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.
  • Christina Aguilera: Reality TV's Best Judge (Surprisingly!)
    By: Kate Ward Apr 03, 2012
    Last season on The Voice, Christina Aguilera personified the Hot Mess. Joining the show shortly after divorcing husband Jordan Bratman — and amid reports of her hard-partying ways, which led to her arrest for public intoxication in March of 2011 — Aguilera was a mentor more “Dirrty” than “Beautiful." Her season 1 ill-fitting wardrobe was just the start of it — the singer also seemed bored with her new role on reality TV and not entirely committed to mentoring her eager contestants. Her comebacks to Adam Levine’s barbs were typically awkward, and her self-promotion tactics went into overdrive. Yes, Beverly McClellan’s “Beautiful” duet with Aguilera was fittingly gorgeous… but it was also a cover of “Beautiful.” Why push your music on a series you're already headlining? But what a difference six months make. Sure, Aguilera’s wardrobe has yet to completely redeem itself — though her high-collared shirts last night were a definite improvement over her Battle Round Barbarella-meets-Royal Wedding look — but the singer sure has. Over the course of season 2, Aguilera has managed to turn herself into the reality series’ most valuable mentor. Not only have her Levine-directed insults become sharper, but her passion during the blind auditions also allowed her to lock in some of the buzziest contestants. (See: Current frontrunner Jesse Campbell.) And she’s already proved she’s guiding her team on a successful path: The singer was spot-on when she warned contestants during the blind auditions that she would have more time to commit than busy countryman Blake Shelton — Aguilera’s song suggestions for her team last night were far fresher and more fitting for each contestant. (Seth and Amy say, really Blake Shelton? “Livin’ On a Prayer,” “Alone,” and “Living for the City” for your team? American Idol called — it wants its season 3 material back.) Perhaps more impressively, during last night’s first live show, Aguilera officially established herself as the only useful talent judge left on popular reality TV. Following Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul’s Idol exit, the Fox singing series has been weighed down by three judges seemingly incapable of critiquing contestants, no matter how much they butcher Adele. (I know — it seems mean to shoot Eben Franckewitz when he’s down, but dear God, boy.) And, so far this season, The Voice’s panel has been guilty of the same crime — until Aguilera finally called out Naia Kete for her thin cover of Adele’s “Turning Tables.” Can we give her a round of applause for finally channeling that honest voice within? Now, don’t get me wrong: There’s still enough mess in the much-hotter Aguilera to keep her entertaining. The aforementioned wardrobe that dangerously borders on malfunction, the hilarious stage mom instincts that lead her to mimic her contestants’ dance moves from her spinning chair, etc. But her actions on this season of The Voice have also reminded us that the girl’s damn talented — not only does she know how to bring out the best in other singers, but she allows her singers to bring out the best in her. One of my favorite moments of this season remains Aguilera’s impromptu duet with Sera Hill — there’s no doubt that Alpha Aguilera saw this as an opportunity to prove her vocal dominance, but it was a moment as sweet as it was calculated. Would Cee Lo turn away from Erin Martin’s legs long enough to be inspired by the most talented on his team? Purrfect says “No no no.” So let’s applaud Aguilera for her work thus far on season 2 of The Voice — it was about time for her arrival. And NBC should be sending her one big fruit basket to wear on her head: Her commitment to the series makes it that much harder for TV fans to throw in the towel when it comes to The Voice. Even this dedicated Idol fan has fully embraced being blasphemous by throwing her UFO hat into the series. So, please, Aguilera: Continue delivering good TV and quality reality show judging — how refreshing it’s been to see you rub us Voice fans the right way. Wait, is that gross? Who else is loving Aguilera this season? Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard More: The Voice Recap: We’ll Do It Live! Voice Star Adam Levine Splits From Girlfriend Image Credit: NBC
  • Aubrey O'Day: Always a Cast Member, Never a Superstar
    By: Kate Ward Apr 02, 2012
    She was on two seasons of Making the Band. She nearly starred on a season of A Shot at Love. She even headlined her own series, All About Aubrey. But Aubrey O’Day had yet to break through as a reality TV star… until joining this season of The Celebrity Apprentice. Just see last night’s episode, which saw O’Day delivering her patented bitchery in Arsenio Hall’s direction, crying (for the second episode in a row) in front of The Donald, and “walking out” of the show in a fit of anger. The reason I put “walking out” in quotes is because we all know O’Day was simply “figuring out a way to create drama so she could get more airtime and publicity and, my God woman, why are you copying Rachel Reilly’s hairstyle?!” Yet, while O’Day’s season-long hysterics might have landed her on Google Trends today, she has yet to shoot to reality TV superstardom — the kind of superstardom that lands you your own series on Bravo or MTV. The kind of superstardom that lands you on the cover of tabloids. The kind of superstardom that lands you on the rumored list of replacements for the outgoing panel of X Factor judges. And it’s difficult to determine why she has yet to do so during her short but very public career. It seems almost unfathomable — we’re talking about a woman so desperate for the camera’s attention, she’ll dye her dog’s hair pink… and then do thisto her. And she even had the opportunity to cement her reality profile with the help of Oxygen’s All About Aubrey (which might as well have been named by Arsenio Hall), a series that saw more eyes on The Soup than on the network. But though O’Day has certainly loved the cameras, the cameras didn’t quite love her, regardless of her impressive dedication to the craft. She’s even worked her way through all the reality show archetypes. She’s played the Good Girl: Anyone who watched her in Making the Band 3 would label her extremely talented, extremely likable, and extremely magnifying. She’s played the Hot Mess: See any single episode of All About Aubrey. But now, it seems she’s finally found the archetype that works best for her: The Villain. Perhaps the reason she never found superstardom following Making the Band and All About Aubrey is O’Day is neither good nor a mess. It’s almost frightening how well the self-promoter throws around insults. That takes an amount of intelligence that’s surprising coming from a woman unable to choose a believable pair of color contacts. So, yes, O’Day is attracting newfound attention as The Apprentice franchise’s most hated contestant since big baddie Omarosa herself. But has the undeniably shrewd celebrity done enough to stay in the zeitgeist (and on our TVs) after The Celebrity Apprentice finishes its run? Will she finally reach reality TV superstardom? I certainly hope so. O’Day — who, if you can remember, is actually quite an adept singer — is more talented and fascinating than drunk Snooki and pregnant Snooki combined. And if her stint on Celebrity Apprentice isn’t enough to score her a high-profile reality series… well, then I suppose we’ll have to get ready for Sassy Black O’Day on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!: Celebrity Edition. Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
  • Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs: Why It Could Be a Great Idea
    By: Kate Ward Apr 02, 2012
    You picked up your iPhone as soon as you heard the news Sunday: Ashton Kutcher is playing Steve Jobs in the independent biopic of the late Apple icon. And I’d bet 10 iPhones iPods iPod Nanos iPod headphones that you texted your pop culture-loving pals how blasphemous this was. After all, there is only one thing worse than the idea of a Two and a Half Men star playing such a beloved figure: Watching Two and a Half Men. (Can I get a rim shot?) But, unlike trying to tune into the sitcom's reruns to cure your hangover, this casting might not be a horrible idea. Yes, Kutcher is primarily a comedic actor. And yes, Kutcher is not necessarily known for delving into the complexities of his characters, which is admittedly worrisome considering Jobs is no doubt a complex character. But Jobs was known as a creative force who always sought to make interesting choices — it’s a propos to have then cast a creative and interesting choice like Kutcher in the role. Even if Sony’s version of the biopic (yes, there are two in the works. Snow White déjà vu!) attracts A-list heavy-hitters (hello, George Clooney… reportedly!), Five Star Institute’s version has intrigue on its side. Admit it: You’re a tiny bit curious to see how someone like Kutcher would fare in the role. It’s hard not to root for the underdog — a position Jobs himself knew well. Add to that the fact that comedic actors have fared well in the biopic department: Jim Carrey should have nabbed an Oscar nomination for his stunning performance of Andy Kaufman in 1999’s Man on the Moon while Jamie Foxx picked up an Academy Award for his work in 2004’s Ray. Why should we expect anything less from Kutcher? Sure, the actor misfired with serious material in the past (remember The Butterfly Effect? We hope you don’t), but even actors like Carrey have had to endure duds. (Remember The Majestic? We’re glad you don’t.) And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Kutcher resembles Jobs in his early years at Apple — I’m going to go ahead and assume Kutcher’s ill-advised couch-surfing hipster look from season 9 of Two and a Half Men was simply his audition for this role. Does that justify it? No? Oh well. I’ll admit Kutcher’s technology obsession does concern me a tad — the actor has already used Two and a Half Men to push the online companies he has a stake in. If Five Star Institute’s Jobs slaps a Foursquare sticker on his green screen, well, consider me checked out. But, still, one of Apple’s most famous slogans is “Think Different.” Isn’t this casting just following suit? Do you agree? Is Kutcher an interesting choice? Or does he want to make you throw your iPad 2 out the window? (That way, you have an excuse for the new one!) Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard  More:Ashton Kutcher to Play Steve JobsAshton Kutcher's Possible Two and a Half Men Return: Is He Worth It?Two and a Half Men: Will Ashton Return For Another Season?
  • ACM Awards: See the Winners' List Here!
    By: Kate Ward Apr 01, 2012
    It's likely Academy of Country Music co-host/The Voice coach/country superstar/one-time proud mullet owner/social media fiend Blake Shelton will post plenty of behind-the-scenes intel on his ever-updating Twitter feed. (The multi-tasker even managed to slip in some tweets during the show!) But it's unlikely Shelton — who hosted the 47th annual ceremony tonight on CBS alongside Reba McEntire — will be able to fit the entire winners' list in only 140 characters. That's why we're here! See below for the night's entire winners' list, which includes Shelton, who was awarded Male Vocalist of the Year. (It will be a happy night in the Shelton household — the singer's wife Miranda Lambert won Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year for Four the Record.) Who picked up trophies for Entertainer of the Year, Song of the Year, and more? Find out below!  Entertainer of the Year Taylor Swift Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton Female Vocalist of the Year Miranda Lambert Vocal Duo of the YearThompson Square Vocal Group of the YearLady Antebellum New Artist of the YearScotty McCreery Album of the YearFour the Record, Miranda Lambert Single Record of the Year"Don't You Wanna Stay," Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson Song of the Year"Crazy Girl," Eli Young Band Songwriter of the YearDallas Davidson Video of the Year"Red Solo Cup," Toby Keith Vocal Event of the Year"Don't You Wanna Stay," Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson More: Taylor Swift Explains ACM Awards To Her Kitten Image Credit: ACM/CBS
  • 98 Degrees Reuniting? Good — They're The Best Boy Band of the '90s
    By: Kate Ward Mar 29, 2012
    I know. Halfway through reading this headline you started gathering every ‘NSYNC album you own to hurl my way. But go ahead, because I’ll still have my copies of 98 Degrees and Rising and Revelation perfectly in tact to get me through any period of pain. Heck, the two albums even got me through life’s most excruciating time period: Middle school. And they continue to entertain today — not a Christmas goes by that the Ward family doesn’t listen to 98 Degrees’ This Christmas. (You’re welcome, Dad!) So I Do (Cherish) the rumor that 98 Degrees — made up of members Nick Lachey, Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons, and Justin Jeffre — is reuniting for a 15-city tour this summer. (The band members’ reps have yet to respond to’s request for comment.) Though it may be controversial to say during a time in which Justin Timberlake appears in Oscar-nominated projects, I still stand by my claim: 98 Degrees was simply the best boy band of a decade overrun with overly manufactured quintets whose horrible haircuts outshined their musical abilities. To see them back on the stage, actually harmonizing without the help of a production studio, would be a gift even greater than This Christmas’ “This Gift.” But what’s that? You’re still wondering how this little band from Ohio could be better than ‘NSYNC or The Backstreet Boys? Okay, I’ll break it down for you — here’s why 98 Degrees was My Everything: 98 Degrees was formed outside of Lou Perlman’s mind. Unlike ‘NSYNC and Backstreet Boys (and O-Town and LFO… ), 98 Degrees came together without the help of the Ponzi scheme-heading criminal Perlman, who is now serving time for conspiracy and assault on our ears via “Liquid Dreams.” Instead, 98 Degrees had humble beginnings, growing up in Ohio before naturally coming together in L.A. And their natural kinship shows in their music — whereas ‘NSYNC brought the world overproduced (but no less catchy) hits like “Bye Bye Bye,” 98 Degrees released subtle tunes that showed off the group’s solid, unified vocals. Just listen to This Christmas’ “Ave Maria,” and you’ll be saying “Hello, hello, hello!” You also have to marvel at the fact that Ohio produced a beautiful group of beautifully singing men. What’s in the water? Should we all just move there? 98 Degrees’ songs were actually listenable. Remember “Liquid Dreams”? Of course you do — I just referenced it. But the O-Town song represents the worst of boy band music — terribly written, terribly produced, terribly received by people with ears everywhere. 98 Degrees, on the other hand, actually produced good music. The band hit all the right notes with their singles, vocally and publically: “The Hardest Thing” might never be on a list with “American Pie” or “Yesterday,” but it succeeded in being a sweet, listenable song that attracted the attention of more than many a teen girl. 98 Degrees’ albums might have been schmaltz, but you have to respect schmaltz that works. Plus, don’t they get some industry respect for collaborating with Stevie Wonder? 98 Degrees didn’t just match outfits — they matched biceps. One of the most infuriating boy band practices of the ‘90s was each group’s insistence on dressing identical. (So they could find each other while walking through busy streets?) Boys didn’t even have a House of Dereon to help them mix things up! But 98 Degrees matched muscles more often than they matched daywear. At least, three members did — photographers did a solid job camouflaging baritone Jeffre behind the muscle power that was Timmons and both Lacheys. Which brings us to one of my favorite games: Where’s Justin Jeffre? He blends in perfectly wearing this shade of sedimentary. He’s not just a background vocalist — he’s actually the background. More layers! More layers! This one’s going to take some time. Is that hi — oh wait, just a brick wall. 98 Degrees’ members boast the best extracurriculars. So Justin Timberlake might have established himself as an A-list actor with the help of respected films like The Social Network. But has he run for mayor of Cincinnati like Jeffre? Has he become oddly charming as the host of The Sing-Off like Lachey? Has he won Dancing With the Stars like Drew? And has he headlined a Chippendale’s show like Timmons? You know what’s cooler than the millions of dollars a movie career gets you? A billion dollars… in your G-string. Who else is with me? And who wants to go to the possible 98 Degrees reunion with me? Anyone? Dad? [Huffington Post] Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard Image Credits: Universal
  • 'Idol': Is Colton Dixon TV's Tim Tebow?
    By: Kate Ward Mar 29, 2012
    Forget Tebow Time. Last night’s Idol was all about Dixon Time. Starting off the show with a performance of Lifehouse’s “Everything,” Colton Dixon — up to this point known more for his big hair and skinny jeans — officially carved out position for himself: Idol’s resident religious rocker. Calling the tune his favorite “worship song,” Dixon broke down, called God his “king,” and channeled the Jets’ new addition by taking a very emotional knee. It was, well, everything a young religious Idol fan would hope for.  Of course, it was also something some original Dixon fans might not have expected. Since appearing on the series in season 10 — before being cut prior to the semifinals — Dixon had played the indie rocker card, connecting with texting viewers via covers of Paramore and White Lion. But his now very-public connection with God has placed him in an interesting position: He gets to enjoy the support of an entirely new fanbase… but risks alienating skeptical viewers more eager to roll their eyes than read a Bible. Not to mention the fact that his desire to publicize his beliefs increases his chances of being mocked by the snark demons that fuel Internet’s nastiest memes. Just ask Tebow, a public figure that singlehandedly revived the Denver Broncos 2011 season… while being relentlessly mocked on the Internet and by talk show hosts. But, then again, as the adage goes, there’s no such thing as bad PR. Tebow not only enjoyed success during the football season, but he also transformed into an icon for religious fans and enjoyed being the center of a rumor that named him the next Bachelor. (So there are worse things than losing your starting quarterback slot.)  But will Dixon enjoy the same success? Religious Idols have won in the past (Carrie Underwood, after all, did release a single called “Jesus Take the Wheel,” which, coincidentally, Hollie Cavanagh sang last night), but none put their love for God quite as front and center as Dixon, no matter how many gospel choirs backed them up. So will his dedication increase fans’ dedication, or simply turn a large, important segment away? I’d like to be optimistic and think viewers will vote based only on his vocals, but personality plays a huge role in this talent competition. Luckily for Dixon, his God connection might be enough to turn the Idol into a religious rock icon.  What say you? Are you hailing Dixon’s religious Idol awakening? More: ‘American Idol’ Recap: Billy Joel Night Claims a Victim ‘American Idol’ Recap: Colton Dixon Becomes The Piano Man Watch: Colton Dixon’s Special Performance Before ‘Idol’ Fame