Fox’s Vinciquerra optimistic on ‘Idol’ changes
NEW YORK — Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of the Fox Networks Group, is hopeful that this season of “American Idol” will be better received than last thanks to some tweaks.
For example, the “Idols” results show was “very boring … to be blunt about it” last year, so its composition has been changed, he said Wednesday at Citi’s 19th Annual Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference in Arizona in a session that was webcast.
He added that new coaches who can draw the younger “Idol” target audience and a new judge are also part of the revamps for the show, whose season premiere is scheduled for next week.
Importantly, “I am told the talent is terrific, ” compared to what he argued was a pool of contenders with less exciting personalities last year, said Vinciquerra, even though he hasn’t seen any footage of this year’s talent yet. A record number of people lined up for the tryouts for the new season, he told the Citi conference.
People’s Choice Awards finds stars in a sharing mood
LOS ANGELES ‘ While the People’s Choice Awards on Wednesday night recognized projects released in 2008, many stars shared their plans for 2009.
The ceremony, broadcast from the Shrine Auditorium on CBS, featured host Queen Latifah, who co-starred in The Secret Life of Bees, which won favorite movie drama and independent movie honors.
American Idol Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks also is working on an album, and on her wish list is a duet with Leona Lewis, whom she met at the American Music Awards. “I’m really hoping that Leona and I can get together and do a super power female ballad, ” Sparks said. “That would be a dream collaboration at this point.” As she reflected on the past year, she said, “No Air came out and it took off. I got to go to Africa with the president, and I got to sing at the Super Bowl. So now I have to figure out how to top my own self for 2009.”
Sparks’ Idol Season 4 counterpart, Carrie Underwood, who took home a prize for favorite country song (Last Name), talked backstage about indulging during the holidays and what she plans to do to bounce back. “It’s been a little difficult. ¦ What I do is I give myself two weeks where I can do what I want, and then after the holidays I get back to it.”
More Idol Headlines after the Jump…
Jennifer Hudson Gets Some Image Love
Professionally, at least, things in Jennifer Hudson’s world are looking up.
The mourning entertainer’s Oscar may be getting some company, as the singer-actress today scored seven individual nominations for the 40th NAACP Image Awards.
Hudson took home nods in both recording and motion picture categories, as did her direct competition’ and onetime costars’ BeyoncÃƒÆ’ © Knowles, who bagged six nods, and Alicia Keys, who earned four. (Get the complete list of nominees.)
Rounding out the big-name nominees, and potentially making respective beelines for the podium next month, are Will Smith, America Ferrera, Queen Latifah, Jamie Foxx, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Don Cheadle and Diddy.
New ‹American Idol Promos!
Check out these new promos for the upcoming season of American Idol! Idol premieres January 13th at 8 PM on Fox!
Check out the rest of the photos after the break!
After a bleak 2008, TV viewers can hope for a balmy new beginning
The nation TV critics gather this week in Los Angeles to see what goodies await them at the start of a new year, after a brutal 2008 when many of their newspaper colleagues lost their jobs, their winter meeting was canceled, and their pens dripped with venom because so many shows were so bad.
On the equation other side, the networks are set to present their wares at what known as the Television Critics Association winter press tour, which began Tuesday. Cable, in general, is whistling a happy tune, but the broadcasters find themselves in various states of desperation, some more sullen even than the critics.
American Idol Blog: Former Idol finalist to write weekly blog for Daily News
Editor’s Note: The eighth season of American Idol starts on Jan. 13. This season enjoy a critique of the performances from someone who knows what it’s like to be in the spotlight and receive criticism from Simon Cowell. Phil Stacey was one of the final six in Season 6 and will write a weekly blog for the Naples Daily News.
Hello! My name is Phil Stacey and I would like to welcome you to my blog. If you are a fan of American Idol, you have come to the right place. During the course of this season, I will be your eyes …behind the curtain, sharing inside information that only a former contestant can see. Many of you may remember me as the bald guy on Sanjaya season, or the Navy man who missed his daughter birth when he auditioned. Both are true.
TV Preview: THE TOP-5 ‘AMERICAN IDOL’ MOMENTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS YEAR (WITH AUDITION PHOTOS)
I wont mince words ¦ I hate AMERICAN IDOL. If I had my druthers Id sink the whole creators, judges, Seacrest and everyone in the Potomac. I have nothing to look forward to in January as I am forced (yes, FORCED) to watch the show each and every year from my editor. He thinks it is amusing to get a take from someone that doesnt like the show because Im somehow unbiased. Or he does it just to torture me. I cant really find out the real answer to be honest.
5 Worst “American Idol” Top 12ers
It’s now just days away, the gaping maw of American Idol Season 8. I approach Tuesday’s two-hour premier with one part nausea, two parts huzzah. In anticipation of the most-watched television show in the solar system, we currently have a fleet of SPT writers hammering out analysis, zingers, breakdowns, predictions and suicide notes. My job is to give you the Best, Worst and Weirdest of the FOX phenom up ’til now. Soon, you’ll get the 5 Best American Idol Top 12ers.
But today, the 5 Worst Top 12ers…
Season 8 countdown: six days and six causes for hope (and despair)
In less than a week, the Idol Nation diaspora comes to an end. Ryan Seacrest will call his people to him and together we shall once again behold the glory that is American Idol. After months of speculation about the judges, the format, the contestants – all will be revealed.
This is the most anticipated season in years, with more shake-ups to what has become TV’s Ur-format than Idol Nation has absorbed since the first seasons. A new judge! Backstage fights! Younger mentors! What will it all mean? We’ll find out next Tuesday. In the meantime, here’s six reasons to hope and six for despair.
Preview audiences praise Disney World’s new American Idol attraction
So what’s the word on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ soon-to-be-opened attraction, The American Idol Experience (which just completed three days of tech rehearsals)?
Well, I know that this news will probably shock Disneyana fans (Many of whom groused long & loud last year when they learned that a theme park version of this Fox reality series was headed for the Walt Disney World Resort). But according to Cast Members who attended preview performances for this new Hollywood Studios attraction earlier this week, The American Idol Experience is already a surprisingly solid show. More importantly, once AIE’s cast & crew gets a few more performances under their belt, this sleek & slick interactive entertainment should prove to be extremely popular with WDW visitors.
Mind you, in order to really appreciate what it is that makes this new DHS attraction so special, it helps to be familiar with the TV version of “American Idol.” And Cast Members who attended AIE previews earlier this week who were also fans of the “American Idol” television program just went on & on about the amazing job that the Imagineers had done here. How WDI had faithfully recreated not only AI’s look but had also found a way to capture the energy & excitement that one feels while attending an actual taping of this wildly popular Fox program.
Jordin Sparks Joins Bluegrass Band On Stage
American Idol Jordin Sparks showed up at a small Nashville club Monday night (January 5th) to check out the bluegrass group the Time Jumpers. According to Music City TV, the Grammy-nominated artist joined the band on stage to sing the Patsy Cline classic “Crazy.” Sparks ended up going to the Station Inn after meeting country singer Vince Gill at a recent Jonas Brothers show. Sparks told him she grew up listening to hillbilly music and decided to scope out the Time Jumpers.
Unscheduled Vince Gill Jumps Onstage
Jan. 7, 2009 ‘ Vince Gill made a surprise guest appearance Sunday night at the Jonas Brothers concert in Nashville, and he turned around the next night and played another unannounced date, bringing along former “American Idol” contestant Jordin Sparks to sing with the Time Jumpers.
The group, a western-swing ensemble that was nominated a year ago for a Grammy award, performs regularly at the Station Inn, a tiny bluegrass club in downtown Music City. According to WKRN, Jordin met Vince at the Jonas Brothers show and was persuaded to attend the Time Jumpers date, where she sat in with the band on the Patsy Cline classic “Crazy.”
‘Grease’ tours in an ‘American Idol’ age
Once a musical about the real-life Fifties kids of Taft High, …Grease has been blown up, cut down, sanitized, starred, Hollywood-ized, disco-ized, sequel-ized and otherwise forcibly extracted from its original Chicago roots and soul. So it seems churlish to complain about the latest indignity to befall this iconic show. Dignity went out the window back when they released the 1982 movie …Grease 2.
Thankfully, the TV winners arent here’ apparently theyre too busy for the road. So at least this touring version features a capable, energetic and mostly likable crew of young professionals. But the spirit of the TV contest abides. Taylor Hicks, winner of the 2006 …American Idol, has been cast in the less-than-taxing role of Teen Angel. He makes his first entrance from inside a giant ice-cream cone. (One wonders if, as he waits for his cone to open, he ponders the vicissitudes of a show-business life). But Hicks fits right in with this …Grease for an …American Idol age.
While “Grease, ” the touring version of the recently closed Broadway revival, lacks the inspiration and emotional sincerity needed to be more than merely peppy and puerile, it does come alive from a sheer kitsch perspective when Taylor Hicks of “American Idol” fame emerges from a giant ice cream cone to sing “Beauty School Dropout.” In fact, the biggest laugh of the evening comes when the flirtatious Frenchy twirls Mr. Hicks’ exposed chest hair and purrs, “I voooted for you.”
The line, delivered deliciously by standout Kate Morgan Chadwick, has layers of significance beyond a single moment of self-conscious humor, since this “Grease, ” directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, was originally birthed on the NBC reality show “Grease: You’re the One That I Want, ” in which the television audience selected the previously unknown Max Crumm and Laura Osnes to become Rialto headliners in the revival.
Review: Waller takes us back to then and now
Bunn masterfully led the band and followed the singers, keeping a controlled balance. This is not an easy task when the band is behind a thin curtain for the better part of evening. As the show opened, the Studdard and Frenchie Davis quickly set the tone with their duet “Honeysuckle Rose.”
As they sang about syrupy sweet love, their voices blended in one of the early highlights of the show.
Jazz hands, boas, furs, sequins, purses and lighters were used as subtle props to set the scene of the ’20s and ’30s, back in Harlem and just off Tin Pan Alley where Fats and his musical entourage eked out a living in song.
In the second half, Frenchie’s “Mean to Me” (1929) by Turl and Ahlert was the strongest solo ballad of the evening. I’m sure that from Maier Performance Hall, passers-by on Washington Street would have heard her without a microphone. The same was true with my favorite company number “Black and Blue” from 1929. It was a strong, emotional performance that would have packed even more punch done acoustically.
The company was rounded out by former American Idol contestant Trenyce Cobbins, Patrice Covington and David Jennings, each a strong singer and talented dancer.
‘American Idol’ Gives Back to His Community
Ruben Studdard, the soulful singer who won the second American Idol competition last May, is giving back to the place it all started: Birmingham, Alabama. His giving vehicle of choice, a donor advised fund at his local community foundation, underscores the benefits of using this flexible tool to conduct high-impact philanthropy.
Within weeks of collecting 12 million votes and a $1 million recording contract on the Fox television series, he set up the donor advised fund and named it the Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children and the Arts. …The Velvet Teddy Bear, as R&B legend Gladys Knight called him, kicked off his philanthropy with a $20, 000 gift before the school year started and plans more contributions to local schools and other education organizations.
‹America Got Talent runner-up to perform here Friday
Eli Mattson, the 27-year-old pianist, singer and runner-up in last season’s “America’s Got Talent” on NBC will perform Friday at Monarch Landing, an Erickson Retirement Community in Naperville.
A limited number of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis by calling 630-300’1085. Tickets are $30 per person. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.
Mattson will perform several songs he sang during the competition, as well as several of his own compositions. His father and fellow musician, Kevin Mattson, will serve as emcee and will perform briefly to introduce Eli.
On Oct. 1, millions of Americans tuning in to the conclusion of the third season of “America’s Got Talent” saw Mattson named runner-up to winner opera singer Neal E. Boyd.
Archuleta vs. Cook: The battle rages on
Season 8 may be on the brink of beginning, but for many proud warriors, Season 7 has never ended. Like WWII Japanese soldiers marooned on islands who had not been notified that the armistice has been signed, they fight on, contesting every last inch of the ground they swore to defend with all their might.
I speak of the brave partisans of Messieurs Cook and Archuleta. If you travel through the comments section of this blog — not to mention the free fire zones on the various fan site forums, you won’t have to go far before you stumble into some blind alley where the war is still being viciously fought to the last man. As with the warring tribes of the Middle East, ancient wounds remain untreated, fester, lead to lashing out and new bloodshed, new despair and the sense that new common ground exists on which to build a lasting peace.
After the jump, take in, if you dare, a few little samples of the goodwill that reigns between the two camps, taken from the comments on this Dec. 22 post:
There are those who say journalists must merely stand back and observe as horrors unfold before them. And there are others who hold that we can use our platforms to do some good in the world. I have never been one to insert myself into the story, but in these dark times for Idol Nation, when no international Idol government exists to intervene and insert peacekeeping forces between the combatants, I feel as a citizen of the pop culture world I have no choice but to attempt to use what little influence I have to work for peace.
In the coming days, I will be reaching out to the various factions in the great schism and attempting to negotiate if not a permanent treaty, at least a cease-fire. I’ll be reporting on my progress as it goes. And here’s hoping we can achieve peace in our time, if not for us, then for the children; the children of Season 8 about to be born.
People’s Choice Awards: You showed up? Here’s a trophy!
This is not the blog post my editors asked for. In this space, you are supposed to be reading a Best and Worst of last night’s People’s Choice Awards, one of those snarky little fiestas where I run down all the highlights of the ceremony, crack some jokes, get worked up when Sugarland doesn’t win, whatever. But PopWatchers, I can’t do it this time.
Kimberly Caldwell became the envy of girls everywhere when she captured the heart of American Idol winner David Cook. But now, just weeks after David checked out a $54, 000 engagement ring for her, she’s been caught in a clinch with a handsome bar manager!
Kimberly, who finished seventh on the second season of Idol, shocked eyewitnesses when she flirted, danced, drank and made out with Ryan Der at L.A.’s trendy ONE Sunset on Dec. 29.
“Everyone could see she was really letting loose, ” an insider tells Star. “She and Ryan were laughing together as they threw back beers and vodka cocktails.”
Before long, says the insider, Kim and Ryan, a tall hunk with a shaved head, were “grinding on the dance floor. They started playfully kissing, but that quickly led to long lip locks until they were full-on making out.