Saturday, June 30, 2007

Constantine: Soap Gig Awesome

In an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel Constan-
tine Maroulis says his recurring role as music producer Constan-
tine Parros on "The Bold and the Beautiful" has "been awesome."

"It's a good gig, and they've bent over backward for me. They've featured my music on the show and written me into the main storyline."

Maroulis, 31, who will perform at StarJam 2007 on July 4 in Pigeon Forge, saw the soap stint as a good way to promote his upcoming album, "Constantine," which will be released Aug. 7. (The first single, "Everybody Loves," already is available on iTunes.)

"I think they wanted to gear the audience a little younger this summer and sort of shake things up a bit," says Maroulis, who was pleased to discover that "B&B" executive producer Brad Bell was a fan. "When he called, I'd been finishing up the album in New York, had done some Broadway this year and such, and it just was perfect timing."

While Maroulis gained the national spotlight as a singer on "Idol" in 2005, he was well-prepared to take on an acting challenge. Born in Brooklyn and reared in New Jersey, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater from the Boston Conservatory while concurrently minoring in voice at the Berklee College of Music.

Prior to "Idol," he spent two years portraying Roger Davis in a touring company of "Rent." He finished 2006 by co-starring in the Broadway musical "The Wedding Singer" and started 2007 by performing Off-Broadway in "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" for six weeks.

A veteran of high-school garage bands, Maroulis was the lead singer for the rock band Pray for the Soul of Betty when he auditioned for "Idol" (he left the group in March 2006). He came to the talent competition with years of performing experience, unlike many contestants best known for singing in the shower, but he didn't find the dichotomy awkward.

"I think it certainly worked for me," he says by cell phone as he waits for his flight to board at Los Angeles International Airport. "I think the energy that I bring to the stage and the work I like to do is about connecting to the audience in a cerebral, heartfelt way, not just blowing them away with a voice or looks or anything like that.

"I'm experienced, and I've traveled the world, and I've seen a lot of things. With other people, they [pick] certain performers that are fresh off the boat, off the farm or plucked out of the mall or whatever. It's just a different path from some other people, that’s all."

After six weeks of impressing viewers as a finalist with such numbers as "Bohemian Rhapsody," "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "I Think I Love You,"” Maroulis was voted off "Idol" during a shocking results show following his performance the night before of Nickelback’s "How You Remind Me."

"The song was not right for me," says the singer, who was the season's sixth-place finisher. "But that was what was meant to be."

He views his "Idol" experience as positive.

"I went into it with an open mind and open heart, and I did my best," he says. "I've been very blessed since then. I can't complain. I've gotten to do everything I've wanted to do.

"Now I'm gearing up for this record — spent a lot of time on it, started my own label, handpicked musicians, the producers, the writers. Collaborated with some great people. There's a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this record.

"[I'm] not worried about winning contests and things. [I'm] just interested in doing good work and pushing forward."

Well good for him. But, honestly, after listening to "Everybody Loves," we have to say it was hardly worth a two-year wait. It's mediocre pop pap. Listen and judge for yourself.


According to, Season 5 fourth-place finisher Chris Daughtry's eponymous debut album has been certified triple platinum (selling in excess of 3 million copies) by the RIAA and as such has been deemed the biggest selling album of 2007 thus far. It is the first album to achieve triple platinum status in the past six months.

The album was propelled to triple platinum sales on the wings of Daughtry's hit singles "It's Not Over" and "Home."

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Taylor Hicks Rocks Atlanta

According to WSBTV, "American Idol" 2006 winner Taylor Hicks rocked through Atlanta last night. He hit the Southern Star Stage at Six Flags performing before hundreds of fans.

The road is nothing new for the Alabama native. Long before American Idol fame came calling, he was hitting the roads all across the southeast, playing in bands since he was 19 years old. He adds that touring back then has prepared him for the lifestyle now, a lifestyle that includes performing at night, sleeping during the day from time to time, and plenty of time of the open road.

While some past contestants of American Idol have been quick to abandon their ties to the show, not so for Hicks. He says he understands what a great opportunity performing on American Idol in front of millions was, and he continues to learn more and more about it each day.

From here, Hicks continues the tour, a tour he describes as high impact soul aerobics, a modern day approach to soul. Next month, Hicks the artist turns into Hicks the author. He's got a new book coming out called "Heart Full Of Soul." In it, he tells how a gray-haired guy beat the odds, finding his own voice and seizing the opportunity when it came his way.

Don't miss the slideshow and video from Hicks' performance on the WSBTV Web site.


An interview with Elliott Yamin from the Arizona Daily Star:

Nobody can say Elliott Yamin isn't doing it his way. "American Idol" passed on the third-place vocalist in 2006 when producers doled out Season Five record contracts, but the 28-year-old soon worked out a publishing deal with Sony/ATV and now has a self-titled hit album on the Billboard independent charts.

You went on a nationwide arena tour with the "Idol" finalists after the show ended. Now, you are playing smaller venues on your own. Do you prefer one or the other?

The arenas were great. I had a blast doing those. Who wouldn't like to get up in front of 16,000 people every night back-to-back-to-back. At the same time, I really enjoy doing these small clubs and theaters. It is more intimate. You get to really interact with the crowd. Dare I say I probably do prefer this kind of tour we are doing here.

You keep in touch with your fellow Season Fivers?

I keep in touch with quite a few people. Bucky [Covington] and Taylor [Hicks] were my best friends on the show. I talked to Taylor probably about a week ago when we were in St. Louis and Bucky a couple of weeks ago. I talk to Ace [Young] all the time. Ace has probably become one of my better friends post-show. He lives in L.A., pretty close to where I live. We talk about more personal stuff than the business stuff. Everyone has been so busy, they just want some normalcy.

Do you feel recording independently from the "American Idol" machine has been to your advantage?

Absolutely. I've been involved every step of the way with every facet of this project from co-writing songs to picking out the sequencing on the record to trying to help pick where I wanted to go on tour. Everything from top to bottom. I am a partner in my own deal. I have more vested in this. I don't have to go out and sell 2-3 million records to be successful.

What did you want to achieve with your first solo album?

I just wanted to bring raw, soulful music. I didn't want it to get overproduced or sound too copy. There is an eclectic mix of sounds on the record. I wanted to work with as many people as I could and have as many different sounds as I could. There are some sounds on there for the blue hairs, for the young folks and for everyone in between. Had I been on a major label, I wouldn't have been able to record that way. I am proud of how we accomplished it. I am looking forward to the next record.

You were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when you were 16 years old. Now, you are a celebrity advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. How does it feel to hold such a title?

I think it is very important. A lot of people align my struggle with calling me a role model. I don't know if I necessarily want to be one, but I definitely want to be a voice. I've had my struggles with it when I was younger. I know what it was like to have diabetic seizures. I know what it is like to be at your lowest point.

Maintaining it on the road is very challenging. You learn how to cope with the different ways and different situations. It is just a matter of checking my blood sugar more often. I wear an insulin pump. It is more conducive to my lifestyle, which is always on the go.

Any projects on the horizon?

I did a big Christmas deal with Target. I will be recording that album in July. We go out on the road and do the second leg of the tour in August and September. Then it is on to the next album.


Excerpts from an interview with Season 2 finalist Josh Gracin in the Walker Country Messenger:

"When I'm up on stage it's like a whole new world for me. I love performing. I'm a firm believer that it's really great for a singer to have a good voice, but to bring it to another level you have to draw the audience in and make them a part of the music, make them feel what you’re feeling."

Born and raised in Westland, Mich., about 30 minutes west of Detroit, Gracin grew up listening to his parents’ favorites: Elvis, the Beatles and the vintage rock and pop on a local station. Then, when he was 11, the station’s format changed to country.

"In the weeks and months after that, I really fell in love with country music. Listening to Garth Brooks, Joe Diffie, George Strait and Randy Travis, I really started getting into it," he said.

After high school, he enlisted in the Marines. About two years into his four-year term of the Marines, he saw the first "American Idol" show.

"I hadn't sung in a couple of years because I was in the Marines, and I thought it might be a good chance for me to get back out there and sing," he said.

"I don't see myself as a celebrity at all. I'm very shy and not all that self-confident, and I feel like an ordinary person, a normal guy who's very approachable. And if I get a little carried away, I’ve got my wife to keep me humble and bring me back down to earth."


Watch video of Taylor Hicks singing "Don't Let Me Down" Wednesday at the NorVa in Norfolk, Va.:

Click here for other videos from the same concert.

Watch video of Bucky Covington at the Lincoln Theatre June 14:

Watch video of Jasmine Trias singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from "Dreamgirls" at the June 15, 2007 Inspiration Concert in Toronto:

Watch Mandisa seeing her CD single, "Only the World," for the first time:

And listen to "Only the World" here.

Watch Brad Paisley video "Online," which is not only funny, but features a slew of guest appearances, including Jason Alexander, William Shatner and Kellie Pickler, who is currently touring with Paisley:

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Blake Lewis: I'm Not Gay

The insinuations have been around for months: Blake Lewis is gay; Blake Lewis and Chris Richardson are an item. What gives? Well, someone finally decided ask him *ahem* straight out: When Blake was a guest on the "Johnjay & Rich Morning Show" in Arizona yesterday, he addressed the issue with the radio deejays, saying "I'm definitely not gay. I'm straight. I'll scream it out loud." So there.


As long as we're *teehee* straightening out rumors about Blake Lewis, let's put this one to rest as well: He and Jordin Sparks are just friends, nothing more. Last week, tried to heat up their relationship by suggesting that they were a couple because they've been spotted getting cozy, holding hands and smooching. That was enough to pose the query even though it seemed a bit unbelievable. According to The National Ledger, AOL music, in an AIM interview with Jordin, asked her whether she and Blake were an "item," and and the budding young star set the record straight and said once and for all that she'

"No, Blake is one of my best friends, but we don't see each other like that," she says. "Yes, we hold hands, but we DON'T see each other that way. Yes, he's cute, duh, [but] he's also 8-9 years older than me. He's like an older brother."


The UK's Guardian interviewed Ryan Seacrest. Here are some excerpts:

Unless you're a scandal-drunk, celeb-happy devotee of E! News, which goes out daily on satellite and cable in the UK, you may never have heard of Ryan Seacrest. In the United States however, he is ubiquitous and as instantly recognizable as the president -- and, in some quarters, almost as fiercely derided.

With his famous dyed, gelled hair and its distinctive, oft-mocked Tintin cowlick, he's the well-scrubbed embodiment of the PG-rated American pop mainstream. He is also a carefully sculpted brand, each gig part of an overarching strategy to build his own TV and radio empire. He's already halfway up a ladder it took other men - some of them former heroes of his who are now his friends, and whose jobs he has inherited - five times as long to climb.

Seacrest is a driven workaholic. "Failure? Scared to death of it," he says. "When I moved here from Atlanta at 20 in 1994, I packed my car and told my parents if I didn't make it I'd move back within a year. I knew I didn't ever want to have that conversation. Mine's a pretty simple strategy: there's not a lot of talent here, but there's a lot of hustle. I have to be in every place I can, and be busy. And why wouldn't I want to maximize this opportunity? It'd be crazy to be lazy."

He's up at 4 a.m. most days to host his nationally syndicated, market-leading radio show, "On Air With Ryan Seacrest," a coveted nationwide morning slot on KIIS-FM that he inherited from the DJ Rick Dees. He used to drive over to Burbank to tape the show, but E! built Seacrest his own in-house studio to cut 90 minutes of drive-time from his minutely scheduled workday.

As songs play he busies himself doing filler announcements for American Top 40, the chart show he inherited from another legendary DJ (and voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo), Casey Kasem, who filled the chair for more than 30 years. Then it's off to the E! TV studios to film segments for E! News, a bracing brew of celebrity tidbits and light scandal. He also hosts the network's red-carpet event programs, as part of a $21 million three-year contract he signed last year.

Nine months of the year, he heads to the CBS studios to host from 5 to 7 p.m. "American Idol," the six-year-old TV talent show and pop-cultural benchmark, which features as one of its recurring highlights the spiky faux-enmity between Seacrest and Simon Cowell. Occasionally he guest-hosts for CNN anchor Larry King, whom he regards as "one of the best live broadcasters in the world." By 8:30 p.m. he is usually in bed.

Seacrest is a radio man at heart. "My infatuation for the medium started really young," he says. "All I wanted to do when I was a teenager was get dropped off at a radio station - one of the ones I listened to - and watch how the shows worked. After a point it was about showing up and driving people crazy, driving the van to promotions and sneaking on the air. I've been going to a radio station every day of my life for 14 years, so I'm conditioned to getting up early and going to a studio."

Seacrest sees himself - or his branded on-air personality - as "accessible, self-deprecating and plugged in to pop culture. That's the show I like to do, that's the person I am and the person I like to be." To my eyes it seems that the secret of Seacrest's ease with himself, on-air and off, is that Real Ryan and Radio Ryan are essentially the same person.

"The new paradigm we're into now is this multitasking, multimedia world that we live in. It used to be you'd work for one person and do one job, but my strategy has always been to try and put my tentacles into a lot of different things while delivering for everybody simultaneously, on all the platforms - TV, radio, the Internet."

That includes his own production company. "My company is in the business of content, delivering content, so whether you see it or taste it or hear it or smell it, that's what I do every day. It's delivered on TV or radio or the Internet, but our point of view is always that we're trying to deliver compelling, interesting, entertaining content, not changing the world; it's supposed to be consumed as entertainment, and it doesn't really matter where it's consumed. I'm not the distribution branch. We're more like the kitchen, then the waiters distribute it to the diners."

One of his ambitions is to break into the British market, with which he is familiar thanks to the heavy presence of expat Brits on the Idol production staff (they've also taught Seacrest the art of "taking the piss.") He has a product that he isn't talking about yet, designed -- "not repurposed" -- for the UK market. But he'll be happy if it merely juices up his joshing rivalry with the wealthier, currently more successful Cowell. The pair conduct a constant friendly "war" in the media. In our conversation, Seacrest describes Cowell as "fifty-ish," "really old" and "a man who literally walks past a wall of mirrors every time he leaves the house, and only drives convertibles -- because he needs to be seen at all times".


Feeling gyped because Kelly Clarkson has cancelled her summer tour? Well, this isn't quite the same, but a nice substitute. Clarkson has done a new "Live AOL Music Sessions Performance." You'll find videos of her singing "Never Again," "Maybe," "Sober," "Since U Been Gone" and "Walk Away."

In the accompanying interview, the petite Clarkson reveals she's already working on album No. 4, a combination of rock, blues and country. "No matter what CD I come out with, you can always expect it to be a growth kind of thing," said Clarkson. "I don't ever want to same the same CD twice. Sequels are never as good. You want to keep kind of changing and I'm always listening to different music. I don't want people to ever think that I'm just trying to sell records. I am trying to make something cool, something different each time."

You'll also find a video interview and photos. And to those who keep calling Clarkson a pig, a cow and other vile slurs (didn't know this was a beauty contest), check out the videos. She's none of that. A booty, sure she's got one. But she's otherwise small, slim and shapely. Thank god she doesn't feel compelled to weigh 90 pounds. She looks fine to us.

Thanks to Andie for this!

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Carrie Underwood Sexiest Vegetarian

Tens of thousands of votes have been counted and the results are in. PETA has named "American Idol" superstar Carrie Underwood the World’s Sexiest Vegetarian woman and "Tonight Show" band leader Kevin Eubanks the World’s Sexiest Vegetarian man for 2007. Red-carpet runners-up include Kristen Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Ausiello and Jared Leto.

The animals rights group says the contest drew more than 110,000 votes on its Web site.

Underwood, who is celebrating her second win as "World's Sexiest Vegetarian" —- she also won in PETA’s 2005 poll —- is a lifelong animal lover. "I quit eating beef when I was about thirteen," she has said. "I do it because I really love animals and it just makes me sad. ... I don't like to watch commercials where they have meat. It weirds me out." Known to sport "V Is for Vegetarian" shirts at her concerts, the singer frequently mentions that vegetarian pizza is one of her favorite foods. What's more, Underwood is also known to rescue stray animals.

Last year, Prince and Bell, who starred on the "Veronica Mars" TV series, were picked as the two sexiest vegetarians. Previous winners also include Natalie Portman, Andre 3000, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Shania Twain, Tobey Maguire, Lauren Bush, Josh Hartnett and Alicia Silverstone.


The Philadelphia News reports that the BET Awards opened with Jennifer Hudson in a white cocktail dress standing alone onstage bellowing out those trademark lyrics, "And I'm telling you ... " Then, she graciously turned the stage over to "my dream girl, the true dream girl, Miss Jennifer Holliday," a classy move considering how irked Holliday was about not having a role in the film version of "Dreamgirls." Holliday originated the role of Effie in the Broadway version.

The duet was awe inspiring. If this had been the Olympics, the vocal gymnastics they engaged in would have garnered them both gold medals. Holliday hit one eye-popping note after another, particularly that last one that sounded almost like a gasp before landing on the last bit. They ended the song with their hands clasped and held aloft. Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holliday sang their butts off.

Hudson also received BET's Best New Artist and Best Actress awards. Her "Dreamgirls" co-star Beyoncé captured awards for best female R&B artist and video of the year for "Irreplaceable."

This season's Idol champ, Jordin Sparks, was also in attendance.

You can catch a clip of Hudson and Holliday here (AP video middle right-hand side of page).


EURweb reports that among the "honorees and notables in attendance" at the 20th Anniversary ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Music Awards, held June 25th at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif., to salute the top songwriters and publishers behind the most popular music of 2006, were "American Idol" season 6 finalists Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis, LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle.


USA Today's Idol Chatter on radio plays for Idol finalists based on the latest published issue of Radio & Records, which contains essentially the same format charts as Billboard.

On the Top 40 chart (the pop, or mainstream, end of the spectrum): Daughtry's "Home" is No. 3;
Elliott Yamin's "Wait for You" is No. 11; Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" is No. 12; Kelly Clarkson's "Never Again" is No. 28.

On the Urban chart (R&B and rap combined): Fantasia 's "When I See U" is No. 5; Ruben Studdard's "Make Ya Feel Beautiful" is No. 6, retaining a bullet after 20 weeks.

On the Christian Adult Contemporary (AC): Mandisa's "Only the World" is No. 11..

On the Country chart: Bucky Covington's "A Different World" is No. 16; Kellie Pickler's "I Wonder" is No. 18; Carrie Underwood's "I'll Stand by You" is No. 45.

On the Adult Contemporary chart: Kimberley Locke's "Change" is No. 7; Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" is No. 11; Daughtry's "Home" is No. 12 and "It's Not Over" is No. 24; Taylor Hicks' "Heaven Knows" debuts at No. 27; in the "New and Active" section (songs moving up but not yet on the chart), Elliott Yamin's "Wait for You" is the top-listed song and Ayla Brown's "Forward" is fourth (OK, in the real world, that means it got played 60 times total at the 98 stations BDS monitors, but it's something).

Hot AC (which has more rock and alternative and generally more adventurous programming than regular AC): Daughtry's "Home" is No. 1 for the third week, and it's still gaining airplay and their "It's Not Over" is No. 10; Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" is No. 6 and "I'll Stand by You" is eighth in New and Active songs; Kelly Clarkson's "Never Again" is No. 14 and dropping fast in airplay. Elliott Yamin's "Wait for You" debuts at No. 40.

Active Rock chart: Daughtry's "What I Want" is No. 14.

In the overall national picture (based on the more updated 100-position national radio airplay audience chart), Daughtry is No. 6 with "Home" and "It's Not Over" is No. 46; Carrie Underwood 's "Before He Cheats" is No. 8 and "Wasted" is No. 81; Fantasia's "When I See U" is No. 13; Elliott Yamin's "Wait for You" is No. 45. Bucky Covington's "A Different World" is No. 75; Kelly Clarkson 's "Never Again" has fallen off the top 100, but she's back on the chart with her new duet with Reba McEntire, "Because of You," new at 87. And Kellie Pickler's "I Wonder" finally makes the national chart at No. 97.


Earlier this month, the UK paper The Times did a story and interview with Simon Cowell, tied to the premiere of his new series "Britain's Got Talent" (sound familiar?). It is one of the most insightful profiles of Cowell we've read.

In his career to date, Simon Cowell’s acts have sold 100 million albums and achieved 75 No 1 singles. In the last round of this year’s "American Idol" series, 63.2 million viewers voted – more Americans than voted for George Bush. His latest show, "America’s Got Talent," was NBC’s No. 1 for the whole of last summer. This is a colossus bestriding our pop culture, who knows how to hold it down and slap it until it cries. On air, he's careless with the dreams of young hopefuls: "If you sang like this 2,000 years ago, people would have stoned you"; "If your lifeguard duties were as good as your singing, a lot of people would be drowning." Off air, he's brutally ambitious: he set up "The X Factor" as a rival to "Pop Idol," on which he appeared, but which was owned by his 1990s chart rival Simon Fuller, the man behind the Spice Girls. Cowell is branching out into drama and has been working on an updated movie version of "Fame" for the past couple of years. His combination of drive and sarcasm clearly pays: his company, Syco, employs a mere 11 people but was responsible for 40% of the profits of its parent, Sony BMG UK, in 2006, and this year’s Rich List values him at £100 million.

Walking up the stone steps to his large Holland Park house, therefore, is slightly intimidating. There's a chauffeur outside and a security camera that lights up when you press the bell at the gate. ... When Cowell comes to the door, however, he's all bounce and smiles. He's wearing jeans and a dark, crew-neck jumper, his hair tousled. He carries a small, unmarked brown bottle in the same hand as his cigarettes and lighter, and dumps them before perching on a vast modern armchair in an immaculate, tasteful room decorated in muted autumn colours, a bit like a hotel. (He lived in one once, until he got bored with the room-service menu.) He – or, rather, his housekeeper – makes me tea, biscuits and hot cross buns, and he chats away, hesitant and cheerful rather than dry and snappy. I make some obvious goofs that television's Mr Nasty would have leapt on, but he’s warm and friendly.

We meet on the day before ITV records its second Simon Cowell "This Is Your Life" – the first was four years ago. Cowell is also conducting the first-round auditions of his new series, "Britain’s Got Talent." This is a talent show in the postwar Butlins tradition. Anyone can enter, which means that boys with squeaky ears, men who play frying pans with a pen and truly atrocious comedy magicians all get their 15 minutes in front of Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden, in effect expanding the best part of "The X Factor": the insanity of the early stages. The show seems curiously old-fashioned, and when he says he wants it to revive variety, it feels as if he's promoting an end-of-the-pier entertainment. "Well, I've always been a big fan of entertainment in the 1950s and 1960s," he nods. "To me, that was the absolute pinnacle. There was a kind of naivety in those days that I enjoy. We went through a phase in the 1990s when we became incredibly cynical, and I didn't like that. Now we're back on track, because I don't think tastes change."

He says his hero was Mickie Most, the acerbic judge of the 1970s talent competition "New Faces": "He was a smart guy, knew what the public wanted and wasn't interested in the art of it all. He was just interested in being successful." And when Most was on air, success was important to the young Cowell, sitting on the floor in front of the variety show on the screen, caught between worlds in Elstree. He knew he wanted to be successful – he just had to be – but he wasn't sure how he was going to make it.

His parents were an unusual couple for their time. His dad was an estate agent who wooed his dancer mother on a train journey from Birmingham. The woman he won was a socialite with Celia Johnson vowels – "a creature of the 1960s. She absolutely typified that whole Jackie Onassis glamorous look. Very energetic, very vivacious, very camp. During that time, she was in her element." Perhaps to sprinkle some fairy dust in front of his new wife, Cowell Sr. took a job at EMI, running its property division, and moved the family into Elstree’s equivalent of Beverly Hills. Cowell loves to tell the story of their neighbour, Gerry Blatner, head of Warner Bros. films in the UK, who threw fabulous garden parties. "As a kid, I would look over the fence at this great house and see everyone – Robert Mitchum, Elizabeth Taylor, all these great actors – having the time of their lives. I remember thinking from a very, very early age, 'God, I hope I grow up and have a nice house so I can have parties like that.' "

But there were problems. For one thing, he hated school. He hated the lack of control – being told what to do, being forced to do things he didn't like. He was expelled from three of them, and says it was only nicotine that got him through: "Because everything revolved around getting out of the classroom, meeting your friends, getting the cigarette and then looking forward to the next one. All of my school was about cigarettes." After leaving with no qualifications, he tried a few odd jobs until his dad bagged him a place in EMI's post room, and, finally, he could try to make it as Mickie Most.

He rose into A&R and found his 1960s tastes ideally suited to the multicoloured world of 1980s pop. He signed Curiosity Killed the Cat as well as the Stock, Aitken and Waterman moppets Sinitta and Sonia. Anything fun and silly – a single from the Power Rangers, or Robson & Jerome doing Unchained Melody, perhaps – he leapt at. He loved getting what he wanted. When he chased Robson Green to get him to record "Unchained Melody," Green’s lawyer threatened him with a court order. Cowell simply switched his attentions to Green's mum, and two months later the deal was signed.

It was only rebel music he didn't understand – "I hated punk, and in the early 1990s, when house was big, I had a very bad time with my career" – and he narrowly avoided bankruptcy when his borrowing spiralled out of control. His tastes may be constant, but sometimes we, his public, can be fickle. He spent five years living with his parents, getting his career going again. By the late 1990s, he had just got Five and Westlife off the ground, and was preparing to launch Girl Thing, when television, a medium he had seen just as a tool, slipped him a low blow. He had turned down the chance to appear on "Popstars," the first hit-maker show, in 2001, and he was furious to discover it was not only successful, but had stolen "Pure and Simple," a song from his group Girl Thing's flop album. "I was so mad, I thought, 'I've got to do something to retaliate. I want "Popstars" off the market. I want to be on a show that's going to kick it off the air.' That was Idol."

From then on, it became about control – revenge and control. He wanted to create the environment in which his acts would be showcased. He wanted to own the formats, not appear in them. He wanted every step of the process to be in his hands. He tells stories about meetings in America at which lowly office juniors would kick him out of the building. "I've still got an e-mail from three years ago, when I was launching my opera boyband, Il Divo," he says. "I trusted this TV producer and got him in, saying, 'I'd like you to listen to them before anyone else. You're doing a big show, and I'd like them to be on it.' The following day, my promotions girl got a mail from him, tearing the band apart and saying why they’d never be successful. I thought, 'I'm never going to put my life in the hands of an idiot like that again.' "

When I ask him what bothers him about all of this, his face darkens for a second. "I don't like being patronised." Surely people don't patronise a multimillionaire with global media properties. He gives a grim laugh. "All the time. All the time. It's this weird, icy politeness you see a lot of in this business. People pretending to be happy about your success. I mean, I'm never happy about a competitor's success. I despise it when somebody who isn't working with me is successful on their own – it really upsets me. And I wish for their demise. And I'm very open about it, because I know they're wishing for mine." As a result, Syco now makes about 1,500 hours of television a year, much of it focused on promoting acts that are signed to his label.

Given that he's now in a position to spread his tastes around the world, I ask him what they are. "If you look in my kitchen, you'll find jellybeans and baked beans, nothing fancy," he shrugs. "I like 'Jaws' and 'Star Wars,' rather than some Polish film with subtitles. A lot of the so-called great music of the world has bypassed me as well. I've just stuck to my guns. If I like it, there's a very good chance other people will like it as well."

So, what would we watch if you switched on the telly now? He smiles. "Stuff from 40 or 50 years ago. Black-and-white British films. I like St. Trinian's films, Cary Grant in 'Arsenic and Old Lace.' " And what would we eat? "Roast chicken and roast potatoes the way my mum makes." What about music? "It's hard to relax with music – it's work." But isn't there a fantasy band that you would have loved to sign? "The Beatles. Because they're still worth a lot today." Not because of the music? "No." And then he laughs, and shrugs. "It's true."

I tell him I'll be at the studio for the recording of "This Is Your Life," and he grins with delight at the show. "I remember thinking the first one I did wasn't great. It felt too early. I never watched it or read the book. Ally Ross wrote that it was hilarious watching Simon Cowell with no friends. So I made bloody sure this time that there are more friends. I'm updating it with the best four years.

The following night, "This Is Your Life’s" studio is filled with Ricky Gervais, Sharon Osbourne and Ant and Dec, who parade on, deliver a few affectionate jokes and give the beaming Cowell a hug. Grateful "X-Factor" winners offer thanks for their break. Ben Elton says he wrote a novel lampooning Cowell having never met the bloke, but got a phone call from his office saying how much he loved it, and they've been mates ever since. The finale sees Il Divo singing Bernstein and Sondheim’s "Somewhere," joined halfway through by his latest "X-Factor" protégée, Leona. The fivesome hit the high notes as fire cascades down the wall behind.

Then the show ends and the celebrities mill around on stage shaking hands and swapping kisses. Out front, the audience are on their feet applauding, when something strange happens. At his moment of utmost triumph, Cowell takes the red book and steps down from the podium, walking forwards until he's standing, alone, between the backslapping on the podium and wild cheering from the crowd. He holds the book out towards us and it's hard to tell if this is a tribute or a sacrifice. Why has he stepped away from the glamour and the pop stars to face us like this – with his feet apart and the book thrust forward in both hands? Perhaps because we are the public, the people whose moods and whims have tossed him around and down, then up far higher than he could have possibly dreamed when peering over Gerry Blatner's fence. I read his name picked out in gold on the book's crimson cover, then glance up and catch the set of his jaw and glint in his eyes. I realise that, for the first time tonight, he isn't smiling.

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© 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

American Idol Audition Cities Announced

Well, it was a long time coming, but the producers have finally announced the locations and dates for auditions for Season 7 of "American Idol." Here is the official press release:



Audition Dates Also Set For Dallas, Omaha, Atlanta, Charleston, Miami and Philadelphia

With auditions scheduled in seven cities across the nation, the phenom-
enal AMERICAN IDOL begins its search for the next singing superstar. Once again, talented singers will have an extraordinary opportunity to perform before millions of TV viewers and become household names, with one winning the American Idol title and a major recording contract.

The quest to become the next American Idol is about to start. Auditions for the seventh season of AMERICAN IDOL begin in San Diego , CA , on Monday, July 30, at Qualcomm Stadium.

Auditions will continue in the following cities:
Dallas, Texas Monday, Aug. 6 Texas Stadium
Omaha, Neb. Friday, Aug. 10 Qwest Center
Atlanta, Ga. Tuesday, Aug. 14 TBA
Charleston, S.C. Saturday, Aug. 18 North Charleston Coliseum
Miami, Fla. Wednesday, Aug. 22 AmericanAirlines Arena
Philadelphia, Pa. Monday, Aug. 27 Wachovia Center

Audition informa-
tion for these cities will be an-
nounced shortly. Season Seven of AMERICAN IDOL premieres in January 2008 on FOX.

WHO: Men and women 16 to 28 years old on July 28, 2007 and eligible to work in the United States . Restrictions apply – please go to for specifics.

WHEN: Monday, July 30

WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium
9449 Friars RoadSan Diego, CA 92108

LINEUP: Wristbands will be given out from Saturday, July 28 (starting time TBA), until 8:00 AM on Monday, July 30. Auditioners will not be permitted to camp out; therefore, once they obtain their wristbands, they will be asked to return to Qualcomm Stadium on Monday, July 30. Additional information is available at

USA Today reports that according to Fox estimated, last year the auditions attracted 100,000 hopefuls.

"We do like to see America," executive producer Nigel Lythgoe says of the annual search for vocal talent. Smaller cities, such as Charleston or an earlier site, Greensboro, N.C., "produce some wonderful stuff."

The tryouts will start a week earlier than last season because producers also will be conducting auditions for a new Fox reality series, "The Search for the Next Great American Band."

Whether any city will perform as well as Season 6's Seattle, much maligned by judge Simon Cowell, remains to be seen. (Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis auditioned in Seattle.)

"It's amazing, isn't it?" Lythgoe says. "Everything was condemned about Seattle … and out of it came Sanjaya [Malakar], the two finalists and the songwriters" who wrote Sparks' finale single.

After battling the elements in some earlier seasons, Idol will hold most auditions indoors, save for Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and Dallas' Texas Stadium, which has a partly covered roof.

As with past audition tours, Idol producers will narrow each city's field to 300 to 400 of the best and worst singers. Lythgoe and co-executive producer Ken Warwick will then cull to about 120 per city to sing to judges Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

Producers want to find a way to make sure more good singers make it through the initial auditions and the Hollywood round and into the final 24.

"Too many slipped through the net," Lythgoe says, adding that no big changes are planned.


Season 6 third-place "Ameri-
can Idol" finalist Melinda Doolittle will travel to Zambia on June 28 with Malaria No More to see and participate in malaria prevention programs as a part of First Lady Laura Bush's upcoming trip through Africa, according to PRNewswire. During the four-day tour, Doolittle will see the impact of malaria on the continent firsthand and assist in a distribution of 500,000 bed nets in Lusaka, Zambia to at-risk populations.

The bed nets distributed in Zambia represent the first installment of funds contributed to Malaria No More by Idol Gives Back, American Idol's two-day charity special that raised over $70 million dollars for programs aiding children in Africa and America. Malaria is the No. 1 killer of children younger than 5 in Africa, claiming more than 1 million lives a year worldwide.

"Traveling to Africa has always been a lifelong dream of mine," said Soolittle. "I am very excited to travel with the First Lady and Malaria No More and to show the impact the viewers of "American Idol" have had through their help and support during Idol Gives Back."

The distribu-
tion will take place through an innovative program called Reaching HIV/AIDS Affected People with Integrated Development and Support (RAPIDS), which uses community health volunteers who travel into rural areas of Zambia on bicycles. In addition to bed nets, the volunteers deliver HIV/AIDS medication, nutrition supplements and toys for children.

Doolittle will help load bed nets onto the bikes of community health workers who will deliver them to remote communities. She also plans to perform a song as a part of the day’s program. On June 29th, she will visit various malaria sites, including a health clinic where children with malaria are treated.


ETOnline caught up with Jordin Sparks as she and the other finalists rehearse in Burbank, Calif., for the 2007 Idols Live! Tour, which kicks off on July 6 in Sunrise, Fla. Sparks said, "My mom is going to come for the first leg of the tour, then my nana and then my uncle is going to come because he loves music. I was, 'You need to come with me.' He is 23. It is going to be really cool."

In addition to rehearsals for the tour, which will feature music not performed this past season on the show, Jordin has already begun reviewing songs for her album.

"I actually got a couple of songs the other day," she reveals. "I love them. I am so excited about them. I haven't gone and recorded anything yet. We are still in the starting stages of it."

That means Jordin is going to have to fly back and forth between Los Angeles and the cities where she is performing to get the job done. "I am just praying that my voice stays up," she adds.

Life for the sixth "American Idol" has changed dramatically now that her time isn't her own. But she insists that she doesn't regret it for a minute. "I still can't believe it is actually happening," she admits. "It has been great. I asked for it, and I am so glad I got it."


According to the New York Post, while "The Color Purple" has enjoyed a steady stream of business in the past year, the addition of "American Idol" winner Fantasia in the lead has led to a huge financial windfall for the production.

The play has been grossing more than $1 million a week since Fantasia’s arrival in April, and advance ticket sales are nearing $10 million, thanks in large part to scores of church groups across the country who board buses and attend shows as part of package deals.

Stand outside the Broadway Theatre on any given day, and you'll see four or five buses, some from as far away as Chattanooga and Atlanta, unloading their passengers. (Not all the groups are from churches. The show also attracts student groups, labor groups, even family reunions.)

The Post followed one such group, "The Jewels of Ebenezer," from Fort Washington, Md.'s Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church. They were 56 deep -– including some grandchildren and one husband -– as they arrived at the Broadway Theatre following a 6½-hour trip. Ebenezer African Methodist has a 10,000-member congregation. The church has already sent two groups to "The Color Purple" and plans to send more in the fall. The cost is $160 per person and includes an orchestra ticket, transportation and dinner after the show at Applebee's.

After the show, The Post arranged a surprise for some of the Jewels: A meeting with Fantasia. Ebenezer Jewel Lucille Goldsborough, 82, was touched by the movie version of "The Color Purple" when she saw it back in 1985. But she was moved to the point of tears when Fantasia won "American Idol" in 2004. She hugged the star and said, "Oh, Fantasia, I watched you from the very beginning, and I prayed for you, I prayed for you."

"Mama, keep praying for me," Fantasia said, wiping away tears. "You all got me crying now," she added.

The Jewels were crying, too. Jean Hicks, a semi-retired health-care worker, said: "Look what God has done for you. You are so blessed." She added: "I'm your new grandma!"

"Yes ma'am, you sure are," Fantasia replied, hugging her.

Later, over dinner, Goldsborough said: "Some stars get a big head when they make it, but Fantasia's stayed true to herself. She's humble."

"You can tell she's getting used to her popularity," said Hicks. "You know, she's got the designer dress and the designer shoes. But she's down-to-earth. It all hasn't gone to her head."


The St. Petersburg Times reports that a local rental car company manager has accused Season 4 "American Idol" finalist Jessica Sierra of keeping kept her rental vehicle 12 days over its due date without paying.

Robert Wilson of Apple Rental Cars on 12606 N Nebraska Ave. in Tampa said he filed a complaint with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Saturday when Sierra didn't respond to a registered letter requesting she return the 2004 silver Kia Optima and pay her outstanding debt.

Sierra, 21, first rented the vehicle on May 23, Wilson said, at a rate of $521 per week including fees for being younger than 25 and lacking her own auto insurance. Though Sierra renewed her use of the car several times, Wilson said, she stopped paying on June 13 and had not been heard from again - until Monday.

Before 5:45 p.m. Monday, Sierra brought the car back, Wilson said: "She just said it was a misunderstanding, that's all."

Sierra's attorney, John Fitzgibbons, confirmed Sierra had been renting the Kia for the last month and had re-rented it several times.

A Sheriff's Office spokesman could not be reached Monday to confirm the agency's receipt of Wilson's complaint.

Wilson said the 2005 Idol star, who grew up in Tampa, owes the business at least $643.40 -- and possibly as much as $893.40, depending on the condition of the car. Wilson said Sierra told him to bill her.

Sierra has had her share of legal complications since placing 10th in the televised singing contest two years ago. Last year, a 59-year-old California man was arrested on charges he was stalking the young star. Then, Sierra was booked into jail April 29 at Hyde Park Cafe after Tampa police said she threw a cocktail glass at another patron's head.

Free on bail, she faces charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility in that incident. Wisam Hadad, 28, whose forehead was hit by the cocktail glass, is suing Sierra and the restaurant, saying he suffered mental and physical damage during the Hyde Park incident.


According to EURweb, "American Idol" second season finalist Frenchie Davis says she was a victim of racism by a passenger and flight attendants on Alaska Air, and plans to discuss her ordeal in a press conference scheduled for this week in Los Angeles.

Davis' rep says she was seated by the window at 1:30 p.m. for a scheduled 1:55 p.m. takeoff on Friday. A man and his son had the seats next to her, but the boy complained that he didn't want to sit next to the "big black person."

The man asked Davis to put her armrest down between her and the boy, but she had already fallen asleep as the plane began to taxi down the runway. According to her rep, the man "stands up and shakes Frenchie violently saying wake up and put the armrest down right now. She tells him to take his hands off her."

The man allegedly asked flight attendants to call security because this "big black woman is harassing him," the rep recounts, adding that two flight attendants responded, but didn't bother to ask Davis her side of the story. They alledgedly just demanded that she move.

Davis told the attendants that she was attacked, the rep said, but the pilot somehow got involved, turned the plane around and headed back to the gate, where Davis "winds up off the plane and misses her flight to her next professional singing performance." The rep said, "A few witnesses give her their information and tell her if she needs a witness to call them."


The Los Angeles Times reviewed Paula Abdul's new Bravo reality series, "Hey Paula." The most telling information comes in the last two paragraphs:

"She yells at her stylist, she yells at her lawyer, she yells at her publicist (not the venerable Howard Bragman, whom she recently, and publicly, fired) even though they are all her very best friends. Destined to be what was once referred to as a camp classic, 'Hey Paula' attempts to show the hard work it takes to be Paula Abdul. In this, it succeeds. Few will watch her days unfold with envy. But what Abdul may think makes her look wacky in a lovable and artistically driven way instead creates a portrait of a tightly wound, isolated woman who clearly thinks she is a much better version of what she actually is.

It's not so much a question of watching 'Hey Paula' as it is rubbernecking. That the show has Abdul's full and enthusiastic support may relieve some of the guilt of watching this clearly troubled woman have a hissy fit over the wrong pair of sneakers, but it doesn't do much for the queasiness factor. Which remains very high."

And so it goes.


The 10 Idol finalists inter-
viewed by Fox's Good Day LA, goofing around and opening asking for swag. Blake Lewis first threatens to shave Sanjaya's head in the night (Phil Stacey volunteers the use of his razor), kids he can't stand Jordin, then sings to Steve Jobs to send him a new Mac. The "kids" would also like Gibson guitars and add that they all love iPhones, with Phil saying that they're taking tips from Elliott. It's a hoot. Watch video here.

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© 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kelly Clarkson 'My December' Leak

If you can't get enough of Kelly Clarkson (and who can these past few weeks?), rush right over to MTV Leak, where you can hear "My December," scheduled to drop tomorrow, in its entirety. You might wonder what the fuss was all about. The New York Times didn't like, the Boston Herald did. Our opinion? It's perhaps not Clarkson's best album, but its pretty decent overall. And we love the first two releases, "Never Again" and "Sober," both dark but the first very edgy and the second a ballad. We say check it out yourself and form your own opinion. Let us know what you think. Happy listening!


Kelly Clarkson and Aerosmith's Steve Tyler from the July 2007 issue of InStyle:


Yes, Kelly Clarkson again! But you wouldn't want to miss this old video of her when she gets onstage with the infamous Metal Skool on the sunset strip and drinks whisky straight from the bottle as she sings some classic Guns 'N Roses. Watch video (not for the kiddies):


Finally, a non-Kelly item. Whew. From Harp magazine's interview with singer/songwriter Nicole Atkins:

HARP: Have you met the “Jersey Girl” Antonella Barba from American Idol?

My 12-year-old little cousin met her over the weekend and got her autograph. He said she has nice boobies.

*cough*, yes, but we knew that already, didn't we?


People magazine reports that Paula Abdul led a scavenger hunt to celebrate her 45th birthday. The hunt originated at West Hollywood eatery Ketchup and found the group of pals – including Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis, Chris Sligh, Gina Glocksen, Chris Richardson and LaKisha Jones – touring Los Angeles. When they were finished, the crew returned to the restaurant for mini kobe sliders, mini kobe beef hot dogs and mac 'n' cheese. Abdul – whose birthday was June 19 – looked "so good," an onlooker said, especially as she was blowing out the candles on her birthday cake.

Watch video of Paula's birthday on

Watch video from Celeb TV of Paula and her playmates as they party:


Latest rumor is trying to push that we're not buying:

They've denied up and down that they're an item, but Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis have been looking awfully co-co-co-zy in the afterglow of their "American Idol" glory.

A TMZ spy spotted the "Idol" finalists "holding hands" while shopping at a Fry's Electronics store near L.A. We're told that they wandered around the store, unmolested, and seemed "happy" together. Blake was overheard saying to the 17-year-old Jordin, "We should call your mom." Need a ride, kids?

Here, B & J yuk it up for photogs, as Blake rocks an outfit that seamlessly blends New Kids on The Block and low-rent surf dude chic.

The pair will tour with the rest of the "Idol" crew this summer, but it looks like they've got their own duet.

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© 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Dumber Blonde? Hint: It's Not Kellie

In a move that will likely make her look as if she has the higher IQ, Kellie Pickler has begun to pal around with Jessica Simpson, according to a report in the National Enquirer says The National Ledger. And the story claims that the elder Simpson sister has been pouring her heart out to her new BFF about her breakup with John Mayer. The problem in the relationship, according to a (*ahem* anonymous and no-doubt nonexistent) source was John's jealousy and Jessica's father, Joe Simpson.

The Enquirer reports it learned the two blonde stunners rendezvoused for girl talk at an exclusive club in Dallas earlier this month and that Jessica made a tearful confession, a source told the magazine. She sobbed to Kellie: "I really loved him, but I've never known a man so jealous!" The source added, "Jessica also said John despised her father and was obsessed about her seeing other guys."

According to the magazine, Kellie, 21, sought Jessica's friendship after she burst onto the pop music scene following her stint on "American Idol." During their recent heart-to-heart, Jessica, 26, told Kellie that at first she thought John's obsessive attentiveness was charming, but then his fits of jealously over other guys "got old quick."

Kellie listened sympathetically -- and then made a shocking confession of her own, says the source. "She told Jessica that John once hit on her when he was still together with Jess, and she added: 'The guy's a major rat. Honey, you're better off without him!' "

File this one under Ripley's Believe It or Not.


A story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the wonders of Memphis, includes these intriguing graphs about Graceland:

"The house is surprisingly small -- [Elvis] Presley bought it and its nearly 14 acres in 1957 and never had it expanded, though he added buildings, including an office for his father and a racquetball court that now holds memorabilia. The King evidently did all the decorating himself, and some of it makes me cringe to think that this was what lots of money could buy in the '60s -- including a furry white monstrosity that turns out to be a bed. Despite what I consider to be his questionable taste, there is a casualness that lends the place a more dignified air than I had expected.

We learn that his three Grammy wins were for gospel albums and he showed up in person to accept only one of the many awards that came his way -- from the Jaycees. His troubles with prescription drugs and other struggles are glossed over but not ignored, and I wasn't sure that would be the case.

It seems odd to see tourists mingle and snap pictures outside in the meditation garden, where Presley, his parents and grandmother are buried and his twin brother, who died at birth, is honored with a plaque. But then the tour recorder tells us that Vernon Presley, worried about vandals, had his son's grave moved here from a public cemetery. The folks snapping pictures here are at least quiet and respectful.

Walking between buildings, you can see the modest neighboring houses beyond Graceland's fences. It will be interesting to see how long that will last.

A partnership that includes Simon Fuller, a co-creator of "American Idol," has paid Lisa Marie [Presley] millions for the rights to use Elvis' and Graceland's names and likenesses. Although she still owns the house, they are buying up land around Graceland, and there's fear, some locals told us, that the quiet neighborhood could become more of an amusement park or worse -- if hotels blossom here, people might stay just in this area and miss the whole history of blues, soul and rock as told along Beale Street and at Sun and Stax studios.

... Graceland is a must-see, but Memphis has so much more that should not be missed."


Don't forget to catch Kelly Clarkson with Reba McEntire tonight on CMT's "Crossroads" at 8 p.m. The New York Daily News gives the show three stars. Here is their review:

If you think Kelly Clarkson looks like she's needed a friend lately, you can relax. She has found one: Reba McEntire.

McEntire, one of the most successful country artists of modern times, joins Clarkson, the "American Idol" winner who has been all over the charts in the past five years, for a CMT production of "Crossroads" in which they sing a bunch of familiar songs together and then, between songs, sit down and chat.

It will come as no surprise to fans of these two American Sweethearts that they can harmonize on popular anthems as if they were born doing it, or that when they talk they sound like the Nashville branch of the mutual admiration society.

Clarkson says McEntire's songs have always blown her away, and she's like, so awe-struck just to be talking with her.

McEntire says, nonsense, child, I remember sitting there myself, and besides, you earned it.

Although McEntire has worked almost entirely on the country side of the music game and Clarkson has primarily been a pop artist, their musical common ground is extensive.

Both have scored best with big, booming, melodic tunes that sound great from a car radio, like McEntire's "You Lie" or Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."

They belt out both of those on this show, along with "Does He Love You," "Because of You" and a half-dozen others. No shortage of hits, no shortage of powerful crescendos that make the adoring crowd even happier.

Besides, in a world that loves a catfight, this is a kitten cuddle.

They don't cover anything terribly profound in their chats, with McEntire talking about her struggle to get that first break and Clarkson musing about her musical influences. More significant is that they do it in such a warm manner, like two best friends who happen to have sold tens of millions of records meeting for a morning cup of coffee.

The special airs at a particularly good time for Clarkson, who has been bounced around lately by the ambivalent response to the CD that comes out Tuesday.

Not entirely by accident, "Crossroads" may remind fans that they basically like the girl and maybe ought to give her new record a chance.

Speaking of music, the special reinforces one other truth about McEntire and Clarkson. While the appeal of their songs is wide, it's not especially deep. Their songs tend to be more catchy than profound, which is fine. It's just worth noting.

It's also worth noting that once or twice, when the gals are talking, Clarkson somehow uses the phrase "so I said," rather than "So, I'm like ..."

You go to the crossroads, you just never know what you'll find.

You can also find videos and photos with Kelly and Reba on the CMT site here.


The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reports that fans will come from across the country to see "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks at the Spartanburg Community College Foundation's Red, White & Boom celebration Friday (June 29th). People from 25 states have purchased tickets, and the Marriott has already booked the block of rooms set aside for Red, White & Boom attendees.

"We have people coming from as far away as California, Washington state and New York," said Nancy Dickson, executive director of the SCC Foundation.

"We do this as a fundraiser to raise scholarships to support students who come to the college," Dickson said. Dickson said that in the past couple of years, organizers have tried to appeal to the age group they serve at the college.

Last year's concert with singer Miranda Lambert, the Academy of Country Music's Best New Female Artist for 2007, filled the park to capacity.

"Taylor Hicks is that type of person," Dickson said. "He appeals to a broad range of people, and our sponsors feel comfortable with a nationally recognized name."

Hicks draws crowds of fans from all over the country, many who follow him from show to show. He's nothing like 'American Idol,' " said Donna Bristow, a 46-year-old sales representative from Anderson County. "You can't describe him unless you see him live. He's so magnetic. He puts his whole heart and soul in it. I know women who have cashed in 401(k)s to follow him," Bristow said.

Bristow has friends coming in from Naples, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., and Nashville, Tenn. She knows women who have seen him more than 20 times. "I attended two of Taylor's concerts in Tennessee this winter and was thrilled to learn that he would be performing within driving distance this summer," said Millie Wilson, a retired English teacher who lives about 150 miles away in Kingsport, Tenn.

She said she was struck by Hicks the first time she saw him perform on "American Idol." "No two Taylor Hicks concerts are the same. He has a vast storehouse of music to draw from. He has been compared to a walking iPod," Wilson said. "He's one great-looking fellow, too," she added jokingly, "and that's worth about 50 miles of driving."

Hicks will take the stage around 8 p.m. A 25-minute fireworks display starts at about 9:30.

Meanwhile, the Leader-Telegram says that Hicks' hot blues and jazz left the audience cold when he opened for Sara Evans at Country Fest in Cadott, Wisconsin:

"American Idol's Hicks didn't stand a chance with devout country music fans. The blues and jazz crooner, dressed in a black shirt and gray suit coat, warmed up the crowd with "Soul Thing."

But the warmth quickly faded.

Although his voice was right on key and he rocked on the harmonica, Hicks' handful of hard-core fans couldn't persuade the rest of the crowd to play along."

This group was apparently not too easy to please. The paper also reported that, "Throughout the 70-minute set, Evans and her band, including sister, Lesley Evans Lyons, a back-up singer; and brother, Matt Evans, the guitarist, attempted to keep the crowd entertained, but the slower songs weeded the fans from the fanatics.

The crowd grew restless and began packing up for the night during the ballad 'I Could Not Ask for More.'

At least Evans made it 50 minutes into her act before the fans started making their way back to the campsites. It took Hicks, who played before Evans, only a handful of songs to send people back to their tents."

Tough crowd.


In a story announcing that Carrie Underwood would be performing at Allentown Fair Grandstand in Pennsylvania on Sept. 2, the Morning Call also said that Underwood is working on a second album. In a recent interview with Nashville newspaper The Tennessean, she said, "It's definitely staying in the country genre. That's where my heart is, and it's worked well so far." The first single should hit radio stations later this summer.

Underwood never seems to never be out of media spotlight for long, because of her involvement with PETA and rumors of her on-and-off again relationship with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tomy Romo.

Underwood credits her sorority sisters with helping her to overcome her shyness at singing on stage. Youngest of three girls, she grew up in Checotah, Okla., and attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, as a journalism major, which may explain the long but well-written bio on MySpace. She also is a skilled guitar player and vegetarian.

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

'Idol' Tour Invites Kelly Back -- Not!

In a "news" item we deem as believable as the Courtney Love has been asked to replace Paula Abdul crap that floated around early in Season 6, the New York Post reports Kelly Clarkson is reportedly being offered a spot on the Idols Live 2007 tour.

According to the Post, "Clarkson, who has been feuding with her record label and fired her manager in recent weeks, was forced to cancel a planned summer tour of her own due to poor ticket sales.

"Now comes word that the 'Idol' tour - set to begin July 6 in Florida and starring the top-10 finishers from this year's competition - is inviting Clarkson to make a 'special cameo' appearance on the tour, according to a report on the music-industry Web site Geno's World.

"Calls to Clarkson's label, Sony-BMG, were not immediately returned yesterday.

"It has been a rough month for the singer who had come to epitomize 'Idol' success.

"Her latest CD, 'My December,' is not due to be released until next week but it has reportedly suffered from poor early sales orders.

"The 'Idol' tour might be a comedown for the star, but it will give her a chance to sing her own songs in front of loyal audiences."

Not surprisingly, the Post story quotes no sources and doesn't even name a reporter. The Web page simply says "Post staff writer." We suppose next they'll be saying that Clarkson is trying out for "America's Got Talent."

UPDATE: Access Hollywood says that the Kelly Clarkson invited on the Idol Tour rumor is just that -- a rumor started and now debunked by the Web site Geno's World (who the hell is Geno?). This was after Rolling Stone and the New York Post decided to repeat it without checking it out (yea for modern journalism -- everything but the facts, ma'am.}

Clarkson's rep told Access Hollywood that the report is "not true." Furthermore, a publicist for the "Idol" tour told Access that this is the first she has heard of this, and that she has no idea where it is coming from. The "Idol" tour rumor comes on the heels of Kelly's announcement last week that her own summer tour has been canceled, with plans to embark on another tour in the future in a more “intimate concert environment.” While the "American Idol" tour may not be considered "intimate," Clarkson herself recently told Access that she does not wish to distance herself from the show that initially made her a star. "Everybody always thinks I try and separate myself [from "Idol"], she said. "I'm not at all -- I love very much where I came from."


Another suspect "news" item we found on a few Web sites, including
StarPulse says that Paula Abdul is desperately searching for Mr. Right, insisting all her fame and fortune can't make up for the lack of a man in her life. The Grammy-award winning singer wants to share her success with someone else -- and finding love is her top priority.

She says, "[My wish is] to find my one true love. I'm feeling more in control and comfortable in my life these days, so I hope to find someone special."

Well, all-righty then.


That's the title of an article by The Stranger, whose slogan is "Seat-
tle's Only News-
paper." The story talks about Blake Lewis, his American Idol experience, his friends and the attention he's brought to Seattle. There are a goodly number of quotes from his friends, and a couple from the Idol runner-up:

Household names, though, are typically scoffed at in the ghetto of music elitism. How can an artist maintain integrity while signing up for such a mass-market fabrication? Why even sign up? For most career musicians and music devotees, American Idol is a farce that's best ignored. Even Lewis will tell you so.

"The whole 'Hey, hey we're the Monkees' aspect of things," is how he [Lewis] puts it during a quick Seattle stopover between wrapping the show and hitting the road for a four-month Idol tour. "I stopped watching TV eight years ago because I can't stand it. Going into American Idol, I was like, what the fuck am I getting myself into?"


Lewis had a hard time with his first audition last September. He was crammed into KeyArena with 9,000 other hopefuls and asked to perform 30-second bits in a tiny, curtained cubicle, shuffling from one production assistant to another. It was the first time he'd ever felt nervous, he says.

"It's all about instant judgments. Being a musician out of Seattle who makes noise and beatboxes..." He [Lewis] pauses, as if the notion of such a freakish thing ending up on prime-time television is pure fantasy. "Everything's underground until there's support, and then when there's support people say you sold out."


In a new interview with The Glendale Republic, Idol winner Jordin Sparks talks about Blake Lewis, boyfriends and obesity.

During her interview, Sparks was quick to point out that her friendship with Idol runner-up Blake Lewis is still strong:

"I love Blake, I talk to him every day. We are totally different artists and have totally different tastes in music. I think his album is going to be more eclectic, but I can't wait to buy (it)."

Since you won American Idol I know you've been superbusy. Do you find that your old friendships have been hard to maintain?

It's kind of hard, because things are not the same. I went home for a couple of days and hung out with my best friends. They were like, "What do you want to do?" and I'm like, "Go to the mall?" and then we'd look at each other and I go, "Oh yeah, I forgot, sorry." I wasn't sure how people would respond to seeing me in public.

Has your management tried to push you in any direction, either stylewise or musicwise, that you've had to resist because you didn't feel that it suited you?

I don't think I've resisted anything yet because I'm not really sure how (my album) is going to sound . . . I'm still very open to everything. Hopefully this next week I'll have (album) songs to listen to. I definitely want it to be radio friendly, like top 40 kind of stuff.

I definitely haven't been approached to be any type of sex symbol or anything, but I think if I was asked I would have to resist. I wouldn't feel comfortable exposing my midriff. However, at the same time, I do want to be cute.

I know that right now you live close to the northwest portion of Phoenix that has a Glendale mailing address. Why do you identify with Glendale more so than Phoenix?

I know they are two different cities, but my whole life growing up I had a Glendale address. I love Glendale. It's a cute town and it's growing and getting bigger. Where I do live, I know a lot of people who live in Glendale that are by me.

Shortly after your win, I read that an obesity expert had criticized your weight and that later on, your fans had sent the critic death threats. What was your reaction to that situation?

The first time I heard that that had happened, it was from someone interviewing me over the phone. I had no idea, I was like, "What are you talking about?" I had no idea what to say. I turned to my mom and was like, "OK, moving on." (Laughs.) I love that my fans were so devoted.

Has the attention surrounding your weight forced you to reconsider your appearance at all?

I expected people to talk about (my weight), it's what everyone talks about nowadays. Everybody is obsessed with weight and what they look like.

I am totally comfortable with who I am. If someone else isn't, that's OK. It's one of those things I let roll off my back.

What did you do while you were home? Are there any hometown spots that you already miss?

When I was home, I hung out with friends but stayed around the house, within a five-mile radius. But the night before I left, I went to the Keith Urban concert (at the U.S. Airways Center ), it was so amazing. Now that I'm gone, I miss my house, I miss sleeping in my own bed.

What has been the best experience as a result of winning Idol?

Everything coming off of it. I got to see New York City. I was on (MTV's) Total Request Live, which was so weird because that was a show I watched. And all the photo shoots and radio shoots have all been so great.

How has winning the show affected your personal life? Do you have a boyfriend?

(Laughs). I don't have a boyfriend . . . but I never really had one before the show, so I don't really know the difference. It hasn't affected my love life. Sometimes guys ask to go out with me, but I'm like, "I don't even know you!"


Watch video of Melinda Doolittle on "Good Day Los Angeles" talking about her she os going to Africa with First Lady Laura Bush for Malaria No More. She also talks about how the guys on the tour all play instruments, and how they have put together a band and will play a few numbers during the tour sets. (But what is it with the blonde cohost on the far right chomping on food and drinking on camera the whole time? So what if she's pregnant, can't she wait until a commercial break? Rude dude).

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