Monthly Archives

January 2009

Scores and Snores — Vote on Entertainment News

Here’s when I do a roundup of entertainment news from the past week and you tell me if it excites you (Score!) or if it’s a baaaad idea (Snore). Vote and see if others share your opinions and post additional thoughts in the comments section.

(Warning: The last poll, #7, includes a spoiler about House so don’t vote on that if you don’t want to know.)

  1. [polldaddy poll=1329748]
  2. [polldaddy poll=1329702]
  3. [polldaddy poll=1329969]
  4. [polldaddy poll=1329924]
  5. [polldaddy poll=1329813]
  6. [polldaddy poll=1329783]
  7. [polldaddy poll=1329917]

 

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PETA's Controversial, Sexy Ad about Eating Veggies (video)

Have you seen this PETA ad yet? NBC has refused to air it during the Super Bowl this weekend, deeming it too sexy for the following reasons: (Warning—explicit language involved!)

  •  licking pumpkin
  •  touching her breast with her hand while eating broccoli
  •  pumpkin from behind between legs
  •  rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin
  •  screwing herself with broccoli (fuzzy)
  • asparagus on her lap appearing as if it is ready to be inserted into vagina
  •  licking eggplant
  • rubbing asparagus on breast

After reading the list of complaints, I thought, “Wow, those advertising standards people are thorough!”

I was watching CNN when they had viewers call in to express their opinions (after CNN played an edited clip) and it was interesting to hear opposing viewpoints. One man with four daughters said it was disgusting since it exploits women. A woman caller said it’s no racier than the Victoria’s Secret commercials and fashion show and might get her teenage son to eat more vegetables! 

I agree with the woman. This ad isn’t any more titillating than a lot of things I see on network TV and and its message is ultimately positive: Veggies are good for you. It doesn’t matter if NBC doesn’t air it; the controversy has already helped PETA get its point across. 

But you don’t have to be left out. Click below to see the spot then post a comment and tell me what you think. Remember, get the kids out of the room first or you’ll have some ‘splaining to do!

‘Veggie Love’: PETA’s Banned Super Bowl Ad

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AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 Recap — Salt Lake City

Now we’re talking. Tonight’s show had some very interesting, unique personalities who have Top 24 potential.

The Best:

  • Frankie Jordan, a 23-year-old mom (with the cutest baby!) who stood out with Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” She looked like Vanessa Carlton but had a Corinne Bailey Rae vibe. She’s spirited and cute and has a very likable persona.
  • Megan Corkrey, 23, another mom, recently divorced, with gorgeous eyes, beautiful mane of long hair and a blanket of tattoos on her right arm. She sang “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from the musical Showboat, not the most contemporary of songs, but her voice was so distinctive it’s undefinable, her range was impressive, and did I mention she was gorgeous? She’s off to Hollywood.
  • David Osmond, 29, who’s living with MS. He’s Alan Osmond’s son (Donny and Marie’s nephew) but made it not because of his name; he could actually sing. Man, I really hope he stays healthy because the competition is going to be rough.
  • Rose Flack, 17, the tearjerker of the day. Her parents both died within the last 4 years and she’s been living with a friend’s family. She’s a barefoot hippie wearing platinum blonde pseudo-dreads and a tie-dyed dress. Her look was already distinctive and I thought if she could sing, she’d be golden. Sure enough, she sang Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” with a maturity beyond her age and a soulful ache that made it believable. I hope luck will smile on this girl in Hollywood because so far, it seems to have kicked her in the teeth.

And the Next David Archuleta Is:

  • Austin Sisneros, 17, an adorable little blond version of Archie. He made boring song choices, first Train’s “When I Look to the Sky” then Raffi’s “It Takes a Village,” but he’s a smiley, nice young boy with a big, mature voice. The tween girls are going to go nuts.

Most Ridiculous “Lucky” Charm:

  • Why did Chris Kirkham bring his friend dressed in a pink bunny suit? Did he think he was auditioning for A Christmas Story 2? The whole thing was not only weird, it backfired. The judges liked the bunny friend more than they liked Kirkham.

Most In Need of a Massage:

  • Tara Matthews, one of the most tense singers I’ve seen. She stood around stiffly, with her shoulders around her ears, and was completely humorless. Decked out entirely in black—dress, garters and gloves—she insisted she wasn’t trying to make a statement. She sang an awful version of “One Day I’ll Fly Away” from Moulin Rouge and then gave the camera the finger when rejected. Classy.

I think Salt Lake City provided the strongest batch of candidates since Phoenix. What’d you think? Check back tomorrow night for recaps of New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico!

(Don’t miss out on any American Idol discussions this season—Subscribe to Obsessions of a Pop Culture Nerd by Email)

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AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 Recap — Jacksonville, FL

The judges were on crack tonight. Right off the bat, they put through two super-cheesy contestants whom I’d bet will crash and burn in Hollywood while giving several good singers a hard time.  What is up?!

A rundown:

  • Joshua Ulloa, who sang Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” complete with annoying vocal sound effects as if he were a DJ scratching a record. Even if he’d omitted all that scratchy wackiness, his voice was average at best. But they all voted him through without much fuss. What?!!
  • The next girl, Sharon Wilbur, came in with her shih tzu and sang an unrecognizable version of Karen Carpenter’s “Superstar.” She had interesting husky tones but all she sang was “baby, baby, baby, baby” over and over. I said, “There are other words in the song!” (Yes, I talk to the TV while watching this show.) Didn’t matter—she got through. My jaw fell on the floor and rolled under the couch in protest. To borrow Randy’s favorite phrase this season: “Bizarre season 8!”
  • Dana Moreno, who strangled Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire.” Oh, please, no. Finally, the judges agreed with me.
  • Kaneswa Finnie, a 16-year-old who was really loved by her mother. The came into the room all confident then butchered Anita Baker’s “Rhapture of Love.” She did musical sound effects between the lyrics, too! (She and Joshua must jam together.) She claimed her mama thinks she’s good so the judges called Mom into the room and Simon asked her point blank if she thought Kaneswa was good. What’s Mom gonna say in front of her kid, for goodness sakes?! Mom finally said, “She sings all over Jacksonville,” which is not an answer at all but the best thing she could’ve said.
  • Julissa Veloz, a “candidata” (candidate) in the Miss Florida Latina USA beauty pageant. She actually wore a tiara and sash in the room. She seemed totally cheesy until the opened her mouth to sing Whitney’s “I Have Nothing” and I went, “Damn!” She was amazing! Such a powerful voice and remarkable control! It was so obvious this girl could mop the floor with Justin Guarini Guy but the judges hemmed and hawed before finally letting her through.
  • Darin Darnell, who started out really happy, smiling, talking to everyone, dancing, making friends in the crowd. Then a guy he just met got rejected by the judges and Darnell started to fall apart. When he went into the room, he could barely hold back tears. When the judges asked what was upsetting him, he said, “Everything.” Huh? Is he bipolar? I’m worried. He sang Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Good-bye” completely off-key and I don’t think it’s because of the crying.
  • Naomi Sykes, a blonde who made such a mess of Minnie Ripperton’s “Loving You,” even her friend, who was sitting on Randy’s lap in the room (don’t ask), could barely prevent herself from laughing.
  • Jasmine Murray, a beautiful 16-year-old who had the most ebullient, supportive family. Her mama and sisters came with her and after Jasmine got a golden ticket for belting out Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” her family whooped and hollered, held hands and jumped for joy. The excitement was contagious.
  • George Ramirez, an 18-year-old physics student with a jungle-man beard who sang Katrina and the Waves’s bouncy “Walking on Sunshine” like he was performing at a funeral. At first, I had no idea what song he was singing because he drained it of all lightness. And melody, too.
  • T.K. Hash, who sang “Imagine” with wayyy too many runs. When he got to the line, “No need for greed or hunger,” I was thinking, “No need for runs or riffing.” But his voice was good and he got through.
  • Michael Perrelli, who plays guitar everywhere he goes. Except in the audition room. When he found out he couldn’t accompany himself on guitar, he panicked. But he finally belted out a decent rendition of Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper.” The judges were on the fence so he started to beg and that’s when it all went wrong. Simon said Perrelli’s pleading made him mad (what?! Everyone begs!) and eventually they all said no. That made me mad. This guy wasn’t great but he was better than Shih Tzu Girl or Justin Guarini Guy. Foul!
  • Finally, my favorite contestant of the evening—Anne-Marie Boskovich. This pretty brunette came in wearing a perfectly acceptable denim jacket over denim miniskirt with a white cami underneath. She said she was a huge fan of Kara’s and sang a few bars of a song Kara had sung at a Nashville event Boskovich attended. Just from those few notes, which did not represent her official audition, you could tell she had a gorgeous voice. I’d have said yes on the spot. But nooo. The judges said she didn’t exude a “star persona” so she needed to go away and come back “as a different person.” The girl went out, conveniently found a makeup artist walking around on the streets (?) and went from Sandy to Pink Lady. She came back, sang Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly” in a crystal clear, Carrie Underwood voice and got a ticket. That’s a good thing but it was ridiculous how they made her jump through hoops, especially since they’d been saying yes to sub-par people all day!

What did you think of tonight’s show? Who were your faves? Did you think the judges were fair to Michael Perelli and Anne-Marie Boskovich? Tune in tomorrow for auditions in Salt Lake City!

(Don’t miss out on any American Idol discussions this season—Subscribe to Obsessions of a Pop Culture Nerd by Email)

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Production Begins on Tintin Movie!

tintinThis is probably the most exciting movie news I’ve heard in a long time. How long? About thirty years.

I grew up reading Tintin in Vietnam, where the books had been translated into Vietnamese. Much to my chagrin, I had to leave them all (and everything else) behind when I left home. Luckily, they were easy to find in the States and I got to read them all over again in English. I’m such a fanatic that, besides the books, I also have Tintin glasses, mugs, T-shirts and calendars. I want to go to Belgium just to see all things Herge- and Tintin-related.

I’ve always thought the exotic adventures would make great movies. There was an animated series in the ’90s but Tintin’s voice was too high for me so I couldn’t really watch. Then, a few years ago, I heard Steven Spielberg was teaming up with Peter Jackson to produce and direct a trilogy of Tintin films.

I was so excited I almost wet myself. These are two of the best directors working today. I waited with bated breath to see who would be cast as the boy reporter and was happy to hear it was Thomas Sangster, a fine young actor probably best known as Liam Neeson’s son in Love Actually.

jamiebellBut then the budget issues and delays happened and Sangster had to bow out and I wondered if the projects would ever happen. Well, Variety reported yesterday that not only has the first movie, titled The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, started production in L.A. with Spielberg at the helm, Jamie Bell has inherited the role of Tintin and Daniel Craig will be the villainous pirate Red Rackham!

All my friends know I have a serious jones for Craig so his joining the franchise is almost more than I can bear. And I’ve liked Bell since Billy Elliott (and most recently in Defiance, with Craig) so I think he’s a good choice. At first, I felt he might be a little too tough but then I remembered Tintin got into quite a few fistfights and knows his way around a gun so perhaps not. The important thing is, Bell is a fine actor.

andy_serkis1The awesomeness doesn’t stop there. Andy Serkis, who’s so talented he can play anyone or anything, had previously been announced as Captain Haddock and the hilarious duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) will be the bumbling Thompson and Thomson, respectively. This is all very good but I’m also anxious to see who gets cast as Snowy!

Peter Jackson is set to direct the second movie while Guillermo Del Toro and James Cameron are rumored as possible candidates for the third if the first two make money. If I had to make up a dream list of directors, I couldn’t have come up with better ones. Pan’s Labyrinth was mind-blowing, as was Titanic. Let’s hope Spielberg’s and Jackson’s films do well enough so that we get that third installment. I know I’ll be doing my part in shelling out money at the box office.

Any other Tintin fans out there? How do you feel about Jamie Bell as Tintin and the rest of the cast?

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SAG Awards — Funniest & Lamest Moments, Plus Fashion!

Though I got to vote for these awards, the show kinda bored me. Out of the 15 categories, I’d voted for 9 of the winners. If you just want a list, click here. If you want to hear about the funny and weird moments, read on.

I’m handing out my Nerdies for the following categories (I know it’s a nerdy name for an “award” but that’s the point):

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Best Oh-No-She-Didn’t Moment: Tina Fey’s acceptance speech for female actor in a comedy series. She said someday her daughter Alice will be old enough to watch 30 Rock on the Internet and ask, “What do you mean you don’t get residuals for this?” Fey then said, “Take care of me when I’m old and broke!” She’s referring, of course, to the current bitter discourse between actors and producers who don’t want to pay residuals for Internet usage. She was able to land a punch while still being funny and that’s why she’s cleaning up on the awards circuit.

Most Likely to Owe Tina Fey a Residual Check: When accepting the TV drama ensemble award for Mad Men, Jon Hamm thanked their “dozens of viewers” and got a laugh. Fey said the exact same thing when her series won the best comedy Emmy in 2007. Even recycled, Fey’s lines are funny.

Most Likely to Make You Feel Like a Slacker: 7-year-old Aaron Hart, who won an Actor as part of Mad Men‘s cast. At seven years old, I think I was still putting my clothes on backwards.

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Funniest Unintentional Transition: John Krasinski and Amy Poehler doing an amusing melodramatic bit (Krasinski: “I swear to God, if you keep pushing me away, next time I will not come back!” Poehler: “Fine, leave and take your broken dreams with you!”) before reading the nominees for Outstanding Female Actor in a Drama Series. Cut to a clip of Sally Field from Brothers & Sisters, doing the exact same kind of over-the-top acting they were parodying! Plus, she won!

Hottest Male I Saw All Night: Was it wrong of me to think, “Yowza!” when I saw a clip of a young, shirtless Paul Newman in the In Memorium montage? I knew I was supposed to be all sad and reverential (and I was) but dang, he was smokin’! 

Most Unsung Heroes: Brian and Susan, crafts services people thanked by Hugh Laurie for making “the finest cheesy eggs this side of the Rio Grande.” Forget agents and publicists—I second Laurie’s notion that without cheesy eggs in the morning, an actor cannot do his job! By the way, I love, love, love that Laurie won. My friends were saying, “Jon Hamm” and I was all, “Uh-uh, Hugh rules.” 

meryl_streep

Best Person to Teach Speech-Giving Classes: Meryl Streep, who was exuberant, funny, classy, heartfelt, and eloquent without having to resort to lists and sheets of paper. Plus, though she didn’t expect to win (saying she didn’t even buy a dress and showing her pants as proof), there was no hyperventilating involved. Are you taking notes, Kate? 

Most in Need of Streep’s Speech-Giving Classes: Jane Krakowski, who accepted the outstanding comedy ensemble award on behalf of the 30 Rock cast and should never be allowed to again. She said though she’d previously won as part of the Ally McBeal cast, this cast was “a thousand times heavier.” I’m assuming she was referring to the skinny women in the McBeal cast and their rumored weight issues but the remark was lame and absolutely unnecessary. Her “joke” was the “heaviest” dud of the evening. 

america2Most Unfortunate Name Confusion: America Ferrera, in her dull-colored Vera Wang with an inexplicable black tulle sash across her bodice that made her look like she was trying to be Miss America. The tulle also snaked around her back to give her a huge goiter there. As usual, her hair and make-up were flawless but she definitely needs a different stylist.

dev-patel1Most Improved from the Golden Globes: Freida Pinto. In her flowing lavender gown and upswept hair, she looks like a beautiful princess who’s never been anywhere near a slum. This is a much better look than the weirdly bunched chartreuse bag she wore to the Globes.

Best Dressed (Male): Dev Patel, in his cool and sharp retro tux that made me think of Sammy Davis Jr.

Actress Christina Applegate arrives at the 15th Annual Screen AcBest Dressed (Female): Christina Applegate. I loved how bold she was with this look—the color, the jewelry, the hair and make-up, it’s all good. She looked like no one else there.

What were the best and weirdest moments for you? Who did you think looked great and who was in need of a makeover? Post in the comments!

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Winners of DOUBT script

Congrats to ShelleyP, Julien, Debbie DeNice, Allison and Noreen for getting the correct answer to my trivia question. Oprah Winfrey said she campaigned for the role of Mrs. Miller in Doubt but was turned down by writer/director John Patrick Shanley. The role went to Viola Davis, who scorched the screen in the two scenes she was in.

Kudos to Oprah for freely admitting that even she can be rejected and to Shanley for being brave enough to say no to the Queen of all Media!

Scripts have been emailed so please check your inbox (or spam box) if you haven’t already. Thanks to all who played (ScriptPimp and ART Ent, your guesses of Sean Young and P. Diddy were funny!) and stay tuned for more giveaways!

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THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Gets Under Your Skin

Over the holidays, I stumbled upon a book called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in my brother-in-law’s library. After gobbling it down in a few days (if eyeballs can swallow, that is), I was glad I read it on break when I didn’t have much to do. As it was, I was angry at myself every time I had to stop to eat, bathe or sleep.

At first, Stieg Larsson’s novel seems like two stories in one book—a financial journalist hired to investigate a 40-year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of a teenaged girl from an island (very “Ten Little Indians”-ish), and a waif with possible Asperger’s Syndrome who works part-time at a security firm while trying to get out from under an abusive legal guardian. These two plotlines eventually converge when the titular girl gets hired by the journalist to help him with his investigation, which starts out as just a front for him to get back at a greedy and powerful businessman who put him in jail, but turns out to be a very dangerous task which puts the journalist’s life at risk.

If all that sounds confusing, don’t worry. Larsson explains everything to you in 465 pages and even includes a helpful chart of the missing teenager’s family (relatives who were on the island the day she disappeared are suspects). There’s a lot of story to tell, a lot of themes and characters to juggle but Larsson does it masterfully. He makes it clear how he feels about misogynists, sadists, cowards, and corrupt bastards. The book is smart, unflinching, twisty in its mystery and—the most obvious sign it’s a notable tale—haunting. Lisbeth Salander, the girl with said tattoo, is a singular creation. She’s difficult, brilliant, aloof, tough, scary and I can’t stop thinking about her long after I finished the book.

It’s a good thing I’ll get to see more of her since Tattoo is only the first book in Larsson’s Millenium trilogy. Luckily, he turned in all three manuscripts to his publisher at the same time so the wait between books won’t be long (the second installment, The Girl Who Played with Fire, will be available in the U.S. this July and is already out in the UK). Tragically, Larsson died of a heart attack before the first book could be published and become an international bestseller (the books were translated from Swedish to English by “Reg Keeland,” a pseudonym of Steven T. Murray). Larsson the man may be gone but his compelling, searing voice resonates in the work he left behind.

Rating: Brilliant

(UPDATE: Read my review of the Tattoo movie here.)

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Trivia Question for DOUBT Script Giveaway

It’s time for another giveaway! I will email a Doubt script to the first five people on my subscribers list who can correctly answer the question below. John Patrick Shanley has already won a Pulitzer for the play and was just Oscar nominated for his screen adaptation.

Remember, you have to be a subscriber to win. Feel free to take a stab at it but if you’re not on the list, you won’t be receiving a script. You’ll just be giving the answer to someone who is! Click here to subscribe.

Don’t worry about spamming—I’d rather ram a rusty nail in my ear than blitz you with junk. Once you’re on the list, you’ll be eligible for future prizes and I’ve got other Oscar-nominated scripts to give away!

Here’s the question: John Patrick Shanley said no to which huge celeb when he/she asked for a role in the movie version of Doubt?

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81st Oscar Nominations are Here! My Predictions and Reactions

I can’t believe I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to hear them announced live. I haven’t seen this side of morning since…never. Here are nominees in some of the major categories (winners will be announced Feb. 22):

Best Picture

Best Actor

  • Richard Jenkins—The Visitor
  • Frank Langella—Frost/Nixon
  • Sean Penn—Milk
  • Brad Pitt—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Mickey Rourke—The Wrestler

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actor

  • Josh Brolin—Milk
  • Robert Downey Jr.—Tropic Thunder
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman—Doubt
  • Heath Ledger—The Dark Knight
  • Michael Shannon—Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams—Doubt
  • Penelope Cruz—Vicky Christina Barcelona
  • Viola Davis—Doubt
  • Taraji P. Henson—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Marisa Tomei—The Wrestler

Best Director

  • David Fincher—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Ron Howard—Frost/Nixon
  • Gus Van Sant—Milk
  • Stephen Daldry—The Reader
  • Danny Boyle—Slumdog Millionaire

You can see the complete list of nominees here.

Didn’t expect Kate Winslet to be nominated for Best Actress for The Reader, though it only reinforces my belief she’ll win this category.

Revolutionary RoadOverall, I agreed with most of the nominations. LOVED that Michael Shannon got a nod for Revolutionary Road. He was exceptional. The Supporting Actor category is ridiculously jampacked with really strong contenders. Last December, I picked Josh Brolin and I’m holding on to that for now, but Shannon just made this category impossible to handicap, Heath Ledger aside.

2008_tropic_thunder_034I also loved Robert Downey Jr.’s performance so I refuse to consider it a “surprise” nomination (the live audience at the announcements ceremony gasped loudly then chuckled). There’s precedence for a great comedic performance to be nominated in this category: Kevin Kline for A Fish Called Wanda and he won. RDJ’s feat as “the dude who played the dude who played a black man” in Tropic Thunder was astounding. He completely transformed himself into two different characters—even in the brief moments when he wasn’t “black” in the movie, he was a platinum blond, blue-eyed Australian guy and there wasn’t a hint of RDJ in either guise.

Loved that In Bruges got a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Martin McDonagh. I’ll stop shoving that movie down your throats now.

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Loved that WALL•E was nominated for Best Animated Picture though it could well contend for Best Picture, period. Then again, it’s sure to win in the animated category. It also received a Best Original Screenplay nod for Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter and I wouldn’t count them out but I think Dustin Lance Black will take it for Milk.

Other categories I’m calling (I already predicted acting winners last month): Best Director—Danny Boyle, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture—Slumdog Millionaire. I also think the film’s A.R. Rahman will take Best Score and one of the Best Songs, and Anthony Dod Mantle will win for Slumdog‘s cinematography. When Mantle talked about shooting in Mumbai among the crush of people, running after children, trying to keep everyone from looking at the cameras, I’m amazed he managed to pull it off.

E!’s movie critic Ben Lyons, who annoys me because he can’t even get titles right (at the Globes, he said “Welcome to the Golden Globe” at one point and then called Meryl Streep’s next movie Julia & Julie when it’s actually Julie & Julia), said right before the announcements that he thought Clint Eastwood would get a Best Actor nom for Gran Torino. I was vigorously shaking my head because I couldn’t disagree more. Eastwood squinted and growled like a junkyard dog throughout the movie and I thought it was ridiculous. I kept thinking, “I get it, you’re a tough guy, stop with the overly indicating.” I’m glad Richard Jenkins got nominated instead for his funny, sweet performance but was disappointed to see Michael Sheen omitted from this category for Frost/Nixon. He was just as good as Langella.

What did you think of the noms? Any mentions really excited you? Any egregious omissions? Leave me a comment. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts but right now, it’s roughly 6:30 and I’m amazed my brain is even functioning at all.

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AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 Recap — Louisville, KY

OK, Hollywood week needs to get here already. Tonight’s audition show was uninspiring and predictable. You could just tell who was going to make it or not by the little intro segments on some of the singers.

The tryouts we saw:

  • Tiffany Shedd, a platinum blonde who said she’d have a positive attitude no matter what the judges said. Well, after Simon (unnecessarily) compared her to a donkey, she trash-talked all the way out the door and beyond. Nice.
  • Joanna Pacitti, this year’s Carly Smithson. Like season 7’s Irish rocker, Pacitti had once had a record deal (with A&M) but for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. She even looks a little like Smithson, with black hair and blue eyes, though more petite and tattoo-free. She sang Pat Benatar’s “We Belong.” Her voice isn’t as big as Smithson’s but it was good enough to get her to Hollywood.
  • Mark Mudd, a descendant of Dr. Samuel Mudd, the man who spent 10 years in prison for aiding and abetting John Wilkes Booth while he was on the lam after shooting President Lincoln. Apparently because of this, the phrase “your name is Mudd” became an insult. Mark hoped to redeem the family name but, sadly, after a hoe-down rendition of George Jones’s “White Lightning,” he failed.
  • Brent Keith Smith, a cute guy who rocked a pretty decent version of Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough.” Yup, he’s Hollywood-bound.
  • A montage of bad acts, including a girl who sang like she was a Lollipop Guild member and a guy who painted his face black and white then wore sunglasses over the whole mess. Train wrecks, all.
  • Matt Giraud, a young Justin Timberlake lookalike and kind of soundalike who did Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be.” Let me tell you—I’ve tried singing that song in karaoke and I always sucked ’cause it’s tough but Giraud did just fine and got a golden ticket.
  • Ross Plavsic, who called himself an academic. Did he know this isn’t Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Like last night’s Akilah, he studied the shapes of mouths and palates but it didn’t help him one bit.
  • Alexis Grace, this year’s Brooke White. She’s a blonde, guitar-playing, fresh-faced, nice girl who stays at home to take care of a little kid (though she’s the mom and Brooke was only the nanny). She’s petite but when she opened her mouth to sing Aretha’s “Dr. Feelgood,” a surprisingly big voice came roaring out. She’s going to Hollywood with some makeover tips from Kara: “Don’t wear pink” and “Dirty yourself up.”
  • Aaron Williamson, the happiest contestant of the night, who oddly sang CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” like one long primal scream therapy session. He didn’t make it but remained a class act even in the face of rejection.
  • Rebecca Garcia, who messed up “Before He Cheats” even though she literally wore the lyrics on her arm. Kara thought Garcia was being funny since she was voted “Most Humorous” in high school but Garcia said she was serious and started to cry. Kara said she felt bad for being mean but I didn’t buy it for one second. I think Kara was putting on an act and trying to be clever but it backfired and made her look like a jerk.
  • After a montage of a handful of good singers, we get to the Tearjerker of the Day: 18-year-old Leneshe Young. I love this girl. She was homeless during her childhood, raised in shelters by a single mom but she was spunky, confident, adorable and sang a song she wrote “a hundred percent.” Her singing was groovy, the song was good and she completely won me over. Sob story or no, I’m rooting for her.

Leneshe was the only real standout for me from Louisville. By this time last year, I’d chosen Michael Johns (“the hot Aussie”) and Brooke White (“that nice, blonde nanny”) as frontrunners. If I had to call it now, I’d say Emily Wynne-Hughes, Casey Carlson, Leneshe, Deanna Brown and Danny Gokey will probably crack the Top 24.

Who are your faves so far? What do you think of Kara? Is she helpful or turning into another Simon?

(Don’t miss out on any American Idol commentaries this seasonSubscribe to Obsessions of a Pop Culture Nerd by Email)

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