Friday, August 31, 2007

Australian Idol 5 Wildcard Announcement

It was a big night for Australian Idol as two females were picked for the Top 12 and the eight Wildcard performers were announced.

First up, it was the audience vote and James announced you've chosen Brianna Carpenter. He told her she would now perform at the Opera House no matter what. "That's awesome!" she said.

When Holly Weinert was named second, she and Brianna ran into each other's arms … and fell in a heap on the floor. "I could swear!" said an excited Holly.

Next, last year's Australian Idol Damien Leith performed "22 Steps" from his No.1 album Where We Land. "These guys have been pretty tough this year," Damien said of the judges. "I don't remember them being that tough last year."

The judges, who have been debating day and night as to who would be their Wildcard picks, in the end decided they would pick two contestants each.

Firstly, Mark announces his. "I have no support for my first choice," Mark admitted, before naming Husny Thalib the first Wildcard. Then he named "somebody who's paid his dues": Mark De Costa.

Next it was Dicko's turn, and he admitted he didn't initially like his first choice but was later forced to "eat my words": Dave Andrews. "Are you sure?" asked a shocked Dave. Dicko said the comp would be a poorer place without his second choice, Daniel Mifsud.

Marcia confessed she was exhausted after the judge's selection process. She said her first choice was consistent, "and consistency is everything", naming Natalie Gauci. She admitted her next choice, who she has championed since the beginning, has a long way to go, announcing Carl Riseley.

Kyle said that not everybody agreed his first choice was "Mr All That" and named Jack Byrnes. Finally he named a shocked Sarah Lloyde, saying, "She has improved herself so much since we first saw her."

By shows end it was time to say goodbye to Lyall Adonis, Jesse Curran, Sally Van der Zwart, Madison Pritchett, Rosie Ribbons, Junior To'o, Cheray Doughty and Morgan Hosking. They have all been amazing, and due to a change in rules next year, along with all the other semi-finalists not to make the Top 12, will be able to reapply.

Damien Leith Guests in Rove

Damien Leith is returning home. Yes, last year's Australian Idol is coming back to perform on the show that made him a star this Thursday August 30.

The top 24 contestants will no doubt be keen to hear a sample of Damien's first studio album Where We Land, which this week debuted at No.1 on the ARIA charts, following the success of his well-received second single "22 Steps".

"It definitely feels like it's a whole new phase," Damien told The Sun-Herald. "I'm so proud of the album, I really truly am. I feel really good about it."

The Irish-born singer has worked with legendary producer Ross Fraser and ARIA Award winning artist Alex Lloyd on the new CD, co-writing 10 of the songs.

2007 has been a massive year for the singer, kicking off with his The Winner's Journey album sitting at No.1 in the charts; he also became an Australian citizen, got the news his first novel was to be published and began work on the new album.

Topping it off, Damien and his wife Eileen welcomed their second child, son Jagger, in June.

If that wasn't enough his novel, One More Time, will be released in October. The book was written four years ago when Damien was trekking through Nepal, and he mysteriously describes it as, "almost a thriller but not quite".

In November busy Damien begins a tour of the east coast of Australia that will take in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, Wollongong and Hobart.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ben Fagan The Reigning Pirate Master

The final episode offered plenty of adventure, however you feel about the outcome. The last mission called for teamwork, but first the three remaining pirates--Christa, Jay, and Ben--had to compete against one another.

The initial clue was a cheat sheet, with Latin words and corresponding English. The pirates had to copy this information to use on the island. Christa, Jay, and Ben then swam ashore and raced along a narrow path, picking up clues and translating them as they went. On the second pass, Ben sabotaged Christa by cutting loose the rope bridge that he and Jay had used. But Christa found an alternate route. Ultimately, with Jay hot on his heels and Christa closing in, Ben located the treasure first.

Upon their return to the Picton Castle, Ben became captain for the first time. Christa and Jay were automatically given black spots. But the twist came with Pirate's Court itself. Ben was immune from mutiny, but he did not get to decide between Jay and Christa. Instead, the Ghost Crew made its last appearance and everyone with a grudge was given a chance to sound off.

Predictably, most of the criticism and recrimination flew in Jay's direction. His defense? "I was playing a pirate." Good one.

Surprisingly, a few of the ghost pirates had harsh words for Ben and Christa as well. The lowest blow came from Kendra, who told Christa she used her daughter too much as an excuse, and furthermore she should get a job and set a better example for her child!

Kendra must have cast that one vote against Christa. The rest of the votes sealed Jay's fate. But this time the eliminated pirate did not get cut adrift. He was forced to take a tougher path: rejoining the pirate crew.

At this point everyone went back to work aboard the ship--everyone except the people who were sick of Ben. Top of that list would be Laurel, who threw down her jacket and decided to sunbathe when Ben insisted on calling her his "personal assistant." For the rest of that day, several of the women did nothing but lie around on deck and talk about how much they disliked other crew members.

The next step was for Ben and Christa--as rival captains--to choose their crews. Ben had to select a man and two women for the Black Crew; Christa was instructed to choose a woman and two men for the Red Crew. Each pirate had a chance to say why he or she ought to be selected.

Ben chose Azmyth, Cheryl, and Nessa, despite Nessa's assertion that she would like to see a woman win. Christa's ballots were for Jay (who said he understood if she chose someone fresher; he just wanted her to win), John (who pledged his loyalty and praised Christa for her efforts so far), and…Nessa. Since Nessa was clearly the "woman of the hour" for competition, Ben and Christa offered her bribes as an added incentive. Christa won by meeting Ben's bribe amount and offering Nessa her own winnings thus far, if they won the big prize.

Ben substituted Jupiter, who had been working hard on the ship and had promised to help him. And the rest of the pirates were cut adrift, last seen sailing away in the dark with only the sound of the waves and Louie's cackle.

The Red and Black Crews took off in boats, and the Red Crew fell behind right away. They caught up on the footpath, and ran ahead of the Black Crew. With several steps to this mission, the skills of all crew members came in handy. John redeemed himself with his brawn, knocking down the wooden barrier to a cave that held one of the clues, and later carrying a heavy metal box overhead while running back down the path at full speed.

At the midpoint in this mission, the captains had to go it alone. After they each uncovered a wooden ship's wheel, they had to run uphill to quarters belonging to Henry Steele. They then had to place the wheel properly on the wall, match it to letters printed there, and read the next clue. Ben figured out first that the following step was to haul the metal box back down the trail, across the beach--and back to the Picton Castle, where the final clue to the Treasure of Zanzibar could be found inside the ship's chest.

It was a close one, with Ben scrambling to piece together the message from various drawers in the chest even as Christa climbed over the side of the ship and caught up with him. Both worked feverishly, and Christa was seconds away from the last message, when Ben worked it out, opened the compartment holding a tiny silver key, and unlocked the chest, revealing that Henry Steele's Treasure of Zanzibar had been aboard the Picton Castle the entire voyage.

And so Ben Fagan became the ultimate, final, and absolute (for there will never be another season of this show, my friends) Pirate Master. Fortunately for Ben and his reputation, he had made amends with Louie while he had the opportunity, giving Louie the $12,000 he won in the last episode as an apology for sandbagging him. That, to my way of thinking, made Ben the Pirate Master.

The episode ended with a tribute "in loving memory" of Cheryl, who made such an honorable contribution to Ben's winning crew, and who was much loved and respected by her fellow pirates. She will be missed.

Thus ends the uneven saga of Pirate Master.

Australian Idol 5 Watch - Semi-Finals Group 4

After spectacular performances last night it was time for Australian Idol's second and final group of six boys to find out whom the nation wanted to stick around and move through to the Top 12.

First through was a surprised Ben McKenzie. "That's a bit scary," he told Andrew and James. "Woah!" Ben was closely followed by Marty Simpson. "It's a wild ride,' said the surfy guitar hero. "But it's unreal so I'm gonna enjoy it for a minute."

Then we met the final group of six female performers, starting with Sarah Lloyde who belted out Jennifer Hudson's "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls. Mark wasn't convinced by the song choice but the other judges could not have disagreed more. "It's go hard or go home," Dicko told her. "If I've got anything to do with it you're not going anywhere."

Morgan Hosking took on Alanis Morissette's "You Learn" and while Dicko said he'd been her biggest fan, he "expected more". Marcia and Kyle didn't think she was happy with her performance. Mark delivered a blowing set of sound bites: "All over the place. Karaoke. Worst performance of the week."

Holly Weinert tackled "Easy", a hit for both The Commodores and Faith No More. All were impressed. Even Kyle. "For someone I always thought was plain and boring, that was really lovely," he said. "Great song choice," said Marcia.

Madison Pritchett hit the stage with Avril Lavigne's current tune "When You're Gone". Kyle said he was "over people punching out the ballads." Mark told her she was "such a sweetheart" but the judges seemed to agree that she wasn't quite ready for the competition.

Brianna Carpenter maintained her eccentric reputation with a rendition of Regina Spektor's "Fidelity", wearing a dress that was whipped up for her by her mum. "Kooky, quirky and perky," said Mark. "I loved it." Kyle appreciated her talent but said, "The whole thing, I'm not buying it." "I wouldn't expect you to," retorted Brianna.

Last but not least was Rosie Ribbons who put a new spin on the REM classic "Everybody Hurts". Marcia, who recently also recorded a version of the song, thought there were to many vocal licks. Dicko was concerned about how she could be marketed. Kyle said he got a "big boring vibe" from her.

Tomorrow night will be the announcement of the two contestants from tonight's show moving through to the Top 12 as well as the eight performers who will perform on Sunday's Wild Card show.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Australian Idol 5 Watch - Semi-Finals Group 3

It was crunch time tonight for Australian Idol's first group of six girls as they awaited their fates. After mixed responses from the judges to last night's performances, it was anyone's guess as to who would be named in the Top 12.

Ultimately it was Tarisai Vushe and Lana Krost who heard their names read out. "I just want to say thank you to everyone who voted for me," said Tarisai. A very surprised Lana admitted she wasn't very confident about getting in.

Tonight's performances were lead by Mark Da Costa, who rocked the house with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love". The audience loved it and the judges agreed. Although Mark (the judge, that is) said he was worried by the fact it was a "classic reproduction", Dicko thought the opposite. "You don't mess with a song like that," he declared.

Ben McKenzie, striking in a Beatle's inspired jacket, gave his all to the haunting Tears For Fears/Gary Jules hit "Mad World". Mark was delighted. "You are a deadset star!" he announced, adding that he hadn't heard a voice as good as Ben's for a very long time.

Jack Byrnes wowed with U2's classic "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". Dicko told him it was a case of "the right artist picking the right song at the right time" but warned him about "mincey dancing". Kyle thought he "nailed it".

Dave Andrews brought his own spin to the John Farnham classic "That's Freedom". Dicko told him it was "tidy but tentative". Dave said it was tough following such amazing performers, but Marcia told him: "Yes, they are amazing... but so are you. That's why you're here."

Lyall Adonis' rendition of The Eagles' "Desperado" had Marcia feeling tense. "You found that hard," she told him, while Mark added, "You bit off more than you could chew with that song. I don't know why you chose it."

Finally, Marty Simpson took to the stage to perform The Fray's "Over My Head (Cable Car)". The judges agreed he wasn't performing to his full potential. Marcia said "You know you can do better… and we want you to do just that."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Australian Idol 5 Watch - Semi-Finals Group 2

Night two of the Australian Idol finals began with a bang as two of last night's males were told they were entering the Top 12. After a grueling 24 hour wait, Matt Corby and Jacob Butler were named the first two finalists. "I promised I wouldn't cry, so I'm trying to hold it back," Matt said upon hearing the news. "I don't know what to say," added Jacob, who went on to offer to pay back everyone who voted for him.

The tricky business over, it was time for the girls to hit the stage and strutting her stuff first was Sally Van Der Zwart with a stunning version of Kelly Clarkson's "Never Again". Kyle told her she was "almost at star potential" but was obviously nervous. Dicko questioned her performing a song by another Idol, while Mark announced he hated the song.

Natalie Gauci was next, with a powerhouse rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Hurt". "You cut that," Marcia told her. Dicko thought the normally edgy singer was too suburban. Mark admitted "that was a monster I didn't know you had in you" and complimented her near-flawless delivery.

A scarfless Cheray Doughty brought her mix of soul and folk to the stage in the form of Joss Stone's "Tell Me ‘Bout It", complete with sassy dance moves. It was thumbs up all around. "Where on earth did you pull that rabbit from?" asked an amazed Dicko.

Tarisai Vushe delivered her promised "boom boom boom" with the soul classic "River Deep, Mountain High", even slipping her own name into the lyrics. "It will be a white knuckle ride," Dicko told her. "But I'm in!"

Jesse Curran took a more subdued turn, taking to a chair to sing her meaningful take on Johnny Cash's version of U2's classic "One". Mark was a big fan of the song choice, but Dicko wasn't convinced by the Johnny Cash version. "That was nice," said Kyle. "But I really wanted you to blow me away."

17-year-old Lana Krost wowed the audience with Fergie's current No.1 hit, "Big Girls Don't Cry". Marcia complimented her song choice and look, but the judges seemed to agree she was a little too polished. "Very pretty little girl, very pretty little voice," said Mark. "But that left me untouched."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Australian Idol 5 Watch - Semi-Finals Group 1

The Australian Idol semi-finals finally arrived and tonight, six of the boys faced off to see just who would be voted through to the Top 12. Just two will make it. For the rest, there's still the chance of being picked by the judges for the wildcard show.

Tonight's show – the first from Idol's new home at Sydney's Fox Studios – sounded and looked better than ever, with broadcast in high definition and with 5.1 sound for the first time.

First cab off the rank was Matt Corby who, like Daniel Mifsud, Mark Da Costa and Jack Byrnes before him, joined the scarf wearers club (or "scarfies") as he performed Stevie Wonder's "I Wish". Kyle told him he was one of the only contestants he remembered - but thought the performance seemed a bit like a rehearsal.

Quietly spoken Junior To'o proved his place in the comp with Pink's "Dear Mr. President". There was much discussion between judges about his interpretation of the lyrics, but Marcia told him he "delivered it incredibly".

Carl Riseley continued his swing theme by performing Michael Buble's "Home", which the Navy officer dedicated to Aussie troops serving the country overseas. Kyle thought he delivered only 70% of what he was capable of and Dicko thought he picked the wrong song. Marcia, on the other hand, was moved.

Scarfie Daniel Mifsud was next, choosing Diesel's classic "Tip Of My Tongue". Mark thought the performance was "underwhelming" and "safe" and Dicko agreed. Marcia said he couldn't perform at "11" every night and should save something for the rest of the comp.

Husny Thalib – armed with his good luck charm; a necklace sporting what host Andrew G joked was a cassingle (that's cassette single) of Marky Mark And The Funky Bunch's 1991 hit "Good Vibrations" – owned the stage with Lenny Kravitz's "If You Can't Say No". Kyle called it "try-hard, useless rubbish", but the other judges were more positive, despite Dicko not liking his song choice.

Jacob Butler kept true to his Brit-pop loving ways with Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars". The judges all worried he was too hard on himself and hoped he would be able to have fun with his performances, should he make it through.

Next episode we will find out which two performers will make it to the Top 12 and meet the first six female contestants!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Leona Lewis - The Next International Superstar

Leona Louise Lewis (born April 3, 1985 in Islington, London) is an English singer and songwriter, who was the winner of the third series of The X Factor. Her debut single, "A Moment like This" was released on 20 December 2006.

The single was also available as a digital download from midnight on 17 December and broke a world record after it was downloaded fifty thousand times in thirty minutes. Her debut album is due for release on 5 November 2007. Lewis is the first winner of a major television talent show in both the UK and USA to be given a major global launch with the release of the album.

Leona Lewis was born in Islington, London, in 1985 to Joe, an Afro-Caribbean and Marie Lewis, of Anglo-Welsh descent. She is the middle child of three, with two brothers, Kyle, who is younger, and Bradley, who is older.They grew up in Highbury and went to school at Ambler Primary School in Finsbury Park. Lewis wrote her first song at the age of twelve,and at the age of thirteen she won the Lady D under-eighteen talent show at the Hackney Empire.

She attended the Sylvia Young Stage School,Ravenscourt Theatre School[citation needed] and the BRIT School.Although her big passion is singing, she is also a keen dancer and actress. Before auditioning for The X Factor, Lewis recorded a demo album of her own songs called Twilight, but the album was never released.
Lewis now lives in Hackney.

She has been with her boyfriend Lou Al-Chamaa since she was seventeen.Prior to winning The X Factor, she worked as a receptionist for Head & Short Chiropodists in Stoke Newington High Street.She had also worked in Pizza Hut as a waitress.
When Lewis was fifteen years old she recorded a version of Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You" with music producer Marley J. Wills. Wills went on to say that "She was young and innocent but very much able. Even then she had a very good voice. We started putting tracks together straight away." ... "Leona could hit the notes and I think she did it better than the original."

The X Factor

In 2006, she auditioned for the third series of The X Factor, singing "Over the Rainbow". She made it through to the final stages and was announced the winner on 16 December 2006, winning a £1million recording contract.She was mentored by Simon Cowell. During the show, her vocal talents were consistently highly praised by all three judges (Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne), and on occasions was compared with divas such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. All three judges also commented on how the British music industry needed a singer like her, and that her performances were world class. Walsh remarked that her performance of "I Will Always Love You" was as good as Whitney Houston's version. In week 3 (Big Band week), Lewis sang "Summertime".

Following her performance, Cowell said, "You are, absolutely, the best contestant I have ever had across any of these shows, and that was an amazing performance."
The only criticism Lewis received, both by the judges and in the press, was related to her confidence. On the 9 December show, Cowell remarked that her performance of "Over the Rainbow" was the best he had ever witnessed. Cowell also commented throughout the show that Lewis's lack of awareness as to how good she is, is what makes her special. On the final night of the show, Take That joined Lewis on stage for a duet of their song "A Million Love Songs".

After the performance, singer Gary Barlow told Cowell, "This girl is probably fifty times better than any other contestant you have ever had, so you have a big responsibility to make the right record with her."Lewis went on to win the competition, receiving approximately 4,800,000 (60%) of the 8,000,000+ votes cast.

Post-X Factor career

One million copies of the winner's single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's first single "A Moment like This", were pre-ordered by stores, making it an almost certain number one before it was released, although at the time, the winner of the show had not been announced and it was unknown who would be releasing the single, a source of controversy for those who suggest it is the show which sold the single, and not Lewis.

On 24 December, "A Moment like This" was crowned the 2006 UK Christmas number-one single, having sold approximately 571,000 copies, beating Take That's single "Patience", and outselling the rest of the Top 40's sales combined. It has been reported that one chain was "shifting more than 100 of her CDs a minute".The single became the biggest downloaded song in 2006, beating Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy". The single stayed at number one for four weeks, and also stayed at the top spot in the Irish Singles Chart for six weeks.
In February 2007, Lewis signed a £5 million ($9.7 million) contract in the US, with Clive Davis, founder of Arista Records.Davis has been responsible for the success of Whitney Houston. Houston is reported to have said that Lewis will be an international star and has offered to mentor her and Lewis is now hoping they will record a duet.Lewis will now release five albums worldwide through Davis's label, J Records.

She celebrated her record deal by showcasing for several American music executives at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California,where she sang "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", "Summertime" and "Over the Rainbow". One executive described her as "the lovechild of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey".
A four-track download EP, "It's All for You", that she recorded before entering The X Factor went on sale online on 18 December 2006. However, it was banned from several online stores by her record label, Sony BMG, meaning the single could not chart.

Lewis was scheduled to make a performance on the current series of American Idol to help her launch her career in the US. She would have appeared in the semi-finals of the hit show, and made her first performance of her second single, produced by Dallas Austin,but was sent back to the UK due to suffering from tonsilitis.

On 16 January 2007, Lewis's single "A Moment like This" was shortlisted for the British Single award at the 2007 BRIT Awards. It made it to the second round but was eliminated and did not make it to the final selection. In May it was awarded the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Best Selling British Single.
On 15 March 2007, Lewis performed in front of Charles, Prince of Wales at the UK finals of The Prince's Trust RBS Celebrate Success awards at the Barbican Centre in London, which were hosted by June Sarpong.She presented the award for "Young Achiever Of The Year" and also performed "Over The Rainbow".

On 2 June 2007, Lewis performed at a special This Is Your Life for Simon Cowell,singing "Somewhere" with Il Divo. Gary Barlow is now reported to be writing a song for Lewis, following his praise for the singer during the final of The X Factor.Danny Jones of McFly has also stated that he would like to write her a song. On 25 April 2007, a press release was sent out revealing that Simon Cowell and Clive Davis would work together in a first-of-its-kind partnership on both the song and producer selection for Lewis's debut album.The album was said to have a September 2007 deadline,however the album will be released on 5 November 2007. Lewis has been writing and recording in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Georgia with American songwriter and record producer Dallas Austin.She has also worked with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Max Martin, Stargate, Damon Dash,Walter Afanasieff and many more, and has befriended Kanye West during the recording of the album. The album was completed in August 2007.

Forthcoming debut album

A press release announced that Lewis' next single, "Bleeding Love", written and produced by Ryan Tedder, will be released on 29 October 2007 in the United Kingdom, and early 2008 in the United States. Lewis will perform the song on the first live show of the fourth series of The X Factor.The single has been confirmed by Leona's official website along with the release date for her album.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Terry Fator crowned 'America's Got Talent's Season 2 Winner

Terry Fator, a 42-year-old singing ventriloquist from Dallas, TX, was revealed to be America's Got Talent's second-season champion during last night's live finale broadcast of the NBC reality talent competition.

"Thank you America, thank you so much America," Fator said after a final celebratory performance that followed America's Got Talent host Jerry Springer's announcement that home viewers had voted Fator the show's second-season winner.

As America's Got Talent 2's winner, Fator -- who defeated Cas Haley, a 26-year-old reggae singer from Arlington, TX, to win the competition -- received a $1,000,000 prize and the show's "Best New Act In America" title. However unfortunately for Fator, unlike the winners of most other reality shows, he won't actually be receiving his full cash prize anytime soon.

Instead, similar to what NBC (which appears to have established a lock on the "America's Cheapest Reality TV Broadcast Network" title) did with For Love Or Money's $1,000,000 prize and Treasure Hunters' $3,000,000 prize, Fator's $1,000,000 prize will be paid over via a lottery prize-like 40-year period. Fator can (and probably will) opt to pass on the $25,0000 annual payments and instead receive a lump sum, however should he do so, the present cash value of the prize will be no more than several hundred thousand dollars.

After revealing Fator's victory, Springer also revealed that Fator would also be receiving one more "surprise" prize. "We've got one more surprise for you," Springer told Fator. "We know your dream is to play Las Vegas, [so] we're going to make that dream come true. You're going to be playing the Jubilee Theater at Bally's Resort." Springer didn't reveal whether, based on NBC's "fine print" prize practices, Fator might actually have to pay for the privilege.

America's Got Talent's filler-filled two-hour live finale began with four finalists -- Fator; Haley; Antoinette "Butterscotch" Clinton, a 21-year-old musician/beat-boxer from Davis, CA; and Julienne Irwin, a 14-year-old country singer from Bel Air, MD -- still in the running to be crowned the show's second-season winner.

After a first-hour broadcast that included all four finalists performing with a special guest (Fator with The Muppets, Haley with UB40, Butterscotch with Sean Kingston, and Irwin with Taylor Swift), Springer revealed that, based on the results of the home viewer voting that followed last week's Final 4 performance show, Irwin would be the first finalist eliminated from the competition.

Despite her young age, Irwin took the news well. "I'm not upset about this at all," an upbeat-sounding Irwin told Springer after her elimination was announced. "I've been in such good company and this journey has far exceeded my expectations, so it's just been so much fun."

After some more filler, Springer revealed that Butterscotch would be the next finalist eliminated from the competition, leaving Fator and Haley as the season's Final 2 finalists.

Butterscotch seemed to take the news of her elimination harder than Irwin. "Thank you for your support," she tearfully told home viewers. "I've seen my dreams come true on this stage [and] seen my dreams come true in real life."

Fator's victory was finally revealed after some more filler that included a performance by the "America's Got Talent All-Stars" (a collection of rejected non-Top 20 second-season contestants), a singing performance from America's Got Talent judge David Hasselhoff, and a pre-recorded "personal message" from 12-year-old Bianca Ryan, the show's first-season winner.

After Fator's victory was announced, Springer congratulated Haley and gave Fator -- who appeared to be overcome with emotion and on the verge of tears -- a moment to compose himself.

"Cas, you have been such a champ... we've all fallen in love with you," Springer told Haley, who had congratulated Fator immediately after his victory was announced. "You are a phenomenal talent, you have a great future. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Cas Haley."

On The Lot Winner Is Will Bigham

After a recap of the entire season of On The Lot, the three finalists selected their favorite movies directed by their fellow finalists. Adam Stein selected “Die Hardly Working” by Zach Lipovsky. Will Bigham selected “Under The Gun” by Hilary Graham. Jason Epperson selected “Catch” by Mateen Kemet.

After a salute to the actors and actresses of On The Lot, Adrianna Costa announced that voting was up sixty percent over previous weeks. This was despite the fact that Internet voting didn’t work because of a severe technical issue, and viewers could only vote through toll free and text voting.

As the final three directors waited on center stage, Adrianna Costa recapped their encore movies from last week. Costa revealed that Adam Stein was the first of the three finalists to be eliminated. After a break, Costa revealed that the winner of On The Lot 2007 and a million dollar movie deal from DreamWorks Pictures was Will Bigham.

Will Bigham said “First and foremost, I want to thank God. That’s the reason we’re all here. I want to thank this guy down here, Jason. We’ve been through this together the whole time, I’m proud of him. Just thank you to everybody, everybody in this competition, actors, filmmakers, you are all amazing, and I cannot wait to work with you again. I really cannot, so thank you. Last but not least, I would like to thank my family because they have supported me a lot, and now I’ll get to support them.” Will Bigham was then taken to DreamWorks Pictures to meet Steven Spielberg.

Australian Idol Watch - Talented Top 24 Announced

It’s crunch time in the lead up to the Australian Idol 2007 semi-finals,and the 63 remaining contestants are faced with the realisation that more than half of them will be going home.

The group meets at Idol’s new HQ at Sydney’s Fox Studios, where the judges are in heated deliberation as to who will stay and who will go. "It’s a numbers game," says Dicko. "We haven’t got room for all of them."

This year performers are told their fate in groups and well as solo. As one after another is told they haven’t made it through, panic sweeps the waiting room.

Tarisai Vushe brings her bible along with her. "The only one who knows if I’m going to get through is God," she says. And the judges, of course, and they tell her she is.

Next Daniel Mifsud enters the room. "Music is my life, there’s no backup plan," he admits. He won’t have to worry about that for now – he’s made it.

Mildura’s Holly Weinert and Jesse Curran are already firm friends and they hear their fate together. While the judges feel they are very similar artists, they are decide to leave the ultimate decision to the Australian public. The same goes for Brianna Carpenter. Marcia isn’t sure if her style will work on the show, but now that’s up to the public.

Next Marcia has some words for Carl Riseley. "I fought as hard as I could," Marcia says. "And this time I won." Carl is speechless. He is congratulated outside by ex-girlfriend Cheray Doughty who also hears the good news.

Jack Byrnes, who has made it to the top 100 before, enters the judge’s room with his performance group – only to be told that he is the only one going through.

Hunsy Thalib has impressed with his unique style, but judges question whether Marty Simpson is letting his personality through. Kyle tells Matt Corby that if he stays grounded he could reach the top end of the comp. All are in.

Mark asks 17-year-old Ben McKenzie if he is willing to risk the semis – if he is voted out he can never reapply. He says he is and realises Mark has been playing him when he’s told he is in. "I hate you Mark Holden!" he jokes. "Join the club," quips Dicko.

Mark is up to his old tricks with Jacob Butler and almost has him thinking he is going home. Jacob falls to the ground when he hears he’s made it.

Lyall Adonis is a bundle of nerves, and despite his obvious talent seems to lack confidence. "There’s only one person in this room that doesn’t believe in Lyall Adonis," says Dicko, "And that’s you."

Sarah Lloyde, Mark Da Costa, Lana Krost, Sally Van Der Zwart, Morgan Hosking, Natalie Gauci, Madison Pritchett and Junior To’o all too get the nod from the judges.

Final female contestantsRosie Ribbons and Cyndi Dietrich enter the room together – and Cyndi loses out to former Pop Idol finalist Rosie.

Last but not least are Dave Andrews and James Davies – the judges agree they are both brilliant, polished performers, but Dicko thinks Dave will sell records.

And there we have it: our top 24. Now it’s up to the viewers as to who will make the top 12 – bring it on!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kristen Bell Joins Heroes Cast

NBC is adding former “Veronica Mars” star Kristen Bell to the cast of “Heroes.”

Peacock has snagged Bell for a key multiepisode arc of its sophomore sensation. Casting is a major coup for NBC since Bell -- who plays the title character in Judd Apatow’s upcoming “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” -- was reportedly being sought for several TV gigs, including a part on ABC’s “Lost.”

Bell will make her first “Heroes” appearance in October. She’ll play Elle, a character described as a sexy, mysterious young lady who has ties to the supposed death of Peter, H.R.G.’s past and the future of Claire. Elle will kick off her arc by committing a serious crime, though it’s unclear whether she’s good or bad.

“This was not easy to pull off,” said “Heroes” creator-exec producer Tim Kring. “But since we’re an ensemble show, with many arcs playing out through the year, we found a way to jump into a small window in (Bell’s) schedule.”

Universal Media Studios prexy Katherine Pope also hinted that landing Bell wasn't easy, noting that "many studios (were) chasing her in both film and TV" and that she was happy that Bell "chose to star in our show."

In addition to her gig in the Apatow pic, Bell co-stars in the Weinstein Co.’s upcoming “Fanboys” and supplies one of the voices in the 2008 animated Fox feature “Sheepish.” She also has another regular role on a network skein, voicing the narrator in CW’s new drama “Gossip Girl.”

Bell’s past credits include a recurring gig on “Deadwood,” Showtime’s 2004 adaptation of “Reefer Madness” and last summer’s “Pulse.”

CBS reveals the identities of 'Survivor: China's sixteen castaways

CBS has revealed the identities of the sixteen castaways who will be competing on Survivor: China.

Survivor: China -- the fifteenth edition of its long-running reality competition series -- will premiere on Thursday, September 20 at 8PM ET/PT.

According to CBS, Survivor: China will begin with the castaways leaving the bustle of downtown Shanghai and traveling to HuangPu Mountain's Mi Tuo Temple. Once there, they will participate in a Buddhist ceremony and be instructed to "leave all of their worldly possessions behind."

After leaving the temple, the castaways will transported to Zhelin Lake, an enormous man-made reservoir lake in China's Jiangxi Province, and become "marooned with the clothes on their back at two separate islands." One tribe will be called Fei Long ("Flying Dragon"), the other will be called Zhan Hu ("Fighting Tiger"). Each castaway will also be given a copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, which will serve as "tribe motivation and assistance throughout the game," according to CBS.

As Survivor producer Mark Burnett revealed last month, Survivor: China will not feature an Exile Island concept. Instead, the tribe that wins each Reward Challenge will be allowed to "kidnap" a member of the losing tribe. The kidnapped tribe member will remain with the other tribe until the next Immunity Challenge, at which time they will re-join their original tribe.

Similar to this spring's Survivor: Fiji edition, Survivor: China will feature one hidden Immunity Idol "hidden" ("in plain sight," according to CBS) at each camp. However since Survivor: China won't have an Exile Island, the clues about the idols' locations won't be tied to an Exile Island visit.

Instead, each "kidnapped" castaway will receive a clue note before leaving the Reward Challenge site -- but rather than getting to keep the note for themselves, they will be instructed to privately give it to the enemy tribe member of their choice. After reading the clue, the enemy castaway will have to decide whether they want to keep the information to themselves or share it with the rest of their tribe.

Survivor: China was filmed in late June and July. The production marked the first time that a major American television program filmed an entire season on location in the country.

The sixteen castaways -- which includes Survivor's first-ever Under-21 castaway -- competing on Survivor: China are:

- Jean-Robert Bellande, a 36-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV (originally from Long Island, NY)

- James Clement, a 30-year-old grave digger from Lafayette, LA

- Dave Cruser, a 37-year-old former model and bartender from Simi Valley, CA

- Jaime Dugan, a 22-year-old student from Columbia, SC (originally from Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

- Todd Herzog, a 22-year-old flight attendant from Pleasant Grove, UT

- Erik Huffman, a 26-year-old musician from Nashville, TN (originally from Greenville, SC)

- Amanda Kimmel, a 23-year-old hiking guide and Miss Montana USA 2005 from Los Angeles, CA (originally from Kalispell, MT)

- Peih-Gee Law, a 29-year-old jeweler from Marina Del Rey, CA (born in Hong Kong)

- Sherea Lloyd, a 26-year-old elementary school teacher from Atlanta, GA (originally from Pontiac, MI)

- Denise Martin, a 40-year-old school lunch lady from Douglas, MA (originally from Revere, MA)

- Ashley Massaro, a 28-year-old WWE professional wrestler from East Northport, NY

- Steve "Chicken" Morris, a 47-year-old chicken farmer from Marion, VA

- Leslie Nease, a 38-year-old Christian radio talk show host from Tega Cay, SC

- Aaron Reisberger, a 32-year-old surfing instructor and bartender from Venice, CA (originally from Belmont County, OH)

- Courtney Yates, a 26-year-old waitress from New York, NY (originally from Boston, MA)

- Michael "Frosti" Zernow, a 20-year-old parkour athlete/student from Chicago (originally from Traverse City, MI)

Sabra Johnson crowned 'So You Think You Can Dance 3' winner

Sabra Johnson, a 20-year-old contemporary dancer from Roy, UT, was revealed to be So You Think You Can Dance's third-season champion during last night's live finale broadcast of the Fox reality competition series.

With a "record breaking" 16 million votes cast following Wednesday night's final third-season performance episode, Sabra became the first woman to win the So You Think You Can Dance title (Nick Lazzarini was the Season 1 winner and Benji Schwimmer was the Season 2 champ).
As So You Think You Can Dance 3's winner, Sabra -- who only started dancing four years ago and had been a member of the bottom three dancing pairs during the season's initial Top 20 results show -- received $250,000 and the title of "America's Favorite Dancer."

"I've learned a lot about dance, just being around all these brilliant people. It made my mind so much more creative than it was before," said Sabra during an interview with So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley that aired on Wednesday night's broadcast. "Hopefully I can take it all with me."

During Wednesday night's performance episode, each of the Top 4 finalists -- Sabra; Neil Haskell, a 20-year-old contemporary jazz dancer from Clarence Center, NY; Lacey Schwimmer, an 18-year-old swing and international Latin dancer from Redlands, CA; and Danny Tidwell, a 23-year-old contemporary/Jazz dancer from New York, NY -- performed three couples routines, a group number and a solo.

Sabra's best critique came following her solo, when So You Think You Can Dance judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe commented she has an "energy that draws us into you" and choreographer Dan Karaty thought it was "absolutely amazing."

"You have everything it takes to be a champion on this show," said judge Mary Murphy.

Lacey, who only decided to audition for So You Think You Can Dance 3 after watching her brother Benji take home the title last summer, was the first of the Top 4 finalists to be eliminated during last night's broadcast. Despite having been the only member of the Top 20 who was never a member of the bottom three or four based on viewer votes, she seemed to anticipate her ousting.

"I kind of knew it was coming," said Lacey after her elimination was revealed. "I'm absolutely fine with it... I never thought I'd even make it into the Top 10, so I'm really happy about it. Just thank you for the opportunity you guys, thank you so much for everything. I've learned so much."

Neil, a fan favorite among So You Think You Can Dance's young female demographic, was the second Top 4 finalist to have his elimination revealed.

"I just hope I can touch people with my dancing," said Neil during a video montage of his So You Think You Can Dance 3 journey. "It's just made me a better dancer and a better person."

Danny, the adopted brother of So You Think You Can Dance 2 runner-up Travis Wall, was eliminated when Cat revealed Sabra had won.

Similar to American Idol's sixth-season finale, So You Think You Can Dance 3's final broadcast was filled with filler, including a group performance by the Top 20 finalists.

"They're back! All my babies are back!" shrieked Cat after the Top 20 were introduced, a comment Ryan Seacrest, her smugger Idol counterpart, probably wouldn't make unless under direst.

Additional filler in the bloated broadcast included a montage of the season; two video clips from the third-season auditions; performances by both the Top 8 and Top 10 finalists; a plug of the So You Think You Can Dance 50-city fall tour; an animated video "dance" featuring Nigel and Cat; performances by clogger Brandon Norris and pop/lock dancer Brian Gaynor; Nigel gushing about American Band; a cameo by Idol judge Paula Abdul; encore performances of the judges' and choreographers' favorite couples dances of the season; and musical performances by Pussycat Dolls member Nicole Scherzinger as well as Ryan Cabrera -- who sang "I Will Remember You" -- the "goodbye song" played throughout the season.

Fox has already announced So You Think You Can Dance's renewal for a fourth season, which will air in 2008.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Maroon 5 Performs in Canadian Idol

A week after Greg Neufeld was eliminated at Top 7, his favourite bands will take to the Canadian Idol stage: the platinum selling Maroon 5. Talk about unfortunate timing.

The look on Neufeld's face when next week's act was announced on Tuesday's show clearly indicated his disappointment, and who could blame him. One of the most popular pop/rock acts in the world right now, Maroon 5 are known for soulful vocals, catchy hooks and a string of danceable hits.

Based in Los Angeles, Maroon 5 is made up of Adam Levine (lead vocals, guitar), James Valentine (guitar, backing vocals), Jesse Carmichael (keyboards, backing vocals), Mickey Madden (bass guitar) and Matt Flynn (drums).

Their debut album "Songs About Jane" features hits "This Love," "Harder to Breathe," "She Will be Loved" and "Sunday Morning." It hit quadruple platinum status and earned the band two Grammy awards.

Now, after a four year interim period, they are promoting their second album "It Won't Be Soon Before Long." Their first single from the new CD, "Makes Me Wonder," is currently number one in Canada on Nielsen SoundScan's Hits Chart.

"We love Canada and our Canadian fans and are really looking forward to performing on Canadian Idol," said a statement issued by the band on July 12, the day CTV first announced Canadian Idol's guest lineup for the season.

The band will perform on Tuesday's results episode and will also be featured in Monday's performance show where they will comment on the songs the Top 6 has chosen.

If song selection on the show so far is any indication, they'll be facing a sympathetic demographic. Two Maroon 5 songs have already been featured on Canadian Idol performance nights: "Sunday Morning" was sung by Andrew Austin on Top 18 week and Neufeld's took on "This Love" on Top 22 week.

Maroon 5 Performs in Canadian Idol Wake Up Call

Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine has no illusions about singers who use a show like Canadian Idol to find their way into the popular consciousness.

During his visit to the show for pop/rock week, the platinum-selling singer spent some time musing with host and friend Ben Mulroney about what he would have done if Idol had seemed like his only way into the music business.

"I might have (tried out) if things didn't work out this way," said Levine, who formed the precursor to Maroon 5, Kara's Flowers, with three of the band's current members while still in junior high. "I don't know if I would have been able to. I'd probably try. I do wear tight pants on stage."

In his interview with CTV's "eTalk" during the Top 6 results show, Levine expressed an viewpoint that is becoming increasingly common among members of the music business: a respect for artists who use Idol to find success.

"To be totally honest with you, Idol is great," said Levine, whose band was the first to perform on both Canadian Idol and American Idol during the same year. "I see no problem with it. It's a good thing to have: a talent competition for singers."

Levine and his band, which also includes James Valentine (guitar), Jesse Carmichael (keyboards), Mickey Madden (bass) and Matt Flynn (drums), played two songs on the show for pop/rock week -- "Wake-Up Call" and "Makes Me Wonder," hits from their recent album "It Won't Be Soon Before Long."

As a preview to next week's theme, "My Own Idol," Mulroney asked Levine to define his own personal heroes.

"Musically, Stevie Wonder," Levine replied. "He is the all-encompassing idol. Musically (he's) one of my favourites in the world. As a human being he's one of the best people to walk the earth. He's just an incredible person and I really worship him for that."

Levine was also quick to tip his hat to his non-musical heroes: educators around the world.

"I think teachers are the most amazing people because they get paid no money to do an incredible service," he said, though sheepishly adding he didn't "want to give one of those generic answers that everyone else gives because... when you talk about heroes and they're not musical you start to sound like a Miss America speech."

These days, Levine and his band have been establishing themselves as heroes in their own right. They recently announced a plan to make their upcoming concert tour carbon neutral. One dollar from each ticket will be donated to Global Cool, an organization that promotes energy conservation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rock - Hell's Kitchen Season 3 Winner

The stupid battle of the sexes continues on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ this week, with both Rock and Bonnie picking teammates of the same gender. It makes sense, I suppose, since they’re used to working with each other, but it still annoys me. Back in the dorms each team organizes in their own, gender-stereotyped way, with Rock organizing like a military commander and Bonnie lounging on a couch and giving vague instructions. Rock has a game plan; Bonnie doesn’t even have recipes. On a happier note, though, Melissa is looking much better since her freakout-induced hair disaster days. Julia, on the other hand, is still half-crying and half-shooting death rays at Bonnie. Apparently they served bitterness with a side of hashbrowns back at the Waffle House.

They immediately head to the kitchen—no challenge this week, which makes me realize what a waste of time those challenges were to begin with—and Julia continues snapping at Bonnie. Rock, on the other hand, does a complete turnaround from his usual teamwork skills, pulling Josh aside to explain that he only needs confidence to put together a good dinner service. Where on earth did that come from? Does being in the top two come with a shot of maturity?

As the food starts to come out, Melissa is consistently burning the prawns, but pretty much everyone is on top of it. Bonnie and Rock present their dishes to Ramsay, and their appetizers and entrees—goat cheese salad and her signature fettuccine for Bonnie, surf and turf and then a rib eye for Rock—pass muster, but each dessert isn’t quite enough. Bonnie’s truffle assortment looked dandy to me at least, but Rock served a giant tall milkshake—anathema to the skinny L.A. women who usually show up in the restaurant.

The redesign of the restaurant that both Bonnie and Rock got to do turn out to be not all that exciting; if I hadn’t seen a side-by-side comparison, I never would have known they had renovated. Still, each of them feels a little fresher than the super-stuffy d├ęcor from before; simpler chairs, less carpet and gold embellishment. Bonnie’s idea for a “corner restaurant,” though, just can’t fly in that kind of huge, cavernous space.

Ramsay presents Bonnie and Rock with their own head chef’s jackets, and the race is on! Bonnie lays on the “master and commander” thing pretty thick, explaining that her teammates are not her friends, “they’re my brigade.” Julia continues to be the bad apple of Bonnie’s team—we barely hear a peep out of Jen or Melissa—ignoring Bonnie’s commands and saying she just wants to get through service. She may not be competing anymore, but wouldn’t she want to look good on national television for the sake of, y’know, real jobs?

Josh, in the meantime, continues to be the complete screw-up he was on every single other episode of the show—remember all that undercooked risotto? Every crabcake he puts out is overdone, and Rock is gentle with him for a while until Ramsay pulls him aside and points out the obvious—Josh is ruining everything, and Rock can’t let that happen. “I will work any station by myself to make sure that food is perfect,” Rock explains right before he pulls Josh aside to switch him to Vinnie’s section.

Bonnie’s section, whether from her lack of planning or from her team’s lack of communication, is constantly running out of key ingredients, like the fettuccine and prawns for the, uh, prawn fettuccine. Even though some of the dishes come back because they’re undercooked or cold, though, they somehow pull it off. Julia continues to wear her ass on her shoulders and pick fights with Bonnie, but at the end of dinner service she even concedes “You know I don’t hate you.” Not exactly an “I love you,” but for now it will do.

Rock, who eventually jumped in and started cooking dishes himself when no one else could handle them, used the talkback with Ramsay to point out that he would rather have not had Josh on his team. Um, duh. Bonnie on the other hand took the fall for her lack of ingredients, which is less dramatically fun but, well, true. Ramsay isn’t really willing to give substantial criticism to either of them, since that would obviously ruin the suspense, so all we’re left with before commercial is the knowledge that “You both came out with leadership qualities.”

Rock and Bonnie are sent back to the dorm while Ramsay makes his decision, and they behave and talk to each other nicely, which is more than could be said were pretty much any other contestants in the final two. Rock even tells Bonnie, while he appears to be half-asleep, that he thinks Bonnie won. They walk to the room where all the poor losers have had to hang up their jackets, and Ramsay compliments them both one more time before crushing one of their dreams forever. “I can see why you’re called Rock, because you’re rock-solid,” he tells Rock, which honestly sounds like the opening to a gay porn. Let the straight-to-video adult film parodies begin!

They stand before their respective doors—one will be locked, one will open “to their future”—and after a ridiculously-overedited and long sequences (it spanned an entire commercial break!), it’s…. ROCK!

He breaks down in tears as he walks out, and even Bonnie seems genuinely happy to see him win. As my boyfriend pointed out, she actually seemed afraid to win. There’s a veritable orgy of champagne being shot everywhere, champagne sticking to people, and more happiness than has been seen all season.

Even though I was rooting for Bonnie, I think the best man really did win. Rock learned to control his temper and actually work as a part of a team in the last few weeks, and he seemed more driven than anyone else on the show. If you can put up with Josh burning everything he’s ever given to cook, you can definitely run your own Vegas restaurant. Can’t wait to see him come back on season four!

So You Think You Can Dance Top 6 Favorite Performances

Neil and Sabra fire everyone up with a jazz number. And there’s stunt furniture involved! Everything thing about these two is perfect. Nigel hopes that the finale of the show (August 16, 8/7c only on FOX!) will live up to the power of this performance! Debbie raves about their performance!
Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)

Neil and Sabra stomp to the stage for a Paso Doble! This dance will certainly “Doble” your heart rate! This dance is “Doble” the intensity! The wardrobe fit Neil with some flattering leather pants, but that doesn’t matter. These two are amazing. They move as one, not as a “Doble!” Neil just wore Sabra as a belt! The judges squeal and Mary throws them on board the Hot Tamale Train!
Espana Cani
Juan & Gennaro

Monday, August 13, 2007

America's Got Talent Season 2 Top 4 Predictions

Tonight the performers were narrowed to the top 8 acts. They are Cas Haley, Robert Hatcher, Terry Fator, Julienne Irwin, Jason Pritchett, The Glamazons, Butterscotch & Sideswipe. These acts have gone through to the top 8. The other two, The Calypso Tumblers (I’m shocked at this one) & The Duttons went home home.

I am predicting or should I say hoping that Cas Haley, Terry Fator, Butterscotch and the Sideswipe will be in the finals. Below are the top 8 performances of my Top 4 acts.

Butterscotch - My Funny Valentine

Sideswipe - Pirates Act

Cas Haley - Easy

Terry Fator - Classic Ballad

Friday, August 10, 2007

'Age of Love' star Mark Philippoussis picks Amanda Salinas over Jen

Mark Philippoussis may have learned that age is just a number when it comes to love, but the 31-year-old Australian professional tennis player still chose Amanda Salinas, a 25-year-old financial planner's assistant from Nashville, TN, as Age of Love's winner during last night's finale broadcast of the NBC reality dating series.

"I think I'm a little bit happier than the happiest girl in the world. I have my man. I have Mark," Amanda said when Age of Love's bachelor revealed she was the winner. "It could not be more perfect. I couldn't have dreamt this up."

Mark's choice of Amanda -- the only remaining 20-something "Kitten" -- meant Jennifer Braff, a 48-year-old Carson, CA-resident who has a 25-year-old son, was the seventh and final 40-something "Cougar" to leave the competition.

"Until going into this experience, I thought about shows like this, and the emotions that the women and the guys develop for each other," said Jen when Mark revealed she was the final suitor to be eliminated. "I thought to myself it couldn't possibly be real. But I'm sitting here... and I know now for myself that my emotions are real. This is real for me, and it makes me sad. I know that we had a connection. I know we had a very strong chemistry. But he got scared. I know that if I had been younger Mark would have chosen me. It hurts. It hurts a lot."

Age of Love's eighth and final episode began with Mark, Amanda and Jen arriving in the bachelor's native Melbourne, Australia. Mark realized that his big decision was almost due, which made him both "nervous" and "excited." Mark then commented on both the woman. He called Amanda the "first one he really felt chemistry with" out of the 13 Age of Love bachelorettes (she was also the first one he kissed, but certainly not the last). Mark described Jen as "the oldest but most beautiful" of all the suitors, adding she doesn't play any games and has a "ridiculous" body.

Once in Melbourne, Mark informed the girls they'd both be meeting his family, however unlike ABC's The Bachelor, both girls would meet his kin at the same time. Mark said it was a "big deal" to meet his family, especially his mom since she's shy and he's only previously brought home four girls. Jen immediately made Amanda look bad by bringing Mark's mom a gift without telling, a move Amanda called "childish" only because Jen kept the idea from her.

"I'm definitely not ready and I couldn't be more nervous," said Amanda.

Mark's oldest sister Maria immediately took a liking to Jen, who talked away about everything from softball to her son. Amanda was looking for a conversation starter of her own but came up empty and found herself sitting in Jen's shadow. Jen noticed, didn't care, and made it even worse for Amanda by showing her skills in the kitchen while the Kitten sat confused on how to cook.

"She didn't even know what to do with the lettuce!" said Jen.

However Mark's mom noticed Amanda was shy like her, and made both girls feel like they were at home. When Mark's mom told Amanda she noticed how shy she was, Amanda felt "much better." Once the lunch date with Mark's family was over, Maria made it clear she liked Jen because she's "outgoing" while Mama Philippoussis was a fan of Amanda due to their similarities. Mom then reminded Mark he wasn't getting married so not to move too fast with either of the girls, and Mark commented he was still confused and unsure of who to pick.

Jen received the first of the final one-on-one dates with Mark, and said it was her first time feeling nervous because her feelings for him had gotten stronger. Mark commented how he was "definitely" feeling Amanda during the first few weeks of the competition for his heart, however had quickly started to warm-up to Jen.

"Jen has opened my eyes and my heart to the fact that age doesn't matter in love," said Mark.

As Mark and Jen enjoyed their gondola ride, Amanda said it was "unnerving" and "not easy" to know Mark wasn't spending time with her. Jen said she was in a "playful mood," and told Mark a dirty secret about herself. The two then went for dinner in the aquarium, where Mark revealed he felt he could be himself around Jen and she felt the same with him.

"You've given me hope again for love," Jen told Mark. "You have, and I thank you for that." She added she was feeling confident Mark could be the one for her, while he commented the more time he spends with her, the more he keeps falling for her.

"If Mark doesn't choose me it will be a lot harder to get over than ever before," said Jen at the conclusion of her date.

It was then Mark's turn to romance Amanda one last time, and he began by taking her for a drive through the Australian countryside until they arrived at an animal sanctuary and frolicked with some kangaroos and koala bears. Despite her enthusiasm, Amanda said she couldn't help but wonder how "intimate" Mark's date with Jen was. Jen was also a little nervous because she was aware Mark liked Amanda.

Mark and Amanda then went for dinner, and she decided to open up and let her guard down, emotionally revealing herself to Age of Love's bachelor. "It was one of those opportunities that I keep letting slip by and I wasn't going to let it happen this time," said Amanda, who instantly felt better once she told Mark how she really felt about him.

"The more I drop my guard, the more I open my heart, the longer of a fall it is if he decides to let me go," realized Amanda. "It definitely came into my head that this guy is everything and then some of what I've been looking for... I can say I'm in love with Mark."

The next morning, Jen and Amanda discussed their age differential before Mark made his final decision. Amanda commented that Jen has a "to do list" while she has a "wish list," while Jen knocked Amanda's "experience" due to her age, calling it "sub par." Jen also got in the final word with Amanda, letting the Kitten know that she has serious feelings for Mark too.

"If Mark decides to start a relationship with Jennifer, I'd be heartbroken," said Amanda. "I'd be upset. I'd be hurt. I have no idea who's going to get eliminated... I don't want to go home. I don't want to say goodbye."

Mark said he was nervous about his final decision and added he thought it was "unfair" he had to hurt one of the girls by sending them back to the States without him. He compared the pressure he was feeling to a big tennis match.

"I came in here with an open mind, and it's who I click with. It's as simple as that," said Mark. "This is about who I could see myself dating, and I could see myself dating both of them. That's why this is so tough. It doesn't matter what age. If you click with someone, you click. You can't help who you click with."

Mark apparently felt he clicked with Amanda more, as he spent Jen packing. Needless to say, Amanda was elated with Mark's decision.

"Next is happily ever after..." she said as the two sailed off into the Australian sunset.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Enrique Iglesias In Canadian Idol

Latino legend Enrique Iglesias -- the biggest-selling Spanish-language singer in the world -- will join Canadian Idol's Top 8 competitors for this week's unplugged episode and live performance.

With sales of more than 40 million units around the world in little more than a decade, Enrique Iglesias is one of the world's most successful artists. At the age of 32, he has enjoyed 16 No. 1 Latin Billboard hits, more than any other artist in history.

Iglesias will join the competitors as they work on their performance songs for the July 30 "Unplugged" episode - the first ever on Canadian Idol in which some of the competitors will be accompanying themselves with their own instruments.

The following night, Iglesias whip Idol's live audience into a hip-shaking frenzy while performing two songs from his new album, "Insomniac." The Top 8 will also perform an "Unplugged" group number, with competitors once again having the option to accompany themselves on instruments.

Iglesias recently told CTV's eTalk that he's looking forward to joining Idol's budding vocalists, and sees the competition as a good way to break into the industry.

"[Canadian Idol] gives kids a chance and an outlet that they wouldn't have through a normal record company," Iglesias told eTalk. "So, I think it's a good thing."

Studied Toronto songstress Martha Joy had a chance to show her off true colours Tuesday night when she was eliminated after singing the Cyndi Lauper classic of the same name. While usually intense and unshakeable, the 16-year-old could hardly make it through her emotional final song, choking out the lyrics and eventually giving up altogether when the rest of the Top 8 gathered around for a hug.

Martha Joy learned of her elimination after a high energy results show that included a two-song performance by this week's mentor, pop star Enrique Iglesias.

Singing "Somebody's Me" from his new album Insomniac and "Be With You," a number one hit from 1999's Enrique album, the seasoned performer had the whole crowd on its feet as he danced on the judges' desk and through the audience.

Canadian Idol Watch Top 8 Favorite Performances

Canadian Idol's Top 8 had their hands full for unplugged week: an intimate set-up that included seats for fans on the stage, singing with an acoustic band for the only time this season and facing a panel of judges that seemed even more unforgiving than usual.

Before handing out a series of not-so-sparkling reviews, the judges gave out some last minute hints on what they were expecting from the night's unplugged performances.

"I expect intense emotion and hopefully they'll deliver," said judge Jake Gold.

"The thing with being unplugged is you have to supply your own power," concurred Farley Flex after host Ben Mulroney asked for one of his classic puns.

Greg Neufeld - Ready to Love

Ending off the night was another panel golden boy, Abbotsford's Greg Neufeld. Not one to dissapoint, he closed the show with a pitch-perfect rendition of Bryan Adams' "Ready to Love You," making even the world's biggest selling Spanish-language artist feel a tinge of jealousy and prompting yet another post-judging hug from the atypically chummy Zack.

"You have that type of voice that I wish I had," Enrique said to a shocked Neufeld. "That raspiness, it's perfect."

"Fantastic performance," noted Jake. "You have it all, you really do."

Brian Melo - She Talks to Angel

The first grand slam of the night came when Brian Melo took centre stage for a renditon of the Black Crowes gritty ballad "She Talks to Angels." With a rosary wrapped around his left hand, he belted out the tune in a way that helped everyone in the house forget there had ever been another version of the song.

"It already feels like he's a superstar and he's sold millions of albums," said Enrique.

"You used all the flaws in your voice as assets," said Zack. "That was killer, dude."

Always a judge favourite, Carly Rae Jepsen had no trouble wooing the ladies' man/houseguest after singing her acoustic version of Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn." The judges seemed to be won over just as easily, with agreement from all sides that Carly Rae has a knack for making cover songs her own like few singers they've ever heard.

"You have the type of gift that the minute you sing... I know I'm going to go buy the record," Enrique told her. "That's what I would do."

"This girl is singular, she is identifiable," said Zack, who rushed the stage after the judging to give Carly a huge hug. "I love what you do."