Friday, August 3, 2007

Listen to Carrie Underwood "So Small"

Listen to a radio rip of "So Small" the first release from Carrie Underwood's forthcoming CD.

We like it a lot. What do you think? Let us know by commenting. Lyrics below


Yeah, yeah, yeah
What's you got if you ain't got love?
The kind that you just wanna give away
It's okay to open up
Go ahead and let the light shine through

I know it's hard on a rainy day
You wanna shut the world out and just be left alone
But don't run out on your faith

'Cause sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever is in your hands
When you figure out love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else seem so small

It's so easy to get lost inside
A problem that seems so big the other time
is like a river that's so wide
It swallows you whole
Why you sitting 'round thinking about what you can't change
and worrying about all the wrong things
And time's flying by
Moving so fast
You'd better make it count
'Cause you can't get it back

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever is in your hands
Oh, and when you figure out love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else seem so small

Yeah yeah yeah yeah

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever is in your hands
Oh and when you figure out love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Oh, it sure makes everything else seem so small

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© 2008

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kelly Clarkson Apologizes to Clive Davis

Even though her CD has dropped out of the Top 10, Kelly Clarkson is staying in the news because of the apology she proffered to Clive Davis on her Web site (a step that Simon Cowell recently advised her to take in the press):

In a posting of her Web site, Clarkson writes, "A lot has been made in the press about my relationship with Clive. Much of this has been blown way out of proportion and taken out of context.

"Contrary to recent characterizations in the press, I'm well aware that Clive is one of the great record men of all time. He has been a key advisor and has been an important force in my success to date. He has also given me respect by releasing my new album when he was not obligated to do so.

"I really regret how this has turned out and I apologize to those whom I have done disservice. I would never intentionally hurt anyone."


... As in driving fast, or so she told Newsweek in an interview they recently conducted with her. Kellie Pickler also told the 'zine that she'd love to fill the empty host chair on "The View." Read on:

You sound like you're outside.
I'm doing a show in Wisconsin, opening up for Reba [McEntire], so, yay! I'm lying on the bunk of my tour bus right now.

Do you ever drive the bus?
They won't let me for some reason. I don't know why.

Well, do you have a license?
Yeah! I'm a good driver. I wanted to be a NASCAR driver. I love driving fast.

What's the fastest you've ever driven?
I once got pulled over going 95 in a 35. Let me tell you, I cried my way out of that ticket. But it was real dangerous, I shouldn't have done that. It was early in the morning and I was driving to school. We had this weird tardy thing. If you're tardy three days to class, you'd get suspension.

You were great as a guest host on "The View." I think they should offer you one of the open seats.
Omigod. I'd so do it. I've got an opinion about everything. They film two shows in the same day. So I'd tour during the weekends.

Maybe Barbara Walters will be reading this.
I know! I've been waiting for them to call. Every time I've done the show, everyone tries to create all this animosity, and there's really none. They've all been really nice to me.

Except for Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Actually, she's the nicest. Some people tend to forget it's called "The View," so everyone's got to have their own point of view. It's not called "The Facts."

Are you and Carrie Underwood friends?
We went to the "Idol" concert together. It was nice to have a girls' night out.

How was Sanjaya?
It was kind of weird. The music, the mix, was so loud I could hardly understand what anybody was singing. I think they were having some technical problems. Everybody sounded great, but Carrie and I both had a hard time listening.

Have you seen "Hey, Paula?"
What's that?

Paula Abdul's reality show.
She has a reality show?! I don't watch TV ever. If I do watch TV, it's either Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel. Have you seen "Planet Earth"? It's amazing. It's up close and personal with different things on the earth, like animals, plants and trees. Stuff we don't know that's out there.
Sounds like school.
It does. But it's not.

Do you know Kelly Clarkson?
No. I haven't met her. She was at CMA's because she sang a duet with Reba, but I didn't get to meet her there. Everybody was rushing all over the place. I hope to meet her soon. Every time we're at the same place, it's like we're dodging each other. I was at the NASCAR race a few months ago, and she was performing the day after. Each time, we're in the same area but we never meet.

Have you heard the new album?
I haven't heard it, no.

You should get it.
Yeah. I will if I ever get to the store. I live on the bus.

Don't you have iTunes?
Yeah, but I'm so stupid I don't know how to do it. I'm an electronic illiterate.

So you don't have an iPod?
I do. But there are no songs on it anymore. My friend downloaded one of my CDs, "Dolly Parton's Greatest Hits," but I accidentally deleted them all. I bought one of those new iPhones, but I don't know how to work it.

How did you meet your boyfriend?
Jordin? I'm, like, which one?

Ooh. You have more than one?
Jordin [Tootoo, a NHL player for the Nashville Predators] and I are actually neighbors. It's really funny. I didn't know anything about hockey. He's never even heard of "American Idol." This lady that works at the complex I live in says there's a guy named Jordin who wants to meet you. I'm like, "Ok, I guess." He leaves her two tickets for a game to give me. I'm like, "Lisa, you're going with me." I don't know what the guy looks like. I've never been to a hockey game. All I know is that his name is Jordin Tootoo. So I go to the game, every time a new player comes on ice, I'm looking for player 22. All of a sudden, this guy comes out on the ice, rips his clothes off, throws the guy on the ice, punches the crap out of the guy. I'm like, this hockey game is turning into a boxing match! Lisa is like, "That's Jordin." I'm like, I have to go out with this monster? Afterward, we went to dinner. There were knots on his forehead, his knuckles were all bloody. Great first impression. But he kicked the dude's butt. So at least I feel protected. One thing led to another and now we're a little item, I guess you could say.

How long have you been dating?
Since January. But we've never had an official boyfriend-girlfriend day. It just kind of blossomed. I don't know what day we committed to each other.


According to Star Pulse, Kelly Clarkson struggles with insomnia - because her songs keep her awake at night. The singer admits many of her lyrics and hits come to her as she's trying to get to sleep and has to write them down or record them on the spot.

She says, "The moment a song comes to me, I have to get it out. That's why I have a hard time sleeping, because a lot of those times are at night."


Watch video of Katharine McPhee's photo shoot for Vegas magazine at Raw Vegas. The Season 5 "Idol" runner-up dishes on how she fell in love with her "Vegas" show-stopper, showgirl cover look, and offers viewers a tasty treat -- a few bars of one of her favorite tracks.


Well, it's a sure bet that Peter Noone won't be invited back to mentor on "American Idol." According to Contact Music, the lead singer of the '60s group Herman's Hermits, who mentored the guys during British Invasion week during Season 6, now admits he hates the idea of hopefuls appearing on such a big show before they've made it. Noone says, "If I were a young performer today, I'd take the bowl of maggots if people said, 'Do you want to be a contestant on American Idol or eat a bowl of maggots?' I'd say give me the bowl because I can get through that quick. I think it's probably much better to play in bars and then play the next-best bar than start on such a huge stage. If people are going to hate you, they may as well hate you in a small room."


EW reports that at the Television Critics Association summer press tour,
"American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe said that last season "Idol" suffered by focusing more on famous mentors than on contestants -- and says the show can learn from "So You Think You Can Dance."

Lythgoe, the executive producer of both shows who also serves as a sharp-tongued judge on "Dance," said we should all expect some changes on "Idol" next season. "We realized we made mistakes on Idol last season," he said. "We were so engrossed with the mentors and didn't really focus on the Melinda Doolittles of the show. We didn't know them as much as the Kellie Picklers of last season."

Lythgoe is referring to the marked difference in the ways the two programs showcase their contestants: In recent seasons, "Idol" has tended to shun details about its singers to instead focus on the big-name stars who come to the show to perform and work with the contestants, especially in later episodes. "Dance," however, spends quite a bit of its airtime featuring the back-stories of its dancers and their struggles to get on the show.

"We're all attached to them a little more," Lythgoe said about Dance's focus on its contestants' lives. "I think that's affected us all a little bit more. There are little emotional hooks that come out." As for an "Idol" tune-up plan for season 7, Lythgoe revealed the production team is always looking to "tinker with the program," adding that ultimately he'd like to see the "Idol" contestants be as strong as his prized top 10 on "So You Think You Can Dance."

And what of Sanjaya? Of course, the faux-hawked menace snuck his way into the discussion. Speaking about the top 10 dancers seated behind him on stage, Lythgoe said: "There isn't a Sanjaya here, although I do think Sanjaya helped the last season of 'Idol.' I think there's enough talent with enough great stories to warrant the fact that we are basing it on their talent. No one needs to alter their hair on this program."


A firsthand experience by a journalist for the Hanford Sentinel covering the Idols Live Tour:

FRESNO -- Ben's been a security guard at the Save Mart Center for several years. He first got the job to help pay his way through school, he told me.

Ben and I got to be quite good friends Friday evening. I was at the Save Mart Center "on assignment" to cover the American Idol Live! concert, camera bag and notepad in hand, just like the good old days. But I was over an hour early, so had some time to kill. And that's where Ben came in.

We talked about our taste in music, and he told me some wild stories about out-of-control teenage girls at the Chris Brown concert the week before. As the minutes ticked by, vendors and other security staff trickled in as Ben and I chatted. A couple of EMTs walked by pushing an empty gurney. Probably for a passed-out fan, I thought.

I was sitting on the cold, stone floor, listening to what I thought was piped music. It sounded pretty good, and my feet were soon tapping away. Suddenly, the music stopped and I heard laughter coming through the sound system. Then a voice started singing "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas and again I heard a voice say "That was good, that was good."

It was at that moment that I realized it was Them! They were going through sound checks ... and they were just a stone's throw from me.
Suddenly Ben's walkie-talkie crackled: "We are go for doors, we are go for doors!" Fans of every age, shape and size started pouring in. A girl and her brother each carried homemade signs. Hers said "Blake rocks my world." Her brother's said simply "Blake, you rock."

Then it was time. Along with four other members of the media, I was escorted down into the bowels of the Save Mart Center, a bit like walking through an underground maze at an airport. When we reached our destination, we were greeted by the Idol tour PR person, who explained the procedure for taking photos. We had about 10 minutes, she said. First, Blake will be on stage, and then Jordin will join him, coming up on a lift in the middle of the platform ...

The rest frankly was a blur. Within minutes we were standing next to the barricade in front of the stage where we would take pictures, and I made small talk with one of the Save Mart Center's staff as we waited for our cue.

I looked up. A blond-haired guy in a staff uniform walked to the middle of the stage as the announcer welcomed everyone to the concert. He looked kind of familiar, but I couldn't quite place him. Then he pulled off his cap -- and his blond wig -- to reveal spiky brown hair and an impish grin. It was Blake Lewis. Before I had time to hoist my purse and camera bag over my shoulder, the center of the stage opened up, and there was Jordin.

The next 9.8 minutes went by at light speed. I was snapping photos, trying not to fall over the cameramen who were filming for the overhead screens. Before I knew it, I was an arm's length from Chris Richardson, Sanjaya, Gina and Melinda. I wasn't sure if they'd all been dieting, or if TV really does add 15 pounds, but they looked great! Getting swept up in the moment, I suddenly realized how much I missed the reason I got into journalism in the first place.

The fans were going wild. They were screaming and reaching out across the barricade toward the stage. I watched their faces; this was awesome! I looked over at the Idol PR person and smiled. "Thank you," I mouthed.

After three songs, we were motioned away from the stage, and I had to relinquish my camera to the PR person, for "safe-keeping," I was told. I made my way to my seat just a few rows back from the stage. It was L18, but I don't think my rear ever touched the chair. Everyone in the floor area was on their feet, camera cell phones snapping photos and video footage.

Within minutes, my ears were ringing from the loud music and the women screaming wildly behind me. I got caught up in the emotion: "Wuhoo!" I yelled as Sanjaya, dressed in a white jacket, gray T-shirt and red jeans, sang and moonwalked to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel." "Wuhoo!!"

In between songs, the guys joked and ribbed each other. They talked about their friendship, and about the first time they all met. Sanjaya and Chris Sligh remembered "the bald guy," Phil, who good-naturedly went along with the ribbing. They really seem like best friends, I thought to myself.

Then Blake took the stage again, seeming right at home behind the microphone. "Everyone take out your cell phones and wave them like this!" he said, moving his arm from side to side. I looked behind me and the auditorium was suddenly filled with hundreds of fireflies as cell phone screens danced in the dark. It was magic.

Blake took off his jacket, revealing an untucked blue shirt over gray pants. He wrapped one hand around the mic, and the sound of techno filled the air, his beat box rhythm mesmerizing us all with its intensity. The crowd went wild. Did it get any better than this?

The Idols' performances were a whirlwind, one after the other. They ran across the stage, shaking hands with fans, and then back to the middle, hugging each other and acting like they were having such a good time. As each one sang, the stage backdrop showed footage from their initial auditions. These fresh-faced hopefuls had been turned into polished performers, and I secretly wondered if that was a good thing.

After an hour and 15 minutes, it was time for an intermission. I finally sat down. L18, a red plush chair, was comfortable. I had come down from the euphoric adrenaline rush, and I was exhausted. My camera battery had long since died, and my phone's memory was full from the photos I had taken. I didn't relish the thought of battling the traffic when the concert was over, so I decided to go home.

Driving back to Hanford, my ears still ringing, I felt good. I wished I'd gotten to say good-bye to Ben, the security guard, but I was sure he was off somewhere doing the job he said "paid the bills."

What had I enjoyed most about the evening? Sanjaya strutting across the stage, LaKisha, Haley and Gina as dance-hall girls singing "Lady Marmalade," or Jordin singing her heart out in a duet with Chris Robinson? No, I thought to myself. It was being a journalist.

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Constantine Maroulis, Master Multitasker

In their interview with Season 4 finalist Constantine Maroulis, EW called him a master multitasker and says he is determined to stick around for these reasons:

  • Barely a week after being eliminated, it was announced he had a TV development deal with Kelsey Grammer.

  • Then, he was hitting the stage in New York, joining the cast of Broadway's "The Wedding Singer"

  • Next, he was in the Off Broadway production of "Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris."

  • Since then, Maroulis has toured the country playing solo gigs.

  • Gone to work on his debut album, Constantine (out Aug. 7) .

  • And found time to guest on the CBS soap "The Bold and the Beautiful."
And he's doing so on his own terms. After a major-label deal with Atlantic fell through, Constantine pressed on with his album, paying for the production himself and hiring all the players. Then he formed his own record company, aptly named Sixth Place Records, and, like Elliott Yamin, secured a distribution deal. Should he sell even half of the 150,000 copies being pressed next month, Constantine will likely enjoy a very nice payday. But it's not all about the money, says the Boston Conservatory of Music grad — his focus is on having a career. And whether you consider him a heartthrob or a cheeseball, Constantine doesn't care much either way, as long as you don't count him out.

What happened to the deal with ABC?
We had a show we were developing, but it didn't work out. When Kelsey Grammar calls you up, you put a year of your time into developing something because he's a legend. You have to pursue these opportunities, see what they are, and nurture them. You have to take time to see if there's something there.

Tell us about your character on "The Bold and the Beautiful."
I play Constantine Parros, an international rock star, which, of course, I'm not. He's a really cool, hard-working guy who's producing records and looking for artists. He becomes fascinated with Phoebe Forrester [played by MacKenzie Mauzy]. She's the heiress to Forrester fashion house, which is a big f---ing deal. The whole show is based around this family, and she's really beautiful and can sing incredibly well. I see this YouTube-equivalent [video] of her and I say, ''Look at all the buzz this girl's getting, look at all the views, she's got the paparazzi after her...'' She's a good girl, though. She's like Hilary Duff but with Paris Hilton exposure. So I see potential and I want to produce her record. And, of course, a romance ensues.

You perform your songs on the show as well; do you give her the staple Constantine stare?
Definitely. It might have been written into one of the stage directions. The script said, ''Constantine gives her 'the look.' '' I laughed out loud, of course. I take my work really seriously, but that's funny s--- when you see that written into the script.

Certainly it must be easier to gaze toward Phoebe than Simon Cowell.
Yeah, a little bit. Although he might have liked it. He did call me ''smoldering.''

You went from "Elimidate" to "American Idol" to "The Bold and the Beautiful" — some may say there's some cheese there.
I say it's cool to be cheesy. But also look at Boston Conservatory, [the] Rent [tour], record entrepreneur, classical actor. You can see all sides of it. As long as they're talking about me, that's all that matters.

Why did you choose to self-release your album?
It just ended up becoming the best situation for me. Anytime you can have control of an album's direction, that's a good thing. I own this record. I'm the label — I lay out all the money for the studio, the musicians, the producers, rights and clearances to songs ... There's a huge advantage and a much bigger profit margin for units sold if you can do it like this.

Care to predict how it will do?
If we can sell enough to continue making records and stay on the road long enough to get more people into the music ... that's the goal. Numbers are irrelevant now. It's about who your target audience is and trying to move them. I'm realistic. I know I'm not going to be like the major artists out there. I think that's so silly when artists talk about [how much they'll sell] ... I've taken the time to consciously build a career. I wanted to do Broadway, I wanted to do soap operas, I wanted to start my own label, I wanted to host and write. There were all these ''I wannas'' and I got to do them all.

Would you say you're proof that you don't have to win to have a successful career?
I'm just a hardworking kid from New York. I'm about perseverance. You pound away, you keep working and things will happen. If you're not fortunate enough to be Carrie Underwood, you have to f---ing bust your ass. That's it. I've stayed out there without being too much out there. I've quietly done good work. I plan on sticking around for a long time as a result of it. Then one day, I'll move to Greece and retire with my 10 children.


EW says that 14 months after his Season 5 on "American Idol" ended, Elliott Yamin's self-titled debut album, which was released in March, is quickly approaching gold status. It's about to overtake runner-up Katharine McPhee's total sales and is outpacing current numbers for winner Taylor Hicks.

How did Yamin defy the odds? Judge Randy Jackson has a theory: ''He's the same guy he was on the show,'' he tells EW. ''The pop, R&B thing worked for him and that's what he's doing now. People [respond] and go, 'Yeah! This is no different than the guy I voted for, it's right on the money.' ''

Yamin's other smart decision was how he went about releasing his album. Rather than pursuing the major label route, Elliott saw being passed over by SonyBMG (the music conglomerate that has first dibs on Idol contestants) as a blessing and opted to go indie. With a publishing deal in hand (from Sony/ATV, who signed him after hearing one song) and guidance from his manager, Jeff Rabhan (who previously worked with Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken), Elliott's team became a "virtual label," with many of the key elements (sales, promotion, press) outsourced to various experts of their field.

As luck — and hard work — would have it, Yamin's first single, "Wait for You," was an unexpected hit, and with a new shaggy 'do and (gifted) $50,000 veneers, he looks poised to be the next solo pop star to break out of the Idol mold. EW caught up with Yamin at a café near his home in Los Angeles to talk shop.

We'll have to start with the teeth, because they look great!
And now it feels great! [The process] was excruciating. I was wrecked from the neck up. It hurt to talk. I'd had a couple cavities filled and my wisdom teeth pulled, but that's it. I would never even go to cleanings. So that was tough. I didn't think the pain was ever going to go away.

Did that make you insecure?
Yeah, a little bit. I always had a complex about my smile. I would have to smile a certain way, knowing it looked better than the other way, when my teeth were exposed. I never thought I'd have the whole mouth done, but they offered to do it for free! That was definitely the Jew in me.
You're part Israeli, aren't you?
My dad's Israeli. He was born in Baghdad to Iraqi Jews. Then, at age 2, his parents wanted to move to their homeland and he grew up in Israel. I've been there twice, once as a baby and once when I was 15.

Did you have a Bar Mitzvah?
No, I didn't. I was a bad kid. I got kicked out of Hebrew school for making fun of [my teacher]. She was pretty strict with us and her husband was the rabbi. We used to clash.

And you dropped out of high school, too?
Yeah. I was never really good in the classroom setting. But I got my ''Good Enough Degree.'' [Chuckles]

Do you think being deaf in one ear had anything to do with it?
No. I hear okay. It's never been that big of an issue other than in crowds, or on headphones.

What about on the Idol stage when the judges are talking to you?
On the stage, you can't see, but the sound up there is good. They have tons of monitors that protrude through the floor. Sitting on the side of the stage, though, I could never hear a word Ryan [Seacrest] or any of the judges were saying.

You watched Idol before your audition, and now you've seen another round of contestants. Was your season the best?
I think it was the best so far, and I'm not being biased. That seems to be the general consensus from everybody; this year wasn't as good as last year. It's cool to be a part of that alumni.

Your single is a Top 40 hit. Do you think performing it on Idol gave it a big boost?
It was on the rise, but yeah, it wouldn't be where it is today if not for performing on that show. 100 percent. Thirty million people saw it! There was an 87 percent increase from one week to the next. I was really pumped.

Why didn't you sign with 19 for management?
I felt they weren't going to pick me up on the management side or the record company side, so I called Simon Fuller personally and I said, ''I appreciate everything you've done. I've gotten amazing opportunities.'' I thanked him and told him what a great time I had on the show, then I said, ''I'd like to cede the deal with 19 Entertainment.'' And he said, ''That's cool, just don't put out a record before Kat, Taylor, or Chris.'' I was, like, ''No problem, I'll take my time.'' That was that. I wasn't like, ''That's f----d up, why didn't they pick me?'' I was more relieved. They were trying to manage a lot of people at one time and they didn't indicate that in the future, away from Idol, they'd give me 100 percent of the attention that I need. It wasn't the right fit.

What were your expectations for the album?
I wasn't too sure. I had preconceived notions, probably like the public did. You know, what's he going to sound like? Are people going to buy it? Not literally, but like buy it. I wanted it to be good, quality music — a singer's record, because I'm a vocalist — and something I could be happy with and grow from. I think I did that.

And the album is an independent release, so you stand to make more of a profit ...
Yes. But there are so many ways to make money in this business: Touring, endorsement deals, I'm doing something with Oscar Mayer, I'm doing a Christmas album with Target ... There are all kinds of opportunities coming my way that have nothing to do with singing but are other sources of income.

Still, it must feel good to have an album that's selling so well.
It feels amazing. We worked tirelessly and it's really paying off. Pounding the radio, going to three or four stations a day, sometimes in two different states, for five weeks straight. We played every chance we got, it was almost like a country-music radio tour; meeting the fans and the listeners. But people really like the song, they like me, they like the record!

Have you come to terms with the fact that you'll likely be talking about American Idol for the rest of your life?
I've accepted it. I know I'll be forever synonymous with those two words. But so what? I knew what I was getting myself into. I didn't know the magnitude of how big it was, but I'll talk about it until I'm blue in the face. So many doors have opened because of it. Now, I get to do what I love every day.

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wanna Audition for Idol? Read This First

Planning to audition for Season 7 of "American Idol"? You'll be signing away A LOT of rights, plus giving the show the right to ridicule and humiliate you (even embarrass you with fictional material) without any due recourse.

So to all of those who are always lambasting the show/judges for being mean, humiliating, cruel et al, no one can say the contestants haven't been forewarned. Anyone who tries out for the show must sign the its three-page release form, whether or not they bother to read it before applying their signature. The form (which is available online) states, among other things (underlining and bolding ours for emphasis purposes):

Producer shall also have the unrestricted right to edit the content and text of the Program in any manner or form.

In addition to the rights granted elsewhere in this Release, I understand and agree that if my appearance, name, likeness, voice, singing voice, conversation, sounds and/or biographical data is used in connection with the Program, I may be required, in consideration of Producer possibly including my appearance, name, likeness, voice, singing voice, conversation, sounds and/or biographical data in the Program, and at Producer’s election, to enter into the following agreements with Producer and/or Producer’s designee(s), the terms of which shall be subject to good faith negotiation: (a) an agreement for the management of my career in the entertainment industry (including, but not limited to, my acting, singing, songwriting, or other services); and (b) an agreement for the use of my name, voice, conversation, likeness and biography in connection with advertising, endorsements, merchandising, and/or sponsorships. I understand and agree that such agreements shall become fully effective only at the election of Producer and/or Producer’s designee(s), which election shall occur on or before that date which is three (3) months from the date of the initial broadcast of the final episode of the Program for this Season (the “Election Period”).

I understand that I may reveal, and other parties may reveal, information about me that is of a personal, private, embarrassing or unfavorable nature, which information may be factual and/or fictional.

I further understand that my appearance, depiction and/or portrayal in the Program may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature which may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation. I acknowledge and agree that Producer shall have the right to (a) include any or all such information and appearances, depictions or portrayals in the Program as edited by Producer in its sole discretion, and (b) broadcast and otherwise exploit the Program containing any or all such information and appearances, depictions or portrayals in any manner whatsoever in any and all media now known or hereafter devised, or for any other purpose, throughout the universe in perpetuity.

I agree to follow all of Producer’s rules, directions and instructions in all matters relating to the Program,which rules are subject to change at Producer’s sole discretion.

I will accept any and all decisions of Producer on discretionary matters (including but not limited to the audition process and contestant selection) as final and acknowledge that the interests of the Program shall override those of any participant.

I agree that my selection to audition is within Producer’s sole discretion and that Producer is not obligated to grant me an audition, regardless of my place in the audition line.

I acknowledge that Producer reserves the right, exercisable at any time in its sole discretion, to disqualify me from the Program should I at any stage supply untruthful, inaccurate or misleading personal information, fail to abide by the rules or regulations of the Program, or for any other reason or for no reason at all. If I am selected, I agree that Producer is not obligated to have me appear on, or to broadcast my appearance on, the Program and may disqualify me at any time in its sole discretion.

I recognize that Producer is relying on my representations herein and that a breach by me here under would cause Producer irrevocable injury and damage that cannot be reasonably or adequately compensated by damages in an action at law; and, therefore, I hereby expressly agree that Producer shall be entitled to injunctive and other equitable relief to prevent and/or cure any breach or threatened breach of this Release by me.

I hereby release, discharge, and hold harmless Producer, its assignees, licensees, agents, and affiliates ... from any and all liability or claims arising out of or in any way resulting from my participation in the Program and the use or reuse of my appearance, name, voice, singing voice, likeness and/or biographical information and I agree not to make any claim against Producer or the Released Parties as a result of my participation in the Program and in connection with any use or reuse of my appearance, name, voice, singing voice, conversation, likeness and/or biographical information (including, without limitation, any claim based upon defamation or invasion of privacy and/or publicity).

In addition, I agree to indemnify Producer and the other Released Parties and to hold each of them harmless from any and all liability, claim, action, damage, expense (including reasonable attorneys fees), and loss of any kind caused by or arising out of any statement, action or failure to act by me during or in connection with my participation in the Program.

In no event shall I have any right to injunctive or other equitable relief against any of the Released Parties in connection with the Program.

I acknowledge that there is a possibility that after my execution of this Release, I will discover facts or incur or suffer claims which were unknown or unsuspected at the time this Release was executed and which, if known by me at that time, may have materially affected my decision to execute this Release. I acknowledge and agree that by reason of this Release, I am assuming any risk of such unknown facts and such unknown and unsuspected claims.

In the event I am a member of AFTRA, SAG or any other performing arts guild, I understand and agree that my appearance on the Program, if any, shall not be deemed to be a performance under any collective bargaining agreement.

I agree not to disclose or discuss events related to the Program, or authorize any third party to do the same, without the prior written approval of Producer and Network. I shall not directly or indirectly issue or permit the issuance of any publicity whatsoever with respect to the Program or my appearance in connection therewith. I shall not use the name of the Program in any way at any time without Producer's prior written approval in each instance.

BTW, no one seeking election to a public office and looking for free publicity need apply either. One of the contract stipulations states: "I am not a candidate for public office."

For more information about auditioning this season, including rules, FAQs, registration and audition dates and cities, click here.


Net Music Countdown reports that former Marine Josh Gracin has returned from his tour of the Persian Gulf where he played a series of concerts in support of U.S. troops overseas.

Gracin spent time with the troops in Kuwait and Iraq where he performed five shows, signed autographs, visited with soldiers in the hospital and even played basketball in 128 degree heat with fellow Marines.

"This was something I just had to do," said Gracin. "It was important for me to give back to our men and women in uniform and bring a little piece of home to our folks serving overseas. This is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

The overseas tour, sponsored by MWR and Stars For Stripes, took Gracin to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and several locations in Iraq, including Kirkuk, Camp Speicher, Q West and Ballad Airbase. At the show at Camp Arifjan in Iraq, Gracin performed for more than 2,000 troops, setting the record for the second highest attendance at the base.


Terri Seymour, 33, who has been Simon Cowell's other half for almost 5 years, reveals some personal things about their relationship in an interview in the UK's Daily Mirror.

When asked how the couple will be celebrating their fifth anniversary in September, she laughs: "Anything mushy he can't deal with -- he couldn't bear to think we were celebrating something like that! But I'll make him take me out for dinner. I've got him trained," she says.

She also said that Cowell's favorite Sunday morning pastime is watching Loony Tunes in bed. "He loves cartoons, particularly The Jetsons and Sylvester the Cat. That's about as exciting as it gets!" She laughs. "He's a naughty little boy but I love him. We're polar opposites but somehow it works.

"I'm spontaneous while Simon likes his bath a certain temperature. I love my cuddles while Simon hates them. But he's getting better. We were at a Beyonce concert recently and I looked down and realised he was holding my hand. Simon's not very in touch with his emotions -- he finds it very hard."

And Seymour obviously gives Cowell as good as she gets. "He likes my fiestiness. So many people pander to him and I don't. If there's something he does that annoys me or I disagree with, I'll give him what for. And I'll tell him off if I feel he's gone too far with contestants on his shows. He does listen to me -- I've even got him to wear colours other than black."

Seymour has three TV shows in the US ("Extra" on NBC, and "Good Day LA" and the 10 p.m. news, both on Fox) and has been an entertainment reporter on ITV1's "This Morning." "I love working and having my own money," she says. "My friends think I'm mad when I could be shopping and going for lunch, but that would bore me rigid.

"I'm independent, which Simon likes, and I think I'm fun and easy-going. He couldn't cope with needy. And his mum Julie loves me!"

But Cowell has told her he never wants kids or marriage, and she accepts that.

"We'll never get married, but marriage to me isn't a big thing. My mum, Margaret, raised me as a single parent. I don't have the big wedding dream. He's fantastic with kids but he likes giving them back. It's the whole work thing -- he can't see it being compatible with a family. I'd like a child eventually and I've been asked if I'll have to choose between Simon and having kids, but it's not an issue right now. I'm not panicking."

But the baby question could rear its head further down the line. Would she ever go it alone? She pauses: "Yes, definitely. I think I could do it because my mum did it. The idea doesn't scare me."
Growing up without a dad around might explain why she's often dated men older than herself -- Simon is 14 years her senior -- and she nods: "I'm attracted to older guys.

"People always say that to me about wanting the father figure and I don't know whether it's true or not. But I've hardly ever been single.

"I had one relationship when I was 15 for five years and then two others both lasting four years before Simon.

"It's a grown-up relationship and we're a good team."

She'd known Simon since she was 18, but the friendship ignited again in 2002 when she interviewed him in London: "We had such a laugh and he said: 'If you are ever in LA I'll be there working on this "little" show.' It was American Idol.

"Then three months later I got a hair commercial there. We started hanging out and it just happened.

"I'd never fancied him before. He always says we kissed in a nightclub 15 years ago but I can't remember it, which he finds insulting!"

Once they became an item, she moved in. "We just fit and I can be myself with him," says Terri.

"We laugh a lot -- Simon's a funny guy and a nice man." But like any couple, they row.

"He hates arguing whereas I prefer to get it out and clear the air. I can't keep my mouth shut. I worry about him being such a workaholic.

"He takes on so much and I get concerned about him being over-stressed.

"Not only has he got the shows in the UK and the US, he's writing a drama and working on a film. Simon's very driven by money and he always wants to make the best shows."

These days the couple flit between their four-story west London mansion, their two Beverly Hills homes and a new Caribbean retreat.

Seymour says that she and Cowell had dinner with J.Lo and husband Marc Antony the previous week, but despite his multi-million pound fortune she says Simon remains down-to-earth.

"He's a very ordinary guy. We have holidays in amazing places but he loves his fish and chips and his shepherd's pie. But it's amusing how people change around him. And people who should know better are in awe! I think: It's Simon! Big deal."

And Seymour knows that with fame comes the inevitable attention from other women. But she's philosophical.

"I don't worry about him cheating," she says. "When I arrived in LA, 'American Idol' was huge and women were throwing themselves at him. I found it funny.

"Simon is the biggest flirt. He says I'm just as bad but I get him back," she laughs. "I get chatted up a fair bit by celebrities doing my job and he gets jealous. He won't show it at the time but it'll come out later."

She adds: "I trust him but I have to because we spend a lot of time away from each other. We always say: If either of us does something, that's the time to part -- because it must mean the spark has gone."

While he may not be about to pop to the question, Terri says Cowell does have the odd romantic moment. "He spoils me with gifts -- beautiful jewelery and he even got me the new SKR Jaguar -- but it was a silly thing that touched me. He went to the dentist and when he came back with a new toothbrush, he'd bought me one, too.

"I thought that was really sweet -- it meant he was thinking of me."


The Washington Post reports that the nation's most popular TV show, Fox's "American Idol," could become the biggest Emmy loser ever when the Emmy trophies are handed out Sept. 16. The singing competition, which previously was nominated 22 times but never won, will have seven chances this year to break that streak.

If the reality series goes 0 for 7, however, it will dethrone the record-holding "Bob Newhart Show." That sitcom, in which Newhart played a Vermont innkeeper, never won despite 25 nominations.


Paula Abdul once more CBS), in an appearance on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" Wednesday, once again blamed fellow "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell for inadvertedly starting rumors that she drinks by teasing her during an epsiode of the show.

"Usually I sit between the two guys and when it's time for Randy [Jackson] to start his critique, Simon is in my ear." Abdul explained.

Abdul said that she tries to block him out, even plugging her ear on the side where he sits.

One night he whispered, "Try to say something interesting, Paula like 'the moth that finds the melon ball inside of a won ton will win.' So I say it and Ryan [Seacrest] looked at me and said 'what was that?' and I said Simon said this."

Unfortunately for Abdul, Cowell made a face as if he never whispered in her ear.

"Then he said there was something other than Coca Cola in my cup," she said. Coca-Cola is one of the show's sponsors, and each of the three judges always has a cup bearing the company's logo in front of them during the show.

Watch video of Paula Abdul of Letterman:

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Paula Abdul Plays Truth or D ... er, Truth

Yesterday, decked out in a white suit and big smile, Paula Abdul appeared on Today and was interviewed by Matt Lauer. Here is the way it went, according to NBC sister station, MSNBC:

Paula Abdul is famous for so many things — singing, dance and choreography, jewelry design, cheerleading camp director, "American Idol" judge — that she's become famous for being famous.

Now, she's subjecting her very public life to even closer scrutiny with a new reality show called "Hey Paula." But if it shows her in her many moods, some nicer than others, it doesn't answer all the questions that have been raised.

Is she a drunk? Is she addicted to painkillers? Is it true she has no social life? What was the deal with that word-slurring, incoherent television clip?

To address those issues, TODAY co-host Matt Lauer suggested a game when Abdul appeared on the show Wednesday.

"Let's play Truth or Dare," he said. "I don't know what the 'Dare' would be, but let's play 'Truth,' okay?"

Abdul, wearing a white suit and black top accented with a necklace of many strands and big, showy earrings, smiled broadly, saying, "If it's kissing you, Matt ..."

"No," said Lauer. "No. We both would have problems, wouldn't we?"

He asked the first question, about "the now famous, or infamous, interview where you were said to be slurring your words. People said, 'Paula Abdul was drunk.' What was the truth?"

"I've never been drunk in my life, Matt," Abdul said, mouthing the words she and her publicists have been repeating ever since January, when the clip showed up on YouTube. It was a taped session with the “American Idol” judges explaining their votes and came at the end of a long day of question-and-answer sessions related to the hit show.

On it, Abdul slurred words, said some things that made little or no sense, and finally collapsed dramatically on fellow judge Simon Cowell.

"The whole thing about me being a judge on ‘American Idol’ is, it is the toughest job for me, because I have to think about something positive to say even when they're trying to rise above adversity, " she said. "So sometimes when I'm excited and want to get something out to say, I'll stop."

But, Lauer repeated, has she ever been drunk?

"I'll have an occasional sip of wine or a drink that has an umbrella in it and sugar," she said.

"There's a report that you were addicted to painkillers," Lauer then said.

"I've never been addicted to painkillers," she said. "Painkillers don't work for me."

In 1992, Abdul suffered serious neck injuries in a plane crash and for years was in constant pain that, she has said previously, no drugs could combat.

"I've had 14 cervical spinal surgeries," she told Lauer. "The hardest thing for me is I've had to learn to live in pain."

Now, she said, she gets injections of a biogenic drug called Emo that is normally used for skin disorders. She called it "a Botox for nerves to stop them from glomming on to each other."

So, said Lauer, "There is no smoking gun, there is no scandal here that people need to know about?"

"There absolutely isn't any scandal," Abdul said. "I'm open and willing to talk about it. It's not my job as an entertainer that I have to talk about it, but I'm willing to, and I've helped a lot of people."

The 45-year-old pop icon has also entertained a lot of people. She got her first brush with stardom what seems like a lifetime ago as a dancer on the Los Angeles Lakers cheerleading squad. She became a choreographer for the famous team and still runs cheerleading camps.

She also launched a singing career, recording six No. 1 singles from 1989-91 and selling more than 30 million recordings. She also won a Grammy Award, seven MTV Awards, two Emmy Awards, two People's Choice Awards, and two Kid's Choice Awards.

In 1992, she waged a public war with bulimia, and in 1994 her marriage to Emilio Estevez ended in divorce. A second marriage to clothing heir Brad Beckerman lasted just 17 months.

Finally, six years ago, came an invitation to become a judge on Fox's new show, “American Idol,” and through that she's become even more of a star as she built a reputation of being "the nice judge" and counterpoint to Cowell's acerbic style.

"Hey Paula" is an attempt to show what her life is really like, she told Lauer.

"I didn't go into this thinking, 'Let's try to create more controversy.' I have a 21-year history in this business of many things that I do and many hats that I wear. And when I was doing this show, it was a very concentrated period of time — launching the new season of 'American Idol,' launching my new jewelry line, launching a fragrance. For me it was, 'Let's document all that.'"

"So what do you think is going to surprise all your fans?" asked Lauer. "What are they going to learn that they didn't know about you before?"

"Probably that I work around the clock and that I was very much sleep-deprived," she said. "Most of all, that I'm just as goofy and just as normal as everyone else. I go through hard times, I go through good times."

Among the already famous hard times on her show is a scene where she is changing in her limo for an overnight plane flight and discovers that her assistant had packed a pair of ultratight jeans instead of the sweat pants Abdul had requested.

In the clip, when the assistant says, "I didn't realize they were that tight," Abdul tells her to "shove it down your throat." It was, Abdul told Lauer, a joke about her weight and nothing more.

The one thing missing from the reality show is anything about Abdul's love life, which, Lauer reminded her, she once called "a horror movie."

"It's looking upwards," Abdul said, smiling. "Things are good right now. There is someone in particular."

Asked if the someone was the person who escorted her to the premiere of "Hairspray," restaurateur J.T. Torregiani, the co-owner with Tara Reid of Ketchup, a West Hollywood hot spot, Abdul said, "Yeah."

It was the last question in Lauer's game, after which he said, "That wasn't so hard, was it?"

Abdul patted Lauer on the knee and said nothing.

Watch video of the interview here.


Here's an awesome video of Taylor Hicks on "The View" yesterday promoting his book, "Heart Full of Soul." His book is only getting a medicore reception, but this performance of "The Right Place" on the show should make anyone a believer in his heart full of soul.

And if Taylor looks happy and peaceful, it could be because his relationship with anchorwoman Caroline Lyders continues going strong. They are pictured here together a few days ago at a NASCAR event at Kentucky Speedway, and it wasn't hard to believe that he was singing directly to her yesterday.


Well, with cars anyway. Rueters reports that MTV debuts a new car-makeover competition series at 10 p.m. Sunday, "Trick It Out," hosted by former "American Idol" contestant Becky O'Donohue, who was a Season 5 semi-finalist. She and twin Jessie both tried out for Idol, but only Becky made it to the semis. She was quickly eliminated in the first round last year, but the guys loved her.


Net Music Count-
reports that Reba McEntire met with the Nashville Press yesterday in advance of the release of her upcoming duets album, featuring 11 songs with some of the greatest music stars of two centuries. Reba was happy to talk to us about the debut single, "Because of You," with Kelly Clarkson, a person she says reminded her a lot of herself.

"I first met her on the final show of 'American Idol' and the first time I met her we were doing rehearsals for that TV show. And I thought here's this spunky little person from Texas, who made it big and wins "American Idol," and she's still very down-home normal, it hadn't gotten to her head yet, I'll give her a little time. Fast forward I meet her again (appearing on "Reba"), and she's still this bubbly, funny, down-to-earth great person that I met earlier. And I thought, 'Wow, hasn't effected her.'

We began hanging out together and she's cute and funny and entertains the hound out of me ... and she's very opinionated, she does stand up for what she believes and reminds me a lot of myself and I just fell in love with her."

Reba's "Duets" album hits stores September 18th.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Idol Tour Must-Haves

The Houston Chronicle talked to the finalists who attended what they called "a low-key press reception" prior to the performance at the city's Toyota Center. According the paper, the finalists switch off interview duties to avoid fatigue, so Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle and Sanjaya Malakar were not in attendance. However, Blake Lewis, LaKisha Jones, Gina Glocksen, Haley Scarnato and Phil Stacey were. Here are the reporter's remarks:

Blake Lewis' tour must-haves: "I have two PowerBooks and a desktop. I'm obsessed with Mac. My iPod. My Leica camera. I've got, like, 16,000 pictures. I do a lot of ... '80s-style pop art. I took all the pictures for my [CD cover]."

Lewis describes his upcoming disc as "2000-'80s." He was listening to rough mixes of new tunes on his iPod and graciously offered to--gasp!--let me hear a few.

"I haven't let anybody hear this yet," he said. My hopes were high.

It was an expectedly eclectic, electro-pop mix, ranging from Kylie Minogue-esque club grooves to a quick sample of '80s hit Owner of a Lonely Heart. Killer stuff.

"I try not to be put in a box," he says. "I'm inspired by everything. I've got six tracks done. I've got a track that's very Erasure-sounding, a track that's Sting-meets-Neverending Story and a track that's very electro-poppy Depeche Mode. It's all over the map."

LaKisha Jones' tour must-haves: "My Bible, my pillow and plenty of snacks. Pretzels and M&Ms. I love me some peanut M&Ms."

I'm really thinking maybe I should call Bon Jovi when this is all over and see if I can record (This Ain't a Love Song)," Jone said of her searing, standout Idol tune. "I may do that."

Gina Glocksen's tour must-haves: "My laptop, my makeup and my stuffed animals."

Glocksen is a stunner in person and was a charming whirl of random confessions:

On her high hopes: "I think everyone comes from that background of singing at weddings or singing backup for other people. I never want to go back to singing at a wedding, ever again."

On Idol life: "I get really homesick really homesick, really fast. I could just look at a picture of a cat and start bawling for an hour."

On her plush prefences: "I just noticed today how weird I am about stuffed animals. I'll send my friends ... pictures of my stuffed animal coming out of the shower with a towel wrapped around them."

On her music: "I really hope that (my album) kind of a cross between Pink and Evanescence. Kind of a dark, yet positive, sound. I don't want to sing about negative things."

Haley Scarnato's tour must-haves: "My cell-phone, definitely. I have a picture of [my fiance] Bobby, and that's about it. And makeup-remover wipes. After the show, I want this all off."

"It's nice to have the stress gone with waiting to hear what the judges have to say," San Antonio beauty Scarnato said of the tour.

"We're still being judged, but not point-blank, right in front of your face. And not from 'characters.'" (Insert air quotes.)

Phil Stacey's tour must-haves: "My cell phone, my laptop. You should see us. It's a pathetic mess. Every time we're sitting around anywhere, all of us have our computers on our laps."

"I have recorded a couple of songs already, and I have been in contact with labels," Stacey said of his post-Idol work. "I know the kind of recording I want to make, and I'm hoping to put it out sooner than later."

He also mused thoughtfully on his trial-and-error method to TV stardom

"I stayed away from country in the semifinals because I didn't want to be compared to Josh Gracin, who was a military guy, who came on doing country music," Stacey said. "And I stayed away from rock because I didn't want to be compared to Chris Daughtry.

"I was kind of stuck with adult contemporary. I think I tried to do songs that I thought would go over well on TV, and that was a mistake. What we want to see as viewers is an artist emerge."

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Season 7 Rumors Begin Already

Wow! The memory of Idol's Season 6 isn't even cold yet -- the tour just began for gawd's sake -- and already the rumors for Season 7 have begun, perhaps because auditions are looming. To wit: The they're getting rid of loopy Paula Abdul favorite has been reactivated. This time she's not being replaced by Courtney Love or even Britney Spears (why replace one incoherent idiot with another?), but by Sharon Osbourne!

True or not, Mike (Mr. Rumors While U Wait) Walker of the The National Enquirer -- that pillar of accurate journalism -- is reporting that due to prompting by none other than Paula's alleged BFF Simon Cowell.

The Enquirer says that the producers are tired of Abdul's bizarre behavior on the show and are planning to replace her with Sharon Osbourne. Abdul recently sparked rumors she was drinking or on drugs after she appeared on interviews talking incoherently and looking rough. Producers reportedly think Abdul is hurting the show with her unprofessional appearances.

"They're looking to give 'Idol' a face-lift, and they think Sharon -- who's rated highly with viewers on Simon's other show, 'America's Got Talent' - will bring a fresher look. And they're sure Sharon will play will off Simon’s sharp tongue," one of those (made up?) anonymous sources said.

Abdul allegedly promised she would clean up her behavior but evidence of that has yet to be seen. Producers are reportedly ready to make the deal with Osbourne, but no plans have been finalized yet.

Well, of course they haven't, as the whole thing is either a trial balloon by the producers (unlikely) or created out of whole cloth (very likely) by the tab during the dull Idol off-season.

BTW, only a month ago Walker reported that not only was Abdul being replaced by Britney Spears, but that Randy Jackson was getting the boot as well. Uh-huh.


A posting in yesterday's San Jose Mercury News:

Can you look like "American Idol" contestant Sanjaya [Malakar]? If you can, the Mercury News wants to take your picture to honor the "American Idol Tour" visit to San Jose.

We are scheduling photo studio time on Saturday for the first 20 Sanjaya look-alikes who respond to our call. The photo shoot will be at the Mercury News offices. For more information, send an e-mail to


CMT revealed that Carrie Underwood's new album is officially set for Oct. 23 release. The title is still to be determined for the project, and recording sessions are still underway with producer Mark Bright, who produced seven tracks on Underwood's 2005 debut album, "Some Hearts." Having co-written one song on "Some Hearts," the new album is expected to showcase more of Underwood's songwriting. "Some Hearts" has sold almost 6 million copies and sold almost 1,095,000 copies since January to remain the best-selling country album so far in 2007.

Before she repeats, however, Underwood can be heard on Brad Paisley's latest album, "5th Gear," on the tune "Oh Love," and she's set to help kick off New York's Fall Fashion Week by performing Sept. 6 at the fourth annual Fashion Rocks! gala at Radio City Music Hall.


Playbill reports that the cast is now complete for the Hartford Stage presentation of "Mahalia – A Gospel Musical," starring former "American Idol" contestant and Broadway "Rent" star Frenchie Davis.

Part of the 2007 SummerStage season, the show will take the stage Aug. 2 for a run through Aug. 19.

Hartford Stage associate artistic director Jeremy Cohen directs the work written by Tom Stolz that centers on music star Mahalia Jackson. Billed as "equal parts gospel musical, biography, and revival meeting," Mahalia takes a "look at the music and Civil Rights pioneer and is guaranteed to lift audiences out of their seats with such songs as 'His Eye is on the Sparrow,' 'How I Got Over,' 'Deep River' and 'Move On Up a Little Higher.'"

Davis was a part of the second season of FOX's "American Idol" and has gone on to earn the VH1 Diva Award, star in a national tour of "Dreamgirls" and a European tour of "Little Shop of Horrors" and perform on Broadway in "Rent."

Joining Davis in the cast will be Miche Braden and JMichael. Braden has appeared at Hartford Stage in "The Devil's Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith." Newcomer JMichael made his acting debut in August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson."

The design team features Jeff Cowie (scenic), Dan Covey (lighting), Reggie Ray (costumes) and Michael Miceli (sound).

Tickets for Mahalia at Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street in downtown Hartford, CT, are available by calling (860) 527-5151 or click here for more information.

HEART FULL OF SOUL FOR U.S. TROOPS reports that Jewelry Sprout is sponsoring the Proud of Our Troops drive by asking the public to support and uplift U.S. troops by sending them "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks's inspirational book "Heart Full Of Soul." Jewelry Sprout is accepting both the hardcover and the audio versions of the book.

The Proud of Our Troops drive started on June 26, 2006. Part 1 of the drive ran for 21 weeks. 3,157 "Do I Make You Proud" CD's by Taylor Hicks were sent to our men and women overseas. Part 2 of the drive ran for 27 weeks. 2,751 Taylor Hicks CDs were sent to U.S. troops. Soldiers' Angels will be distributing the books to U.S. soldiers in each branch of the Armed Forces who are overseas and to soldiers who were wounded in active duty and are recuperating in hospitals. Click here for more information.


According to Island Packet, more than 300,000 cats have been adopted from shelters across American since Morris the Cat (from 9Lives cat food) and Randy Jackson (from "American Idol") kicked off the Million Cat Rescue last September.

"Dawg, I'm telling you, dude, this is a crisis. Too many cats need homes," Jackson said by phone. "The good news is that many have been adopted as Morris [and his trainers] travel around the country promoting adoption."

In fact, Jackson put his own paw where his mouth is, adopting the first cat in the march toward 1 million adopted cats. He named the cat Dawg, of course.

On "American Idol," that's how he speaks -- in "Randy-eze." Asked about his own version of English, Jackson chuckles. "Man, that's been my thing for as long as I've been doing it," he says.

Translated, Jackson's been using his own "speak" since launching his long career in the music biz. He's done it all, from playing bass with the '70s rock band Journey to performing alongside such stars as Herbie Hancock and Elton John. He's a Grammy award-winning producer who's worked on more than 1,000 gold and multi-platinum albums. Still, Jackson was pretty much unknown outside the industry until "Idol" began in 2002.

The show was an instant success. "It's very predictable, really," he says. "I can predict that every season there will be surprises. Man, this past season had so many surprises. I was surprised myself. I never would have predicted a 17-year-old girl could win the whole thing. Then came Jordin Sparks. I knew this poised girl with the curly hair and the big natural gift was something special immediately. I can't say I knew she'd win."

"Once we got into the season it clearly became our craziest," Jackson recalls. There was Sanjaya [Malakar] who kept advancing, although it seemed clear all the judges -- even the usually gleeful Paul Abdul -- cringed after his performances. "He had Swaggerdom," explains Jackson.

When it came down to the final three, Jackson said he thought Melinda Doolittle would advance. "She was certainly the steadiest performer week in and week out. For sure, I thought Melinda would duke it out with Jordin. That would have been amazing."

Instead, beat-boxer Blake Lewis landed in the finals with Sparks. As he said repeatedly on "Idol," Jackson is amazed by Sparks' poise. "Listen, man, she has the talent, the potential to be the biggest Idol ever."

When he's not working on "Idol" or promoting pet adoption, Jackson still produces. He recently produced a CD by Sam Moore (half of the vintage Sam and Dave duo), and enlisted stars like Mariah Carey, Vince Gill, Bon Jovi and Eric Clapton to participate. In September, he has a solo CD scheduled for release. "It's a kind of Quincy [Jones] thing, where others participate, too," Jackson hints. "But that's all I can say now."

Click here to learn more about the Million Cat Rescue and when Morris may be visiting your town.


If you can stomach it, here are more of Paula Abdul's "adventures" on her reality series, "Hey Paula":

Episode 4, Part 1

Episode 4, Part 2

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© 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sanjaya Malakar: A Jew With Tattoos?

The St. Petersburg Times interviewed that most curious of characters, Sanjaya Malakar. Although he never says too much, what he does say can (but is not always) be amusing or intriguing, including that he'd like to get a tattoo for his 18th birthday and that he once practiced Judaism:

For all the energy he exuded on the "American Idol" stage, Sanjaya Malakar sure sounded sleepy during our early-morning phone conversation. ... During our chat with the media-jaded Malakar, we tried to cover new ground. But we couldn't resist throwing in one question about those lionized locks.

What are you tired of talking about?
I'm kind of tired of talking about my hair, but I figure it's inevitable. It's gonna happen, so it doesn't really bother me. But it's just kind of an old subject.

I'll ask you the one obligatory hair question, and then we can move on. What's the one hair-care product that you can't live without?

I use hair products if I'm going somewhere nice or something, but for the most part I kind of wet it and let it air-dry. My hair's really low-maintenance. I'm lucky like that.

You're turning 18 on Sept. 10. How will you celebrate?
I kind of want to get a tattoo, but I don't want to get it while I'm on the road because I want to get it from somewhere that's clean, and I want to be sure that it's clean, 'cause I'm not about to have some nasty rash on my body.

What would you get it of, and where would you get it?
I was thinking of on my arm, and my Chinese astrology (sign) is a snake and I love snakes, so I'd get a snake and somehow incorporate a treble clef or some kind of musical symbol and possibly somehow incorporate a Virgo, but I don't know. I haven't really thought about it enough to get it yet.

What was the strangest thing that a fan has sent you?
I think the strangeness comes with what they say in their letters, 'cause there's a lot of people that don't necessarily censor themselves in their letters, and it's kind of interesting to read.

Can you give me an example?
Someone said that when I sing, it's like hot chocolate with a lot of mini marshmallows.

What do you think that means? Is that a compliment that you are a warm beverage?
(Laughs) I don't know. Hot chocolate's yummy, and little mini marshmallows never hurt.

So is the tattoo an effort to get rid of the mini marshmallow image and move to something a little more mature?
No, I think it's, I wouldn't get it somewhere that's really obvious. I'd get it somewhere that I can hide it very easily. It would be more for myself.

If you were a superhero, what would you want your superpower to be?
Psychic abilities.

Why's that?
I think that everyone's psychic, but they just don't listen, and I've kind of gotten to a point where sometimes I can listen to my instinct and be right, and so I like to call myself psychic. … I think it's a cool concept, and so I think it would be really cool to genuinely, actually be psychic.

If someone wrote a biography of you, what would the title be?
"Back When I Was Rich and Jewish."

Are you Jewish?
I was once. My mom was married to a Jewish man, and we celebrated all the holidays and all that. And he was rich.

Did you have a bar mitzvah?
No. They broke up before I turned 13.


Today travelled up to Massachusetts to take a look at the first day of Idol camp, which featured classes and performances with former finalists Jon Peter Lewis, Carmen Rasmusen and Ace Young, as well as professionals from Idol and the business world. This weekend the kids get a visit from singer Macy Gray. Any future stars there? Could be. Listen to the kid singing with Ace at the end. Watch out Taylor.

Watch video of Day 1 at Idol Camp.


Just how important was Paris Bennett to the Idols Return tour? Apparently not as important as she thinks she is.

The Columbian reports that Bennett announced in June she was leaving the group, which includes former "American Idol" finalists Justin Guarini, Kimberly Caldwell and Anthony Fedorov to pursue a solo career. Because the group was booked at the Clark County Fair in August, Clark County Fair officials offered refunds to anyone who had purchased a ticket for the Aug. 4 show.

"I don't know of anyone who requested a refund," fair director Tom Musser said. "Hey, this is just a fun show and I think people just want to come out and see former Idol contestants. Perhaps if we had lost Justin, things may have been a little different."

*Ahem* Paris.


And speaking of Kimberly Caldwell, reports that the Season 2 Idol finalist, who has spent the majority of her post-Idol career on-camera in Hollywood on reality TV shows and as the entertainment correspondent and host for the TV Guide Channel, is in contract negotiations with Nashville Records, Inc.

Pre-Idol, Caldwell was a featured vocalist at the Country Tonite Theater in Branson from 1994 to 1996. She also performed on Ed McMahon's "Star Search" and still holds the record for most wins by a junior vocalist.

The Company's early plans are to have her produced by independent producers Teddy Gentry & Michael Curtis and released this fall or early winter. Larry Pareigis, the man responsible for breaking such acts as Gretchen Wilson, Montgomery Gentry, the Dixie Chicks, and Tracy Lawrence, is anxious to make Kimberly Caldwell another household name.


Watch video of Blake Lewis goofing around in the studio with Ryan Tedder from One Republic and Steph Jones.

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© 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Taylor Hicks on Track ... Literally

Nothing says summer like a truck race at the Speedway accompanied by some good old-fashioned American rock and soul. Former "American Idol" star Taylor Hicks brought his "Soul Patrol" to the track last night for a gig before the Built Ford Tough 225, says Cincinnati's The Enquirer.

Hicks, 29, who also sang the national anthem, told the paper in a pre-appearance interview that he had no worries about taming the boisterous Speedway crowd, having spent plenty of time at the track in his native Birmingham, Ala. The Speedway gig is his only scheduled appearance in the area. He called us from the road and shared some of his boundless enthusiasm for scoring the gig of a lifetime.

You probably didn't know this, but a local guy you may have heard of named Peter Frampton just played the Speedway a few weeks ago.
Well, that's a tough act to follow, especially when you're talking about Peter Frampton, but that's great. I'm excited about coming to the Speedway.

Are you a NASCAR follower?
I do follow NASCAR. I'm actually singing the national anthem at the Homestead race (in Florida), the last NASCAR race of this year. And I'm from Alabama, so there's the Talladega connection.

Have you ever played this area before?
I actually haven't. The "Idol" tour hit Louisville and I've come through there a couple of times and hit Louisville before "Idol." I'm looking forward to coming through there and setting up shop.

What would surprise people about your show?
I think it's very musical. I never got to play instruments on "Idol," and now I get to play guitar and harmonica. I do mostly originals off of my albums, "Under the Radar" and "In Your Time," and some covers. There's definitely a songwriting, soulful aspect to my music.

You're unusual for an "Idol" winner in that you do have such a musical background and so much touring experience. Has that helped you on the road?
It has. Experience playing in clubs for 10 years and trying to make it really teaches you about who you are as an artist and a person. So when you do catch an opportunity like this, it allows you to stay the same person and understand the business a lot better than someone who hasn't been in it. I think people walk away feeling that their votes did count and it was the right vote because it is such a musical show.

What's the first thing fans typically say when they meet you?
Soul Patrol!

Do you regret it a bit now that you put that out there?
Not at all. The more the merrier.

The Speedway crowd can be a bit rowdy. Are you prepared for that?
I played the infield at Talladega, so I'm very aware of the hoopla and I love it! I was born in a honky-tonk, so the more honky-tonk the better.

Where has your "Idol" success taken you that's been the biggest surprise, the place you never imagined you'd get?
The White House. That was amazing. I got to meet the president and give him a "Soul Patrol" T-shirt. I haven't seen him wear it yet.

And watch a video of Taylor Hicks singing the national anthem at the Kentucky Speedway:


A short video with concert and interview clips from WKRN of the Idols recent visit to the Sommet Center. Phil Stacey and Chris Sligh discuss moving to Nashville, Sanjaya Malakar talks about his hair, and BFFs Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks their bonding. The anchor also reports that Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler attended the concert and watched it from a suite.


According to "Extra," former "American Idol" contestant Kimberly Locke is riding high.

Locke told Terri Seymour that she's got a new album, a new figure and a new outlook.

Locke became a Jenny Craig spokeswoman last year, determined to lose weight and get healthy. "My goal with Jenny Craig is 40 pounds, so I'm so close I can taste it," she revealed.
She said her new album, "Based on a True Story," comes straight from her painful breakup with her fiancé last year. "I got really nasty, and I don't ever want to go through that again," she admitted. "So I wrote about it."

Locke also changed things up to get in shape. She appeared on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club" and says she's lost four to five dress sizes, but the is not shy about the tension on "Fit Club" between her and former "Saved by the Bell" geek Dustin Diamond.

Dustin poked fun of her not winning "American Idol," and his comments got under her skin. "Had he come up to me and said, 'Don't take it personally,' that's a different story," Locke said. "But don't make me the butt of your jokes."

But Kimberly not nursing a broken heart. When asked by Seymour if she's ready to start dating again, Locke responded, "I'm already dating honey. I didn’t stop!"


BuddyTV has an exclusive interview with Season 6 semi-finalist Sabrina Sloan (but, seriously, was everyone really knocking down her door?):

First, can you tell us a little bit about what made you audition for American Idol last season?
Yeah, I've been a fan for the last five years watching the show from the first season, and my friends and family were always telling me, “You could be on the show, you can totally compete on that show. You should go audition.” And I was actually in New York, on Broadway, kind of doing my thing but I wanna go, you see every year people get kicked off that should stay, and it's kinda controversial who ends up winning. But I thought I absolutely have nothing to lose, I just really wanna try and get in the show and I decided this year I had to do it.

When you went into those auditions, did you think you had a pretty good chance to move on once you got there and saw the competition?
I did. It wasn't too overwhelming, actually. I flew to Minneapolis from here to audition. I live in LA, but when they were in Pasadena, I was throwing my best friend her bachelorette party in Las Vegas so I missed the LA audition and ended up going to Minneapolis. And it was still a huge, huge crowd but I actually got really lucky and got in kind of in the first couple of hours and like out by 8 am so it wasn't like the long, long day that I thought it would be and I...I felt like, yeah, I mean when I walked in, you don't know what people sound like necessarily but the characters around you so you kind of feel like, “Well, I've got just as good a shot as anybody else.”

One of the things I think viewers don't get to see enough of is the Hollywood week and kind of what happens there, you know. Can you explain to us a little bit about your experience in Hollywood week?
Hollywood week was crazy, cause I watched it on TV too so you just think it's're up all night, it was crazy. And it's intense. It's a little like boot camp, it's a little like, you know, kind of a sorority rush cause you're on lock down in the hotel and you're around people you don't really know, you're rooming with somebody you didn't know before, maybe you just met and day in day out, going up and singing a song and getting cut and like hanging out for the day, like the girls day where they took us out at Long Beach and it was a good four days, five days and by the end of it, it gets really intense during that group daytime when you're working with three or four people trying to memorize lyrics or put together a song, a routine for the judges. It was a whole lot of pressure and not a lot of sleep and at that point everybody really wants it bad because everybody gets into Hollywood thinks they absolutely belong in the show so it gets really competitive at that point.

When you got the news in that big room that you made it to the top 24, what were your initial reactions, were you expecting that or did you think you had a chance to be sent home at that point?
The thing is with the show you never know and I've treated every step of the process as kinda like a callback. It was like, “Okay, I made it to the next step but I haven't gotten on the show yet,” and that was the big ultimate goal, so for me it was kind of that last step. Like, I've come so far. You know, I really, really asked the show, please tell me and they left me till the last three or four girls and so I was really sweating it out cause there weren't many spots left, and you never know. I mean, there are people that you thought would probably go home that went home but then there are people that shouldn't go home that went home so by time I got up there I was like fingers crossed and okay I'll see what happens.

Being in the top 24, being a semifinalist, what was the thing that took you most by surprise during that whole experience?
I think a lot of people that went home in Hollywood week. You may see some of it on the show, even stuff that was you know, edited out like there were some stellar people that you would go, “Oh, for sure, they're gonna be on the show. They're a contender to win the whole thing.” And then they wouldn't, they wouldn't go through, it was like one little lyric forgotten or you know, you'll never never know and it's hard to keep that mindset that once you go on the show you can go at anytime and it's not all about just talent. It's kind of the whole package, there's a lot involved, so you really just never know when it's gonna be your time.

This season had a fair amount of controversy. What's your take on both Antonella's thing and then Sanjaya making it as far as he did?
Right, right. I mean, it really comes down to it being not about the talent once you get on the show and when you leave it up to America to choose, and you have all the different variables and people voting because they don't like the show and you know, voting based on popularity, or whatever it is, I mean that's kind of the draw to the show. Who's gonna leave, even the upsets are what make the show popular. Because you can get mad and scream and go they don't deserve to go home and I can't believe it, but it's kind of the name of the game. So, we've got contestants that have to be prepared for it and I think this year definitely had some of those elements, but the point is that everybody who's on the show deserves to be there cause they have the votes, so whether it's because of their voice or not because of their voice, because of something else, if they have the number of votes, they're in. It's not like So You Think You Can Dance where the judges have some sort of say in who stays or some of the other shows. That's the thing about what makes American Idol, American Idol, that America is the deciding factor.

I think most would agree that you were one of the better pure singers on the show. Were you then pretty surprised to be eliminated when you were?
I was surprised then. I was. As much as I tried to say, “Okay, I could be going home,” I didn't want to and I really wanted to be in the finals and really didn't think it was my time, so it was hard. It was really hard to leave that night and I was a little bit taken back and you just got to look at it as a huge blessing and so many doors open because of it so I would do it again no matter what.

What have you taken away most from the whole Idol experience?
I would say just to stay true to myself, because I feel like I did that all on the show. I didn't pull any tricks or try to do anything other than do what I do and sing, all the interviews that I've done afterwards people kind of recognize my character, you know, they appreciate me staying true to who I was and that came across and I really had no regrets about any of the choices I made on the show. So, it's something you worry about going on to such a huge stage in front of 37 million people and putting yourself out there to be torn apart and be judged by everyone and no matter what people say, good or bad, about what I did or who I am or what I look like, you know, I just I feel confident that I got a good job and I deserve to be there.

Since being on Idol, how has your life changed and what have you got in store for the future?
Life changes because people definitely recognize you and even now that the show's over, the finale's over, you really start to realize once you're off the show what a huge, huge machine American Idol is and how many people really watch cause people still recognize you and I definitely can't go bummed out to the 711 anymore, cause undoubtedly somebody will say “Hey!” And the huge opportunities…I hope I can make a record pretty soon and working out a deal with a major record label, and just some kind of cosmetic promotion opportunities and I was an actress and singer before Idol so God created agents and they live here in LA. Hopefully some acting opportunities too, but lots and lots of doors open so it's been really, really great.


Well, they really don't say, but today's Sunday Mirror is trying to titillate us with that possibility:

Jasmine Lennard has broken her silence on her relationship with Simon Cowell and admitted: "I adore him."

The 21-year-old model was rumoured to be having a secret fling with the 47-year-old "X Factor" judge last year when she was spotted leaving his £11 million home in West London. Cowell - who has a long-term girlfriend Terri Seymour - insisted they were merely "discussing projects".

Now Jasmine, who split with night club owner Mark Alexiou amid the revelations, has ignited the rumours again in a magazine interview in which she says: "Everything he says is golden, because he has so much experience. I have a lot of respect for Simon. I adore him." The "Make Me a Supermodel" star also revealed she is seeing someone "very precious" - but would not say who.

Asked to explain the initials SC tattooed on her wrist, she said: "It's someone who is important to me and I'm happy to have the tattoo there for the rest of my life.

"I'm seeing someone, but I can't talk about it because whoever I'm seeing is very precious to me in a way I cannot describe in words, and I'll do everything I can to protect that person."

... Researching Lennard, we found this story that ran last July in the same paper:

Simon Cowell has been allegedly cheating on girlfriend Terri Seymour for six months, it has emerged.

The "X Factor" judge, famed for his razor tongue, met society girl Jasmine Lennard, 21, in a posh restaurant in January and began seeing her after sending a flirty note.

News of his affair with Jasmine is bound to devastate model-turned-television presenter Terri, his most serious girlfriend.

Their relationship is reported to have been on the rocks recently.

Jasmine, who has overcome drug addiction and is thought to be bisexual, has since made several secret visits to his £7.5million home while Terri, 32, is away.

The pair have dined together in public and Jasmine has even visited the X Factor studios.

A source told The Sun: "They spend most of their time together in Simon's house when Terri is at their other home in Los Angeles.

"Sometimes they go out, but only with other friends so as not to arouse any suspicion."

The pop tycoon's affair was exposed just before midnight on Tuesday, when Jasmine was photographed leaving his house. It was the eve of her 21st birthday.

The young model, who has a boyfriend, emerged in a heavy fur coat, despite the stifling heat. But beneath, she wore racy black lingerie, the newspaper reports.

The model saw in her 21st birthday by spending an hour-and-a-half with him on a downstairs sofa.

They headed to his bedroom at 1.30am, where a lamp was turned on and they shared a steamy clinch by the window.

An hour later Jasmine emerged from the four-storey mansion in Holland Park.

Her friends believe she is in love with the multi-millionaire.

One revealed: "Jasmine is absolutely besotted with him and thinks he feels the same."

However, Simon's secret lover has had a troubled past and was once at celebrity rehab clinic The Priory alongside Kate Moss. At just 14 she was on the Pill and regularly smoked marijuana.

By 18, she was hooked on cocaine and ecstasy and went on to have sexual encounters with both men and women, according to The Sun.

She claims cleaning up her act by checking into The Priory got her out of "the gutter".

Simon, who has been dating Terri for four years, has previously admitted he has a roaming eye but insisted he was not a love-cheat.

Asked two years ago if he was faithful to her he replied: "Well, I am a bit of a flirt but I'm pretty good.

"My eyes do wander, and daily. It's what you do after those eyes that counts."

However, one of his former loves, pop singer Sinitta, claimed he was incapable of being faithful.

It is also sure to upset Jasmine's club owner boyfriend Mark Alexiou, who once dated Sophie Anderton.

But Simon's spokesman last night claimed his rendezvous with Jasmine at his home was innocent. He said: "Simon has known Jasmine for some time. They had a meeting to discuss TV projects."

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