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Archive for August, 2009

Shania Twain next guest judge for “Idol” auditions

The third guest judge for “Idol” is Shania Twain after Victoria Beckham and Mary J. Blige, according to mtv.com.

The country star will be in Chicago August 30 and 31. No Jessica Simpson! Thank goodness!

To TMZ, Paula Abdul said she has something lined up but nothing specific.

Continue reading Shania Twain next guest judge for “Idol” auditions »

Gettin’ booted from Idol Atlanta auditions at the W Hotel

The only media allowed to shoot video of photos of the 'Idol' auditons: Fox 5! CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

The only media allowed to shoot video of photos of the ‘Idol’ auditons: Fox 5! CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

I finally made it down to the W Hotel on day two of “Idol” auditions in Atlanta. I’m in the lobby right now trying to stay as low key as possible. There’s very little traffic in the main lobby. I can see from where I’m sitting that they are shooting on the second floor by the elevators. It’s fairly obvious — the lights, the camera men, crew with headsets and red “Idol” shirts (the audition cities on the backs like its a concert tour) gabbing into walkies.

People applaud when someone gets to the next round. Otherwise, every few minutes, I see contestants get escorted down some stairs into what looks like the confessional room for comments. At one point, I see the Fox publicist Alex Gillespie, a gal I’ve worked with since day one of the show in June of 2002. She didn’t see me. Probably just as well. I also saw a Fox 5 reporter. I guess when Alex says it’s a “closed” set, …

Continue reading Gettin’ booted from Idol Atlanta auditions at the W Hotel »

Paula Abdul angling for return to “Idol”? Idol concert stats including Atlanta sell out

Paula Abdul is not going to guest star on “Ugly Betty.” Negotiations fell apart. She clearly has a winner for a new agent, eh?

But perhaps she’s simply angling to get back in on “Idol,” as TMZ is reporting. Who knows?

We know she’s not in Atlanta right now. (I’m going to stop by the Idol auditions later today and see if I see anything at all. If I do, I’ll post something.) Fox 5, being part of Fox, got access:

- After 19 concerts, according to MJ’s blog, Atlanta (or more specifically, Duluth) was only the second “Idol” sellout this season — after Kris Allen’s hometown in Arkansas. The concert sold 10,050 seats. So go Atlanta! So far, the season eight tour (82% seats sold) is doing about the same as season seven (84% sold).

-Jordin Sparks, who opened for the Jonas Brothers (and came into Atlanta recently), is now joining a leg of the Britney Spears tour.

And thanks USA Today for linking to my Grease item last week!

-The new cast of “Dancing With the Stars” was announced …

Continue reading Paula Abdul angling for return to “Idol”? Idol concert stats including Atlanta sell out »

Next round of “American Idol” season 9 coming to Atlanta Sunday-Monday with Mary J. Blige as judge

Simon, Randy and Kara are coming to Atlanta after their stint in Boston this week. They should be here Sunday and Monday.

Will there be a guest fourth judge? People says it’s Mary J. Blige. Victoria Beckham worked Denver and Boston.

Unlike the more innocent early years, when I got to hang out with the judges and contestants, “Idol” (in this age of Twitpics and Facebook and YouTube) has made this portion of the auditions “closed,” meaning no media allowed. This doesn’t really square with me personally but alas, the “Idol” machine will do its best to hide the contestants away as long as possible.

Two years ago, “Idol” had such a paucity of good talent out of Atlanta, they were able to get this round done in one day instead of the usual two. They did it at the Georgia International Convention Center and I came on the second day when nobody was there. I’m not sure how many people made the final cut this time around.

I may try to go and check out the auditions this Sunday or …

Continue reading Next round of “American Idol” season 9 coming to Atlanta Sunday-Monday with Mary J. Blige as judge »

Taylor Hicks plays Teen Angel at Fox Theatre

At age 9, I purchased my first vinyl record: “Grease.” My childhood friend Vincent and I sang along to “Greased Lightnin’ ” and probably didn’t understand how really dirty the lyrics were. I saw the play in college. I attended the 20th anniversary screening of the movie in 1998 in a movie theater. I have seen the film at least 20 times.

So I was thrilled to use “Idol” and Taylor Hicks as an excuse to catch the national touring version of “Grease” at Fox Theatre Tuesday night. Hicks’ role isn’t big. He shows up as Teen Angel to croon “Beauty School Dropout,” (I took a bunch of photos) does a bit of “Grease” during the end of the musical and then gets a shot to sing “Seven Mile Breakdown.”

I had a hard time separating my rather concrete memories of the movie when watching the play. The dude playing Danny Zuko and the gal playing Sandy lacked the presence of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. I spent time wondering how the play and film changed the order of songs and how …

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Behind the scenes of how Paula Abdul and Idol parted ways

I will have photos and video from last night’s Taylor Hicks performance at the Fox Theatre in “Grease” later today. I’ve been busy with home renovation work and am only now getting to the always hungry Idol blog.

The New York Times went behind the scenes to see how Paula Abdul split from “Idol.”

Paula, in the meantime, met with ABC head honcho Steve McPherson about possibilities there.

The story makes it clear other networks want her and that perhaps her job prospects to get comparable pay is not so dim after all.

She also felt like she was disrespected by “Idol” over the years in terms of pay and lost endorsements due to insinuations by colleagues of her being on drugs and drinking, which she had strongly denied.

“Idol” offered $5 million. She wanted $10 million a year.

Two key quotes:

“Paula didn’t place as much importance on remaining on the show as some other people did,” said a person close to Ms. Abdul who, like several people interviewed for this article who were …

Continue reading Behind the scenes of how Paula Abdul and Idol parted ways »

Jennifer Hudson gives birth, Simon Cowell close to three-year deal

The Hollywood Reporter got the scoop on Jennifer Hudson’s baby.

His name is David Daniel Otunga, Jr., named for his father and Hudson’s fiancee. Hudson tells me he weighed in at seven pounds, fourteen ounces. And Jennifer and David, Sr., by the way, did not know the sex of the baby in advance. They bought blue and pink clothes, just in case!

She’s had a rough year after her family tragedy last fall. But she clearly has found a way to bounce back. Interestingly, she never officially “announced” her pregnancy.

And Simon Cowell has intimated in the past about leaving. But he’s not – at least for three more years, according to Hollywood Reporter.

“We’ve heard from Fox, who has asked us for approval for Simon Cowell to appear for three more years on ‘Idol,’ ” said chairman and CEO Robert Sillerman of CKX, parent company of “Idol” co-producer 19 Entertainment. “They, in their negotiations with Cowell, have asked us to pre-approve him not only for ‘American Idol’ ‘09, which has …

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Taylor Hicks interview for “Grease” show at Fox Theater August 11-16

AP

AP

Taylor Hicks three years ago said his life ambition was to live on a bus and just play music.

After winning “American Idol,” the prematurely gray-haired soul singer has gotten that wish. He has no house, no rent or mortgage, no utility bills. “I’ve been living out of a suitcase since 2006,” he said in an interview last month to promote his role as Teen Angel in the national tour of “Grease,” which is at the Fox Theatre. “My bills get sent to my parents.”

But even a vagabond like Hicks says he actually would to have roots again someday.

“I’d like to have some home setting in five years, some sort of anchor,” he said.

Of course, Birmingham is his hometown. But Atlanta, he said, is “like a second home,” given how many friends and family he has here. He will also make a return visit to Smith’s Olde Bar on Sunday after his final “Grease” performance. This is where he also performed in 2006 after his appearance on the “Idols Live” tour at Gwinnett Arena.

I took this shot of Taylor back in 2006 at Smith's. He'll be back there this Saturday night. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

I took this shot of …

Continue reading Taylor Hicks interview for “Grease” show at Fox Theater August 11-16 »

Abdul (who is in Peachtree City today) coming back? Fox says no. A fourth judge? Sounds like it

Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice said today that Paula Abdul is NOT coming back for sure. Here’s how AP wrote it:

Rice told the Television Critics Association on Thursday that the network made an offer it considered very fair to Abdul, but she decided not to return as a judge on the hit singing contest.

But for now, guests judges will fill in, including “I Kissed a Girl” singer Katy Perry and “Posh Spice” Victoria Beckham. This means the execs seem fixated on four judges. Blech.

The season nine audition rounds featuring the judges begin taping tomorrow.

From USA Today:

“Our intention is to have guest judges be female pop stars, female performers, female artists, and between now and January we will come up with a permanent solution on what we will do…and a replacement for Paula.”

Abdul is actually in Peachtree City today shooting a second episode of “Drop Dead Diva” on Lifetime. Her first guest role, playing a farcical dream judge, was taped a month ago and will air …

Continue reading Abdul (who is in Peachtree City today) coming back? Fox says no. A fourth judge? Sounds like it »

Post-Abdul fallout and reaction, Kat McPhee goes blonde

For JTesla and any fans of Katharine McPhee, here’s a teaser of her upcoming album cover. The season five runner up has gone blonde!

TMZ has Paula Abdul commenting on her departure from the show. She teases that Simon Cowell “misses me already.” (The embed code TMZ provided me didn’t work so I’m just linking.)

This L.A. Times commentator will miss Abdul’s loopiness.

Her mini-rants, apropos-of-nothing comments and drowsy confusions never had the comedic timing or control that marked a master. But then, “American Idol” was the vanguard of reality programming, on which nothing is supposed to be scripted. Abdul provided the first taste of what the citizenry now gorges itself on: live-action breakdowns.

And what will Paula do now that would even bring in $3 million a year? Nothing that I can fathom. How many baubles can she sell on Home Shopping Network? Her God-awful reality show “Hey Paula” proved nobody wants to see her hanging out with her stylist. She could make money …

Continue reading Post-Abdul fallout and reaction, Kat McPhee goes blonde »