Listening in on the current TVWeek.com "Backlot Talk" interview with Idol executive producer Ken Warwick, we discovered that not only does he and his co-executive producer Nigel Lythgoe own a vineyard in Northern California, but they filmed a Fox Reality TV mini-series about their adventures purchasing it and running it. The series is called "Corkscrewed: The Wrath of Grapes" and the eight episodic unboxed video downloads are available on Amazon.com for $1.99 apiece. (Are these guys crafty or what? They even save on the cost of packaging the set.)
In the first episode, Nigel and Ken "decide to buy a Vineyard (with a little help from some of their famous friends, including Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest). After a trip to Paso Robles and a tour of several properties, they find the perfect one. But when their friends/co-financiers suddenly get cold feet, they are left with one big dilemma. Do they risk millions and go it alone? Or will this be the end of their Vineyard dreams?" Jumping ahead to episode 8, Nigel and Ken "are surprised to be suddenly summoned to Pasa Robles for a meeting with Austin Hope, the owner of the Treana winery. This is the man who cancelled the contract to buy their grapes. Is there more bad news? Nigel attends Priscilla Presley's party and Pasa Robles' 76th Pioneer Day, where he falls afoul of the law and is arrested. Ken has to handle the American Idol auditions in Memphis . . . alone." Wow. What a couple of wild and crazy old coots, er guys.
In the interview with Chuck Ross, Warwick also revealed that both he and Nigel grew up in Liverpool and that plans for an "Idol" songwriting contest have been put on hold.
"What with the charity show, we're up to our ears in it," Mr. Warwick said. "It may still happen, but at the moment it's on the back burner." Last year, it was the producers' intention to run the songwriting contest in parallel to "Idol," with the two "Idol" finalists both singing the winning tune.
Critiquing this week's performances, Warwick said about ...:
Haley Scarnato ("Tell Him"): She found her own niche this week -- I thought she was great.
Chris Richardson ("Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying"): I liked it, acually. I thought it was a nice step-down from what he usually does, it's a lovely ballad ... I think it went very well.
Stephanie Edwards ("You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"): She did a good job of it considering she didn't know Dusty Springfield ... I thought Stephanie made a good job of it. She's been a bit under the weather, but she's picking up, so hopefully it won't have affected her too much."
Blake Lewis ("Time of the Season"): He made it a little more modern, and he did a good job of it.
LaKisha Jones ("Diamonds Are Forever"): I thought she did a great job of it. She's got a great set of pipes.
Phil Stacey (Tobacco Road"): I thought it was a pretty good. Simon's right when he says he hasn't got that rock edge to his voice. He hasn't. Now that may become a problem, I don't know. The only thing with me, is I remember the originals so well, I'm consistently comparing them. And you've got to be really good to knock my socks off ... It was a good version. I'd imagine he'd be quite safe this week, I don't know. He made a good job of it, it's a good piece.
Jordin Sparks ("I Who Have Nothing"): I thought she was fabulous. She didn't know that song either when she went into the rehearsal this week ... She's going to do very well in this competition, I think. ... She's starting to do what all the actually Idols do, which is come up as the competition progresses, they get better and better and better. She was good last week, she was great last night. I can't wait. And it was effortless for her, which is great.
Sanjaya Malakar ("You've Really Got Me"): Ah, I mean it was manic, bless him. He just went for it. And to be honest with you, if you're going to do a song like that, you've got to go for it, because if you try to sing it and keep it usual in any way in his normal very soft way of doing things, you're going to be in trouble. The thing is, it caused a lot of stir in the actual audience, they loved it. It was very up-tempo. He went for it, bless him.
Gina Glocksen ("Paint It Black"): Of course, she didn't know the original very well, but she knew another version of someone I didn't know. That's the trouble. When these kids do their own versions, or versions they know, but the general public don't, they compare it, and they think it's just not very good. ... You can't change Motown, you can't change '60s too much, you know. You can play with it, but you've got to sing it for what people know.
Chris Sligh ("She's Not There"): He's got a good voice, Chris, he's got a very good voice. And I like the song.
Melinda Doolittle ("As Long as He Needs Me"): Yeah it's a great song, and it was made for her that song, really, for her voice, really. She's a great pro, she really is. ... And these are songs that stand the test of time.
CLASSIC IDOL VIDEO
Carrie Underwood sings Heart's "Alone," complete with big hair. Simon predicts she will not only win the competition, but she will sell more records than any of the previous Idol winners.
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