Sunday, March 4, 2007

Leslie Hunt After Idol

The Chicago Tribune spoke with Chicago native Leslie Hunt after her elimination Thursday night and asked her if she regretted performing a jazz number of Wednesday. "I feel like I could drive myself crazy with second-guessing," said the 24-year-old, who sang -- and even scatted -- Nina Simone's "Feeling Good." "At the time it seemed like a great idea. It's always gotten a great response when I've sung it before." Noting that AJ Tabaldo, also eliminated on Thursday sang the same song, Hunt said, "We did extremely different versions but I might have received some bad marks for that."

She said she was upset by her ouster, which she referred to in her goodbye song when she sang, "Why did I decide to scat? America doesn't like jazz." "I'm not a jazz singer," said Hunt, who plans to return to Chicago and keep pursuing a music career. "But maybe I am kind of a different niche. Sometimes it does feel like [Idol] is all about the belting and hitting the power notes. Maybe it's a blessing" to leave.

"Overall, it was a really positive experience," Hunt added. "It could be really stressful and it was eye-opening, but no pain, no gain. It took me a little while to bounce back, but I'm resilient."


Taylor Hicks talked to the Sun Journal in Maine.

On his record sales being compared to those of Chris Daughtry and Katharine McPhee: "You know, it's funny: People want to try and compare us, and that's hard to do because I'm not singing rock and I'm not singing country. So to compare us - I find that interesting because we're in different genres. If I was a rocker, I could see that [comparison], but I'm a blue-eyed soul performer."

On seeing himself at the beginning of the curve, not the end: "You have to start out small and work your way towards a bigger goal, and that's what I am doing right now, playing the musical theaters and clubs all across the country. It's better to start out small."

On being focused on his artistry: "You really have to work towards being ... your own voice and your own singer, and that's what I've done. My thinking right now is that I've done 2½-minute TV segments for the last six or seven months, whereas prior to the 'American Idol' experience I was performing four hours a night. And that's something I look forward to getting back to."


... at the Museum of Television & Radio's 24th annual William S. Paley TV Festival occurred last Thursday in Hollywood, right after the live elimination show. Attending were Ryan Seacrest (who cut out before the Q&A began) Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, Idol executive producer and director Ken Warwick, executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz and Fox alternative programming exec Mike Darnell.

The Washington Post reports that among the things the judges argued about was which "Idol" winners they spotted right away. Simon said they pegged Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard and Carrie Underwood. Paula and Randy insisted Kelly Clarkson be added. Simon said no. Randy conceded the point but insisted he was the first to spot Fantasia. Paula said she was the first to spot Elvis. Simon cracked that she was around then. Simon noted the other judges also loved last season's winner, Taylor Hicks. "I couldn't stand him," Simon said, noting that he turned out to be right because the second runner-up, Chris Daughtry, is the one who's sold the albums, not Taylor. "If it becomes a popularity contest, it's like winning 'Big Brother' -- nothing's going to happen," Simon said about last season's outcome.

The panelists recalled how in the show's first season, not so many people auditioned and stars stayed away from the guest-judging idea. Now the show is fighting them off -- both auditioners and professional singers. Warwick said Janet Jackson wanted to be on "Idol" this season but they couldn't squeeze her in. "I don't blame you; I wouldn't have her," Simon said to Warwick, adding that maybe 10 years ago he would have put her on the show.

The Beatles night we'd been promised this season is a bust because Paul McCartney can't make it. "Ringo was available," Simon cracked. When the panelists were reminded that whenever a singer appears on "Idol," his or her catalogue sales go through the roof, Cowell retorted, "Except Neil Sedaka. His went backwards."

Simon also said he did not like the inclusion of Prince on last year's finale because he declined to sing a duet with the finalists, insisting he perform alone. And about this year's deplorable crop of male competitors, Simon said, to wit: Yes, they are bad, but do not be disheartened because they are still so much better than the first season, when the best guy singer was Justin Guarini.

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