The auditions are over and teams are formed
I wouldn't necessarily say the old showbiz adage, "They saved the best for last" applies to this final installment of the blind audition process on "The Voice" but, heck, I ain't one of the judges, am I? Outside of Levine, the judges appeared to shrug their shoulders toward the end of the team-forming.
Levine, in fact, might never have hit his button quicker than when he did for the first singer up, 25-year-old Whitney Myer. Exclaiming "You remind me of Mary J," he walked away with her. And everyone wanted her.
David Dunn's take on "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" didn't move a single one of them next.
Soon enough it was on to the Tenacious D-esque the Shields Brothers, two guys from Virginia who declared "America needs to be punched in the face with rock 'n' roll." Their "Dancing With Myself" worked for Cee Lo who, ironically, said pretty much the same thing: "What the world needs right now is rock 'n' roll." Kindred spirits or what?
In about-face mode, Cee Lo then snapped up Cheesa from Hawaii, smacking his button during the very last note of Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy." While it was Levine who shouted "Press it," he didn't follow suit, so Cee Lo got the girl.
Visibly nervous Lex Land got Shelton's vote, thanks to an inarguably shaky "I Can't Make You Love Me." Shelton finished forming his team with one Adley (can you see this name on a CD cover) Stump, whose rendition of "Last Name" had Blake bickering with Christina, who wanted her too.
Levine's team was complete with Orlando Napier, a kid who performs with his sax-playing papa and did a fine version of "Waiting on the World to Change." The Maroon 5 frontman appreciated Napier's "timing."
Cee Lo called it a wrap with an 18-year-old named Wade. Tackling "Rehab," the youngster demonstrated some capable vocals, but Cee Lo mighta been sold on song choice alone, noting that he was "supposed to begin working with" Amy Winehouse before her untimely passing.
Aguilera took her own sweet time forming her team, the evening's easiest sell coming via some harmonica. Lee Koch's "Like a Rolling Stone" had her mildly interested during the vocals, but it wasn't until the harp that she hit the button, and she said as much.
64-year-old Preston Shannon lost out, I believe, largely due to the fact that none of them knew it was him playing the mean blues licks on guitar, and quirky Cameron Novak also may have lost out due to not being seen. That's probably just as well, though, as that boy was angry when no one turned around. Like, "go to commercial break" angry.
Christina continued seeking her final competitor until the last minutes of the show, galvanized by Sera Hill's "I'm Going Down"....so much so that the former "Genie" joined her on stage.
They swapped vocals in a rousing ending to the blind auditions.
They shared the spotlight. Sharing the spotlight's gonna be harder to come by from this point on.
What did you think of Monday night's audition episode? Tell us on Facebook.
"The Voice" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Dave and Cherie Gregg spill on their exit from Buenos Aires
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
Bad luck struck down clown couple Dave and Cherie Gregg on "The Amazing Race" Sunday night. Though they'd admirably clawed their way back into the middle of the pack, their 18-hour trip from Salta, Argentina, to Buenos Aires came to an abrupt and upsetting halt when a bus window blew out. Combined with a math challenge that stumped the good-natured Dave, the team was forced to hope for a non-elimination leg -- a wish that wasn't granted. We spoke with the married pair about losing their lead, putting things in perspective, and the secret behind Dave's struggle with long division.
MSN TV: Did your friends and family realize you were out once the show played your "I'm a cancer survivor" clip?
Dave: No! I didn't put that together until now.
You guys had a great start to your day.
Dave: We were right where we wanted to be, in the middle of the pack.
Cherie: We had been in last place the day before, so it felt good to not be in last.
What happened with that bus window?
Cherie: There was a loud bang behind us, and then a moment later, the window blew in. It shattered first. We were lucky that it didn't blow in right away, so nobody was hurt, just scared. It made a really long bus ride even longer, because they kept stopping to try to repair it [with tape and cardboard]. But then the wind would catch it, and it just as you'd be falling asleep, we'd be pulling over again. It took an 18-hour bus ride and made it into a 22-hour one.
Did you know when the next bus actually passed you?
Cherie: We didn't.
Dave: We would kind of jokingly speculate: "Hey, Cherie, this is them!" But we weren't sure how far the bus behind us was -- or even if there was another bus behind a third bus.
Did you guys ever consider hopping one of the trailing buses?
Dave: There was really no way to do it.
Cherie: I did keep wondering why they didn't bring in another bus for all the passengers.
Dave: The one repair place we saw didn't seem very well equipped to take care of the window -- they did their best with plastic.
Did you talk any strategy about how to deal with the other teams once you arrived in Buenos Aires?
Dave: We knew we had to get off that bus quickly.
Cherie: We were the first ones at the cabs. But it was like cat and mouse: You'd think you were ahead, and then you'd be in the middle. It was crazy.
And then came the math debacle of the cattle market.
Cherie: The clue was "Where's the beef?" so we thought it was an eating challenge.
Dave: I was ready to eat a cow.
Cherie: Dave hasn't had to do [math] for 20 years.
Dave: I was trying to work it out as best I could. I had dyslexia growing up, and what happened was that I flipped the equation. I was doing it left to right, rather than right to left. I just remembered how to do it incorrectly.
Cherie: It's just like it is with dyslexia. Where you can get a "B" and a "D" mixed up.
Cherie, you remained admirably supportive throughout.
Cherie: Me screaming and yelling wasn't going to help him finish the problem. I wanted to be like, "I love you!" Not when he was doing the problem -- when he was running down the stairs. I was just grateful he didn't get upset because that would have made me cry.
You guys really did stay calm throughout, even though it was clear you'd been hoping the leg would end with a non-elimination.
Dave: You know, I've been through a lot worse in my life. I'm at a cattle auction, in Argentina. How ridiculous is this? It's a beautiful country. And in the grand scope of things … it was just fine.
"The Amazing Race" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Reports name Jack Wagner, Sherri Shepherd, Melissa Gilbert and Maria Menounos
Former "Melrose Place" hunk Jack Wagner, Sherri Shepherd from "The View," "Extra" co-host Maria Menounos and former "Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa Gilbert will compete on the upcoming Season 14 of "Dancing With the Stars," according to TMZ reports.
TMZ noted that Gilbert was supposed to dance last season until her deal "fell through," and that she was spotted rehearsing at a Los Angeles dance studio this weekend.
The names of all the celebrity contestants will officially be announced Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 7 a.m. ET/PT on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Season 14 of "DWTS" premieres Monday, March 19, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
A blown-out window upends the fortunes of four teams and determines the night's losers
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
Previously: Maiya and Misa jumped out of a plane, got stuck in the sand, and made 100 empanadas -- only to be kicked out of the race when they ran in the opposite direction of the Pitstop.
We open this leg in Salta, Argentina -- at 2:46 a.m., where combat pilot Dave and Rachel are the first to get the clue: They're to drive themselves to Cafayate town square and await the arrival of the mountain postman -- who, hey, probably works morning hours, so there's no real rush here. Brendon and Rachel are next, followed by Art and J.J. -- at least at first, because Team "Big Brother" quickly maneuvers themselves behind the border patrol agents, so they can follow them. "He's a UCLA student -- what do you expect," J.J. says. Unbelievably, there's a guy working at the Informacion Turistica, but there's no mountain postman ’til morning -- which means there's a lot of bunching.
As dawn breaks on the Cafayate town square (and it's a lovely sunrise moment), the mountain postman arrives on horseback -- and the teams rush him like a Toys r Us on Black Friday. It's the Detour: Light My Fire (involving the gathering of firewood and clay and the transport of both by donkey) or Boil My Water (involving the assembly of a solar-panel kitchen and the boiling of tea water.) All but one of the teams head for Boil My Water: "It looks like a beautiful day for solar energy," Rachel says, as she and Dave lead the teams to the village where the panels need to be constructed.
Dave more or less immediately takes charge: "Normally, when it comes to instructions I'm very ... autonomous," he says. You can just tell that if things go pear-shaped, he's going to be extremely irate. Mark and Bopper are one of the first to assemble the panels: "My little boy loves Legos -- and that's what happened," is how Mark explains his success. Meanwhile, J.J. and Art are searching for the other task -- they've decided that the morning sun won't boil water as quickly as they'd like it to, so they're the one team headed for the donkey-transport task. Though they're only 100 meters from it at one point, they get turned around and lose probably 20 minutes. "Man," J.J. says. "You go from high to low." They could have left with a serious lead here, but it's squandered.
The teams piece together their solar panels without too much fuss -- except for the clowns, who neglected to realize that their box has a picture on it that depicts the process. "Let's go peek?" Cherie asks Dave, which is their way of agreeing to spy on the other teams. They don't have to go far, though: "That is a gorgeous thing of machinery," Cherie says to Rachel, like she's admiring their neighbors' new lawnmower. The ruse is quickly dropped: "You know there's a picture on the box, Cherie," Rachel says. Cherie didn't know. "Clowns are crazy," combat-pilot Dave says. He and Rachel move on -- and J.J. and Art come rambling through their site just minutes behind. After all the kvetching, they're actually in second place.
The teams head back to Salta, for an 18-hour bus trip to Buenos Aires. On the first bus are Dave and Rachel, J.J. and Art, Brendon and Rachel, and Mark and Bopper, who yells "Git 'er done!" at the ones still waiting for their water to boil. (Nary and Jamie later say that it took 45 minutes! ) The third bus -- we'll get to the second in a minute -- has Nary and Jamie and Stacy and Kerri. The second bus has another four teams: Dave and Cherie, Elliot and Andrew, Vanessa and Ralph, and the Long Island guidos, Joey Fitness and Danny. But somewhere in the middle of the 18-hour trip, a window blows out -- they suspect it was hit by something, which is less terrifying than the window just spontaneously disintegrating into pieces of glass -- and they're waiting for it to be "fixed" when the third bus blows by them on the highway. "Fixed" means covered in duct tape and cardboard, though none of that is anywhere to be found when the bus finally rolls into Buenos Aires, two hours late.
The rest of the teams have already converged upon Buenos Aires's cattle market, where their Roadblock task ("Where's the beef?") is to calculate the average weight of the beef cattle penned below them. Rachel and Dave and the border patrol agents team up and quickly get the right answer -- which doesn't look all that hard to do, even though there are cattle merchants yelling all around them. Rachel says, "I could just smell a ton of poo" -- but luckily she doesn't have to do it for long. Combined-team government agents are the first to finish and the first to the Pitstop at El Gomero, a 200-year-old rubber tree in La Recoleta," with Dave and Rachel first, and Art and J.J. second. Mark and Rachel also "team up," which means that Mark does the math while Rachel cries. Mark appears to have been overthinking the task -- "I forgot to round the last decimal! We could have got first place," he cries, wounded, to Bopper, but Rachel and Brendon have the bigger problem, as she's stonily staring into space while he apologizes for being a jerk. They're third and fourth, respectively.
The so-called last bus arrives with the two teams of women: Kerri and Stacy and Jamie and Nary, neither of whom seem to have much trouble with the task. Of course, they don't know about the mechanical trouble with the third bus, so they're jubilant when they hear that they're fifth and six -- not ninth and out. "I'm sorry to tell you...that the second bus broke down," Phil tells Jamie and Nary, going for some classic "American Idol" fake out. Which is beneath him, but okay.
This means that it's all going to come down to the last bus, with four teams: Vanessa and Ralph, Elliot and Andrew, Cherie and Dave, and the guidos. One of those teams is really, really bad at math, and it's sort of painful to watch cancer-survivor Dave struggle with long division. For what seems like many, many hours. Vanessa is first out; the brothers and the guidos team up, which leaves Dave and Cherie far behind. You can tell, at the mat, that they're hoping for salvation in the form of a non-elimination leg, but it's not to be: They're out. But they're gracious: "At the end of the day, we still have each other, so we really haven't lost," Dave says. And with that, some red noses, and a cart
"The Amazing Race" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Eight remaining contestants will learn how to surf from real-life 'Soul Surfer'
The eight remaining contestants head to the tropical paradise of Hawaii for an action-packed week that will address the excuse "I can’t lose weight on vacation" on an episode airing March 20, 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. After being warmly welcomed to Oahu with a luau, the players compete in a trivia challenge that awards the winner a cash prize which can be spent on a menu of items. Next it’s off to the breathtaking Kualoa Ranch where "Jurassic Park" was filmed and there the contestants race through a challenge involving tikis and leis for the coveted prize of immunity. Later, a young woman who epitomizes "no excuses" – real-life "Soul Surfer" Bethany Hamilton – teaches the contestants and trainers how to surf.
What was Bethany's experience like guest appearing on "The Biggest Loser"? She states, "It was so much fun to take eight contestants and the trainers from "The
Biggest Loser" surfing! To know that they have come so far in their
adventure to better health, and see the pure smile and stoke to be surfing
was really a blessing to me! It was very inspiring!
"The Biggest Loser" airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
The second castaway to go spills on Kat, Colton and Salani's 'stupid' strategy
The judges finally reveal the top 24 singers but with one final twist
By Carla Patton
Last time we left "American Idol," we were still waiting to hear the fate of Adam Brock. Did you have another sleepless night? Follow-up question: Was it the waking nightmares about "White Chocolate," and the fear of him going "Eeeeeheeeeyaaowww" in your ear that kept you wide-eyed with the sheets pulled over your head? Just me? OK.
Jeremy Rosado doesn't look it, but he's one of the young ones. I haven't cared for him one way or another, but this kid's got a voice that made the judges leap to their feet. The judges love Jeremy's energy, and seeing him cheer for everybody makes me like him, too. So, just in time, I'm happy to hear that Jeremy is in the Top 24.
Adam was looking at a picture of his daughter backstage, and he wants more than anything to be a singer. Those statements were related in his head. Steven Tyler tells Adam that, of course, he is in the Top 24. Jennifer wipes tears from her eyes. Lucky for her, Revlon makeup doesn't run! "Tell our daughter she's going to see her dad on TV!" Adam tells his wife. No, don't tell her that! That's embarrassing.
Will there be enough room for Shannon Magrane? She is 16 years old and basically another version of "White Chocolate." Yes, the girl's got a voice, but I'm still not sure about her. It seems like she's doing an impression of a good singer, you know? I liked her final solo (Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble With Love Is") more than some of her performances. It was more subdued and showed some finesse. Shannon is in the Top 24, and I appreciate Steven not dragging things out. She went back to hug the rest of her freakishly tall family.
Hey, what the hell? I remember Scott Dangerfield from Season 10, but haven't seen a hot second of him yet this season. This guy and his Cosby sweater are definitely not in this year, just based on editing alone. Jennifer tells him she didn't feel "that thing" this year and hopes to see him again next year. Thanks, Scott. We barely knew you in Season 11.
A couple more people we barely saw this season were eliminated before we got to someone we've come to care about. Skylar Laine is worried that, with two country girls through, she might be done for. But she sounds like Reba! And she sang "Fancy"! She moved instantly toward the top of my list with that. Skylar is in because she is too adorable (and any excuse to play "Fancy" again)! Skylar says she wants to jump into the water around them, but her mama would kill her. "Someone's got to," Steven says, with a cartoon light bulb over his head.
All right, Skylar Laine is pretty reminiscent of Lauren Alaina, so hopefully her star doesn't fade. Hallie Day, Chase Likens and Aaron Marcellus are in, with very little camera time to call their own. I love me some Aaron Marcellus, though, from what little we've been treated to.
I remember loving Deandre Brackensick last year, and I love him this year, too, in spite of his hair. He'd better be in this time! That voice is like buttah -- Marvin Gaye/Aaron Neville realness! And he sang "This Woman's Work" at a time when it wasn't too manipulative. Good for him. He can't imagine not going through, and luckily for him he will not have to fathom it. He is in.
But lovable giant, Jermaine Jones, is still waiting in the wings. His voice is so, so low. And that sweater vest is so, so sleeveless. Yikes.
Having been made to wait way too long, Jermaine has begun to cry and pray and pace about the room. He doesn't want to disappoint his mom! Aww, Jermaine. Randy has more heart than to try to fake Jermaine out. Jermaine did not make it, but his mom will still love him. That one was hard!
There are three girls left in the holding room but only one spot left in the Top 12 Girls. Hollie Cavanagh, Shelby Tweten and Ariel Sprague all face the judges together. I'm sure they're all great, but I don't know any of them all that well, so they're all interchangeable to me. It seems like, based on how much we got to see of their solos, Hollie will take it. Ryan didn't even say Ariel's last name when talking about her audition. Hollie Cavanagh is in, which means that there is a Hollie, a Hallie and a Haley in the Top 12 Girls.
Last but not least, it's the two young heartthrobs, David Leathers Jr. and Eben Franckewitz. Ryan has also promised us "a surprise twist that will have everyone talking." Oh, boy. I don't know whether I can trust you on that, Ryan.
Which youngster will it be? Mr. Steal Your Girl or the kid who just barely resembles Justin Bieber and will forever be compared to him on this show as a result? David sang a Jackson 5 song for his final solo and revealed a few pitch issues. Eben sang "You Are So Beautiful" and reminded me way more of Greyson Chance. He's great! I think it will be Eben -- or both of them.
What I like about the younger contestants is that they almost seem to forget that they're going to be on TV, or that this is a show. They talk about the amazing opportunity to meet Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler, and not the opportunity to be "on the show." I like this about them. In the end, Eben is through, and David will have to come back next year. They both look devastated, somehow. Eben sweetly hugs the judges and thanks them, respecting his elders.
"Keep that head up. Where's that chin?" Ryan tells David, demonstrating no paternal/human instincts whatsoever.
So there's the Top 24! But what's the surprise we'll all be talking about? Steven Tyler jumping into the water? Do you have your favorites? Anyone you're excited to see more of? Have you made any secret enemies yet? The live performances start next week on Tuesday!
In the end, the "twist that will have everyone talking" is the judges' decision to reinstate one guy into the competition, forming a Top 13 guys. It will be Jermaine Jones, Richie Law, David Leathers or Johnny Keyser. I wonder why they would include Johnny Keyser (who was eliminated earlier in the process), unless it was actually him. I hope it's not, though. And I really hope it's not Richie! Terrible!
Who do you hope it is? What do you think of the semifinalists?
Next week, "American Idol" airs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 28 to March 1, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Paul and Sarah sweep past Lindsay
Lindsay Autry put up a good fight, but in the end, we all knew this season of "Top Chef: Texas" was all about masterful Paul Qui and pasta queen Sarah Grueneberg. Sure, there was some tension in this episode, when Sarah had to figure out how to cook Asian food and Paul got the smackdown from head judge Tom Colicchio for some arugula, but Lindsay didn't stand a fighting chance. Sarah, who we all know has a hard edge under her bubbly smiles and constant tears, acknowledged as much. "I always knew it would be me versus Paul because Paul is a great chef." And Lindsay is what? Pray tell, Sarah.
The three chefs landed in Vancouver for their face-off, and for the Quickfire, they naturally had to master Asian food. Sarah fretted that Paul had a huge advantage, while Paul fretted about the expectation that he should win an Asian challenge. As part of the challenge, three master chefs who specialize in Asian cuisine showed up to cook with them, but they had to tag-team, with each chef getting just 10 minutes at a time to decipher what the chef before them had done and cook. Anita Lo set Lindsay up with a complex scallop dish with fried roe, while Takashi Yagahashi went for geoduck sashimi that Paul livened up with Thai chiles. Sarah went out of her comfort zone with pan seared cod w coconut curry crab salad w clementine and amaranth under the guidance of Floyd Cardoz. But the best part of the challenge was watching host Padma Lakshmi and judge Emeril Lagasse peering through a kitchen window, watching the chefs cook. Because ultimately, this challenge was strange, with the three chefs judged for a dish they didn't conceptualize and only partly executed. Still, Sarah and Floyd's curry was deemed superior, and she won a bucketload of money for her stepping out of her comfort zone. Paul was bummed that he over-spiced his sashimi, and that made us sad.
For the Elimination Challenge, the three were given a broad assignment: make a dish of Fire and Ice, with one hot and one cold component, served alongside a cocktail. Paul and Sarah immediately ran with fairly literal interpretations, with Paul adding "lemon snow" to his lobster bouillabaisse, while Sarah made a frozen mousse as a sauce to top her homemade baked pasta. Lindsay criticized Sarah and Paul for being gimmicky, but her original concept was maddeningly tame, with halibut (hot) served with celery root salad (cold.) Is this the final three or what? Come on, Lindsay, we know you've got more in that tough-as-nails attitude.
Paul and Sarah were plagued with anxiety as they cooked. Lindsay, cool as a cucumber, observed, "Lindsay and Paul second guess themselves a lot." Takes one to know one. It was kind of amazing to watch Sarah crack 80 eggs at a time for each batch of hand-made pasta and to see Paul methodically break down live lobsters. But despite Lindsay's accusations of "gimmicky," she added a roasted tomato ice to her dish to show the judges she had pushed herself. She won over Gail Simmons, who loved Lindsay's tomato theme, with the tomato granita and her tomato-based cocktail, but Tom didn't think her dish was ultimately all that interesting. Despite Tom's critique of Paul's arugula, we knew his full-flavored king crab with lobster broth and lemon snow was going to take him to the final two. Sarah overfroze her mousse, which didn't melt like she intended over the cannelloni stuffed with five greens, garlic and anchovy, but the judges lauded her perfect pasta and her refreshing mango, kumquat and gin cocktail. "I thought the dish was really brave," Tom said. "This was clearly pushing you out of your comfort zone. That said, it was maybe a little too cold."
But Texas-raised Sarah's dish was still good enough to beat out Lindsay, and the Texans are in. Texas chef Paul won the challenge, and after an episode full of anxiety, he finally gave us a massive, delighted grin. "This is a huge win," Paul said. "My goal is to win the title of Top Chef, and I’m so close right now." We so clearly favor Paul, but not everyone might agree.
Do you like Sarah better? Who do you think will dominate next week to win the title of "Top Chef: Texas?"
"Top Chef: Texas" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.