Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dancing With The Stars Season 5 Girl's Night

(S05E01) It's that time of year again, and fans always know what to expect from Dancing With The Stars: glamorous B-list celebrities, exciting performances, and frequent use of the phrase "than ever before." Host Tom Bergeron started things off by calling this season the "dawn of a new era," and claimed that they have the "most exciting cast ever assembled." Let's let the ratings decide that, shall we? For the first week of competition, the powers that be tried something new--a three-night premiere! Can you handle it?

Tonight, the six ladies tackled either the Foxtrot or the Cha Cha Cha and the results were mixed, as they always are in the first week. Co-host Samantha Harris was absent, having recently given birth to a baby girl. Former champ Drew Lachey was on hand to sub for Samantha, which was a nice treat for viewers. I like the idea of bringing back former contestants--how about letting Kenny Mayne co-host next week?

The first performance of the night was an all-pro Swing number ("Dancin' Fool"). This was a great alternative to the usual celebrity introductions, and it great to see some of my favorite pros back on the dance floor. With the new schedule, I was worried that the 90-minute, six-performance episode would contain a ton of filler, but that really wasn't the case.

We finally got a look at what Tom called the "remarkable" cast of season five, and I'm still not sure who some of these people are. Perhaps I should pay more attention to the modeling world. Mark Cuban looked seriously awkward on stage, and I instantly had flashes of Tucker Carlson. Jennie Garth looked fantastic, and appears to have aged about a year since 90210. I don't follow car racing, but if all drivers are as hot as Helio Castroneves, I might have to start. This is an attractive group, I'll say that much. Now, on to the dancing!

Jennie Garth and Derek Hough (Cha Cha Cha) - Jennie Garth had the tough job of dancing first. We learned from her intro that she is the proud mother of three girls, and that her skin is flawless. We also got reacquainted with Derek Hough, brother of cutiepie Julianne. There was a lot of smack talk in this episode, and Derek began it by calling himself "deadly on the dance floor." His attempt to sound macho was hilariously followed by a clip of Jennie calling him a "cute little thing." So much for being tough. Jennie had some trouble getting comfortable during practices, and confessed to being nervous about taking center stage. Derek's goal this week was to bring the dancer out of Jennie, and to live up to his trash talk.

The couple performed the Cha Cha Cha to Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," which was an adorable and fitting choice. They even looked the part: Jennie wore a sophisticated navy dress with some serious jewelry, and Derek wore a matching mechanic's outfit (did his name patch say "Garth"?). The dance started out a bit slow, but overall was cute, flirty, and fun. Jennie had some decent moves for the first week, including a challenging drop and the splits. She seemed considerably more at ease during her performance than in her practice footage.

Len began his assessment of the couple by commending Jennie on getting over her nerves. He praised her leg action, but told her to work on her leg action, as her free leg was soft and floppy. Bruno, ever the flirt, called Jennie a yummy mummy, and warned her about her leg work as well. Carrie Ann thought that the couple did very well for the first week, but told Jennie to work on her confidence and to be steadier on her feet. Score: 21 (Carrie Ann - 7, Len - 7, Bruno - 7). Jennie had a tough draw, since the judges are always stingy with high scores for the first performance. I have to believe that the couple's charm and Garth's popularity will keep them around for Week 2.

Josie Maran and Alec Mazo (Foxtrot) - Model/actress Maran is in my "Who?" pile of this season's contestants. Are you allowed to call yourself a model/actress when you're 90% model and 10% actress? Josie signed on to do the show in order to fulfill her dream of being a rock star, minus the singing. Alec said that after following a win with an early elimination, he wants to be back on top. Josie's practice footage made her look like a jokester, and she won me over after calling Alec a "hunkety hunk hunk." Alec clearly doesn't believe in returning compliments, because he called Josie "deceptively unfit." Ouch. I guess you can look graceful without actually being a good dancer. If memory serves, Alec put his foot in his mouth with Paulina Porizkova last season, too. Hopefully Josie will teach him a thing or two about flattery.

The pair performed the first Foxtrot of the evening to "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" (Nat King Cole and others). Josie looked stunning in a low-cut, teal dress, but looked slightly less amazing on the dance floor. She didn't seem to have a good sense of rhythm from what I could see. Josie also let Alec dominate the performance, and chose to take her cues from him instead of featuring herself. Again, she looked incredible (long legs always look graceful), but that might not have been enough.

The judges' comments were fairly consistent with one another. Len said that Josie looked elegant, but caught the couple trying to stay in a hold throughout the entire dance. He told the couple to work on Josie's control problems and made a snarky comment about her footwork. Carrie Ann could tell that Josie was out of her element, but enjoyed her beautiful smile. Bruno admitted that the Foxtrot was a difficult dance, but said that Josie looked like a beautiful sailboat stranded on a sand bank. I wonder if Bruno writes these comments in advance and applies them to the dancers as he sees fit? Score: 16 (6, 5, 5). This score was met with a lot of boos, but I think it was probably deserved. I love Josie's personality, but she has her work cut out for her. Without a Wayne Newton-level fan base she might not make it to the next round.

Sabrina Bryan and Mark Ballas (Cha Cha Cha) - Where was I during this whole Cheetah Girls phenomenon? Apparently phrases like cheetahlicious are sweeping the nation. Sabrina wanted to bring a fresher edge to the show, and Mark (a DWTS first-timer) called himself a dancing ninja. These two should be an interesting couple to watch this season. Mark's biggest obstacle during training was keeping Sabrina from confusing hip-hop with the Cha Cha Cha. It's a common problem. The couple decided to split the difference and infuse their routine with some hip-hop moves.

Dancing to "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls, Sabrina and Mark delivered a lively, unconventional Cha Cha Cha. Sabrina is definitely one of the most natural dancers among the ladies, so that gives her an advantage. The routine was a major crowd-pleaser, and heavy on the hip-hop. Voters always love these kinds of performances, but the judges are normally less than thrilled by them. Sabrina and Mark sought to win over the audience, and they clearly succeeded.

Carrie Ann acknowledged that the performance was "fierce," but wanted a routine with less of a hip-hop influence. Bruno called Sabrina a "bewitching blonde dynamo," and praised the couple's precision. After instructing Bruno to take a chill pill (what year is it, again?), Len commented on the couple's level of excitement, but didn't want to see as much hip-hop. Surprise! Score: 26 (9, 8, 9). Lesson of the night: some risks pay off! With such high scores and a devoted audience that is obviously much younger than I am, this couple has some serious staying power.

Marie Osmond and Jonathan Roberts (Foxtrot) - After a quick fist-bumping moment between Chris Harrison and the newest Bachelor, Marie Osmond got to take on the Foxtrot. Marie declared that she was in the competition to show other single mothers over 30 (wink) not to give up. Jonathan called himself ballroom's perfect gentleman, and claimed that he could teach anyone to dance. I'd like to see him take on Mark Cuban as a student. After an enthusiastic "Oh my heck" upon seeing her partner, Marie said that it was time for a woman to win the show again. Performing might not be a problem for Marie, but staying focused in practice was. Eventually Jonathan was able to rein in Marie's goofy tendencies, and Marie resolved to concentrate on winning.

The couple's Foxtrot, performed to The Supremes' "I Hear A Symphony," showed off Marie's incredible stage presence. She might not be the most graceful or flexible of the women, but Marie was second to none in the personality department. Her energy and spirit came through extremely well, and she wasn't afraid to dance on her own. She even threw in a few kisses to the judges. The crowd absolutely loved her as well.

Interacting with the judges always wins them over. Bruno thought the dance featured great storytelling, and that Marie's acting masked her technical shortcomings. Len called the couple's routine a "lovely present." Carrie Ann noted Marie's charisma and deemed the performance "adorable." Score: 21 (7, 7, 7). For Week 1, this was pretty fair, especially in light of the other ladies' scores. Since, as Marie mentioned, most of the DWTS audience is made up of Osmonds, this couple should stick around a while.

Melanie Brown and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Cha Cha Cha) - Ahh, Scary Spice. Now there's a familiar face. Mel B. confessed to having some dancing experience from her Girl Power days, but said that ballroom dancing is more high pressure. The lovely Maksim proudly called himself the bad boy of the show, and expressed his willingness to put his partners through anything to win. These two are well-suited to each other, especially since Melanie counted Maks' vanity as a positive trait. Mel had some issues with relinquishing control on the dance floor, however. Maksim believed that the cheeky nature of the Cha Cha Cha would work in their favor.

The couple performed their routine to a high-energy version of "Deeper Love." Melanie, in an animal-print dress, showcased her personality more than her technical prowess. She and Maksim have excellent chemistry, and their performance went over well with the studio audience. I would definitely put Mel B. at the top of the women's group, along with Sabrina Bryan. Her fiery attitude fit the tone of the Cha Cha Cha very closely.

Carrie Ann brought out her first backhanded compliment of the season, stating that Melanie was a much better dancer than she expected. She did notice that the couple was a bit out of sync, though. Len complimented Melanie's hip action, and felt that the routine was well-performed. Bruno called Melanie a "feisty kitten," and worried about Maksim's ability to tame her. Yuck. Score: 24 (8, 8, 8).

Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani (Foxtrot) - The former medicine woman was the last performer of the evening. I never knew that Jane was once an aspiring ballerina, and that an injury sidelined her dreams of a dance career. Dancing clearly means a lot to her, which makes me like her even more. Tony and Jane agreed that their strategy would focus on class and grace. Jane pointed out that she was the oldest dancer the show's history, and the cheers from the audience made it clear that she has the mature woman vote. The practice footage highlighted Jane's dedication and tendency to push herself. She's not here just for laughs, unlike some billionaires I know.

Jane and Tony danced the Foxtrot to "Let's Do It; Let's Fall in Love," by Cole Porter, which was a lovely choice. You can tell that Jane has a dance background; her moves were light and graceful. The entire performance was very charming, and featured a difficult move where Jane fell into Tony's arms (almost down to the floor). It always seems that actors are better at playing the part that the various dances call for, and Jane was no exception.

Bruno thought that the couple's performance was the essence of elegance, and commended Jane's ability to use her hands to express the emotion of the dance. Carrie Ann was glad that Jane didn't look stiff, since many contestants have made that mistake with the Foxtrot. Len enjoyed the mix of steps and holds, and instructed the couple to work on their turns. Score: 24 (8, 8, 8). This was one of my favorite performances of the night, and it likely secured Jane's position in the Week 2 roster.

Finally, there was a small chunk of filler at the end of the episode. The men got a chance to talk some trash before their performance tomorrow night. The men feel that Floyd Mayweather is the biggest threat among the men, and Albert Reed talked a big game for someone I've never heard of. Mark Cuban took the opportunity to mouth off to the judges, and Tom wisely called him "delusional."

Each of the female contestants brings something different to the table. Melanie and Sabrina have already set the bar high with impressive scores. I think that Jennie Garth has the most potential for improvement over the course of the season, and she's my favorite female contestant overall. Marie Osmond's showmanship shouldn't be counted out, though, and Jane Seymour has "sentimental favorite" written all over her. This week I'm giving Jennie and Jane my votes. Bring on the men!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Bachelor' star Brad Womack narrows the field to 15 bachelorettes

The 25 women attempting to woo Brad Womack got their first chance during last night's premiere broadcast of The Bachelor's eleventh installment. But when it was over, the 34-year-old Austin, TX bar owner sent 10 packing in his journey to find true love via the long-running ABC reality dating series.

"Tonight was the biggest whirlwind of my entire life," said Brad. "I'm realizing that my decision will affect the rest of my life."

The 10 bachelorettes Brad ousted at the onset of The Bachelor 11 were Jessica, a 27-year-old news anchor from Lady Lake, FL; Juli, a 24-year-old law student from Chicago, IL; Kim, a 31-year-old realtor from Woodbridge, CT; Lori, a 33-year-old biology teacher from Annapolis, MD; Melissa, a 28-year-old event planner from Westchester, NY; Morgan, a 24-year-old graduate student from Tempe, AZ; Natalie, a 25-year-old law student from Duncanville, TX; Rigina, a 31-year-old account representative from San Diego, CA; Susan, a 35-year-old project analyst from St. Charles, IL; and Tauni, a 31-year-old emergency room nurse from St. Louis Park, MN.

"Nobody goes through this whole entire process to go home the first night. I don't what else I could have done differently. I tried to be myself," said Tauni. "I came here looking for my happily ever after. I'd love to find the love of my life and to be happily in love and married. It will happen... just not this time."

The Bachelor 11 began with the with the 25 suitors meeting Brad at his Malibu "bachelor pad" for a cocktail party that -- similar to previous installments of the show -- lasted until the next morning. Once all of the women introduced themselves to The Bachelor 11's star and host Chris Harrison hammered home the point to viewers that Brad is the "sexiest Bachelor ever," he tried to spend a little one-on-one time with each girl.

Each of the bachelorettes took a different approach in attempting to make Brad remember her for The Bachelor 11's first Rose Ceremony.

Kristy, a 29-year-old acupuncturist from Chicago, IL, examined Brad's tongue and diagnosed that he was "under some stress." Hillary, a 27-year-old registered nurse from Philadelphia, PA, gushed about the broken nose she recently suffered while Erin, a 25-year-old publishing sales executive from Tampa, FL, did one better by explaining how she suffered a broken face twice. Jessica decided to put her skills as an anchorwoman to the test to ask Brad the "hard questions."

"The girl right now that stands out in my mind is Jenni," said Brad, talking about the 27-year-old Phoenix Suns cheerleader from Wichita, KS. "It's because of her laugh. Everything I say she laughs at! It could be a bad thing maybe, but I think she's just truly happy."

Michele, a 30-year-old realtor from South Brunswick, NJ, tried to put Jenni on the spot by having her showoff some of her cheerleader moves for Brad. However the move backfired when he actually enjoyed it.

"I'm kind of annoyed. I feel that I kind of put Jenni on the pedestal by telling her to dance, and [Brad] loved it," regretted Michele.

Lindsey, a 25-year-old model who currently resides in Livania, MI but is originally from Texas presented Brad with a yellow rose and sang "The Yellow Rose of Texas" for him. It wasn't the best rendition of the song, but it was a better approach then what some of the other girls tried. Tauni flaunted her butt in the Bachelor's face; Juli contorted herself into an unflattering human pretzel; and Morgan revealed she had webbed toes.

But it was Melissa who stole the show, imbibing way too much of the ABC-supplied alcohol for the evening. When one of her breast enhancers fell out of her dress, she went on a mission to find it, which amused the other suitors who had recovered it but didn't give it back. Melissa eventually found herself in conversation with Brad, but stumbled badly over her words and couldn't stop describing him as "sweet" or "sweetness."

"Our conversation just unfortunately seemed to be going nowhere," said Brad with a laugh. "I hate to say that, but I think she was enjoying her glass of wine a little more than she was enjoying me."

Mallory, a 24-year-old nanny who currently resides in Honolulu, HI, also stole the show but it was in a much more endearing way than Melissa, as she stripped down to a bikini and jumped in the backyard pool. Brad said he had "no idea" what Mallory was doing in the pool, but quickly added he "wanted to jump in and join her." She told him she thought he should remove his pants. Like a gentleman, Brad declined.

"When I went in the pool I got to have the one-on-one time that I hadn't had," explained Mallory. "If the girls were upset, then they can be upset. I don't care if they're jealous."

Brad than felt he had seen enough and decided to give the "first impression rose" to Jenni, which meant she was safe from the first elimination. Solisa, a 25-year-old aesthetician from Georgetown, TX, was "disappointed" and Lindsey said it "sucks."

"I seriously was not expecting it at all, not even one little bit," said Jenni. "But I'm so excited and I felt so happy."

"I gave Jenni the first impression rose," said Brad. "So many women have struck a chord with me tonight and I'm a little blown away. I'm thinking not only do I believe I can find a wife, I will find my wife."

Brad and the bachelorettes than participated in The Bachelor 11's first Rose Ceremony.

"First of all I'm very confused. I'm very nervous," said Brad. "I am here to find a wife, so if I send the wrong one home tonight, I'll regret it for the rest of my life."

The 15 women who received roses and remained in the running for Brad's heart were Bettina, a 27-year-old realtor from Washington, DC; DeAnna, a 25-year-old realtor from Neunan, GA; Erin; Estefania, a 26-year-old executive assistant from Atlanta, GA; Hillary; Jade, a 24-year-old boutique sales from Nashville, TN; Jenni; Kristy; Lindsey; Mallory; McCarten, a 26-year-old account manager from San Diego, CA; Michele; Sarah, a 23-year-old bar manager from O'Fallon, IL; Sheena, a 23-year-old Internet marketing executive from Walnut Creek, CA; and Solisa.

"I really did honestly think like 'sweetness.' I just thought he was sweet," explained Melissa, who appeared to have sobered up a bit since the sun had risen. "I don't know what went wrong. I had one-on-one time with him. I was myself. I smile, which usually gets guys pretty good... and nothing. I totally didn't think I'd be a reject, but I am. I totally didn't think I'd be cast off in the first episode... I thought when it was happening that it was happening for a reason and now I'm like, 'What the hell is this s**t?!'"

Heroes Season 2 Premeires With A Highest Rating

September 26, 2006 – Paced by the series debut of "Heroes," which posted the highest rating for any NBC drama premiere in five years, NBC won its second Monday night of the 2006-07 season in adults 18-49, according to preliminary "fast affiliate-based" "live plus same day" viewing figures from Nielsen Media Research.

Versus the second Monday night of last season, NBC's performance last night was up by 18 percent in adults 18-49 and up by 12 percent in overall total viewers.

At 9 p.m. ET, the debut of "Heroes" (5.9 rating, 14 share in 18-49, 14.3 million viewers overall) delivered NBC's highest 18-49 for any fall drama premiere in five years (since "Crossing Jordan" on Monday, Sept. 24, 2001). "Heroes" soared above the time period competition in the key demographic of adults 18-49, with a 31 percent margin of victory over second place (5.9 vs. a 4.5 for CBS' comedies). Pending updates, "Heroes" also won the hour in total viewers, adults, men and women 18-34 and other key measures.

"Heroes" was up 48 percent versus NBC's 2005-06 season average in the time period, excluding sports (5.9 vs. 4.0). From its first half-hour to its second, "Heroes" grew by 13 percent (to a 6.3/15 from a 5.6/14) and by 1.1 million viewers overall.

Pending updates, "Heroes" is within one tenth of an 18-49 rating point of the highest rating so far this fall for any new series premiere, close behind Sunday's debut of "Brothers & Sisters" on ABC. By comparison, "Brothers & Sisters" benefited from a 9.6 lead-in rating in 18-49 from "Desperate Housewives," while "Heroes" had a 3.8 rating lead-in last night.

The powerful "Heroes" premiere will be rebroadcast on NBC tonight at 8 p.m. ET and on the SCI FI Channel this Friday, September 29, at 7 p.m. ET.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Canadian Idol Season 5 Finale Brian Melo Is The New Idol

Alt-rocker Brian Melo will be getting all he ever wanted and more as the newly crowned Canadian Idol, defeating rockabilly golden boy Jaydee Bixby and emerging from his initial image as the competition's dark horse.

After learning he'd earned the title in the final moments of a two-hour, star-studded finale, the modest Hamiltonian gave the crowd a taste of what they can expect of his victory lap as a signed singer.

His version of "All I Ever Wanted" closed out the show, and will hit the airwaves and multiple online music retailers at 12 a.m. on Sept. 13. It will be the gateway to at least a year in the spotlight, but if the judges' insights prove true, could turn into a lasting music career.

"When you think about the numbers of people who audition for this thing, it's a remarkable accomplishment to make it to this far," said judge Zack Werner, adding that Melo had grown more as an artist during his time on the show than anyone would have imagined.

In fact, Melo faced possible elimination more than many of the Top 10, landing in the weekly bottom three/two more often than almost anyone else on the show.

But instead of letting low votes discourage him, he seemed motivated to work harder each week, becoming one of the competitors with the steepest learning curve the show has ever seen.

The finale began with a Bon Jovi medley performed by the Top 10. Beginning and ending with "You Give Love a Bad Name," the singers moved like a well-oiled machine through a series of hits penned by the week's mentoring musical act.

Rockers Greg Neufeld and Dwight d'Eon brought their guitars along for the ride, once again showing fans they're more than just pretty faces with nice voices.

Next to grace the stage was Canadian-bred pop-punker Avril Lavigne, who sang two songs from her latest album "The Best Damn Thing": "Hot" and "When You're Gone." Belting into her token pink microphone, the internationally famous 22-year-old showed the competitors just how successful a young artist can be.

Next up was crowd-pleaser Bon Jovi, who played "Lost Highway," the title track from their recent album. It was followed by international hit "It's My Life," which earned a standing ovation from the crowd and even a bit of dancing.

The busy evening's third guest was Eva Avila, last year's Canadian Idol, who has since scored two hit singles and a modeling contract. Working the crowd like a pro, Avila was right at home on the Idol stage and even offered some advice for her soon-to-be-announced replacement.

"Just remember that you are so privileged and enjoy every minute but you never know how long it's going to last," she said.

The ever-modest Melo seemed ready to do just that, his generally wide grin beaming even larger than usual as he began to grasp what the next year of his life had in store for him.

"This is incredible" the overwhelmed singer told the crowd, then offering specific thanks to Idol vocal coach Debra Byrd. "I didn't think a year ago that I would be standing here. If it wasn't for the fans, my friends, my family and everyone in the Hammer... It's been amazing."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

MTV Video Music Award 2007 Winners and Videos

Held in several venues across Sin City, the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards were a montage of wild performances and big stars. See who scored a moonman and who busted!

And the winners are:

Monster Single of the Year:

Avril Lavigne: "Girlfriend"

Daughtry: "Home"

Fall Out Boy: "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs"

Lil Mama: "Lip Gloss (No Music)"

T-Pain (featuring Yung Joc): "Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin')"

Timbaland (featuring Keri Hilson, D.O.E. and Sebastian): "The Way I Are"

MIMS: "This Is Why I'm Hot"

Plain White T's: "Hey There, Delilah"

Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z): "Umbrella"

Shop Boyz: "Party Like A Rock Star"

Quadruple Threat of the Year




Justin Timberlake

Kanye West

Most Earthshattering Collaboration

Akon (featuring Eminem): "Smack That" (featuring Eminem)

Beyonce and Shakira: "Beautiful Liar" (featuring Shakira)

Justin Timberlake (featuring Timbaland): "SexyBack" (featuring Timbaland)

Gwen Stefani (featuring Akon): "The Sweet Escape"

U2 (featuring Green Day): "The Saints Are Coming"

Male Artist of the Year

Akon: "Don't Matter" "I Wanna Love You" (featuring Snoop Dogg), "Smack That" (featuring Eminem)

Kanye West: "Can't Tell Me Nothing", "Stronger", "Classic (Better Than I've Ever Been" — DJ Premier remix, featuring Nas, KRS-One and Rakim)

Justin Timberlake: "Let Me Talk To You/ My Love," "SexyBack"(featuring Timbaland), "What Goes Around ...Comes Around"

T.I.: "Big Things Poppin' (Do It)," "You Know What It Is", (featuring Wyclef Jean), "What You Know"

Robin Thicke: "Can U Believe," "Lost Without U," "Wanna Love You Girl" (remix, featuring Busta Rhymes and Pharrell)

Female Artist of the Year

Amy Winehouse: "Rehab," "You Know I'm No Good"

Beyonce: "Irreplaceable", "Beautiful Liar" (featuring Shakira)

Fergie: "Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal)," "Glamorous," (featuring Ludacris), "Fergalicious" (featuring Will.I.Am)

Nelly Furtado: "Maneater," "Say It Right"

Rihanna: "Umbrella" (featuring Jay-Z)

Best Group

Fall Out Boy: "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race," "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs"

Gym Class Heroes: "Clothes Off," "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America"

Linkin Park: "What I've Done"

Maroon 5: "Makes Me Wonder"

White Stripes: "Icky Thump"

Best New Artist

Amy Winehouse: "Rehab," "You Know I'm No Good"

Carrie Underwood: "Before He Cheats"

Gym Class Heroes: "Clothes Off," "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America"

Lily Allen: "Alfie," "Smile," "LDN"

Peter Bjorn and John: "Young Folks"

Best Director

Beyonce and Shakira: "Beautiful Liar" (director: Jake Nava)

Christina Aguilera: "Candyman" (directors: Matthew Rolston and Christina Aguilera)

Justin Timberlake:"What Goes Around ...Comes Around" (director: Samuel Bayer)

Kanye West: "Stronger" (director: Hype Williams)

Linkin Park: "What I've Done" (director: Joseph Hahn)

Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z): "Umbrella" (director: Chris Applebaum)

Video of the Year

Amy Winehouse: "Rehab"

Beyonce: "Irreplaceable"

Justice: "D.A.N.C.E.""

Justin Timberlake: "What Goes Around ...Comes Around"

Kanye West: "Stronger"

Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z): "Umbrella"

Best Editing in a Video

Beyonce and Shakira: "Beautiful Liar" (editor: Jarett Figl)

Gnarls Barkley: "Smiley Faces" (editor: Ken Mowe)

Justin Timberlake: "What Goes Around ...Comes Around" (editor: Hollee Singer)

Kanye West: "Stronger" (editors: Peter Johnson and Corey Weisz)

Linkin Park: "What I've Done" (editor: Igor Kovalik)

Best Choreography in a Video

Beyonce and Shakira: "Beautiful Liar" (choreographer: Frank Gatson)

Chris Brown: "Wall To Wall""(choreographers: Rich & Tone and Flii Styles)

Ciara: "Like A Boy" (choreographer: Jamaica Craft)

Eve: "Tambourine" (choreographer: Tahesha Scott)

Justin Timberlake (featuring Timbaland): "SexyBack" (choreographer: Marty Kudelka)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Australian Idol 5 - Final 12 Performances

It was a massive kick of to the Australian Idol finals tonight with the Final 12 taking to the brand new – and massive – set.

Ben McKenzie started proceedings with his own spin on Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning". He was praised for his maturity on stage – despite, in Kyle's words, being "crazy, loopy and nutty". Mark thought the song choice odd, but all the other judges loved it.

Rockin' Mark Da Costa dared to take on U2's "Vertigo" – and passed with flying colours. Dicko, however, thought he was a "little measured" and suggested he get "wild". "In the coming weeks surprise us," added Mark.

Lana Krost sang Natalie Imbruglia's "Shiver" and Marcia was pleased to see her breaking away from her musical theatre roots. Kyle said he wanted to see what her mum sees when she "breaks up and it's magical".

Daniel Mifsud performed Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" but Kyle wasn't convinced. "Cool as you are and as clever a song choice as that was … to me sitting here it sounded like a sloppy mess," Kyle said.

Carl Riseley swung out "Waltzing Matilda" and Mark was loving it. "Instincts are everything and your instincts are right on the button," he said. Kyle less so. "It might sound a little unAustralian but I couldn't stand it," he announced.

Holly Weinert rocked it up with The Gossip's "Standing In The Way Of Control", but the judges were concerned many viewers wouldn't know the song. "I've never heard that song before," admitted Marcia. "But I don't care, I dug it". Kyle, meanwhile, compared her to "Patti Newton on crack".

Matt Corby thrilled with Coldplay's "The Scientist". "Everyone stand up," said Kyle. "Because that is what a star is right there." Marcia and Mark were just as impressed. "That was awesome: boo-ya!" Mark said.

Natalie Gauci took Powderfinger's modern classic "On My Mind" to a whole new place. "Powderfinger helped you find you mojo," Marcia told. "That was dynamite." Dicko said he'd like to see more of her putting her own spin on popular songs.

Jacob Butler performed The Killers' hit "When You Were Young". Kyle told him he was "the real deal", Marcia praised his use of the stage, while Mark asked for Jacob's jacket back. "I wore it to a wedding in 1976," he insisted.

Tarisai Vushe belted out Alicia Keys' "If I Was Your Woman", and talk soon talked to her short stature. "Is she legally a midget?" asked Kyle, who also commented that she was a "strange one" and he hoped Australia would get to see it.

Marty Simpson fought nerves, performing The Police's "So Lonely". "Please do not let your nerves blow this for you," Marcia pleaded. Dicko told him that he was scared for him when he watched, but had one of the most unique voices in the comp.

Brianna Carpenter brought her quirky touch to The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows". "As much as it pains me to say it," Kyle announced, "I actually didn't mind it." Dicko likened it to "Happy Birthday Mr. President", while Mark suggested her bring his "Betty Booper scooper" (we have no idea either).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lauren McAvoy Wins Britain's Next Top Model Cycle 3

This is the construction and civil engineering graduate who has won Britain's Next Top Model. Essex-born Lauren McAvoy, 20, beat 11 rivals on the third series of the Living TV show, which helped catapult WAG Abigail Clancy to fame.

She was awarded the title by a panel of judges, which included George Clooney's ex, model and presenter Lisa Snowdon.

Lauren said: "I'd gone so long convinced I would be packing my bags, so to be told I'd won was a surreal moment.

"Now I just can't wait to start showing the modelling world what I'm made of."

Lisa Snowdon added: "Lauren epitomises a worthy winner. She never lost focus and always possessed that positive mentality you need to survive the industry.

"She's got a real sparkle about her, and that's proved to be her driving force."

Lauren follows in the footsteps of previous winners Lucy Ratcliffe and Lianna Fowler, winning a contract with agency Models 1.

Australian Idol Watch - Top 12 Completed

The 2007 Australian Idol Top 12 are:

Matt Corby
16-year-old surfer and skater Matt from Cronulla in Sydney's south was the very last auditionee for Australian Idol this year – and the very first to be make it into the top 12. It was renditions of hits by one of his own Idols, Stevie Wonder (first with "Superstition" and then "I Wish"), that saw him through both times.

After hearing the nation's verdict, Matt was overcome. "I promised I wouldn't cry, so I'm trying to hold it back!" he told the audience.
"I don't know what to feel," he admitted later, realising that his life was about to change considerably.

Matt has already won a sizeable fan base, impressing with his seemingly effortless talents both vocally and musically. His natural charisma and pop star good looks didn't go unnoticed either. Even Dicko was taken in – "Put your tongues back in girls," he told his daughters via national TV.

Despite his youth, the level-headed year 11 student – who adds academic prowess to his impressive list of talents – has already proved he is able to juggle music with school work, having studied by correspondence while travelling with bands for several years.

Matt loves beef macaroni, watching Friends and Seinfeld, and his favourite movie is The Princess Bride.

Jacob Butler

It's been a long, hard road to the Australian Idol top 12 for Jacob. The focused 25-year-old first made the Top 100 in 2005, and when he failed to make it further headed to the UK, picking up a management deal that, in his words, "went pear".

Upon returning to Australia he spent a year working on his song writing and musicianship, greatly impressing the Idol judging panel with his growth when he finally re-entered the audition room this year. He was soon placed in the top 24, and after performing a brilliant rendition of Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars", Australia made him their second top 12 finalist. "I feel incredible," admits Jacob of the announcement.

He could barely suppress his excitement on the night, even offering to pay back all the viewers who had voted for him. "Send me an invoice!" said the cheeky chap.

A lover of indie rock and pop, Jacob is a bit of an anglophile when it comes to music. "I find that they do it the best time and time again," he says of Brit artists, who seem to have also inspired his hairstyle. Jacob loves Mexican food as says he couldn't live without his bike.

Tarisai Vushe
When slightly-built Zimbabwe-born one-time receptionist Tarisai entered the Idol audition room, the judges had no idea what was about to hit them. The softly spoken 20-year-old blew them away with her amazing rendition of Whitney Houston’s "I Have Nothing". "There’s a lot of people loving what you just did then," said Kyle Sandilands, without even conferring with the panel.

The love followed through to the audience; following her powerhouse take on "River Deep Mountain High" Tarisai was named the first female voted through to the top 12. "I feel so honoured," says Tarisai. "I just want to thank everyone that voted for me."

A committed performer, Tarisai rehearses her songs endlessly, making sure that she means every word she sings and choosing her songs accordingly. As well as her amazing set of pipes, Tarisai says she thinks her personality is one of her biggest advantages in the competition.

The devoted Christian is rarely seen without her bible by her side and loves the movie Dreamgirls and R&B music in general – she lists Ms. Houston and Tina Turner as her inspirations. She also loves watching Disney sitcom That’s So Raven, listening to Destiny’s Child and eating sadza, traditional Zimbabwean food.

Lana Krost
Lana discovered her passion for performing at the tender age of six when she took to the school stage. The passion grew into an interest in musical theatre, with Lana appearing in several productions in her native Western Australia. The talent must be genetic: her Vietnamese mother was an opera singer and the original lead in Miss Saigon.

17-year-old Lana confesses she has never been as scared in her life as she was at her Australian Idol audition. "I was shaking and the feeling of being watched all the time was intimidating," she says. But the nerves paid off and she was soon the only WA contestant left standing in the Top 24.

While the judges were harsh following her semi-finals performance of Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry", Australian fell in love with her natural charm, beauty and voice, sending her straight through to the top 12.

"It feel weird," Lana says of getting through. "I didn't expect it at all."A big fan of folk pop star Jewel, Lana avoids sport and loves McDonalds.

Aside from performing for the nation, she says the best thing about Idol has been getting to know the other performers.

Ben Mckenzie

17-year-old Ben, from the NSW Central Coast, proved to be a real surprise package at his audition. In fact, at face value, it's fair to say the Australian Idol judges didn't think much at all. That is until he dazzled them with his take on John Mayer's "Daughters". "I was expecting something lame," admitted Kyle. "But that was very surprising and very good."

He continued to be very good, with his near-flawless performance of Tears For Fears and Gary Jules' "Mad World" securing his place in the Top 12.

"That's a bit scary," he said as his name was announced. "I hoped it would happen and it did," says a still spinning Ben. "So it was great." Nevertheless he is ready for the road ahead: "I've been doing this a long time, so I'm ready!" he says.

Ben is an enthusiastic amateur slasher film maker and, when not indulging his artistic pursuits, works at Woolworths. He loves his computer, satirical animated series Drawn Together, lists his favourite music genre as dance/electronica and one day wants to duet with Brooke Fraser. Expect more surprises from Ben as the competition progresses!

Marty Simpson

Keen surfer and snowboarder Marty is possibly the most laid-back contestant in this year's competition, and brings his equally laid-back brand of acoustic surfer rock to the competition. Introduced to the guitar by his brother, Marty admits he was "pretty ordinary" when he first started, but has improved greatly since then. The Australian Idol judges obviously agreed, immediately and unanimously sending him through to the Idol top 100 at his audition. "Marty Simpson, welcome to Australian Idol!" cheered judge Kyle Sandilands.

Despite following some stiff competition, he was named one of the Top 12. "It's a wild ride but it's unreal, so I'm gonna enjoy it for a minute," he said as he heard the news.

Marty lists his favourite movies as The Shawshank Redemption and Scarface, love eating seafood and says his favourite bands are The Dave Matthews Band and The Police – even sporting a tattoo inspired by The Police's Synchronicity album on his arm.

Brianna Carpenter

Her unique sense of style caught eyes, but it was her voice that caught ears. Brianna, 21, impressed Australian Idol judges at auditions with her beautiful self-composed tune "Jacqueline". While Dicko told her she was the best all day, Kyle seemed worried by the onetime K-Mart employee’s outfit and hair.

Brainna hit the semi-finals with a new hairdo, but the talent remained. Her quirky perfromance of Regina Spektor's "Fidelity" got a big thumbs up from the voting public, who immediately sent her through to the Top 12. Brianna was especially thrilled that she will be perform at the Sydney Opera House for the show's final. "That's awesome!" she said.

Queenslander Brianna is a music student and has studied everything from classical to contemporary and jazz. "I love Jazz," she says. "It's just so smooth and the melodies are always so beautiful."

Brianna is a self-confessed chocolate addict and lists her favourite movie as Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

Holly Weinert

In her audition, Mildura's Holly Weinert made a big impact on three of the judges – but it took a little more to convince Dicko. "I was so nervous and when they let me in I was like a stunned mullet!" she confesses.

The self-professed rock chick further proved herself further at the Top 100 stage, harnessing, she says, her "patience, adaptability and personality" to get her through. It was the brilliant interperatation of "Easy", a hit for both The Commodores and Faith No More, that won the approval of the Australian Idol audience.

"I could swear!" said an excited Holly upon hearing she'd made it, after spectacularly jumping into Brianna's arms – and falling to the floor. Luckily for producers she held her tongue.

A musician and bar tender, Holly was joined in the Top 24 by friend Jesse Curran, who often sings at the pub Holly works in. 20-year-old Holly loves her boyfriend Simon, her dog, "spag bol" and is a film buff with too many favourites to name. Her favourite song is "Love Cats" by The Cure and says she can't wait for Rock Night in the competition.

Daniel Mifsud

23-year-old Daniel Mifsud is a lover of great singers and first impressed Australian Idol judges with the sheer breadth of his influences. Then there was his amazing voice and, as Kyle Sandilands classically put it, his "daytime soap star" looks.

Daniel soon made it into the Top 24, and when he missed out on a place in the semi-finals, the judges couldn't bear to see him go and made him a Wildcard pick. His performance of Roachford's "Lay Your Love On Me" saw him chosen by the audience.

"I'm lost for words," he says. "You always dream of it, but when it comes it's totally another thing."

While professional singer Daniel has so far been making his living performing soul tunes, he hopes the show will see him branch into rock as well. "I love the heart of soul and the rassness of rock," he explains. Daniel is obsessed with The Simpsons and follows the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL and West Ham in the English Premier League. Daniel is not-so-quietly hoping for an '80s power ballad theme night this year - his favourite song is Michael Bolton's "How Can We Be Lovers".

Mark De Costa

After years of gigging around the country, Mark Da Costa considers Australian Idol his chance to get "one more bite of the cherry" and make a real go of his impressive talents.

This season’s undisputed Rock God, Mark blew everyone away with his Wildcard performance of Stevie Wright’s Aussie classic "Evie Part 1 (Let Your Hair Hang Down)", Dicko telling him he was the season’s "best performer" and Kyle complaining that the audience was screaming so enthusiastically he found it hard to hear. He impressed TV viewers too, and was the second Wildcard performer voted through. "As Mark Holden would say, ‘Wow-a-dee-bow-a-dee-woah-woah’," Mark said upon hearing the announcement. "No way did I think I’d bet getting this far."

The soccer-mad PlayStation addict lists Noel Gallagher as one of his idols ("He gives me goosebumps and I love his hair cut") and hopes to perform in a Beatles-theme night this year (his favourite album is Abbey Road). "I spent most of my late teens and early 20s listening to them and it would be an absolute honour to perform one of their many No.1 hits," he says.

Carl Riseley

Carl Riseley has always been musical, but rather than with singing, his adventure began as a trumpeter – in The Royal Australian Navy band. It was only a recent switch to singing for the navy rock band that saw him focus on his singing, and then decide to give the Australian Idol auditions a crack.

There was a mixed response by judges to his audition, aside from Marcia Hines who immediately saw Carl's potential. "You have chops," she told him.

Marcia was proved justified in pushing him through to the Top 100, where he thrived, and continued to improve every week. By the time he made it through to the Wildcard round his dazzling swing-style performance of The Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love" he had won everyone over, and the judges placed him in the Top 12.

"I'm a trumpet player, I've been doing it since I could walk," he says of making it into the Top 12. "I can't believe I'm here." Carl's first job was mowing lawns and even admits his favourite film is Love Actually. The 24-year-old says the highlight of Idol has been "hanging out with the most talented individuals I have ever met."

Natalia Gauci

Melbourne's Natalie Gauci caused a real splash in the audition room when Dicko proclaimed her "one of the best people we've seen". "You can win this competition," he told her. Having seen favourites lack public support in the past, Marcia was having none of it, telling the 25-year-old Dicko’s words were the "kiss of death".

Nevertheless, there was no arguing with the former hairdressing apprentice's talent. Natalie was chosen as a Wildcard entrant and then judge’s pick for the Top 12 after her sultry and note-perfect rendition of Nina Simone’s "Feeling Good".

"It’s very exciting," the gifted musician told the judges. "It was torture, but thank you for believing in me. Thank you so much."

Perhaps surprisingly for a performer of such obvious talent, 2007 was the first time Natalie auditioned for Australian Idol. "I was just waiting for the right time," she explains. "I really needed to be grounded and believe in who I am. Being judged by the nation, I'd like to show who I really am as best as I can."

Natalie is a lover of soul, blues, jazz and pop, Guy Sebastian and Doritos.

Australian Idol 5 Watch - Wildcard Performances

It's Wildcard night, and the judges' top picks from the Top 24 were back to perform for the nation in the hope they can make the Top 12. Eight will perform, but just four will go through.

Jack Byrnes started the night with The Doobie Brothers' classic "Long Train Runnin'". Mark and Dicko thought he was only performing to about 75% his full potential – Kyle thought it was more like 95%. Dicko is still not a fan of Jack's brilliant dancing. "You looked like an old lady celebrating a big win at bingo," he said.

Husny Thalib showed a softer side with the Blessid Union Of Souls ballad "I Believe". Dicko agreed that he has star quality but that he has to work very hard for every performance. Marcia said she was "very impressed by that performance" and Mark told him he sang "straight from the heart".

Carl Riseley's swing version of The Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love" was, in Marcia's words, "dynamite". "I hope Australia gets it," she said. "I would have liked a lot more sexy face going on," said Kyle, before showing off his own "sexy face". Mark thought it was "bland" because he didn't think Carl was singing to a particular person.

Sarah Lloyde took a very sexy turn with Christina Aguilera's recent smash "Candyman", but Mark complained that he wasn't panting afterwards. "It didn't burn my bibby, baby," he said. Dicko was worried about her song choices, while Marcia thought she was "pretty as a picture". Both agreed she did well with a very difficult song.

Dave Andrews got rocky with Live's "The Dolphin's Cry", but his champion Dicko wondered if he was a "Fools Gold" auditionee, who auditioned well but wasn't able to repeat it. Marcia thought he'd had fun performing. Dave then went on to agree with all the judge's comments.

Daniel Mifsud, returning on the Wildcard with "unfinished business" performed Roachford's "Lay Your Love On Me". "It's gratifying – and a little bemusing – when contestants actually listen to us," Dicko said. All were delighted by his improvement since the previous week, although Mark thought he was a little mechanical.

Natalie Gauci began her rendition of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" sitting on the side of the stage, then moving up to the stage for the triumphant finale. "Now that's what I'm talking about, Natalie," Marcia told her. Mark asked her if it was her statement about getting a second chance. "Yes," she said. Dicko said that on the best dressed show on TV she was the worst dressed. Style king Kyle disagreed.

Mark Da Costa worked the crowd with Stevie Wright's Aussie rock classic "Evie Part 1". "Everyone was having such a good time screaming and getting into it, I could barely hear," complained Kyle. Dicko announced Mark was the best performer in the competition. "I just loved your energy," said Marcia.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Kelly Clarkson Performs in Canadian Idol 5

After coaching the Top 5 Canadian Idols for the show's "My Own Idol" theme week, Kelly Clarkson didn't have to stop for a second to think who she would have chosen had she been a competitor facing this particular theme.

"I probably would have picked a Reba (McEntire) song," the original American Idol told Ben Mulroney on CTV's "eTalk." "I love singing her songs. I know them so well. And it's good to sing a song on this show that you're so comfortable with you can make it your own."

After recently working with McEntire on an upcoming TV special, Clarkson admits to still getting a little bit star struck. But after being discovered on the original season of "American Idol" six years ago, Clarkson went from looking up to influences like McEntire to being one herself.

Her visit to Toronto saw throngs of fans waiting outside the Masonic Temple (home of "eTalk" and the MTV Canada studios) just to catch a glimpse of their hero.

Asked whether she saw herself that way, Clarkson had an interesting take on why she has become the most respected artists to emerge from the Idol franchise.

"I'm not special, I just knew what I wanted to do," she told Canadian Idol's cameras on the Top 5 performance show, noting that competitors often leave the competition without a specific musical style or career plan in mind.

But despite knowing where she wanted to go with her music, the hazel-eyed starlet says she had no idea that "American Idol" would propel her to such fame.

"Especially how our season was... we referred to it as ghetto idol," she said of the show's Season 1. "It was just us standing in a circle. We didn't have a band. It was very bare. Now it's got moving walls."

Her visit to Canadian Idol didn't help her perception of its American counterpart, either. Clarkson was quick to note how much she loved about Canadian Idol that just doesn't happen south of the border.

"Yours is so cool," she exclaimed after hearing about this season's weekly themes as well as the potential for competitors to play instruments on the show. "Your Idol is so much better. They don't let you near instruments on the American one!"