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!

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© 2007

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