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Archive for February, 2012

Clay Aiken debuts on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

Clay Aiken is all business on "Celebrity Apprentice"

Clay Aiken is all business on "Celebrity Apprentice"

Clay Aiken made his debut appearance last night on the latest crazy edition of “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Rumors are that Aiken does quite well on the show, taped last fall. Working under project manager Paul Teutel Sr. selling celebrity sandwiches in Manhattan for the first challenge, he showed enough chutzpah to keep the rough-and-tumble “American Chopper” bike maker at bay. Aiken took money at the register and was quite savvy at upselling customers for more cash. In the end,  it didn’t matter. Teutel had one big $300,000 donor in his back pocket that made the entire competition superfluous and the men safe for the week. In the boardroom, Teutel did manage to raise George Takei’s hackles by calling him “meek,” though it’s hard to say if Teutel was funneling a gay stereotype, an Asian stereotype or both.

I anticipate other celebrities will under-estimate Aiken’s smarts and drive early on but he’ll show moxie in the boardroom …

Continue reading Clay Aiken debuts on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ »

‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ recap, season 4, episode 14: Kandi gets mad

rhoa_south_africa_a_lAt the end of last week’s episode, the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” clan set aside their usual idiocies, jealousies and arguments after meeting with the poorest of the poor in South Africa. The afterglow continues during the first moments of tonight’s episode.

“We are very blessed,” said a relaxed and unusually chipper NeNe Leakes.

“Some of our squabbles are miniscule in comparison,” voice-of-reason Phaedra Parks said. “We forget how fortunate we are as individuals.”

(Except for painfully self-absorbed Marlo Hampton, who complains about raw shrimp while Phaedra is uttering those lines.)

But we all know that if everything remained Kumbaya, we’d have no TV show. The tinder for this show is conflict, however ridiculous it may be.

The women first hit a museum, where they learn that women in the South African Khosa tribe in the old days were “picked” by the men, whether they wanted them or not. (That would make for a very twisted “Real Housewives of 19th Century South …

Continue reading ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ recap, season 4, episode 14: Kandi gets mad »

Bert’s Big Adventure celebrates 10 years helping sick kids

Stacey and Bert Weiss have taken 110 sick kids and their families to Disney World over the past 10 years. The families compiled a scrapbook for them. CREDIT: Rodney Ho

Stacey and Bert Weiss have taken 110 sick kids and their families to Disney World over the past 10 years. The families compiled a scrapbook for them. CREDIT: Rodney Ho

Q100’s Bert Weiss is best known for leading a successful morning show focused on relationships and pop culture.

But over ten years, he and his wife Stacey have taken more than 110 terminally and/or chronically ill children and their families on a five-day vacation to Walt Disney World through his non-profit Bert’s Big Adventure. Each year, he raises hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct and in-kind donations to make it happen.

And these are families so sucked dry by medical bills, a vacation would otherwise have been a mirage. This trip gives the kids memories for a lifetime and the parents a rare break from the difficulties of raising children with special needs.

Yesterday, Weiss, his team and this year’s 12 hand-picked families flew on a flight donated by ExpressJet to Orlando. I caught up with Weiss …

Continue reading Bert’s Big Adventure celebrates 10 years helping sick kids »

Ways to watch Whitney Houston’s funeral Saturday at noon

Whitney Houston in 2009. CREDIT: AP

Whitney Houston in 2009. CREDIT: AP

Whitney Houston’s funeral is going to be a significantly smaller, private affair than that of Michael Jackson or James Brown. It will be held at Houston’s childhood church, New Hope Baptist Church, in Newark, N.J.

But it will be readily available to catch via Web, TV or radio.

Here are some of your sundry options:

On television: BET, Centric and E! will be airing the funeral live starting at 11:30 a.m. EST. CNN will begin coverage at 11 a.m., anchored by by Piers Morgan, Soledad O’Brien, and Don Lemon. HLN will have anchors Ryan Smith and Susan Hendricks with Jane Velez-Mitchell and AJ Hammer in Newark starting at noon. New Atlanta-based network Bounce TV and Fuse TV will the funeral beginning at noon. Fox News will cover it as a live news event with Uma Pemmaraju and Jon Scott anchoring and correspondent Kelly Wright outside the church.MSNBC coverage begins at noon with Alex Witt anchoring.

On radio:R&B station Kiss 104.1 will air a …

Continue reading Ways to watch Whitney Houston’s funeral Saturday at noon »

‘American Idol’ recap, season 11: Vegas round

AMERICAN IDOL: Las Vegas Round: Contestants perform in front of the judges at the Cirque du Soleil's Viva ELVIS Theatre in Las Vegas airing Thursday, Feb. 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

AMERICAN IDOL: Las Vegas Round: Contestants perform in front of the judges at the Cirque du Soleil's Viva ELVIS Theatre in Las Vegas airing Thursday, Feb. 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Tough vocal coach Peggi Blu got it right tonight: “Get a grip!”

Surprisingly, there is no fainting whatsoever in Vegas – just lots of good singing.  We hear no forgotten lyrics, not a lot of bum notes but plenty of tough cuts as “Idol” goes from 69 to 42.

The focus tonight over two hours is on the singing, not the drama.  And the music was old, far older than the contestants: classics from the 1950s and 1960s more in the standards department – Bobby Vinton, the Flamingos and the like.

We hear almost everybody who will ultimately make the top 24. And there are stand outs. I was especially impressed by Ariele Sprague, David Leathers, Brielle Von Hugel, Eben Franckewitz, Jermaine Jones, Jen Hirsh and especially Joshua Ledet.

Ratings Wednesday were about the same as a …

Continue reading ‘American Idol’ recap, season 11: Vegas round »

Jim Norton interview for Punchline appearance Feb. 16-18, 2012

Jim Norton provides Jay Leno with regular comedic bits. CREDIT: NBC

Jim Norton provides Jay Leno with regular comedic bits. CREDIT: NBC

Jim Norton is one of the easiest comics I’ve ever had the pleasure to talk to – and I’ve interviewed more than 150.

He’ll answer anything with a level of sincerity and honesty that’s refreshing. He knows his place in the comedy zeitgeist and harbors no jealousy when peers such as Patton Oswalt or Louie C.K. rise in the ranks.

“Louis is not a leading man handsome guy,” said Norton, who will be at the Punchline Feb. 16 to 18 (ticket info below). “He’s a creepy redhead and dresses like ****. It gives me new-found faith in the public and the ability for a guy to be true to himself and not sell out and get where he belongs. It’s a great thing.”

And how about his doppelganger Oswalt?  “He’s a good friend of mine. He’s a better actor than me and a more successful stand up with more fans. We are both short and misshapen. That’s why they lump us together!” (Oswalt’s a great interview, too. Read …

Continue reading Jim Norton interview for Punchline appearance Feb. 16-18, 2012 »

Kim Fields (’The Facts of Life,’ ‘Living Single’) goes dramatic in GMC’s ‘A Cross to Bear’ Feb. 18

Kim Fields and Danielle Deadwyler star in "A Cross to Bear." CREDIT: GMC

Kim Fields and Danielle Deadwyler star in "A Cross to Bear." CREDIT: GMC

Which Kim Fields role did you prefer?

  • Tootie on “The Facts of Life”
  • Regine on “Living Single”

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Kim Fields is best known for her comedic roles as sweet Tootie in “The Facts of Life” in the 1980s and gossipy boutique worker Regine in “Living Single” in the 1990s.

In 2009, she moved to Atlanta to work behind the scenes as a director for Tyler Perry’s TBS sitcoms “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns.”

But she jumped at the opportunity to be in front of the camera again when Atlanta-based GMC cable network approached her about a juicy dramatic role in a TV movie called “A Cross to Bear,” which debuts Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.

“I wanted to do something with a little bit more edge to it,” Fields said, “something I can sink my teeth into.”

In the film, Fields plays Joan, a former nurse who runs a shelter for battered, abused and homeless women in East Atlanta. She takes in …

Continue reading Kim Fields (’The Facts of Life,’ ‘Living Single’) goes dramatic in GMC’s ‘A Cross to Bear’ Feb. 18 »

‘American Idol’ recap: season 11, Hollywood round, part 3

AMERICAN IDOL: Hollywood: Over 300 contestants made it to Hollywood and only 70 will survive.  CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

AMERICAN IDOL: Hollywood: Over 300 contestants made it to Hollywood and only 70 will survive. CR: Michael Becker / FOX

Let the fainting begin.

“Idol” amped up more of the dehydrated/sick crew, most of whom didn’t make it past the group round. But you can’t blame them. This is what you’ll likely remember the most from the Hollywood rounds.

Besides, trying to recap the “group”/”solo” rounds is an exercise in painful reading because there are so many names, so much happening.

Hour one, there are 42 groups featuring more than 170 singers. We see and hear seven groups more or less in full and just a handful of others in passing. Hour two, when there are 98 singers left, we hear nine of them, most of them quite good. Nearly all make it to the top 70 and I anticipate most of those eight will end up in the top 42 and even the top 24 (Else, why feature them to us now?)

There is clearly some talent but it’s quite a blur. Reed Grimm officially gets the most airtime and his deceptively …

Continue reading ‘American Idol’ recap: season 11, Hollywood round, part 3 »

TBS cancels ‘Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns,’ gives ‘For Better or Worse’ 35 episodes

for-better-or-for-worse

Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns being canceled

  • Too bad! I enjoyed it.
  • It’s about time!

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After a test run of 10 episodes last last year, TBS has given “Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse” a 35-episode pick up while officially retiring “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns.”

Perry’s first TV show, “House of Payne,” which wrapped production last year, is still airing new episodes but will end its run at some unspecified date. “Payne” and “Meet the Browns” were family comedies with both slapstick and occasional serious moments. “For Better or Worse” is Perry’s first adult relationship-type dramedy featuring no laugh track and a one-camera set up.

Grade “For Better or Worse”

  • A – Quality entertainment
  • B – Decent Perry material
  • C – Could use serious improvement but still worth catching
  • F – Subpar

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TBS aired back-to-back episodes of “For Better or Worse” for five weeks in November and December. The …

Continue reading TBS cancels ‘Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns,’ gives ‘For Better or Worse’ 35 episodes »

Video: Talking Fred Armisen, Richard Blais, Kim Fields

My weekly video with Brittany Umar in which we discuss “Portlandia: the Tour,” Richard Blais’ latest offerings and Kim Fields back in acting form on GMC Saturday with “A Cross to Bear.”

Continue reading Video: Talking Fred Armisen, Richard Blais, Kim Fields »