Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet still looking strong as top 3 make hometown visits
By Carla Patton
We're in the home stretch! Speaking of home, that's where the top 3 remaining contestants are going (or have returned from, if we're talking real time).
They have successfully completed the "Hometown Hero" level of this game, and we'll watch the results of that interspersed with the judges' song choices for them Wednesday night.
Wow, the final 3 could not look more exhausted. And, in making-Jessica-look-crazy news, she's wearing a floor-length evening gown! That's totally appropriate for her age and not drowning her at all! And she looks totally natural standing next to Phillip in flannel and jeans. I don't know. It's easier to criticize that than to actually choose something. How do you dress a 16-year old who sounds like a 28-year old? Debacle.
Next week, the performance show is on a Tuesday and the finale on a Wednesday! Make note! And in this episode there are three rounds: judges' choice, contestants' choice and Jimmy's choice. I bet Jimmy's choice will be the best. He just knows! At least the kid from "Touch" is here. And somewhere in the vicinity, Kiefer Sutherland is looking for him, whisper-screaming, "Jake!"
Joshua Ledet is up first, and Randy chose "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Etta James, a classic, for him. Joshua is doing well enough with this song and the old-timey microphone. I'm not familiar with this song, but it seems like a good choice for him. It's more laid-back, so it's not like he's going to push a diamond out first thing. We've got a long night ahead of us. But the thing about Joshua is that he always gives it his all, and even this first, expendable performance has some real oomph behind it. And of course, the judges can't help but rise to their feet, trained like Pavlov's dogs.
Ryan Seacrest asked Joshua how this night is different for him from watching a sporting event, and he paused, "Uh, I don't really know how to answer that." I really like Joshua. And that question was baloney.
The rest of the top 12 are here, watching in the audience! Oh, I miss Heejun. Remember Heejun? Things were really fun when he was on the show.
Jessica Sanchez will be singing "My All" by Mariah Carey, per Jennifer's request. The staging is really nice. They literally put her on a pedestal and turned on the fog machines. All Jessica has to do is stand there and not act weird about it, which she does successfully. I think this was also a good choice for Jessica, showing more tenderness and a less belt-y side of the ballad. It was really pleasant -- or whatever a more intense version of pleasant is. Randy called it one of the best times a Mariah song has ever been performed on TV. That's fair. Jennifer acknowledged that it was a hard song they threw at her. Steven predicted that Jessica would also win. Everyone wins, as Steven lives in multiple realities and dimensions.
Before the commercial break, Phillip Phillips is reunited with Heejun Han, and they're back to their old comedy routine. I miss them together. They need to figure out some sort of guest correspondent position for Heejun.
Phillip Phillips was assigned "Beggin'" by Madcon. At first, I wasn't sure how this would fit, but it turns out to be a pretty savvy arrangement. There isn't a way to make this song cooler than it is already, but this was an interesting take. Very classic Phillip. The audience loved it -- maybe more than I did. It sounded very DMB. Jennifer said it was great. Randy (who @ replied me during the commercial break! The "YO" pin is coming back!) said he felt like he was at the Phillip Phillips concert.
Ryan saunters over to the judges and asks for a Round 1 winner. The audience screams for Phillip. Randy gives the edge to Joshua, vocally. Jennifer says Phillip, to much applause, and Steven agrees that Phillip is magic.
Now, Joshua Ledet chooses "Imagine" by John Lennon to sing. I don't know. There are a few songs that should be retired from the show forever, and this is one of them (along with "Hallelujah" and "Falling Slowly"). I like that this song eases back a bit, though, as Joshua can sing the crap out of any song whenever he so chooses. I wish he had picked a better song or at least something a little less squeaky clean. But that's who he is! His genre is "inspirational music." The judges loved it. It's out of their hands as far as they're concerned. Joshua chose this song for the message. And good for him, but I really want him to sing some Cee Lo.
Jessica Sanchez chose to sing Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" in front of Steven Tyler! Like that's even a factor. This is another song that's overwrought, over-sung, and can ride on cheesy. It's not her finest moment, but we've known for a while now that she doesn't always choose the best songs for herself. It's even, dare I say, pitchy? But she finally looks great. So, that's something. The last note faltered, went flat and cracked. Maybe she's sick or blew out a vocal cord. The judges pretend it was spectacular.
Phillip Phillips gets a clip package next, and I'm sure the ladies will love it! I bet it's entertaining because he's a nice guy. I liked that shot of a guy holding a sign saying "Phillip, you still owe me $10." And he had a dish named after him at his favorite restaurant! That's cool. The girls are pressed up against the chain-link fences to see Phillip in Georgia. Naturally, he returns to the pawn shop, where more girls and overweight middle-aged women are waiting for him. Nobody buys anything at the pawn shop, though. I love Phillip's dad (Phillip Phillips Sr.), from the tears in his eyes to the gun in his belt. "I just wanna squeeze 'im till I cain't no more!" Phillip's mother says. His parents are so great. The parade makes Phillip tear up, and it's just hard not to love him as a person. If Phillip was singing music that was more like the kind of things that young girls like to listen to, he would be absolutely unstoppable, like Justin Bieber.
Phillip Phillips chose "Disease" by Matchbox 20. It's refreshingly within his range, allowing him to really sing, rather than reach. I don't agree with the judges on Round 1, but I think Phillip is definitely winning Round 2. The set designers love people sitting on instrument cases and amps, don't they? There's just too many there, though. It's not natural. Maybe Phillip chose this song because he actually has a disease that has put him in the hospital several times during this competition? Jennifer didn't feel like this was the "wow performance," and the audience boos that. Randy had a convoluted lead into "I didn't like it either." The judges want more. They want more of a moment and criticized him for performing something he could do in his sleep. But I liked it!
Jimmy chose "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige for Joshua. Oh, that is awesome. Good job, Jimmy. Mary J. is current, but this song still brings it to church, which is Joshua's wheelhouse. I love his jacket! This is a good performance, but I'm not sure it really proves that Joshua could be relevant as this type of artist. I'd much rather attend a concert of him singing some soul classics. But he really drove it home at the end, doing what he does best, which is connecting to every song so deeply. Hollie and the other contestants really enjoyed it in the audience, which was adorable. He really has the best performance level of the three contestants remaining.
Jessica Sanchez got a giant AT&T box with a Beatbox and a phone with a text from Jimmy pre-loaded onto it. Oh, her brothers are keeping that phone! Jimmy chose "I'll Be There" by Jackson 5. Jimmy chose it to appeal to an older audience but still keep Jessica's youth. Admittedly, she sounds better than young Michael and his family did on it (I swear to God Tito or Jermaine is flat as hell on the backup in that song). The set designers gave her a roller coaster/Ferris wheel backdrop. Whatever, guys! It was nice, but it wasn't a moment. It just wasn't as exciting as some of the other stuff she's done in this competition. Randy liked it OK but didn't love it. That's how I feel, Randy. I'm tired. Oh, and her outfit was terrible again. Not even a hypnotic chartreuse bandeau top under a too-tight red leather jacket can cheer me up now.
Phillip Phillips is next to get a Beatbox and voicemail from Jimmy. Jimmy told him to sing "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger. Ah, Bob Seger! Of course! That's such a good choice for Phillip. Phillip looks nervous. But it's endearing, of course. He's really singing the melody. And his voice is pretty clear! This is a good Phillip. The ladies go crazy for Phillip and a string background! The judges do, too, rising to their feet and securing Phillip the win. Way to go, Jimmy. Way to just hand the win to your favorite.
Were you bored? Do you think anyone had any moments or were they too few and far between? Who had your favorite hometown visit?
What do you think of Wednesday night's performances? Who's next to go?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Too busy juggling her own music career and kids?
Bing: More about 'American Idol' | Photos: See Season 11 highlights
This E! Online report quotes unnamed sources saying that J.Lo has no plans to return for a third "American Idol" season because "she's just too busy" with tour plans.
"That's so very true," the report notes, before going into detail about the plans.
While she hasn't said as much herself, Lopez did not exactly squash the rumors while asked about them on "Ellen" on Tuesday. Instead of touring, however, she provided a different motivation.
"I don't know if I can go for a third year," Lopez said. "I miss doing other things. It really does lock you down, which was nice the first year with the babies being three, but now they're getting more mobile, they're about to go into school ... So I just don't know."
Of course, this could all just be a negotiating ploy. Lopez's contact comes up every year and hefty pay raises are the norm. (According to E!, she earned $12 million for her first season and $20 million this time.)
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Emily ascends to the throne as this season kicks off
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that Brad and Emily made out on a South African hilltop and pledged undying love to each other? Yes? Well, we all know how that went (poorly) -- and so Emily's back, with her six-year-old Ricki and sad stories and incredibly white teeth. She's 26, she wears tight sweaters and red pants to the park, and she's set on finding love so she doesn't have to go through that hassle ever again. ("I thought I was done dating!" she tells Chris Harrison about her post-Brad conclusions.) Here's the thing about Emily: 95 percent of the time she is incredibly, watching-water-boil, staring-at-paint-drying boring, just a nervous smile and tremendously big eyes. Then there's five percent of the time where she just drops the act and snarls -- she did this once on "After the Final Rose" and it was, no joke, electrifying. Please God let us see more of the interesting Emily and less of the perfectly coiffed pageant queen, or this season is going to be deadly.
As we get up to speed on the realities of Emily's life in Charlotte, NC, as a single mom and collectively try to figure out how she afforded that McMansion she shares with her daughter, we meet a few of Emily's bachelors. We have: douche-y Kalon ("I used to be a womanizer"); cutie Ryan, who has the world's happiest golden retriever ("I played eight years of pro football"); single dad Tony ("I buy and sell lumber and plywood"), sole African-American guy Lerone, who has the world's smallest dog and does not look like Shemar Moore but seems to think he is equitably attractive; singer/songwriter David ("Emily is exactly the kind of woman I'd want to be with ... well-postured"); Charlie ("I may have had a head injury but there's nothing wrong with my heart"); entrepreneur Jef ("I like being underestimated"), and race car driver Arie ("There's one thing I'm worried about...."). Regular viewers will remember that Emily's PDF (poor, dead fiancé) was also a race car driver, and en route to a race when he died in a plane crash.
What does Emily want? She wants not to discuss the PDF ("To be honest i don't want to talk about that anymore" -- we'll see what the producers think of that) and "a minivan full of babies." "Let's not open with that speech to the guys," Chris advises her.
Of course, Emily could be actively vomiting on the ground, and it wouldn't slow up the fawning greetings she gets as the guys exit their limos. This episode of "The Bachelorette" is like the first 10 minutes of a war movie where you're still trying to figure out who's sticking around for the rest of the show. We have: Sean; single dad Doug ("I'm a hugger, is that okay?" -- surprise, it is); "fitness model" Jackson; Joe; Kyle; Chris; Aaron ("I am high school biology teacher but I'm here to have chemistry with you," he says -- and his students self-immolate from hysterical laughter); Alessandro (who lists his hometowns as, variably, Brazil and Minneapolis); and "party MC" Stevie (with a boombox). Someone says, roughly, that "Life's not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments life takes our breath away" cliché. But we have too many more guys to stop and really let that soak in -- there's Randy ("You stuck out in my mind"), accountant Nate ("You smell really good"), Brent, "Wolf," Travis ("This egg is a symbol of you and Ricki"), rehab counselor "Music Mike," marine biologist Jean-Paul, and Alejandro from Medellin. And then -- of course, somebody has to arrive by helicopter. This season, it's Kalon. "Whoever this is, we're all going to hate him," someone else says, and that someone else is right. "She's a princess, and she looks like it," Kalon says, annoyingly.
Next we have the evening's cocktail hour. The guys basically all bleed into one big, fawning mass except for the guy with six kids; Jef, who comes off as surprisingly cool, and Sean, who gets into some sort of weird passive-aggressive fight with Kalon. Then there's Doug, who, in lieu of an ostrich egg, has brought Emily a letter from his 12-year-old son, attesting to his own positive attributes. It is an utterly successful move, and it wins Doug the first-impression rose. "I'm just glad helicopter guy didn't get it," says Sean, while the rest of the guys grumble in agreement.
Faster than ever, we have the rose ceremony. A million boring white guys get roses. Lerone does not, which is disappointing, as it would be nice for this experiment in diversity to last longer than a single hour. Father-of-six Brent is out and drawing all kinds of inappropriate conclusions from his dismissal. Jean-Paul, too, is gone, along with David the singer -- which means, if nothing else, we'll be spared reprises of the “Emileeeeeeee” song we heard earlier in the evening.
"The Bachelor" airs Monday, May 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, beginning May 28.
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough eliminated, miss out on the finals
It was anyone's guess who would be eliminated this week -- all four semifinalists were amazing dancers who brought their all to their performances. As Tom Bergeron put it "whichever way this goes, it's gonna suck." It looks like viewer votes are what sent Maria packing, since she finished first on the judges' leaderboard. To her credit, she had nothing but positive things to say about her experience on the show. Maria said she learned a lot from her "DWTS" experience, and Derek complimented her on being a "champion of life."
Here's a quick look at how our three finalists did this week
Katherine's quickstep was the dance of the season! It had 1920s glamor, lightning-fast choreography and that "magic" that makes a good routine great. The judges had nothing but love for this routine, though a slight hiccup near the beginning kept Katherine from earning a perfect 30. Katherine's sexy salsa was gorgeous, but she stumbled near the end of the routine and hurt her back. After that moment, she couldn't get her composure back, but Katherine actually seemed more upset about her slip-up than the judges.
William and Cheryl tore up the floor with their smoking hot tango. His intensity was incredible and his lines were gorgeous, though he had some control issues with his spins near the beginning of the number. Len proclaimed the dance "overall terrific," though he did comment on occasional flat-footedness from William. William's samba was amazing and the judges' choice for this week's encore: He shook his booty and did it with a smile. William's technique was as solid as his attitude and the routine earned him a perfect score.
Donald's sweet waltz was a real departure from his usual intense numbers. He and Peta maintained body contact throughout the routine and his lines were gorgeous. Carrie Ann loved the emotional content of the routine but found Donald's footwork a bit lacking in the end. Donald's samba was stunning -- as usual, he brought his personality to bear while turning in a nearly perfect performance technique-wise.
Who won the week: William
Who needs to step it up: Katherine
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
The fourth and final season of MTV's hit reality mama drama starts this June
- Amber and Gary are still duking it out while their poor little one, Leah, watches in horror. Expect more arrests, violence, an apparent suicide risk and perhaps another lame attempt at making things work between them.
- Farrah and her mom Debra are also still duking it out, except Farrah has actually made the move to Florida, leaving little Sophia in her grandmother's care. So there's plenty of angst on both sides there.
- Caitlin and Tyler have graduated and are still together. But they're still deliberating whether they should stay together. They're also still proud of the fact that they gave their birth daughter, Carly, a better life, but mourning the situation nonetheless.
- Maci's still with Tyler -- and hoping for a ring -- but dealing with her deadbeat baby daddy Ryan. She's also trying to manage school. Maybe she's doing a better job of it now that baby Bentley is three.
Shock jock proves honest, charming and non-controversial
During its Season 7 premiere show Monday night, "America's Got Talent" discovered a father/daughter singing team, a teenage clogging troupe and a music teacher who expertly played strings rigged across an entire Los Angeles theater. However, the real talent America discovered belonged to new judge Howard Stern.
Piers Morgan's replacement was heavy on his buzzer, usually branding the first "X" to unpromising acts. But he managed to be honest and funny without going over the line -- as critics feared he would.
“If you were on an island and all you had were your birds, would you eat them?” Stern asked a 55-year-old woman who crooned "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" while covered with 22 cockatiels.
Of course, Howard being Howard, he couldn't resist a penis joke. But he used a G-rated word and aimed it at an abominable magician/stripper the audience had already turned against.
"I wanted to see some magic and all I saw is a guy with his pants off and a rather small package, quite frankly," Stern said. "Don't feel bad. I'm in the same boat, my friend."
In fact, the night's biggest insult was leveled not by Stern but one of the rejects. When Stern told the guitarist who butchered "Proud Mary", "I’ve been in radio 35 years and you're too weird for my show,” the guitarist shot back: “That might hurt my feelings if I respected your opinion.”
Check out the video:
If anything, all three seemed a tad lenient, waving forward a man who ate a scorpion, a ventriloquist whose dummy was a dog rigged with a false bottom jaw, and a middling rapper who claimed to be inventing rhymes about the three judges on the spot.
"You don't pre-write that?" Mandel asked.
"That was 100 percent off the top of my head," the contestant said, unchallenged. (Seriously?)
The show was edited tightly -- so tightly that, at times, it resembled a typical previous-episode recap -- so it's possible that Stern wasn't really as consistently funny as he appeared, and that more controversial statements were edited out.
Still, judging the show as broadcast, it's hard not to happily wave Howard Stern onto the next round and wish him continued luck.
"America's Got Talent" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Maria Menounos takes the lead in the semifinals
After the first dance, Len predicted that this would be the best semifinals in "DWTS" history. He just might have been right! This round had it all ... spills from Katherine, chills from Donald and thrills from Maria. William? Well, he shook his booty.
Our four semifinalists finished with just four points between front-runner Maria and Katherine in last place. It's anyone's guess who will be heading to the finals!
Here's a quick look at how the stars did this week:
William opened the semifinals with a smoking-hot tango. He and Cheryl tore up the floor! William's lines were fantastic and his intensity was second to none. Len proclaimed the dance "overall terrific," though he did comment on occasional flat-footedness from William. Bruno called it ace, and Carrie Ann praised the routine as well, though she commented on a slight lack of control near the beginning with William's turns.
William's Technicolor, booty-shaking samba was fantastic. He and Cheryl were really in sync and William's footwork was very nearly as good as his hip shaking. This number had the whole crowd on its feet! Carrie Ann said the routine had her at hello, and Len praised the choreography and William's rhythm.
Katherine's quickstep was lightning-quick and downright incredible! It had 1920s glamor, but plenty of sizzle as well. Her footwork was incredible, her timing was perfect and she really sold the routine. Bruno was left nearly speechless and Carrie Ann said Katherine brought her "A+ game" before declaring the routine maybe the best she had ever seen on the show. Len pointed out a slight hiccup during the beginning of the routine but called it "a fabulous number."
Katherine's belly-dancing-inspired salsa was all quick spins and shoulder shimmies. She and Mark moved well together right up until the end, when Katherine slipped during a tricky spin at the end and couldn't catch her breath afterwards. Carrie Ann loved the routine and praised Katherine for pushing her boundaries. Bruno was blunter, saying that Katherine "unleashed the harlot" and called the routine wonderful in spite of the slipup at the end. It's not clear yet whether Katherine injured her back.
Donald's lyrical waltz showed us his softer side. He and Peta maintained body contact throughout the routine and his lines were gorgeous. He was so solemn and "in character" during the dance that it was a kick to see him grin at the end. Carrie Ann loved the emotional content of the routine but found Donald's footwork a bit lacking. Len called the routine "absolutely charming" and Bruno commented on how well Donald extended his lines.
Donald's tongue-in-cheek samba was more of his usual shtick – great dancing and plenty of sass thrown in. His hip work was excellent and he did a great job staying in sync with Peta. The best part was how he made it look effortless. Honestly, Donald looked like one of the pros out there. Len praised his lines, and Bruno said the routine worked beautifully. Carrie Ann gave out her second A+ of the week, because apparently paddles aren't expressive enough.
Maria's smoldering Argentine tango showed off her incredible precision and control. The choreography never let up and Maria matched Derek step for step. There were some jaw-dropping lifts, but what really sold the routine was Maria's intensity. Bruno called the routine "tailored, enticing and exhilarating" and Carrie Ann commented on how much Maria has improved throughout the course of the competition.
Maria's saucy jive never let up for a second! She and Derek really sold it. This routine was fun, flirty and best of all, not something we've seen a bunch of times. Maria's rhythm was excellent and her body contact with Derek during some of the tight turns in the choreography was stunning. She did stumble slightly during the routine, but no one's perfect. All three judges loved the routine. Bruno praised its quirkiness – he said it shouldn't have worked, but it did.
Argentine tango: 30/30
Who won over the judges: Maria
Who won over the crowd: William
Who needs to step it up: Katherine
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.