankings of the evening, and check back later for my full recap! 5. Phillip 4. Hollie 3. Skylar 2. Joshua 1. Jessica Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard [Image Credit: FOX] More: American Idol Recap: Order Restored American Idol Recap: They Want to Break Free Ryan Seacrest Re-Ups with American Idol: Why We're Thanking Our Lucky Stars
  • Batman Spends What? The Price of Being a Superhero
    By: Kate Ward May 01, 2012
    There's no question that superheros are a lucrative bunch. From Spider-Man to The Dark Knight, crime-fighters on the big screen often translate to big bucks at the box office. But how much does it actually cost to be a superhero? delves into the sustainability of our favorite heroes' super extracurricular activities. Would they have the funds - and good health - to keep up with their secret lifestyles? Today, we dig through Bruce Wayne's deep and dark pockets in 2005's Batman Begins to determine whether he'd be able to afford fictional technology that's impossible to price. Let's get creative! Name: Bruce Wayne Superhero Alias: Batman Occupation: Professional Billionaire Income: Approximately $6.9 billion, according to Forbes. Translation: Enough to make Donald Trump weep. Rent: Rent? What’s that? Bruce Wayne, who continues to live in his massive childhood mansion, does not understand the meaning of such a word. Peons. We can, however, count that he likely spent a cool million or two on materials to build his first Batwing, which includes a bookshelf/secret door that we’ll price at $2,995, and an armoire for his Batsuit, which we’ll assume costs $200, since he required fast assembly only IKEA could provide. Total: $1,003,195. Costume: Forget Mood. Bruce Wayne is lucky enough to have technology from Wayne Enterprises at his fingertips. So while he steals his $300,000 suit from the company, we’ll still count it as a cost, since he’s exacting it from his own fortune. Add to that a Bat mask from China (which we will price at $2 million, when you count raw materials, assembly, and shipping for approximately 10,000 parts), a cape made of fictional “memory cloth” (which we’ll arbitrarily price at 100,000 times a $59.99 memory foam pillow to total $5.9 million, because why not?), and a fashionable pair of John Varvatos boots at $600, and you’ve got a costume you should never risk brining to the dry cleaners. Oh, and since Amazon Prime was not available in 2005, we have to add Bruce’s interim ski mask, priced at a very reasonable $3, plus black eye paint ($7) and a paint sprayer ($68) to spruce up the suit. In total, Batman spent approximately $8,200,678. Weapons: Sure, Spider-Man has his webs and Superman has his super-strength, but Batman has his own superpower: a super inheritance. At least, that’s how he affords non-existent weaponry like a grappling gun, which we’ll price by taking the cost of a harpoon ($150) and adding a wire extension ($100). Plus, since Bruce’s gun was plated in chrome, we’ll tack on a limited edition fee, bringing the total for the grappling gun to $400. But let’s not forget his Batarangs ($5, the price of a 12x18 piece of sheet metal), ball grenades (a completely made-up $100, since I would prefer the government not become suspicious of my Internet search history), a steel chain to tie up Carmine Falcone ($65), and his utility belt, which we calculate at approximately $1,100, if you size a 7-inch stainless steel Swatch band for a 35-inch waist. All in all, $1,670. Gadgets: Since Batman circa 2005 didn’t want to worry about Gotham’s unreliable cell phone service, we’ll assume he used a Satellite phone. (Of course, it would have to be waterproof, since he called Alfred for help in the pouring rain.) No word on whether he has unlimited data, but let’s price this at $1,549.99. Then there’s his remote listening device — a very frugal $32 — and his $800 night vision binoculars . (Pervert.) And because Batman is a masochist who is willing to attract his greatest fear to him en masse (thank god he’s not afraid of clowns), we have to include his bat sonar device, which uses a high-frequency pitch to attract bats to his location. Bantix’s Mosquito Slayer does the same for the blood-sucking pests and runs at approximately $1,000, but, since Batman would need his device to be small enough to fit on his boot, we’ll double the price to $2,000. All in the name of fashion. Total: $4,381.99. Damages: After a subway collapse and plenty of infrastructure damage, the taxpayers of Gotham City are in for a rude awakening. But, on Batman’s own turf, he’s forced to rebuild his mansion after Ra’s Al Ghul’s goons torched the entire home. It could cost approximately $46 million to rebuild Bat Manor, plus an additional $10 million to refurbish the Batwing, but the cost of losing family mementos is, tragically, priceless. As is the price of losing his reputation — Gotham City believes he drunkenly lit his own mansion on fire. Sad trombone. Grand total: $56 million. Transportation: For Batman’s famous Batmobile, we’ll take the price of a U.S. Military Tank ($6 million) and triple it to $18 million to include GPS, missiles, a jet engine, stealth mode, flying capabilities, and an overall appearance that is the s**t. Plus, for his day job as a playboy billionaire, Bruce Wayne drives a far subtler automobile, a $380,000 Lamborghini Murciélago LP640, bringing his transportation total to $18,380,000. Hey, at least the subway only costs $2.50. Risks: It’s hard out there for a vigilante billionaire. Throughout the film, Bruce Wayne had to cope with jet lag, late night brawling, first- to second-degree burns from being lit on fire, extreme bruising from falling down a multi-story building, and night terrors, all while building his own underground lair sans construction crew. Also, all that low-talking is sure to lead to plenty of sore throats, pulling $2 out of his pocket for lozenges. Perks: Bruce Wayne can be on the cover of Forbes magazine, smiling next to Oprah and the Queen. Plus: A personal butler that provides more companionship than a Roomba! Entertainment: For his 30th birthday, we’ll assume Bruce Wayne purchased a new Armani tuxedo for $2,000, and paid for $50,000 worth of catering. A pricy night, indeed, but at least it’s cheaper to stay at home: To look good going out on the town with two lovely ladies — in order to maintain his playboy cover — Bruce Wayne needed a designer suit fitting of his empire. Let’s give him a new Canali suit for $1,595, plus a new Zegna tie for $195. And to cavort with playgirls to maintain his cover, Wayne needed two high-priced callgirls. Based on the Eliot Spitzer price model, this would have cost him $8,600. Finally, to cover for his covers — his two female friends decided to romp in the hotel restaurant’s pool — Bruce Wayne purchased the high-end hotel he was dining in. Since Wayne’s hotel wasn’t quite the destination of New York City’s The Plaza — purchased for $400 million by Donald Trump in the 1980s — let’s price this at $300 million. And let’s not forget the additional $200 Wayne spent to tip the rule-abiding waiter. Grand total: $300,062,590. You're starting to appreciate your Friday night home with a six-pack, aren't you? Miscellaneous: Handsome, rich, and able to do the CDC's job for them! In order to cure Gotham City of The Scarecrow’s terror-infused toxin, Batman needed to mass-produce an antidote. If the smallpox vaccine were estimated to cost $30 per dose, this would mean Batman would have to spend $300 million to cure 10 million inhabitants. Plus, to keep those pesky bats out of the Wayne manor, we’ll assume Batman had to hire an exterminator at approximately $1,000. Total Miscellaneous costs: $300,001,000. Sustainability: Difficult. Especially when you’re forced to fight a climactic brawl after suffering at least a bruised rib from a fallen flaming log. But while Bruce Wayne’s money never sleeps, the jobless billionaire certainly can. Final Calculation: Bruce Wayne/Batman spent (from our calculations) approximately $683,653,517 of his $6.9 billion fortune. Not a bad deal. But, kids, don't try to be a vigilante crime-fighter at home.     [Image Credit: Warner Bros.]   More: Spider-Man Spends What? The Price of Being a Superhero
  • 'Celebrity Apprentice': Now THAT's What I Call a Boardroom!
    By: Kate Ward Apr 30, 2012
    If I wasn’t more dedicated to watching entire episodes of reality TV than I was keeping in touch with family and friends (I have a sickness), I would have been tempted to fast-forward through every boardroom scene of this season of Celebrity Apprentice. Spending one entire drawn-out hour watching The Donald flex his ego while Lou Ferrigno flexes his muscles and no one says anything interesting at all made it all too tempting to switch over to the far more cerebral and rewarding Mad Men. But, Sunday night, I’m sure glad my brain chose to sit back, relax, and drink down the beer trough that is Celebrity Apprentice compared to Mad Men’s refined martini. Because, for the first time this season, we actually saw a boardroom that was worth the absurdly long one hour dedicated to it. The brawls were organic. Donald Trump was in top form. And, for once, the right person was actually sent home. Even though it’s shocking that she was. As we’ve seen on any season of Celebrity Apprentice, The Donald never sticks to conventional rules when it comes to eliminating a star. It doesn’t matter how adept each celebrity is — The Donald will always favor drama over one’s ability to actually prove him or herself a quality businessperson/overall decent human being. It’s why Trump introduced an entire challenge that set up the milquetoast Michael Andretti to fail. It’s why Trump allowed the weak Ferrigno to get angry (and you won’t like him when he’s angry… ) at his proficient teammates for weeks before finally cutting him loose. And it’s why Dayana Mendoza made the Top 6, regardless of the fact that she had been brought into the boardroom a record six times. Looking at the reality series’ history, it’s no surprise I found myself wondering how Trump would find a way to keep Mendoza, even after learning the beauty queen had no control over her team, and attempted to rhyme “man” with “track.” (Then again, LFO boasted a hit rhyming “speaking” and “Alex P. Keaton,” so perhaps she has a future in the music industry after all?) If he was achin’ (heh) to get rid of Clay Aiken, couldn’t the singer be blamed for pushing a genre of music that the Good Sam executives found tired and safe? Couldn’t Lampanelli be blamed for becoming completely unhinged in front of Donald Jr., during his five-minute visit to the team? Couldn’t Trump use his Jedi mind tricks (“Aubrey O'Day's boobs aren't the boobs you're looking for… ") to find a way to convince the executive that Unanimous lost the challenge? Anything to continue these verbal assaults between Mendoza and Lampanelli, right? After all, their in-fighting was never more entertaining than it was during the boardroom Sunday night — and, clearly, us viewers weren’t the only ones who thought so. After weeks watching Donald Jr., and Ivanka look about as bored as Donald Trump at an Indy race, it was joy to see them attempting to hold back their laughter during Mendoza vs. Lampanelli. (The Trump kids… they’re just like us, if we had hundreds of millions of dollars, unfortunate hairlines, and were related to a frighteningly vampiric creature named Eric.) Still, brains trumped beauty, and Trump ousted Mendoza, which can only mean Lampanelli has to direct her “useless” insults elsewhere. Can we hope he flips the table switch, so Lampanelli is paired with the shockingly ho-hum Teresa Giudice, who Trump hilariously labeled as a “stiff” Sunday night? Anything, please, Mr. Trump, to avoid a boring boardroom. Tell me: Were you surprised Mendoza was sent packing? Is Lampanelli being suddenly set up as a Celebrity Apprentice do-gooder, or will her mean girl label live on? And were you, like me, wishing Mendoza and Giudice were partnered for this challenge? Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard [Image Credit: NBC] More: Celebrity Apprentice: Can Dayana Mendoza Make It to the Finals? Celebrity Apprentice: Sorry, Clay. Lisa Doesn’t Hate Dayana Because She’s BeautifulCelebrity Apprentice: How Has Lisa Lampanelli Lasted This Long?
  • Superhero Battles Gone Mental: Daredevil vs. Aquaman!
    By: Kate Ward Apr 29, 2012
    Batman vs. Superman. The Hulk vs. Professor Xavier. Spider-Man vs. Iron Man. Any superhero superfan has wondered what would happen if their favorite comic protagonists faced off against one another. But debating those battles is almost too easy. Instead, what if each superhero in battle was to suffer a significant mental disadvantage? How would Superman fare against Thor if he were distracted by Daily Planet layoffs? How would Spider-Man fare against Batman after eating bad Chinese food? Today, to kick off’s Superhero Week, we wonder what would happen if a drunk Daredevil met a guilt-ridden Aquaman. Let the super battle begin! Battle: Daredevil vs. Aquaman In the Right Corner: Daredevil, who just mistook an old Four Loko in his fridge for Red Bull. In the Left Corner: Aquaman, who has come down with a bout of mercury poisoning thanks to an ethical boundary-pushing night with Jeremy Piven. Inside Daredevil’s Day: The blind superhero had had a rough morning. After a late start at work thanks to taking the subway one stop too far — since people can’t seem to understand that passengers have to go out before they can come in — he spent the first few hours of his day pouring over amicus briefs and blocking out Foggy’s unyielding enthusiasm for life. Sigh. Then he spent his afternoon being Rick Rolled by The Kingpin and ignoring calls from the defeated Bullseye, whose only form of torture is trying to guilt Daredevil into coming to his place to watch Alexander. Realizing he could get no work done in the office, Daredevil returned home — shutting his nose to avoid his super-senses from smelling that cologne-and-stale beer stench of Hell’s Kitchen — and reached in his refrigerator for a Red Bull. Half a can in, Daredevil’s world began spinning. It was only then he realized he had accidentally drank an old Four Loko. Damn Foggy’s pre-illegalization 2009 stockpiling! Inside Aquaman’s Day: Perhaps Vulko was right — Aquaman has gone too Hollywood for his own good. After he finally — finally! — clinched a movie deal, Aquaman went on a three-day bender, hobnobbing with Tinsel Town elite. The first night, he found himself swigging shots of Patrone with Wilmer Valderrama, which only led to Aquaman telepathically summoning a clownfish from the restaurant’s fish tank to block a punch after claiming Valderrama had nothing on Tim Riggins. The second night, Aquaman spent hours in the VIP area of Smoke & Mirrors, rolling his eyes as Lindsay Lohan attempted to weasel her way in because hot mess b***h thinks she can hang out with Aquaman? (He knows who killed her career. High five, Russell Brand!) But then, last night, everything went downhill. Starting the evening with chill, pre-dinner drinks with Adrien Grenier — the actor lucky enough to be playing Aquaman in the upcoming adaptation — the duo ran into Jeremy Piven, who peer pressured the superhero into a dinner at Nobu. After Piven called Aquaman “a typical Johnny Drama” for balking at eating a tuna roll, the superhero — hoping to appease his super-famous new best friends — downed an entire restaurant’s worth of sushi. Aquaman woke up the next morning with discolored fingers and a burning sense of regret. How would Atlantis feel about him now? How could they celebrate the super-work of a cannibal? Aquaman got out of bed and swam as far away from the Boulevard of Broken Dreams as possible, to the East Coast, where St. Luke’s-Roosevelt diagnosed him with mercury poisoning. He should have chosen to hang out with Turtle. It just makes so much more aquatic sense. The Battle: Leaving the hospital filled with guilt and saline solution, Aquaman happens upon Daredevil, stumbling to a food cart while carrying a bag of McDonalds. “Do do do do do! Lovin’ It!” he slurs, pulling out a small blue box and handing it to Aquaman. Filet-O-Fish. Is he calling me a cannibal? How does he know?! No one must know! Aquaman glanced from the blue box to Daredevil, who pulled up his shirt to show fresh body art of Falcor on his torso. “Dude. Check it out. Dragon Tattoo. Sweet ink, right?” Though already weakened by his time on land, Aquaman summoned enough power to clench his fists. “All I see is a bullseye!” the aquatic superhero returned, throwing a superhuman punch that sends Daredevil flying into a stash of trash bags. Bullseye?! “Bro, Alexander is not gonna happen,” Daredevil yelled, the Four Loko’s caffeine building atop his super-strength, driving him to complete four flips before drop-kicking Aquaman right in the gills. Just kidding! That was a Four Loko hallucination — Daredevil really somersaulted into another trash bag and punched a tree. Sensing Daredevil was at his weakest, Aquaman telepathically summoned a nearby three-eyed fish swimming in the Hudson River. Too bad shame overrides any psychic transmission, leading the three-eyed fish to learn his secret and shun the superhero: “Nobu, Aquaman? For Piven?” the three-eyed fish says, swimming away while shaking his head. Panicking, Aquaman looks back at his opponent — who has started squatting in his general direction — and desperately picks up his fists. Just as he’s about to strike, he feels an uncontrollable urge to itch his entire body. Oh please let this be the mercury poisoning and not that night at Chateau Marmont, he thinks. By the time he’s done scratching his arms, it’s too late — Aquaman looks up long enough to see Daredevil delivering a blow to his face and falls to the ground. Daredevil immediately breaks down sobbing about Atreyu’s horse and begins following his super-sense to a vending machine full of Funyuns. The Winner: Daredevil. Because since when does Aquaman win at anything? Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard More: Avengers Galore: 'What We're Doing Here Is Completely Unprecedented' -- VIDEO Avengers: Why Is the Hulk So Sad? — PICS Final Avengers Trailer: Can You Say Epic?