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Archive for September, 2009

Fantasia wows Fox Theatre crowd in ‘The Color Purple,’ Diva duets

Fantasia takes a well-earned curtain call Tuesday night at the Fox Theatre.

Fantasia takes a well-earned curtain call Tuesday night at the Fox Theatre.

Fantasia has gotten oodles of praise over the past couple of years for her searing role as Celie, the uneducated black woman in rural Georgia from the 1930s in the musical version of Alice Walker’s classic book “The Color Purple.”

That praise is well earned. I caught her last night on opening night in Atlanta. (She’s here through Sept. 27). Celie is an extraordinarily difficult role, requiring a blend of innocence, pain and strength. The woman is raped, beaten down, separated from her sister, yet ultimately thrives. Fantasia’s personal journey to “Idol,” which included being beaten by her partner and rearing a child as a teen, gave her the blueprint to channel Celie.

She brings humor, she brings pathos and she can sing the bejesus out of the score. When she finally stands up to Albert, the man she was forced to marry, she sings, “I’m black, I’m poor, I’m ugly… but I’m heeeeere!” it’s a catharsis.

If …

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Fantasia talks about playing Celie in ‘The Color Purple’ at Fox Theatre, is top 24 back in play?

CREDIT: AP photo

CREDIT: AP photo

I’m attending ‘The Color Purple’ tonight starring Fantasia. She plays Celie and has gotten good reviews.

Although she got some bad press about missing performances last year while on Broadway, she explained to my colleague Howard Pousner that she had to have a tumor removed from her vocal cords.

She’s enjoying her national tour more than Broadway:

“I’m better and my vocals are so good,” the 25-year-old actress said. “And this time around with ‘The Color Purple,’ it’s very different.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

“The Color Purple”

Tuesday through Sept. 27 at the Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1:30 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, $29.50-$67.50, at Ticketmaster, 1-800-982-2787, www.ticketmaster.com.

-MJ did a little investigative reading between the lines yesterday and thinks based on comments made by exec Mike Darnell of Fox and Ellen DeGeneres that the “boy-girl” performance shows are returning. …

Continue reading Fantasia talks about playing Celie in ‘The Color Purple’ at Fox Theatre, is top 24 back in play? »

‘Idol’ pushes back Hollywood rounds to January, ‘Idol’ reax to Kanye West outburst at VMAs

The New York Times last week reported that the Hollywood rounds, normally taped in November, has been pushed back to January.

I always wondered why they did Hollywood so early. I guess logistically, it made life easier for the producers. Given holiday periods, December was probably more of a challenge.

The upside to doing Hollywood Week in January: fewer leaks. In the past couple of years, we often knew who made it to the top 50 or so weeks before the show aired. This will give sleuths less time to sleuth.

The downside for the producers: less time to design story lines or pick out who to focus on in the early audition rounds.

Either way, we won’t see the Hollywood rounds til well into February anyway. So leakage will occur regardless.

– MJ checked out the Tweet stream and found two rather harsh anti-Kanye West comments after his on-stage outburst last night on the VMAs. I posted a few others, too. (In case you missed it, Kanye jumped on stage while Taylor Swift was …

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More on the Ellen DeGeneres hire

We have learned in subsequent time since the announcement that Ellen DeGeneres was at the top of the list of producers to replace Paula Abdul and that they want her so badly, they have given her a (gasp!) five year contract.

USA Today did a lengthy reax piece today. Brian Mansfield, one of the writers, interviewed me but sadly, I didn’t make the cut. (MJ did. Congrats!)

“I expect her to be funny and do what she sees fit,” says Mike Darnell, who oversees Idol as president of alternative entertainment at Fox. “People get cynical about TV shows that never change. It’s important to keep Idol vital. Bringing in Ellen, the only person we pursued, does that.”

Paula tweeted her own reax, which is positive, of course:

I think Ellen will b a gr8 judge on Idol. She is wildly funny, talented and I wish her the best of luck!

TMZ posted a curious segment on “Ellen” with Simon Cowell from early May. I don’t think she knew anything at this point but you can read into her comments if you …

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Shocker! Ellen DeGeneres new fourth judge on ‘American Idol’

AP

AP

Fitting in the “What the…?” department, “American Idol” has hired Ellen DeGeneres as its fourth judge.

She was a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” and got generally poor reviews from bloggers. But she will definitely fit the “I will support you no matter how bad you are” mode of judging. Or you could call it compassion. She’ll bring some level of humor, too.

From the Fox press release:

“I’m thrilled to be the new judge on AMERICAN IDOL,” said DeGeneres. ”I’ve watched since the beginning, and I’ve always been a huge fan. So getting this job is a dream come true, and think of all the money I’ll save from not having to text in my vote.”

Ellen DeGeneres as the fourth “idol” judge

  • She’s a vibrant personality, should make things interesting
  • Ugh! Why not just have Dr. Phil as the fourth judge?
  • Well, maybe she can hold the seat until Paula Abdul comes back

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What do you think? Ellen has no music background besides her vague …

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Jennifer Hudson works Oprah, Carrie Underwood’s two CMA noms,Jordin Sparks’ ‘got milk’

Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson performed yesterday during a public concert in that fine city to kick off the 24th season of Oprah. She did “Best of My Love” and “I’m Every Woman.”

Jordin Sparks joined the celebrity cavalcade that has done a “Got Milk” campaign. Did anyone say, “Photoshop”? Her single “Battlefield” appears to have peaked at No. 7 on the top 40 charts. It’s not a bad song but not quite as good as her first three singles from her first album. Daughtry appears to have peaked as well at No. 9 with “No Surprise.” Kelly Clarkson has entered the top 30 with “Already Gone,” which is gaining airplay but not at midlevel pace, not a rapid pace. Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova,” which leaked last week and forced the label to early ship the song to radio, is already at No. 28 on the country chart. I predict her eighth no. 1 hit by Halloween. Bucky Covington’s “I Want My Life Back” has peaked at No. 28 and is slipping.

-Carrie Underwood received two CMA nominations: …

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UPDATE: Jennifer Hudson joins VH1 Divas, season one’s Jim Verraros gets hitched to his partner, Ace Young on Jerry Lewis telethon

Yah! We’ve got some news so I’m updating this blog entry now:

Our favorite “Idol” diva (as noted in the poll I did here a couple weeks ago) Jennifer Hudson rightly joins Jordin Sparks and Kelly Clarkson. Paula Abdul hosts. She should shake the rafters far more than, say, Miley Cyrus.

Other special guests: Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper and Martina McBride. The show will air Sept. 17 at 9 p.m. live.

Press release quote:

“We are excited that Jennifer Hudson will share her award-winning talent with our ‘VH1 Divas’ audience next week. Adding Jennifer to our roster of young yet hugely successful performers guarantees that the show will truly be a night to remember,” said Tom Calderone, President, VH1. “We can’t wait for our viewers to enjoy the performances that will reflect the talent, hard work and tenacity that has come to define this new generation of divas.”

JVcoverart

You know it is when I’m reporting about the gay marriage of Jim Verraros (with Bill Brennan in the …

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Simon Cowell misses Paula Abdul. Awww…

Extra nabbed Simon Cowell for his thoughts on life at the judge’s table minus Paula Abdul.

The show, he said is “different,” and “I miss her, of course.”

The tough judge doesn’t want to “get in the middle” of the “American Idol” execs and Abdul, but he dished that the chemistry between the judges is different without her. “Extra’s” Terri Seymour asked Cowell to explain and he bluntly answered, “It’s like comparing a carrot to a banana.”

Today, I think, is the final day of the judge’s auditions with Avril Lavigne. The 100-plus who made it through will go to Hollywood in November or early December.

I also watched Paula’s performance on “Drop Dead Diva.” (Lifetime sent me an advance copy). I did hear and watch what she did live a few weeks back in Peachtree City. She plays a faux judge in a dream sequence where she shoes off a judge’s robe with sequined pants and high heels. Her comic timing is surprisingly good. Check it out Sunday, Sept. 13 on Lifetime at 9 …

Continue reading Simon Cowell misses Paula Abdul. Awww… »

New Carrie Underwood single ‘Cowboy Casanova’ out

Good ol’ Carrie Underwood has album No. 3 coming out November 3 called “Play On.”

She’s been on a roll with 7 No. 1 singles and two No. 2 singles on the country charts so far over two albums. That’s an incredible track record.

Her latest is called “Cowboy Casanova.” It’s a hard-hitting dynamic honky-tonk style song with No. 1 written all over it. No junior slump for her if this is any indication what album 3 will offer up.

Continue reading New Carrie Underwood single ‘Cowboy Casanova’ out »

Avril Lavigne final guest judge for ‘Idol,’ Danny Gokey signs with RCA Nashville

n this March 30, 2008 file photo, Avril Lavigne performs at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. CREDIT: AP

In this March 30, 2008 file photo, Avril Lavigne performs at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. CREDIT: AP

Avril Lavigne will be the final guest judge in Los Angeles after Katy Perry.

Lavigne started as a snotty teen pop singer (think “Sk8ter Boi”) and has matured a bit, though she still seen as a young pop singer with decent chops and a mildly rebellious ‘tude. I like her. I hope she is a tough judge, as Katy Perry promises to be.

-Danny Gokey, USA Today reports, has signed with RCA Nashville through 19 Recordings. This is the first time “Idol” has signed the top 4. Clearly, he is going country.

Danny Gokey’s best genre of music

  • Country
  • Pop
  • R&B
  • Gospel
  • Something else

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“We absolutely love Danny,” says Sony Music Nashville chairman Joe Galante, who praises the “soulful edge” in the 29-year-old singer’s gravelly voice. “We haven’t had anybody like that (in country) since Ronnie Milsap or T. Graham Brown.”

- Adam …

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