Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fantasia Extends Stay in Footlights

Fantasia Barrino has decided to stay with the Broadway show "The Color Purple" through the end of the year. She was originally scheduled to be in the show for just six months, which would have taken her through the beginning of October.

Rush & Molloy report in the New York Daily News that the songstress is also negotiating with the producers of a big musical to be based on the life of Ada (Bricktop) Smith, an African-American expatriate in Paris in the 1920s who became a nightlife queen. Bricktop rose from humble beginnings in Alderson, W. Va., to become the toast of Paris in the Roaring '20s, where she was first employed overseas by Cole Porter to teach dances such as the Charleston at his parties.

By 1929, she owned her own nightclubs such as The Music Box, Le Grand Duc and her famous Chez Bricktop, where she entertained Porter, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Porter wrote "Miss Otis Regrets" for her. She even worked with Josephine Baker and Mabel Mercer.

Chuck Seffan's doing the lyrics for the musical, and composer Ron Abel will weave together new arrangements of the era's great jazz standards along with his original tunes.

Abel will announce the project Sunday night at Birdland during a performance of his hits and original music he has composed for the show, to be sung by Michele Lee, Lucie Arnaz, Valerie Pettiford, Billy Stritch and Sally Hayes.

He'll be joined by the show's producers, Paul Lambert and Jonas Neilson - who are also working on a Broadway version of "The First Wives Club" - with composer Marvin Hamlisch expected in the audience.

Barrino's manage-
ment says she hasn't yet brought the project to their attention and confirm that she will remain in "The Color Purple" through the end of the year.

Meanwhile, those working on "Bricktop" hope the show will hit Broadway in early 2009 after a trial run in Chicago.

On Friday, July 13, Fantasia will perform live on ABC's "Good Morning America." She'll also answer some selected viewer questions on the show. If you'd like to submit a question, fill out the information online here.


In a licensing agreement announced Monday, FremantleMedia, the production company and official licensor for "American Idol," inked a deal with Lyric Jeans, Inc. to create a "lyric-inspired" American Idol brand of apparel.

"American Idol is the most powerful and iconic music brand in popular culture today and the perfect tie-in for our creative concept," said Lyric Jeans president Hanna Rochelle Schmieder. "We couldn't have dreamt of a better partner. Now music and fashion lovers everywhere can feel like a pop star and express themselves through our lyric-driven lifestyle brand."

Lyric Jeans will develop apparel for department stores, mid-tier and mass market retailers, focusing on the demographic of contemporary juniors and girls with the expansion into children's wear a possibility. Lyric Jeans already produces clothing featuring song lyrics made famous by The Beatles, Rod Stewart, The Bee Gees and other artists.

"Lyric Jeans has taken a unique approach in personalizing musical expression through fashion," said Nora Wong, FremantleMedia North America's manager of consumer licensing. "Lending the 'American Idol' name to this apparel line is a fantastic extension for both brands and gets to the heart of what the American Idol brand is all about."


Greenville Online has a series of video interviews with the Top 10, including homie Chris Sligh who is excited that the tour is playing in his South Caroline hometown.


The UK's The Sun says that Kelly Clarkson looks smokin’ hot on the front cover of next month's Blender magazine. (Check it out at right.)

Looking very rock chick in a black bustier, heavy make-up and dishevelled hair, the singer looks a shadow of the cute All-American youngster who shot to fame on American Idol in 2002.

Inside the magazine, Kelly admits she is terrified that an innocent snog could land her with an STD. Asked how many boys she has kissed, she responded: "Four? No, wait. Oh my God, five!"

She then explained: "I have major trust issues. I just don't make out with people. That's a waste of my kisses and time. And it's so personal. It's like, my face."


Taylor Hicks, onstage, belted out a tune as the sun set over the field at Belmont Country Club on July 8. Taylor Love, 2, in the front row, danced around in her pink, orange and white sundress with her family -- mom Aimee, dad Mike, brothers Adam and Kyle, and Nana Sue.

The Loudon-Times Mirror reports it was a great end to a week the Love family had been anticipating for a long time - a week when the family could be together - no chemotherapy treatments, blood transfusions or emergency room visits.

After almost a straight month in the hospital fighting stage IV neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer of the sympathetic nervous system, Taylor Love, of Ashburn, spent a week at home with her family, living as a toddler instead of a patient.

She marched in the community parade and took in the fireworks on the Fourth. She went to the library for story time and spent time playing with her brothers. It was a week the family cherished since they found out Taylor might have to have a second surgery to remove three regrowth tumors on her left kidney. Taylor has been battling the cancer since December.

Backstage before the concert, Hicks met Taylor and her family. The shy blue-eyed Taylor quickly warmed up to Hicks and sat on his lap, showing off her white sandals with their pink, purple and green flowers and butterflies. Hicks was given one of the "Taylor" bracelets that friends of the family, Lara Bryson and Rochelle Courtney, make and sell to help raise funds for the Loves.

Hicks sported it onstage, saying, "It's on and it's going."

"One of the positive things about being a celebrity is the ability to help people and to bring focus to certain needs and issues," Hicks said.

As the concert continued, Hicks bent down to pay Taylor some special attention. He blew her a kiss and handed her a harmonica. "She played it all night," Aimee said.

The Love family had a special part in Hicks' Sunday night concert, part of the Loudoun Summer Music Fest. The $3,500 raised from a raffle will help the family as Taylor fights this disease.

Special Love, a nonprofit support group for families dealing with cancer, and a beneficiary of this year's Loudoun Summer Music Fest, gave the Love family a $500 donation.

Along with this major community event sponsored by the Loudoun Foundation, another event took place June 29 that brought the community together for fun and fundraising.

Family friend Stacey Brown put together a charity volleyball tournament and family fun night at the Dulles Golf and Sport Center, raising more than $10,000 for the Loves.

"It is overwhelming and extremely generous," Aimee said about the outpouring of charity toward her family. "It says a lot about this community."


TV Guide interviewed the Idol champ yet again in Sunrise, Fla.:

When did you get to Florida?
We got to Florida on the 1st, so we've been here for a week, you know, tanning and soaking up the sun and rehearsing ...

Have you done any sightseeing yet?
We had a day off where I rode the WaveRunners and we all just kind of chilled. It was really fun.

Was that your first time on a WaveRunner?
It's like a Jet Ski, which I have driven before, and I just had a blast. It was me, my mom, Blake [Lewis] and Chris [Richardson]. It was really relaxing. There was a Jacuzzi, and we swam in the ocean.

Did people look twice in the water when they saw you speed by with Blake and Chris?
Yeah, there were a couple of people, but it's OK. We took a lot of pictures and signed some autographs. For the most part, people were really cool and were probably like, "Oh, they're on vacation, too."

Did you get to go do anything else?
We get off pretty late from these rehearsals, but Gina [Glocksen] had a party because it was her birthday this past week. We went to her aunt and uncle's beach house, which wasn't very far from the hotel. We went to Outback Steakhouse after that and ate. It's been just great.

Did you all sing "Happy Birthday" to her?
We did. And everybody got her individual things. My mom and I got her a card that has a chicken on it, and when you open it, it plays the "Funky Chicken" song. I wrote inside how much I love her, and I gave her a pair of shoes from the finale that she really wanted.

Did you wear them with the Badgley Mischka gown?
No. They're the shoes I wore with the white dress because she was like, "If I ever get married, I want these shoes!"

What was her reaction to the gift?
We embraced and started crying!

Any surprises about the tour rehearsals, anything you didn't expect?
It's been crazy because we only rehearsed with part of the stage back in California. So when we got here and the actual full stage was here, it took some getting used to because it's bigger than we thought it'd be. We've just got to learn how to breathe right and pace ourselves. When we walked in, we were all looking around at the empty seats. This arena is huge and there's going to be people filling up these seats! I can't believe this is actually happening.

Do you still feel like you're dreaming?
I am, and it's so much fun. I can't believe opening night is tonight. My adrenaline is pumping at a million miles per hour.

What will you do to get ready?
I'll probably just pray and breathe, talk to Melinda [Doolittle] and my mom, and just go out there and do what I do because I love performing. When there are big crowds, I feed off of their energy. I just can't wait to get out there.

Will you pig out on pizza at crafts services beforehand, or are you one of those people who gets nervous and can't eat before a show?
No, I can't eat before a show. Maybe it is a nervous thing, but I always feel like, if I eat, I'll feel too full and I can't push my notes out. But I pig out afterwards!

Have you seen your tour bus yet?
Yes, we have, and it looks awesome. We've got our bunks and they've got little TVs on the inside, and we've got a front area and a back area.... It's a really nice bus. I picked the middle bunk because it goes three up, three across.

When I saw you at the TV Guide cover shoot, you said you were going to bring books on the road. Reading anything good?
You know, I brought a couple with me but I can't remember what they are! I haven't had any time. They've just been sitting in my bag, which is really, really sad for me. It hurts to know that there are books sitting around unread.

I'm sure you'll have time while you're driving tonight. What's the next city?
We go to Tampa right after this.

So you actually sleep on the bus?

Have you outfitted the bus with any fun gadgets or toys?
We just got on them yesterday so we really haven't had time to do anything yet, but I'm sure when we get to different cities, if we have time to stop, we'll pick up some stuff to decorate.

I know the boys went out and bought Xboxes and PlayStations for their bus, so I was just wondering.
I know! Blake bought an Xbox 360, so that'll be on his bus. I'm like, "Maybe we should get one."

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