Niecy Nash is eliminated
Well, it's curtains for Niecy (and her jiggly parts). She certainly wasn't the best dancer on the show, but she showed the most improvement over the course of the season. She was also the funniest contestant by far! Who else would brag about having three C-sections under her belt in a goodbye speech? Niecy was all smiles as she pulled Louis out on the floor for their last dance. And they actually danced instead of standing there awkwardly!
Here's how the remaining celebrities did this week:
She was just one point away from a perfect night with a lighthearted foxtrot and a '50s-style paso doble that brought the crowd to its feet. The judges chose Nicole's paso for this week's encore, and Len said it may be the dance of the season -- or all ten seasons! Nicole is probably the best dancer ever to appear on "Dancing With the Stars," but during Monday's broadcast we saw some rehearsal footage where she seemed completely overwhelmed. Let's hope the pressure won't get to her in the semifinals!
Nicole's paso doble stole the show, but let's not count Evan out! Both his waltz and his futuristic cha-cha were well received by the judges. Evan has done a good job throughout the competition of incorporating the judges' feedback, so I expect to see him a little less stiff out on the floor next week.
This was a good week for our sportscaster: Her tango was wicked -- in a good way -- and her '80s-style rumba wasn't bad either. Erin and Maks may not actually be dating, but there's a real spark between them. Whatever's going on is working, because Erin tied with Evan in this week's scoring.
Sadly, this wasn't Chad's best week. His tango was a miss, but he fared slightly better with a 60s-style jive. Chad has a history of surprising the judges, but he's really going to have to pull off something amazing to advance to the finals.
Who won over the week: Nicole
Who needs to step it up: Chad
Duet performances, Crystal Bowersox highlight an inconsistent movies-themed night
"American Idol" offered up a welcome change of pace Tuesday night with its movies-themed episode. Under the guidance of guest mentor Jamie Foxx, the final four singers performed twice: once individually and again paired with another contestant. While the solo efforts were a tad underwhelming, the duets provided some of this season's best musical moments.
Last week's performance episode was both hotly contested and highly entertaining. Tuesday night's show offered up some amusing moments from the judges' table, but the singing, on the whole, wasn't very good. The night's standout performer was Crystal Bowersox, who reclaimed her spot at the head of the pack with a gusty, confident version of "I'm Alright" by Kenny Loggins. Her rock-ready interpretation garnered the judges' most positive feedback. On the other hand, Lee Dewyze, last week's darling, struggled through Seal's "Kiss From a Rose." It was one of his worst vocal performances to date. To his credit, however, he was able to regroup and deliver a memorable duet with Crystal just moments later. The other pairing of Casey James and Michael Lynche was similarly impressive, though slightly less so.
Here's how the remaining contestants fared (in the order that they appeared):
- When Lee Dewyze has been on his game this season, he's thrilled audience members with his gritty, throaty, blue collar-sounding voice. But when he's been "off," he's sounded pitchy and merely pedestrian. Sadly, that was the case with his version of Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," a song that seemed to be too vocally expansive. Not only did Lee struggle to hit his high notes squarely, but his delivery lacked enthusiasm. The song, perhaps too laid-back and low-key to kick off the show, never settled into a comfortable groove and was pretty much dead on arrival. Lee's performance was surely a letdown from last week's showstopper. Disappointed, Randy admitted, "You did nothing with that song. It was just OK." Encouraging Lee to remain true to his rock roots, he said, "Be who you are." Ellen was a bit more positive, declaring that she "loved it." But she did add, "There could have been more done with the song." Kara commented, "You got lost a little. You had some out-of-tune issues." Nevertheless, she reminded, "You are still great. I can hear you on the radio." And Simon agreed with Randy, remarking, "There are so many brilliant songs. That was verging on karaoke." There's no denying it: This performance was a mess.
- At some point, we knew that Michael Lynche was going to serve up a Michael Jackson tune. But would anyone have guessed that it would be "Will You Be There," that gospel-heavy ditty from "Free Willy"? Big Mike surely gave the audience a heavy dose of gospel with plenty of theatrical moments. He surely knows how to make most of his time on stage. But at times, the rendition sounded like something straight out of an inspirational album. Michael can sing, but he needs to mind the cheese factor. At times, he sounds more like he's performing at a music teachers' convention than on TV's biggest singing contest. If there's one thing that Michael will need to work on, it's learning how to sound more contemporary and hip. He's still too old-fashioned for his own good. Randy confessed, "I didn't love this for you either. I wish you had chosen some R&B song." Ellen agreed, adding, "It was a little bit predictable." Kara thought Michael "played it safe." She explained, "Tonight I wanted to feel goose bumps, and I didn't feel that from you tonight." Simon was underwhelmed, noting, "It doesn't make sense." But he later softened his stance, saying, "At least you gave it one hundred percent. I kinda felt that you meant it."
- Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze delivered the night's first duet with "Falling Slowly," a song that Kris Allen made famous last season. This was a terrific match of musical styles and sounds. And there was clear chemistry between the two front-runners. These two folksy, earthy singers clearly enjoyed performing with each other, and the result was one of the most endearing, touching performances of the season. "That could be a hit right now," Randy beamed. Ellen added, "You are the new Captain and Tennille." Kara said, "It was one of my favorite moments of the entire season. You brought out the best in both of you." And Simon was succinct in his praise. "I don't know if I would call that a good song," he commented. "I would call that a fantastic song."
- There's no doubt that Casey James had a poor vocal showing last week. Under pressure to perform well, the Texan needed to come out and re-establish his vocal identity. But, instead of redoubling his efforts to present something formidable, he went small and gimmicky, choosing Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson." The subtext was clearly obvious to viewers and the judges, the song choice momentarily bringing smiles to those in the audience. But after the initial giggle subsided, there wasn't much left to be impressed with. The song didn't allow Casey many moments to showcase what he could do with his voice, and the interpretation didn't stray too far from the original. In short, it was ho-hum effort on a night when he needed to swing for the fences. Randy thought Casey "sounded cool." He tepidly explained, "It was just kind of a cool, laidback version of the song." Acknowledging Casey's mandolin, Ellen said, "I wish they would have given you a big boy guitar. I like that you came back and did something different with the song. I liked that you changed it up." Kara, who had to have been flattered, remarked, "For me this is you fighting to stay in the competition. This was actually a good choice." But Simon panned the rendition. "I didn't think the song or the performance had the substance required on this night," he noted. "There have been some very strange song choices tonight. And that was one of them."
- It looks like Crystal Bowersox has got her groove back. Chided by the judges for turning in less than impressive performances these last two weeks, the Ohioan came back Tuesday night and rocked the house with "I'm Alright" by Kenny Loggins (a song "Caddyshack" fans know and love). Crystal's rendition was the most impressive of the night. Whereas the other contestants seemed to play it safe, she decided to let things hang a bit. The song, complete with driving rhythms and growling vocals, showed that Crystal is capable of more than just hippie rock. Melissa Etheridge would have been proud. Randy said, "You are definitely an artist. Nice job." Ellen had nothing but praise, explaining, "You actually took that song and made it better." Kara echoed Randy and Ellen's comments and simply chanted, "Artist, artist, artist!" As for Simon, there were kudos all around. He declared, "After that performance, you are back in the game."
- To cap the night, Casey James and Michael Lynche, each toting acoustic guitars, threw down a sensitive, stirring version of "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" Casey started the number with Big Mike joining in later. The two, like the pair before them, were in perfect synch. They didn't try to outshine each other. The interpretation was tastefully understated. I don't think their duet was as affecting as Crystal and Lee's, but it was still very, very good. Randy enthusiastically offered, "That was brilliant. You guys sounded really good." Ellen had the line of the night, quipping, "As a matter of fact, yes I have loved a woman." Kara observed, "The duets tonight were incredible. That was great." Simon piggybacked, "The duets were a million times better than the solo performances. Well done."
And now for the lists:
Back on top: Crystal Bowersox
Feeling the pressure: Lee Dewyze
Wild card: Michael Lynche
Foot out the door: Casey James
Best duet: Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze
It's your turn now. What did you think of Tuesday night's performances? Who'd headed home?
Brothers fly under the radar and take home the $1 million prize
Dan and Jordan Pious powered their way to an unexpected win on the latest season of "The Amazing Race," pushing their way (in one case, literally) past fan favorite cowboys Jet and Cord McCoy and third-place finishers Caite Upton and Brent Horne. The brothers successfully stayed under the radar until the final leg, when we saw them make some serious moves -- including a game-winning switch into the first-class cabin of the race's final flight. We spoke with Dan and Jordan about winning the million bucks, how they scored their quasi-upgrade and the real story on their cab-centric meltdown in China.
Video: Dan and Jordan on their win
MSN TV: There's something crazy about interviewing two people who just won a million dollars.
Jordan: I know! Anyone who knows me knows that the hardest part of the entire race for me was keeping the secret. But it was such a big surprise, each time we got to the pit stop, we wanted to keep it a surprise for our family and friends, too.
On your pre-show Q&A, you both say you'd invest the money if you won. So no extravagant cars and liquor?
Jordan: That is 100% how we will be spending -- or not spending -- our million dollars. We will be investing and saving ... and of course, paying taxes. No extravagant cars.
Speaking of pre-show Q&As, Dan, you said your favorite place you've ever been was Fenway Park. Is that still true?
Dan: I have to say that now my favorite place I've ever been is the Seychelles. I've been on a cruise to the Mediterranean, and you're on a beautiful beach with clear water, but you're still close to home. Being in the Seychelles -- it's like you're in this screensaver paradise. It's just an incredible place.
Back to the matter at hand: Obviously your power move to win the race was getting your upgrade to first class.
Dan: That was definitely the game changer. But to be clear, and there has been some confusion on this, it wasn't an upgrade.
You had coach seats, as the rules specify, and then what happened?
Jordan: We were just in first class for the last 30 minutes of the flight.
Dan: We sat in coach with everybody else for the entire flight. The seats in first class are usually set aside for flight attendants.
Jordan: That was definitely all my brother. The flight attendants just really took a liking to him, and they had a good conversation, and she knew she had the opportunity to help us out by moving us up.
Why don't teams always ask to be moved up? Wouldn't it make sense to ask for that all the time?
Jordan: It wasn't something we had tried on other flights. Usually what happens is you tend to bunch up with other teams on flights. We just knew that with only three other teams, that if we can book it through customs, we're in a really good spot.
In comparison, that controversial decision to jump in front of Jet and Cord in the ticket line didn't get you far. And you'd run such a low-key race, it was almost a shame to see you make that decision.
Jordan: You're right. If i could go back and do it again, I probably wouldn't. We were just all getting tickets at the same time; it didn't give us any advantage.
Did your parents give you any trouble about it when they watched that moment? Or maybe about the meltdown in China?
Dan: I think our parents, and the majority of watchers, understood that we were in a race for a million dollars, with little food and little sleep. The frustrating part about that was that we had had a translation service tell our driver, in Chinese, where to go, and he just didn't listen. On TV it looked like I was upset because he couldn't speak English. I don't speak Chinese, I had no expectation that he'd be able to speak English, when we're in China. But he had been given directions in Chinese, and he still didn't get it, and that's why it was so frustrating. Every team will do some stuff from time to time ... at the digital computer challenge, Cord was just distracting me and talking aimlessly. When Caite left her money and passport behind, Jet had apparently thrown a piece of clothing over it, and that's why she forgot it. Whether it was intentional or not can be decided by each individual.
What did you guys make of the drama between Caite and Brandy?
Jordan: As an avid viewer for 15 seasons, I had never seen anything like that. They had their differences, and they really did butt heads and take things very personally. Brandy felt the need to voice her opinions at the finish line. We certainly didn't want anything to take away from the joyous moment of finishing the race and celebrating what the teams had done.
Back to the finale episode. It seemed miraculous that you just stop a cyclist who can identify Coit Tower from its height.
Dan: Jordan actually spotted him as we were coming out of the cab. There just happened to be a guy right there. All the stars were aligned.
It was interesting to see the race come together for you the way it did. Was it your plan all along to come in under the radar?
Jordan: We went into this race with one strategy: Fly under the radar, don't get a target on your back, don't get a U Turn, which are either personal or physical. When we got to the end, it was pedal to the metal.
Dan: It's important to note there were two U Turns, and both led directly to eliminations on the race.
It's clear you closely studied race strategy. Jordan, I know you’ve been a fan of the show from the beginning -- was this the first time you applied?
Jordan: I tried to get my brother to apply for season 15, and I was ready to make the video, camera in hand, and he was, like, "You know, bro, I don't know if I can go through with it." And we put the camera away. And I thought, I have to go to stage five of convincing him to do it, and I wrote him a very long email telling how much I wanted to do it.
Dan, was there anything in particular he said that convinced you to do it?
Dan: Nothing in particular, no. But when I realized how he felt about it, I called him up and said, "Is this really your number one dream? You're really serious? You really are?" And he said yes, and here we are.
The duo taped their appearance on the Big O's show, and rumors are already swirling
Teenage girls and boys with questionable taste have been eagerly anticipating (read: frothing at the Facebook page) the 'Twilight Saga: Eclipse' cast's appearance on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' for weeks now. And today, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, creepily well-developed Taylor Lautner and the other less lusted-after young actors plopped down on Oprah's thought sofa and discussed the blockbuster franchise.
Blogs are reporting that K-Stew and R-Patts (at least as researched by K-Zogs) joked around about their alleged romance on set (Pattinson supposedly even jested that Stewart was preggers-o-rama), and confided in Oprah about the reality of it backstage.
Right, because the moment Oprah's show wraps, she usually heads to her guests' dressing rooms and goes mining for all the gossip about their personal lives, while nodding thoughtfully and offering both her discretion and maternal insights.
Whatever the case, tune in to the actual broadcast this Thursday, May 13. Or just surf the Internet for updates about tornadoes, floods, volcanos and other happening natural disasters. Whatever you find more.... explosive! Eh? Eh?
Lara Pulver, Michael Steger score coveted guest gigs on the HBO hit
The latest? Michael Ausiello at Entertainment Weekly reports that producer Alan Ball has scored Brit import Lara Pulver, of "Robin Hood" fame, to play Sookie Stackhouse's fairy godmother, a key role in at least two episodes this season.
Also on tap is this season is Michael Steger -- you know him best as West Beverly High Blaze editor Navid on "90210." In a big departure from his days on the Disney hit "Cheetah Girls," Steger, who will continue his "90210" gig, will play a prostitute picked up by the King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare). According to Ausiello, this is currently a one-episode role, the character is reportedly likely to become recurring in season four of the show.
The wait is almost over -- catch new episodes of "True Blood" on HBO starting June 13.
The youngest 'Top Model' contestant got booted for being 'too commercial'
On Making it to "Top Model": I was at a mall a few years ago when a scout approached me -- but I was too young then. So they told me to come back when I was old enough. I've been counting down the days until I was 18. As soon as I could, I went and auditioned in L.A. And here I am!"
On the Drama: "I've never lived with a bunch of girls before, so I don't know if it was just that or if it was specifically these girls. But the drama was real. I tend to stay out of it. The only person I really had drama with was Alasia, but that wasn't such a big deal. And you know, girls never always get along -- particularly if you have a big group of them. If you put just two of them in a room, they could get along. But I think when you have all of the girls together in one house, there's just no way there wouldn't be drama."
On Missing Her Family: "I was gone to shoot the show for around two months. And I've never been away from my son or from my husband for more than one night! So it was really, really hard. Of course, I had these occasional breakdowns and cried. But so did Brenda and Anslee.Who wouldn't? But I just reminded myself that I was doing this for my family, so we all could have a better life. That kept me strong."
On Being Too Commercial: "On the show they always make it seem like being too commercial is a bad thing. They're all about runway and editorial. But now I've learned that commercial is actually where the money is. Those Cover Girl ads that they keep playing up -- that's commercial. So I'm glad I'm commercial. I plan to work it the best I can."
On What's Next: "My family and I just moved to L.A. My son just loves it. As soon as he got here, we went straight to the beach. I guess we figured, let's start his life in L.A. off right. I'm going to see what happens with the modeling, but I'd love to do some acting, too. Why not? I'm in L.A. now, and that's where all the action is. It's so completely different from Arkansas. It's go, go, go all the time. It's a different energy, but I'm starting to love it."
On Who She's Rooting For: "I am really rootng for Raina. We're friends off the show and she's awesome. But the thing that stands out about Raina is that she's truly dedicated to the craft of modeling. Off all the girls, she's the only one who would practice for an hour every night, work out, and watched what she ate. We all should have been doing those things, but no one else bothered -- even me. That shows a lot about her character. Plus, Raina delivers a really good picture. I think she deserves it. But if Raina doesn't take it, I'd like to see Alex win. She's a strong contender."
Only four girls left! Who's going home this week? Catch the next episode of "America's Next Top Model" Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the CW.
Nicole Scherzinger dances a perfect paso doble
For the first time this season our contenders had to perform two full routines each, a ballroom dance and a decade-themed Latin dance. Nicole dominated the ballroom round with a lightfooted foxtrot and also took top honors in the Latin round with an absolutely breathtaking paso doble. In fact, our lovely Nicole was just one point away from a perfect 60 tonight.
Photos: See performance pics | Twitter: Follow MSN TV
Erin and Maks turned in an amazing are-they-or-aren't-they tango and Evan and Anna debuted a sugary sweet waltz.
Unfortunately, not everyone did their best work tonight. Niecy struggled in both the ballroom and the Latin round and Chad's tango was a disappointment.
In case you missed part of the show, here are all the dirty details:
He showed the tango who was boss in Week 6, but tonight Chad's tango was a miss. His posture was off and he made a few missteps -- and of course the judges noticed. Chad's '60s-style jive, on the other hand, was a smashing success. It was light and fun and, as Bruno said, he "totally pimped that jive." His footwork was excellent and his hips were nice and loose. We're at the point in the competition where any little mistake can sink you. Since that tango was a no-go, Chad had better hope his fans will come through for him.
Although her carriage was elegant -- Len actually used the word "gorgeous" -- Niecy seemed a little overwhelmed during her waltz. It looked more like she was trying to keep up with Louis than dance with him. Her '90s-style paso doble started out bumpy but she pulled it together toward the end. That might have been OK at the beginning of the competition, but poor lines and bad rhythm just won't cut it in Week 8. I'm afraid the paso doble might have been Niecy's last turn out on the floor.
Paso doble: 20/30
Her tango absolutely sizzled. Erin's footwork was her best yet, her frame was excellent (as it always is) and she seemed completely caught up in the magic of the dance. The lifts in this routine were even more jaw-dropping than Evan and Anna's last week. And, hey, Erin and Maks may not actually be dating, but there's a real spark between them. (Brooke asked them about their "love story" and they didn't deny anything.) Their '80s-style rumba wasn't quite as successful. Although Erin pulled off an impressive split sequence she was a little bit stiff and choppy throughout. Still, Erin was on her game and seems poised to take it to the next level in the semifinals.
He and Anna danced beautifully together, as always, but their waltz was a little too Disneyfied for me ... especially the weird daydreamy lead-in. Len seemed to feel the same way, and said that he wanted to see it again before deciding whether or not he liked it. Still, cheesy doesn't mean bad and Evan got top marks for this one. He and Anna drew "the future" in the Latin round, and their cha-cha was sort of Tin Man meets "Thriller." Len pointed out that being robotic on purpose really helped Evan play to his strengths, since he tends to be a little too stiff in Latin dances. Let's hope he'll take the judges' words to heart as he prepares for the next round of competition.
Her foxtrot may have looked whimsical and lighthearted, but there were some tough moves in that routine! Bruno called it "a jewel created by a master," probably because Nicole matched Derek step for step out on the floor. It was honestly just about perfect -- so much so that Len didn't object to the gratuitous use of props. I thought their '50s-style paso doble was the best dance of the season so far. There was an amazing his 'n hers quality to this tight and fast routine. As usual, Nicole's extension was amazing, her footwork was beyond flawless and her rhythm was spot on. The crowd was absolutely blown away, and so were the other contestants. I clearly saw Chad Ochocinco mouthing "Wow" to no one in particular. Even Carrie Ann was at a loss. She broke into excited giggles at the beginning of her critique! I can't wait to see what Nicole does next week.
Paso doble: 30/30
Who won over the judges: Nicole
Who won over the audience: Nicole
Who needs to step it up: Niecy
The quirky, talented singer might be "so unusual," but she wasn't quite cutthroat enough
Unfortunately, she and Holly Robinson got down-and-dirty in the boardroom, and when it came down to firing time, Donald didn't feel Cyndi stood up for herself and her superlative work with enough assurance.
CYNDI LAUPER ON WHETHER DONALD JR. GAVE HOLLY TOO MUCH CREDIT: "I should have added that Holly also wanted [the room] painted that sea-foam green that everyone hated. But ya know what? The boardroom is a tough thing to sit through, and you learn a lot. I'm pretty straightforward, and there's a lot of two-sided things going on, and I guess after a while it got to me. But I can't judge the way other people behave. I can only look at
CYNDI LAUPER ON HOLLY ROBINSON PEETE AND WHO WILL WIN: "She's a hard worker. She wouldn't think twice of throwing anyone under the bus, but I think Brett is a very good contender to win. Bret lives with what's going on with him, as we all do. Everybody has their cause, but I think because of Bret's illness and the fact that he's recouperated and he's coming back, that kind of determination is pretty great."
CYNDI LAUPER ON THE MOST IMPORTANT THING SHE LEARNED: "I learned that I still would keep my demeanor of being very straightforward. That show got a little too backstabby. That was hard for me to deal with. It was an interesting experience. It was hard work, but I learned a lot just watching everybody. Sharon Osbourne is such a blast and she's so, so bright. And I thought that Bret [Michaels] was really creative and always positive. Everybody had something about them that was good that I learned from."
CYNDI LAUPER ON HER OVERALL EXPERIENCE: "It was an interesting gig. I've never done anything like that. I liked the fact that Donald was there with his kids. I thought that was really sweet. And I got to reconnect with Sharon Osbourne, who was awesome. I thought everyone was very interesting."
CYNDI LAUPER ON WHETHER SHE HAS ANY REGRETS: "No, I think I learned a lot. While I was on the show I was doing 10 million other things at the same time, so it was a little hairy for me at times, but ya know, that stuff was going on before 'The Apprentice.'"
CYNDI LAUPER ON WHETHER SHE'S SPOKEN WITH BRET MICHAELS: "Nobody's spoken with Bret. I was very concerned. The guy is fighting for diabetes, and what happened to him happens to people with diabetes, so he really lucked out, it could have been a million times worse. Everything happens for a reason. I didn't really understand what was going on because I was working. All of a sudden I saw this thing about Bret Michaels and was like, 'What the heck is going on?' I kept trying to picture him well and OK. He's a good guy, and it's unfortunate he has this disease, and that's exactly why he's fighting for it."