Tensions run high with six final spots left to fill
Tensions were high out of the gate on this most recent episode of a thus far stellar sophomore season of "The Voice."
Even so, the first two "battles" were actually somewhat shrug-inducing, so-so affairs. Cee Lo, that lover of '80s fare, assigned a tried-and-true '80s nugget, "True Colors." Brought to tears during the rehearsal, the money was on Wade going in, as Boston boy James Massone was a bundle of nerves. It was unanimous, however, when all was said and done: Massone brought it and took the prize. Then Levine, ever the lover of the more recent stuff, had Nicolle Galyon and Mathai perform "Love Song." The mentoring was mild, with Alanis Morissette continuing to need a translator. Levine himself dubbed the sparring a letdown, ultimately selecting Mathai to move forward.
Next up ... an upset. It wouldn't be "The Voice" without one, right? Christina put country duo The Line up against Moses Stone, two total opposites as far as style, genre and pretty much everything else, and Shelton summed it up perfectly when he called the result "pretty weird." The judges were unanimous in their support for Leland and Haley of The Line, but XTina chose ... Moses! It was a stunner, with Haley even refusing to comment to the cameras immediately afterwards.
When Levine returned to finish rounding out his team, the choice of song, the Hall & Oates classic, "Rich Girl," was inspired, especially considering soulful Orlando Napier being one of the contenders. He went up against Karla Davis, and when the song suddenly changed to "Easy" by the Commodores, Napier was ecstatic, stating "it favors me because it's soul." Google some Darryl Hall, buddy. Perhaps that's why Davis bested you ... although this was a damn close one -- exactly what Shelton said as he wished Levine luck in making his decision.
Speaking of Shelton, his final pairing was Naia Kete and Jordan Rager tackling Jason Mraz. Honestly, (for me anyway) the "coming up" moment where we got a glimpse of the Tony Vincent/Justin Hopkins bout overshadowed this performance. Still, Kete took it.
And then it came. Tony Vincent versus Justin Hopkins. Cee Lo kept the '80's coming: Journey's "Faithfully," which he called "epic." The guy was brought to tears during a rehearsal again! You just knew something special was coming. A Broadway veteran (Vincent) against a true bar-band guy (Hopkins) -- this was heavyweight territory; theatrics versus throat, respectively. Justin got two out of the three judges' seal of approval ... but not the one that counted most: Cee Lo's.
Next week "The Voice" goes live, and being on your best behavior might be some of the contestant's only savior.
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"The Voice" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Done in by a Fast Forward, recently ousted duo plans on a second shot in All-Stars
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
On Sunday night's "Amazing Race," a Fast Forward debacle led to the surprise ouster of Long Island "guidos" Joey "Fitness” Lasalle and Danny Horal.
Though derided early in the season as "Jersey Shore" wannabes, the trainer and nightclub promoter ended up charming fans with sold game play, generally good attitudes, and consistently improving finishes -- until they lost last night's Fast Forward task to combat pilot/wife duo Dave and Rachel. We spoke to them about "losing to a girl" and their plans for a second chance on All-Stars.
MSN TV: So what went wrong with the Fast Forward?
Joey: When we saw Rachel and Dave were doing the Fast Forward, we said there's no way we're losing to a girl. And when we lost, I remember saying, "Shit, we got beat by a girl." And then I said I can't underestimate girls anymore.
Danny: We were the first ones out of the temple, and we thought that no other team was following us. Our cab driver didn't know where he was going, and he definitely wasn't going like he was in a hurry. All of a sudden, Dave and Rachel flew by us. At least it was good because our cab could follow them.
Joey: It seemed like they got there before us by a couple of minutes -- they were starting as I was climbing up the ladder to get to the hay. Dave was throwing the hay down exactly on top of the piles, while I was throwing the hay down on the [ground], and then Danny lifted it up. But we honestly thought we were ahead -- even Rachel was like, "They're beating us."
How close were you to finishing?
Danny: I only had one more bundle of hay [to go].
What did you say when you realized you lost?
Danny: First I said, "Screw you, Joey, for picking the Fast Forward." But we should have been eliminated on the first leg of the race -- we were just hoping that somebody screwed up, somewhere. You never know what could happen. But we were in a hole because our cab was all by himself, and he didn't have anyone he could follow. All the other cabs were following each other.
Joey: After we lost the Fast Forward, we set everything in super-fast mode -- we really did bang out the apple thing, quick. But you don't know if you're 20 minutes or two hours behind.
How long did it take you to do the Fast Forward?
Joey: Maybe like 40 minutes, maybe an hour.
How much did you regret taking the Fast Forward?
Danny: We really wanted to come in first place. And we thought that Detour might be nearby, like it was with the first Fast Forward. But it wasn't, and our cab driver really had no clue had to get there.
Joey: We were doing totally fine -- we moved up from 10th to 8th to 3rd to 2nd. I guess maybe we got a little greedy.
It's a tough way to go out. Did it hurt your friendship?
Joey: I don't even talk to Danny -- he's not even my friend.
Danny: We're still good friends. People are calling about it every day, though, to ask about it. We kind of want to put it out of our minds. I will say if we get to come back for an All-Stars season, I guarantee a top finish.
Joey: The one thing, though, is if we get back and there's a Fast Forward, I'm ripping it up.
"The Amazing Race" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Unassuming teen opera singer wows 'Britain's Got Talent'
Let's see. Where have we seen this one before?
Here's how the story goes: Unassuming, shabby social misfit-type hits the "Britain's Got Talent" stage, the audience takes one look -- and witnesses judge Simon Cowell's skeptical reaction -- and figures that the apparent schlub is headed for disaster. And then the music cue strikes, the vocal cords start firing and all of a sudden we have some sort of singing savant on our hands.
If you were thinking Susan Boyle, you've got the right idea. However, this time around, it's Jonathan Antoine, a 17-year-old opera singer, making the headlines.
After suffering through some not entirely unfamiliar sneers of derision from Simon, who mumbled, "Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse," Antoine and partner Charlotte Jaconelli, 16, served up an unexpectedly powerful rendition of Andrea Bocelli's and Celine Dion's "The Prayer," which left the judges and audience with mouths agape.
The performance snagged thumbs up from all four judges and drew strong praise from Simon, who told Jonathan, "You're a future star."
The teenager is hoping the show will help him build confidence. "I had a nervous breakdown back in October. At that point I left the school I was at and rejoined the school I was at previously in the New Year," he said. "But then I couldn't handle at either, so I'm currently not at school but still enrolled. Me and school just don't get on. That's just the way it has always been. I've never felt right there. Ever since I was quite small I've had weight problems, and the bullying was related to that. People would be nasty about my weight and say nasty words."
The comparisons to Susan Boyle are coming fast for the young singer already dubbed "SuBoy." Watch this video and check it out for yourself.
What do you think? Do we have another global pop star on our hands?
Are the two reality stars no longer wild enough for 'Jersey Shore'?
Of the many insults hurled at "Jersey Shore's" two most famous residents, not wild enough sounds more like a compliment. But with Snooki preggers and the Situation in rehab, TMZ reports that producers are concerned their show will "lose its sex-crazed alcohol-fueled edge."
So their screen time will be limited when the reality show begins filming its sixth season this summer, replaced by "newer, wilder castmates" (read: younger people more willing to fall down stairs and pee on the floor).
"Folding in new castmates will help transition the show into a new generation," the report quotes an unnamed source, "while still keeping old fans hooked."
Would you watch "Jersey Shore" without its two biggest traffic accidents?
One team bets it all on a Fast Forward and loses
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
It's the sixth leg of "The Amazing Race," and we open in Bavaria -- "ranking," Phil tells us, "as one of the most scenic places in all of central Europe." Veiled-in-mist castles or no, we won't be there for long: First-place finishers Art and J.J. discover that we're headed to the Central Asia nation of Azerbaijan -- and more specifically, to its Temple Ateshgah, "the temple of fire." The border patrol agents remind us that they're not taking any chances with their lead: "We know we're one roadblock or detour away from being humbled. We're just going to keep going at it hard." Joey Fitness and Danny are next, followed by Ralph and Vanessa, who are eager to put the last leg's unpleasantness behind them: "The last leg, we weren't very nice to each other," Ralph says. Vanessa is happy to be moving on as well: "Fire's gotta warmer than freaking Bavaria."
Rachel and Dave are next, and often one of those foreboding interviews that seem to preface either an elimination or a come-from-behind victory: "As long as we can reduce the mistakes and support each other, we'll run a strong leg," Dave says. At this point, these seems like two very big ifs. They're followed by Brendon and Rachel and Mark and Bopper, who are as-yet unfamiliar with Azerbaijan and wonder if they're headed to Africa: "That sounds like Africa to me," Mark says. Federal agents Jamie and Nary, who still have everyone thinking they're kindergarten teachers, bring up the rear (but only a minute behind Mark and Bopper), and they talk about how coming in last place is almost-sort-of part of their overall tactic of not seeming to be a threat: "Having teams not see us as a threat was part of our whole strategy in the first place," Jamie says. In any case, none of the shuffling matters much, since all of the teams are looking at a long wait for a single flight to Baku, Azerbaijan's capital.
From there: Teams are dispatched to the temple of fire, where they join an Azerbaijan version of a square dance, and then wait for sunrise for the delivery of their route markers. They have two options: Head for the Fast Forward, or skip it in favor of the next challenge, which is at Occupational Training International. Both Rachel and Dave and Joey Fitness and Danny head for the Fast Forward, while all the other teams back off, knowing that only one team gets to skip the rest of the tasks for the Pitstop -- and the other will be forced to start over from scratch. "We're taking a little it of a risk, but we want first place today," Joey says.
At the Fast Forward, the two teams discover a roadside hay market, where they'll need to unload 150 bales of hay and then stack them in a rectangular prism that's 10 wide, three deep, and five high. At first, it seems like Dave and Rachel have their roles switched: He climbs on top of the truck and flicks the bales down to her -- seemingly the much easier job -- while Rachel stacks them. Later, though, he begins dropping them in almost pinpoint precision, so she just has to make tiny adjustments. "The Midwestern work ethic really kicked in at that point," Dave says. As Joey and Danny wonder aloud if they're actually about to be beaten by a girl, Rachel and Dave finish -- sending the Long Island guys back to the start. Dave and Rachel check in at the Pitstop, the Esplanade Estakada. "When we use teamwork, we're awesome," Dave says. There's another big, unseen "if" there.
The rest of the teams are making their way to Occupational Training International and the Roadblock: "What goes down must come up." Phil reminds us that oil is Azerbaijan's most important industry, and there we find "a terrifying helicopter ditch rescue training exercise" -- the sort that Azeri oil workers undergo before they fly out to work on oil platforms in the Caspian Sea. Bopper laughs as Mark throws up in the backseat of their cab: "Anytime my partner is in the backseat, there better be a barf bag there," Bopper says. It looks, in fact, that the cab rides over to the training center are actually more difficult than the challenge: Once there, they have to drop into the water and escape the helicopter simulator through a window. It looks like an unpleasant experience but not terribly hard, and the teams quickly move through it -- even Vanessa, who shares her "really strange fear of being underwater and closed in spaces." Mark tells Nary that Bopper has a crush on Jamie, and decries the fact that Bopper went over to help them during the harp-stringing challenge.
From there, they're sent to a carpet shop in Baku's old town, where they find the Detour: Apple or Oil? In the former, teams have to search through a car stuffed with apples to find the one that has a small race flag planted into it; in the latter, teams have to remove all the oil from a local bathing in it -- first with a metal scraper, and then with sponges and towels. Most teams head for the oil task, where they find Azeris awaiting them, in bathtubs where the spigots drip oil. The locals are literally bathing in oil -- a bizarre sight that has the teams gaping. "Is this normal? Is this a spa treatment?" Art and J.J. ask, bewildered. "When you're in Rome, do you like you're Azerbergistan," J.J. says. They confront their local, metal scrapers in hand: "[He] looked like a Nutella-covered man." "Art, this is wicked strange," J.J. says. But they finish quickly enough, followed by Mark and Bopper and Rachel and Brendon -- an order that's replicated on the mat.
It turns out that the Apple challenge is decidedly more time-consuming: Despite the fact that they left the carpet shop just about even with the rest of the teams, it clearly takes ages for Jamie and Nary to sort through their apples, which are piled into fruit boxes surrounding the car. Vanessa and Ralph show up behind them, but Jamie and Nary find their apple first. When they arrive at the mat, the federal agents are clearly disappointed to hear that they're fifth.
In the end, it's Vanessa and Ralph versus the Guidos, who are trying to make up for all the time they lost on the Fast Forward. "It's just like a needle in a haystack," Vanessa says. They do find their needle, though, and Joey and Danny don't have enough time to make up the difference. They seem to find it quickly, but not quickly enough. Would they have moved ahead if they'd gone for the obviously much faster oil challenge? That we don't know -- but we do know that even after some last-minute misdirection from their cabbie, Vanessa and Ralph arrive at the Pitstop in time to save their own skin, and Danny and Joey are out. "I don't think any one of our friends thought we could do this," Joey says. And as the nightclub promoter and trainer remind us, summer's coming: "Joey Fitness and Danny -- at a nightclub near you."
"The Amazing Race" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
New bike-building show to air next month on Discovery
What do the Discovery Channel and Sandra Bullock have in common?
Not how they feel about Jesse James.
The former tabloid villain returns to series television via the basic-cable network next month, according to TV Guide. His show (with working title "The Jesse James Project") will run as a special that Discovery is reportedly eager to make a series. It's set in Austin, where James is now a partner in the Austin Speed Shop.
"People like to see me build stuff," James told TV Guide. "The further away from that concept I go, the less popular it is. Let's just go back to basics and build custom bikes and custom cars again."
If all goes as planned, "The Jesse James Project" will be the second manly vehicular-assembly program hosted by James on Discovery ("Monster Garage" ran from 2002-2006) and James' first regular series since Spike TV's "Jesse James is a Dead Man" in 2009.
"The Jesse James Project" premieres Monday, April 9, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the Discovery Channel.
One day after revealing her style makeover, Erika Van Pelt gets the hook
By Carla Patton
Billy Joel week was certainly the most underwhelming theme week thus far on "American Idol" Season 11! Granted, there were a few standout performances (and a few stood out for the wrong reasons), but most of the contestants seemed to fall right in the middle of the pack. And the middle isn't the best place to be, because it means you weren't memorable.
A few things to look forward to: a performance from Season 10's Haley Reinhart and a performance from Lana Del Rey. Both are sure to be entertaining in their own right. Haley is showing the contestants what can happen for them, even if they don't win -- as long as they agree to play by the rules. Lana Del Rey will show the contestants what happens when singing meets laboratory science.
My big questions are about Elise and Erika. Will Erika's haircut make her finally stand out? Or did Tommy Hilfiger just make her look like (as one of you pointed out) a banker? Will Elise be in the bottom three again or is America warming to her? I thought she was fantastic in a week that clearly belonged to people who know who they want to be as artists. That's gotta count for something, right? But she and Phillip Phillips, I suspect, don't really need this competition. They don't seem like "American Idol" winning material, you know? They can make it without winning. I could easily see it coming down to Jessica Sanchez and Colton Dixon in the final two. But we still have a long way to go, and this night's hour of programming takes us one step closer.
Yes! The group number is back! They're singing "For the Longest Time," which I'm sure will be absolute crap. I live for it. Elise, bless her heart, is making an effort to smile and flirt a little more. She is playing Nigel's reindeer games. I enjoyed Skylar Laine singing to Casey Abrams in the audience but was distracted by the fellow directly in front of them. His stiff snapping was as awkward as the group number itself.
Keep snapping, Jeremy. Snap like nobody's watching.
The individual performances are good vocally, but the interaction between all of them is tired and disconnected. It ranks a solid C. I would love to hear Jimmy Iovine's thoughts.
Next in Thursday night's buffet of awkward: It's the Ford music video! The kids are playing hide-and-seek in the mansion we all know they're not staying in this season. Ah ha! They were hiding in a Ford Eclipse! Those jokesters. I think we found Erika's old hair, too.
Ryan tells us there's only room for nine in the "Idol" mansion. Will Hollie, Skylar and Elise secure beds in it? Canopy beds, probably. Jimmy says this was Hollie's worst night in the competition so far, but he thinks she'll stay. Jimmy says Skylar is consistent but this wasn't her best performance. She may be stalling out, and it's too soon for that. Jimmy was concerned about "Vienna" as a song choice, but he says Elise is transformed. He got "goosies -- whatever goosies are!" So crusty, that Jimmy Iovine.
Hollie is moving into the mansion, as is Skylar. Ryan brings Elise forward to reveal that, for the first time, she is not in the bottom 3! They are all safe. Yay!
Lana Del Rey performs next, singing "Video Games." I guess you could call it singing. It's more of a whispery moan? I wish she would fake us out like Heejun did this week and just break into a performance of "You Make My Dreams" by Hall and Oates. Instead, she made the last part sound like she was underwater somehow.
Evidently, it's Steven Tyler's birthday this weekend, so Ryan brought out the Top 10 to sing "Happy Birthday" to Joe Perry's electric guitar playing. Steven and Joe Perry hugged, and their scarf tails intertwined in an unspeakable bond.
Deandre, Joshua and Jessica get their results next, and Jimmy says Deandre was "jumping around too much." Joshua didn't score very well in Jimmy's book this week, and he, too, will have to grow to win this thing. Jimmy gives Jessica "A's across the board" but seemed a bit bored by the whole process. Ryan tells Jessica that Billy Joel himself said he enjoyed her rendition. And so did America. Jessica is safe. Joshua is safe, and Deandre is in the bottom 3. Good job, voters. I approve.
Next, Haley Reinhart performs "Free," her "hot, new" single. You can get it on iTunes, but not for free. She starts out in a giant cage. Whoever is caging all these young singers (Haley, Miley Cyrus, etc.) just needs to stop. It's sick and wrong, and the bars aren't close enough together to keep them in there.
The cage lifts, and Haley escapes by walking forward. She did a good job. I liked parts of the song, and I really liked her dress and wind machine. That Angelina Jolie-at-the-Oscars, high-leg slit is in this season, then?
Colton is safe. Erika is in the bottom 3, and ran back to Elise to get some maracas ("I'm bringing the party with me!"). Phillip is safe, and Heejun is in the bottom 3. This is not a surprising bottom 3. "Anyone who goes home tonight is a loss," Jennifer says -- a telling sign that they won't use the save tonight.
Ryan reveals that Deandre is safe, so I was wrong. Heejun is safe, and Erika is probably going home. And not home to the mansion. Well, good. I want more of Heejun's antics to keep things interesting. The judges aren't even talking. Randy is just shaking his head, and Steven is enjoying one last Erika performance. Heejun and Deandre are shown crying as Erika performs the crap out of "I Believe in You and Me." Poor Erika. She's just way too good, consistent and professional for this competition. They couldn't have given her one of the pimp spots ever? She always got the raw end of the deal.
The judges reveal that, no, they will not be using the save. Erika is going home with a new haircut. Thanks a lot, Tommy Hilfiger.
What did you think of Thursday night's results? Did America get it right?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.