Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Magic of Elvis (and Celine Dion)

Still scratching your head over how those crafty "Idol" producers had Elvis Presley and Celine Dion singing onstage together? No, it wasn't a hologram. According to various sources, including The Los Angeles Times, Good Morning America and Wild Bluff Media, here's how it was done:

A Photoshop-like technology called Rotorscope was used to merge Presley's performance of W. Earl Brown's "If I Can Dream," which came from his 1968 TV comeback, with recently taped shots featuring 39-year-old Dion, so that it appeared as if it were taking place at the same time as the rest of Wednesday's show.

Dion spent hours onstage singing her part of the song several times without an audience or anyone next to her, looking to her side on cue. Then she did the routine again with a Presley body double who lip-synced Presley's song and matched his moves from his 1968 performance.

Finally, all three elements -- Dion by herself, Dion with the body double and the original Presley performance -- were combined through editing and rotoscoping, which traced Presley from the original footage by cutting him out.

The whole bit was assembled on videotape, so that no one in either audience saw Dion, much less had an Elvis sighting, at CBS-TV studios or at Walt Disney Concert Hall, where most of the evening's live music took place.

"Rotoscoping allows you to take one image from a pre-existing piece of video and puts him in a whole new environment -- completely new use of that same piece of video," Disney digital media designer Joe Husung said.

Elvis is no stranger to this method. He appeared in "Forrest Gump," back in 1994, using similar techniques as well as Pizza Hut commercials, where he hawked the company's newest creation via video editing. Similar technology brought Natalie Cole and her late father, Nat King Cole, together to perform "Unforgettable."

A new British show puts the technology to use every day in "Duet Impossible," in which stars perform with their late idols. If the concept crosses the pond, American audiences may soon see late legends like James Brown and Sinatra rocking the stage again.

An "Idol" spokesman said only that an Elvis impersonator was used "at one point."

Following are videos of both the original 1968 Elvis performance and the coombined Elvis/Celine Dion performance.

Elvis alone:

Celine Dion and Elvis:


"Extra" spoke to Jon Bon Jovi about his band’s appearance on "American Idol" this week and the rocker confessed, "I've never seen the show until Gwen Stefani performed on it … weeks ago."

About whether or not Bon Jovi would have made it to Hollywood if he had auditioned for AI, he admitted, "If I had gone through the process of American Idol at that age and that time in my life, I would never have gotten to Hollywood!"

Bon Jovi said that some of the songs on the new album, Lost Highway out this June, are about bandmate Richie Sambora's divorce from Heather Locklear. He added, "I felt every bit of it with the exception of being in their shoes."

In the Boston Herald, Bon Jovi said that longevity in the music industry requires embracing multimedia opportunities to connect with audiences, such as "American Idol," which he recently viewed for the first time.

"It's not that I didn't want to; I just didn't," he said. "I've had a lot of guys cover our songs on it, and then giving them songs subsequently for their records, but [had] never seen it. That's 30 million that watch TV, so these days being on 'American Idol' certainly isn't a bad thing. You got to get music out there however you can."

Bon Jovi described the themes of his band's new album, "Lost Highway" due out June 19, as "life and love and loss and freedom."

The band will perform a new single, "(You Want to) Make a Memory," on Wednesday's show.


Constantine Maroulis will join the cast of CBS' "The Bold and the Beautiful" beginning May 15. Maroulis will play music producer Constantine Parros, who becomes embroiled in the career and life of heiress Phoebe Forrester (Mackenzie Mauzy). He will perform a number of songs from his upcoming solo debut album over the next several months on the show.


It may all be a ploy to hurt her standing in the competition by VoteForTheWorst.com (though we doubt it), but the site asks:

"Is Jordin Sparks an ultra conservative Christian? One would never guess this from her time on the show since she's all smiles, but it seems that the pimped one might be a little more political than anyone thinks. The picture on the left comes from Jordin's MySpace, [this cannot be verified because the Myspace and personal Web sites of all active contestants is taken down while they appear
on American Idol. We did find the photo on a Sparks fan site, though that means nothing] and she's been linked to many conservative organizations [cannot verify]. She has performed at a Right to Life concert (anti-abortion) [This is true. She is pictured singing and standing with her arm around Dr. Alveda King, the keynote speaker at an Arizona Right to Life's 2005 meeting] and other such events, and it's rumored that she liked Mandisa from last year because of her values (Mandisa was very religious and was quoted as saying she would be uncomfortable singing at a gay event). Jordin can have any opinion she'd like, and it doesn't take away from the fact that she's a good singer, but it seems like her "I love everyone" personality may turn evangelistic once Idol is over. I guess we'll find out once she's off the show."
It must be noted that even if Sparks is a conservative (or ultra-conservative) Christian, that this year's competition had others, including current contestant Phil Stacey (and here), as well as former contestant Chris Sligh.


In his blog, according to People magazine, Chris Sligh says that he wants to write songs for Phil Stacey. A recent posting said, "I hope to write songs for him and with him as he moves into what I think will be a very successful career – especially if makes a country record." Sligh who calls Stacey "my closest friend on the show," said that they bonded during their Memphis auditions. Writes Sligh: "Then I showed up in Hollywood and he was my roommate. Really weird, right?"

In the post, the Greenville, S.C., native also dishes on Idol pal Blake Lewis, whom he describes as "smooth." "The way you see him on TV is exactly how he is in real life," Sligh writes. Sligh also praises Chris Richardson: "There is not a pretentious bone in his body. ... There were a couple of times when we would have a bunch of people in our room and the songwriters would pass a guitar around and sing our songs," Sligh blogs. "Chris sang like 3 that will be HUGE hits when they come out."


Seems as everybody needs to jump aboard the Idol train, including former "Star Search" host Ed McMahon. That show helped propel such names as Christina Aguilera, Usher, Beyonce Knowles and Ray Romano to prominence, and McMahon told the Chicago Tribune that, "It's great to have some connection -- some responsibility -- to all those success stories."

And though McMahon said that he's a fan of "American Idol," he added that he's not a fan of the negative vein the show can take, particularly from the head judge. "I just hate the cruelty. ... Simon Cowell and how he tears people apart," McMahon said. "I don't approve of that. And if you put somebody on the show, they ought to be qualified to be on the show. It's supposed to be a celebration of good talent."


Think what you want, but Sanjaya Malakar told People magazine People magazine
that not only in he not gay, but also that he's always been popular with women.

"I've always gotten along with girls better because I was raised by women," said Malakar, whose parents divorced when he was 3. He said his ease with women comes from being close to his mom and his sister, Shyamali, who were his biggest influence growing up in Seattle. But getting along with girls didn't always work to his benefit.

"I got teased in school because people figured I must be gay because I understand women. I think that's why guys didn't like me – because I got along with girls so well. When I went up to girls they would give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek like I was their gay friend. But I was the straight guy that understood them."

As for his dating past, Malakar, 17, said "I had a girlfriend but she became clingy, and I didn't want to get into a really serious relationship because I was 16. I just wanted to date and have fun."

Here's a clip of Sanjaya on Jimmy Kimmel, who once again does little more than fidget in his seat. He occasionally giggles, adds next to nothing to the conversation and looks more like an uncomfortable 7-year-old than a 17-year-old (kudos to Kimmel, who carries off what amounts to a 10-minute monologue with Malakar):


In case you missed Simon Cowell on Ellen DeGeneres' show yesterday (as we did) here is the video:

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