Thursday, October 25, 2007

Phenomenon - New Reality TV Show

An intriguing and mystifying meeting of the minds takes place on live television when famed mentalist Uri Geller and world-renowned mystifier Criss Angel ("Criss Angel Mindfreak") conduct an intensive search for the next great mentalist on "Phenomenon."

The exhilarating and mystifying live show is based on a successful Israeli version judged and monitored by Geller, which achieved a historical record-breaking viewing audience. The series showcases 10 carefully selected mentalists who will compete live against one another each week by demonstrating a wide spectrum of mystifying talents on a panel of celebrity guests who experience the spellbinding illusions along with the studio audience.

Together, Geller and Angel will assess the contestant's talents each week and offer their unfiltered opinions.

Ultimately, the fate of the winner is in the hands of the viewers at home, who will vote to determine which competing mentalist will receive the grand prize of $250,000 and become the next great mentalist.

"Phenomenon" is executive- produced by Suzy Lamb ("Grease: You're The One That I Want"), Michael Agbabian ("Last Comic Standing") and Dwight Smith ("Last Comic Standing"). The series is, based on a successful Israeli version judged and monitored by Geller, which achieved a historical record-breaking viewing audience, is a Granada America/Keshet Broadcasting/Kuperman Productions co-production in association with SevenOne International. SevenOne International controls the worldwide rights to the program.

Sneak Peek At 24's Season 7

Season 6 is now history for Kiefer Sutherland and FOX's "24." But the team behind Jack Bauer and CTU are already scheming on plot lines and ideas for Season 7. The pressure is on to deliver. Jack's latest crusade got a cool reception from some fans this spring who complained about a familiar theme of nukes in the hands of terrorists.

One of the key men behind the show is Writer and Executive Producer Michael Loceff, who lives in Kitsap County's Kingston area. We asked him what's up for next season. Loceff told us, "what we are going for, is really taking this to the personal level," unlike this season's focus on nuclear threats, the President getting hurt and possible war. Loceff says "you just can't go much bigger than that, unless you put a spacesuit on Jack Bauer and shoot him into orbit. Which you know, we may get there. but we're not going to be there yet."

Next season expect smaller story lines for the characters, including Jack. Loceff adds "and he how tries to resolve a particularly thorny conflict in the final episode."

One reason Loceff can't spill the beans about next season is, most of it hasn't even been written. Instead, most of the show is written, filmed and edited during the season. Loceff says "that's apparently one of the surprising facts about the show."

He believes that fly by the seat of your pants system gives the show intensity. Loceff says "the pace that we like to run it at, doesn't work if we stick to the outline."

There are constant re-writes. Loceff says "the problem with that is, when you do all the squeezing and throwing out, and squeezing and throwing out, by the time you are done, you have squeezed 6 episodes of work into one episode, so you no longer have stories for 5 episodes." Or an episode may end-up several minutes short. That's when the race begins to think of additional story lines and finish writing, whether it's at Loceff's Kingston home or the writing room, which is in the same building as CTU's studio in Chatsworth, California. Loceff says "a lot of paper-balls get tossed around. There's people doing spit-balls at each other."

But Loceff's got a writing system down pat with his cousin Joel Surnow, a co-creater of "24". Surnow sits at his computer and types while Loceff circles the room spewing out lines. Sometimes they use ideas they've saved. Loceff says "let's see uh, the President's wife is having an affair. Can we use that? Uh, no that didn't work. We pull out one after another ideas, things, that we want Jack to say or do. Jack in group therapy? Not yet."

Loceff tells us Season 7 will focus on smaller and more intense story lines. but the specifics are still a mystery, even for Loceff and the writers.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

X Factor First Live Show Result Leona Lewis Performs Kimberly Southwick Eliminated

Tensions are high as the familiar X Factor theme tune belts out. It's a tough time for our contestants, as we are all about to find out which of our twelve acts is about to leave the X Factor competition for good.

While the last desperate votes are called through, Leona Lewis, getting goosebumps being back on the X Factor stage after her win almost one year ago, lightens the mood. Her new single is going head to head with the Take That boys for the top spot next week. Can Leona's Bleeding Love do it? One things for sure, she was certainly popular in the hall - maybe that cheer said it all! (And Dermot was only joking about getting Simon to judge her - but he did)! "It was just incredible Leona, I'm very proud of you, that was just stunning".

And after the break it was onto the tough stuff! Dermot's made no secret that he doesn't favour this part of his role ( unlike Simon who says he loves being nasty!), and delivering bad news to one of this bunch will be the hardest thing he has to do as X Factor host. best get used to it Dermot - it won't get easier from here on in!

Leon, Alisha, Same Difference and Daniel were among the contestants who fell foul of the judges' comments, and they are feeling particularly shaky as the programme kicks off. But no-one is safe, and it not the judges'opinions, but the public vote, which counts for everything now.

And then the moment can be postponed no more. As Dermot gathers the contestants on stage, hands are clasped in hope and prayer. Of course, the moment is milked for full effect...

...just as we're doing here! Leon was saved, then Daniel... Emily... until In the end it fell to Kimberley and Alisha to fill the dreaded bottom two spots. Their mentor Sharon told Dermot, " I don't think I can be allowed to say what I think because I'd be banned from national television forever".
"I don't bave any advice for them cos what I've said so far has been no good. I think I'm going home now Dermot". And with a hug and a kiss, she left her two girls to sing for survival.

It looks like Kimberley won't be able to make it through her number as she falters on the first words, full of emotion. But thank God for this song - it'd make anyone happy, and soon Kimberley is giving the performance of her life! Would it be enough?

Meanwhile Alisha looked liked she already knew she was going home as walked onto the stage for the second time, but she too pulled a better-than-before performance out of the bag.

Finally it was time for the judges' verdicts... but there's something serious going on.

It looks like Sharon was not joking about walking out. Having left her seat and standing apart from the rest of the crew, Sharon looks ready to leave the studio. As Dermot explains to a confused auditence, "Sharon can't choose between her acts. The final vote will be between three judges, as Sharon has decided to leave the night"

"Leave the show!" shouts over Sharon. Is she for real?

With pressures of time to adhere to, a valiant Dermot tells Sharon, "we'll come back to that later. First I have to do the results..."

And asking the remaining three judges for their votes, he is told...
Simon - "Because it is a singing competition, I'm sending home Kimberley!"
Dannii - "Can I sit this one out too? I can't choose... I have to choose...Alisha"
And the casting vote fell to Louis - they are both terrific, fun girls. It's the fun factor versus the talent factor - the act I'm sending home tonight is... Kimberley.

As the shock kicks in, Kimberley stumbles through a few final questions, revealing her highlight
was "going to Sharon's house and meeting Ozzy - he really is mad".

It would be good if Sharon was there to hear her - but she's not. Mrs Osbourne has already left the building.

And 19-year-old Kimberley Southwick can do no more now. She's back to the X Factor house to pack her bags; for our favourite brummie barmaid, the X Factor journey ends here.

X Factor First Live Show Recap

The first X Factor Live Studio Show of the series was a bumper edition filled with tears, trauma, and of course, fabulous entertainment.

He’d been looking forward to bounding onto the big stage for ages, and once Dermot was out in the spotlight, he looked right at home. It was hard to tell who’d been more nervous beforehand – him or the acts. Well, Dermot’s OK… but what about our ten fearless performers…?

It’s never easy being the first act on stage but Kimberley made it look easy as reclined atop a grand piano resplendent in fancy scarlet frock and matching red talons! Taking a deep breath before belting out her track and boogieing good-style, it was a moment to savour – and a dream come true for the Tamworth lass.

And boy did Kimberly start the show with a bang! The pyrotechnics lit up the room and as she delivered a fabulously choreographed version of The Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men she had all of the audience – as well as her six hunky cowboy-clad dancers – transfixed!

While Louis Walsh said he “loved her” and Dannii Minogue said she’d “a fabulous voice”, Simon Cowell wasn’t quite so kind, however. “Shrieky karaoke on a big budget indeed!” The cheek! ”….And to think she was worried about falling of those high heels or being dropped by those handsome men!

More handsome still, of course, is Andy. Named by Dannii Minogue as “the best birthday present ever”, the second act on stage chose to slow things down completely with the Rod Stewart classic, I Don’t Want To Talk About It… but he certainly got the judges tongues wagging after he’d sung for their approval.

With Louis predicting Andy “would go a long way” and Sharon calling his performance “divine”, Simon likened him to “a singing puppy, loveable but a bit wet”. Dannii, meanwhile, promised more from her charge – “all this, and there’s so much more to come from you” – she promised.

The first of our bootcamp-made bands came next. Futureproof, our ladband, delivered the Robbie Williams ballad, She’s The One. With well-planned harmonies (not to mention futuristic silver-but-street clothes), their reception was top notch – but would the judges’ comments keep them smiling?

While Louis said there were "two or three really good voices within the band – you have potential", Sharon said they’d "already come far", and Simon mused that indeed they were “a really good group”. Meanwhile Dannii pointed out “a few tuning problems” – but we reckon she fancies Sean and she’s worried they may challenge for the top spot in the comp!

Well, if it’s big –indeed huge! - voices they’re after they should be certainly be knocked out by the amazingly glamorous Beverley – her high octane Gloria Gaynor classic I Will Survive brought disco back to town! As our Saturday night entertainment hit fever pitch, a cloud of silver glitter rained down on the stage – and the judges didn’t dampen the mood either!

Sharon said Bev’s performance was “fantastic – it looks like you’ve been performing your whole life!” while Dannii talked her up “amazing transformation” and played down a couple of “bum notes”. Simon tood his classic comment book out and pencilled in a newie – saying “it was very Stars In Their Eyes, but fun and popular. But what you can’t do week after week is sing Louis Walsh’s record collection!” But Louis stood by his diva, and told them, “it doesn’t matter, Beverley has The Voice”.

The last act of the first hour, all eyes were on the stage when 15 year old Emily started to sing the George Michael and Aretha Frankin hit I Knew You Were Waiting for Me. It didn’t matter that – as demonstrated by her funked-up school blazer she’s way too young to remember the original, because she made it entirely her own. The judges remain impressed by Emily’s talents, but views were mixed on her performance on the night

“I know you’ve got it but I don’t think the song really suited you”, explained Louis, while Dannii voiced a view held by all the judges; “the song is quite playful but I want to see you do a ballad”. Simon wasn’t going to keep his critique mild because of Emily’s age; “You’re fifteen years old. But I’ve going to say the vocals were not good enough. But Emily’s mentor Sharon rose to Em’s defence. “Believe me, we have all heard a lot worse tonight. You are typically a ballad singer and it’s hard for you to come on with the dancing. I think you did just fine”. So it wasn’t down to the singer at all.. but the choice of song…!

If you thought the judges were fierce during the first part of the competition read on to see how serious their comments got in the second half! Ouch! Why doncta just stab me with a knife??

Leon is certainly one of the most nervous contestants in the competition. And if Leon’s nerves were bothering him beforehand, he didn’t let it show. Maybe it was the four leggy dancers who diverted his attention – the Beatles certainly didn’t have that type of accompaniment when they sang Can’t Buy My Love – but then they didn’t deliver a jazz/swing mixed tempo version of it either!

The judges’ comments were not good, Louis started well; “When I first saw you at the auditions I thought you were great, and you have a good voice”, but it went downhill from there. “You lost all the melody, it was a dreadful arrangement…. but you were great”.

Sharon laid in too…“You do have a real real good voice a a likeable personality, but the song was all a bit frantic and it wasn’t good”. While Simon just let it all go!

I know everyone’s nervous, but that was a complete and utter nightmare The arrangement was terrible. I think you’ve taken the place of somebody else who should have been in the show, and Dannii you choice of song and arrangement was literally insane!”

Danni bristles, and explained the choice of song. “It’s music that you’re passionate about and that’s why we chose the song. And I know that everyone from home will get behind you and support you, and we’ll see you back here next week”!

Leon remained stoic. “I will try to take your comments on board”, he said.

Grinning from ear to ear as– as we’ve come to expect – they stepped on stage were Same Difference (despite Louis’ obvious frowns!). 50’s styled Sean and Sarah went for the Bee Gees-penned (but we’re guessing Steps-inspired) Tragedy. It was a proper dance-fest of cheesiness, and they were loved for it, earning a huge whoop of a cheer at the end. Now, who wouldn’t want to get up to dance along? Well….

Never has Louis Walsh looked quite so grumpy as he watched the duo. “Sean and Sarah, you are nice people and I know your family love you. But the song is called Tragedy and it should have been called Disaster” He goes in for the kill “You make the McDonald Brothers look like Lennon and McCartney” Ouch”!

Sharon tries to calm things down, telling the pair, ”It’s getting hot in here! You are cheesy. You are double cheeseburger and bacon. And I love cheese!” Dannii too is fairy impressed; “I think there is probably a huge market who would buy your albums there. There was a bit of screeching on the vocals – but I think that was from too much skipping!”

Sean and Sarah’s smileyness seems to be rubbing off on Simon! “I would like to be you two for an hour a day so I can be happy. The biggest music in the world is High School Musical and you appeal to the same audience” After bigging up the band, he turned on Louis, and an argument ensured. “Louis, There are young people who watch theis show and you came across as a miserable man and then they start to proper argue.

Changing the mood once more was Niki Evans. Making the most of her magnificent voice, the mum-of-two tackled the Sinead O’Connor arrangement of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U. Sinead, of course, is a hard act to follow, but as the auditorium grew silent the clearest of notes chimed through. Niki more than managed with a real storng emotion showing through. But would the judges be impressed? You bet!

Dannii said she loved the performance. Sharon told Niki she was “in a class of her own” pointing out that when Louis was given the Over 25’s category, Simon said there was a winner in it. “Niki, I think it might be you”.

Simon used the moment to snipe and Louis, after telling Niki her performance was
“more than good, it was fantastic. Now you have to believe you can win, you must want to win”.

To Louis he said, “The way you were unbelievably disrespectful to this category when you got it knowing there was someone like Niki in there was unbelievable”.

Louis wasn’t bothered, having made his peace with his stars, “that was the performance of the night, you made it your own.”

Waiting patiently in the wings was 23-year-old receptionist Alisha. In an incredibly apt song choice, she stood on the big stage and began to sing the Gabrielle hit Dreams, And Alisha gave an accomplished rendition in homage to the '90’s hit.

Louis kept things simple, I’m not sure about the song but I love you. Dannii suggested Alisha should try to connect with the camera more, and the rehearsal was better. Simon wasn’t sure “I think you may be vulnerable tonight, after that performance, because we don’t know enough about you.”

Sharon held her hands up to the criticism on the song choice. “I chose it, I made you sing it. Crap song, Get rid of me not her. Alisha’s voice is great.

If Alisha’s problem is that we don’t know enough about her, here’s a contestant who worries we think we know too much. While all of our singers may be household names soon, Rhydian was well on the way to fame – or infamy – before tonight’s show. Rhyd was anxious to let his rich – and very loud! - baritone voice to do the talking (in song, of course) and he certainly succeeded. With the mock opera Jim Steinman hit I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) The Rhydler raced from side to side, owning the whole stage. In doing so, he blew the cobwebs and the audience – away.

“That was by far the best performance we’ve had tonight” said Simon. “every good classical singer has to be pompous and confident and you’re the one person I’d look forward to seeing week on week it was absolutely outstanding”.

Louis told Rhyd, “You’re arrogant pompous ambition and you remind me of someone, I love the Billy Idol haircut and the mad eye” ( which was high praise… we think!), Sharon said he was a sweet boy, mad boy, strange boy – but mama doesn’t know what to make of you… can I see your chest? (speaking of Rhyd’s legendary Pecs).

Dannii was on her feet along with the rest of the audience and it was the tip of the iceberg. And before the comments were done, Simon chipped in concerning Rhydian’s bad press: “I’ve met you backstage and you are a very nice polite person”. The official website can second that! And when “pompous, arrogant” Rhydian had the chance to answer back – he used it to wish Dannii a happy birthday. Bless!

The penultimate act this evening was Daniel De Bourg. The London dance teacher toned things down but upped the ante with the chilled-out Bryan Adams hit Heaven ( the ballad version, of course! Would he be in Heaven by the end of the night? The judges thought so…

Sharon decided his performance was “a bit touchy feely but very nice”, while Dannii said his vocals had improved since rehearsals”.

Simon wasn’t so impressed. “I thought it was ok, but it was a bit boring really. I’m used to hearing the Bryan Adams version with a rock production. It was a bit like have water for dinner it - it doesn’t leave you anything.”.

Louis half-agreed. It wasn’t the best performance of the night but I know you can do better… I think he’s good, but I want him to be great”

If Kimberly was happy to open the show while it was ...Raining Men, the girl group Hope were making best use of Rhianna’s Umbrella (ella-ella-eh-eh). The outfits! The singing! The sexiness! There’s nothing to say but “Wow!”

All of the judges were very impressed. Louis went first, saying “You look like you’ve been doing this for years and years and you put a lot of estab lished girl groups to shame.”

Sharon did her famous bluff: “I have a problem. You’re good looking, sexy, you can sing… I hate you! And Dannii thanked Louis for the idea of putting the two bootcamp bands, Futureproof and hope, together. Simon, mentoring the groups, was happy with his lot. “Your performance was as good as anyone in the charts today and especially I’d like you to say thank you to Phoebe for the great vocal.”

And so the first all-live show of season is over, and battle lines are drawn between the best of friends who all hope to eventually walk away with pop’s shiniest crown. By now, you may know your favourite. But by the time the results show airs, we will know which of the ten hopeful acts has got the thumbs down. Whose X Factor journey ends here? We’ll find out later tonight….

Monday, October 08, 2007

The X Factor 2007 Top 12 Revealed

The final three boys revealed!
Watch the video below as finalists receive the good news.
The final three boys have been revealed! Let's learn a little more about the lads...

Andy Williams
Age: 22
From: Newport, South Wales
Job: Runs an asbestos removal company with his brother
Andy's story...
Andy lives at home with his Mum and Dad and elder brother, Lee, 25. For the last four years Andy and his brother have been running their own asbestos removal company.
Andy actually auditioned for X Factor when he was 19 but got turned down. So he spent three years training every night and has been going out clubbing regularly to practise his dance moves, and he’s hoping to impress Brian Friedman!
After getting through the first round audition Andy got a “music” tattoo on his bum, the same as his Dad and Brother!

Leon Jackson
Age: 18
From: West Lothian, Scotland
Job: Sales Assistant in Gap
Leon's story...
Leon is an only child and has been bought up by his Mum in West Lothian. His Mum has struggled financially to bring him up and Leon is desperate to win to give them both a better life. Leon only started singing properly in January after his mum bought him an ipod and he started recording his voice. His friends were so impressed with his voice that they dragged him down to karaoke every week and he’s not looked back! Leon loves contemporary jazz and his influences are Michael Buble and Jamie Callum. Apart from his keen hobby of karate (black belt), Leon says that singing is the only thing that makes him happy. If he hadn’t got through to the finals Leon would be starting University to do an Architectural Technology course.

Rhydian Roberts
Age: 24
From: Powys, Wales
Job: Student on Vocal Studies and a Personal Trainer
Rhydian's story...
Rhydian currently lives in Birmingham where he attends university, but was bought up in Powys, Wales where his family still live. Rhydian is a classical baritone singer and has had vocal training for the past seven years. He sings popular opera similar to Russell Watson and Il Divo, if he released an album he’s convinced the “whole of Wales would buy it”. In his youth Rhydian was the strongest bench presser in Wales, but gave up weight lifting in his early teens to follow his passion for music. Rhydian sees taking part in the show as an opportunity to bring his style of music to the masses.

The final three girls revealed!

Three girls have succeeded in making the X Factor 2007 live shows. The are...

Alisha Bennett
Age: 23
From: Wembley, London
Job: Receptionist at Virgin Active Gym
Alisha's story...
Alisha was inspired to audition for The X Factor after watching Leona Lewis win the show last year, Alisha lives just down the road from The X Factor studios so saw the crowds of fans queuing every week and thought “I want some of that!” Alisha’s musical background has been based mostly around her church gospel choir and she has been having singing lessons for the last year. Alisha is really close to her Mum, Sharon, who is her harshest critic and she describes them as an “Ab Fab” pair as they are both equally loud and flamboyant. Alisha is passionate about fashion and shopping and loves reading all the glossy magazines to get style tips and she has worked as a style advisor in Top Shop.

Kimberley Southwick
Age: 19
From: Tamworth, West Midlands
Job: Working in Mum and Dad’s pub
Kimberley's story...
Kimberley lives in her parents’ pub, “The Fox” in Tamworth with her brother. Kimberley loves country music and performs in her pub karaoke regularly. She did attend Italia Conti for one year but left because she “didn’t enjoy it”, and has previously performed on Michael Barrymore’s My Kind of People. Kimberley has recently quit a job at a call centre because she found it so boring, but her worst job was dressing up as a Santa’s elf in a Christmas grotto.

Emily Nakanda
Age: 15
From: North London
Job: Student
Emily's story...
Emily was the first ever 14 year old to audition in front of the Judges singing “Almaz” by Randy Crawford. The Judges were bowled over by Emily with Simon saying that she is the reason why the “age range was lowered”. Emily lives in North London with her Mum, Step Dad and older brother Terry. Last year Emily was seriously ill with peritonitis so her family feels “very blessed to have her with us”. Emily has sung in school and church choirs and loves all musical genres.

The final three Over 25's revealed!

Competition in the Over 25's category has been fierce but Louis has chosen the three contestants who have the best chance of winning the grand prize.

Standing in the spotlight during the live shows will be...

Beverley Trotman
Age: 37
From: Luton, Beds
Job: Primary School Teacher
Beverley's story...
Beverley is a primary school teacher, a job she adores and in her spare time she has been singing in choirs since the age of four and is a member of the award winning Kingdom Choir, who have performed as backing vocalists in the past on both The X Factor and Grease Is The Word. Beverley lives in Luton with husband Jonathan and their two children Tianna, 12 and Luke 10. Beverley is from a large family and one of her nephews, Leon Barnett plays for West Brom.

Niki Evans
Age: 34
From: Tamworth Birmingham
Job: Catering Manager at a school
Niki's story...
Niki applied for The X Factor after finding an application form for her in her recently deceased dad’s belongings. Niki’s dad went to every gig with her and had been her driving force so she is taking part in honour of his memory. Niki has been in bands since the age of 12 and at 16 was signed to PWL but never experienced any chart success. Having so many knocks early on in her life dented Niki’s confidence in her singing ability but she is hoping this experience will bring back some self belief in herself. Niki lives in Tamworth with husband Darren and they have two boys, Morgan 12 and Jonah 10.

Daniel De Bourg
Age: 31
From: London
Job: Dance Teacher
Daniel's story...
Daniel originally trained as a dancer at The Royal Ballet from the age of 11 and at 17 he worked as a professional dancer with the Rambert Dance Company for four years but had to give it up because of a serious knee injury. In 2001 Daniel was signed to Dreamworks and worked with R Kelly, but after the company was bought out, Daniel’s single was shelved and he never got to release any of the material. After his failed stint in the States, Daniel moved back to London and took up teaching dance and ballet as well as doing a bit of modelling. Daniel lives with friends in London and has a three year old son Theron who he sees every week.

The final three groups revealed!

One boy band, one girl band and one duo represent Simon Cowell's groups in The X Factor's Live stages. They are....

Same Difference

Name: Sean Smith
Age: 21
From: Portsmouth
Job: Entertainer

Name: Sarah Smith
Age: 18
From: Portsmouth
Job: Student
The Same Difference story so far...
Sean and Sarah are brother and sister from Portsmouth who live with their Mum, Dad and Gran. At their first audition Simon described them as “the most annoying pair of people he’d met” because they were so smiley and happy, and Simon advised them to go and watch lots of “depressing documentaries”!
Sean left home at the age of 17 to perform on cruise ships and has performed in a number of pantomimes.
Sarah left home at 16 to attend the Italia Conti school and has just finished her diploma. She’s also done some modelling work in her time but singing has always been her big passion. Together Sarah and Sean perform at their local old peoples home and their dream is to win The X Factor so they can entertain the world.

Name: Aaron Delahunty
Age: 19
From: London
Job: Admin assistant for a market research company

Name: Adam Chandler
Age: 21
From: Maidstone
Job: Singer

Name: Matthew Protheroe
Age: 17
From: London
Job: Student and sales assistant in All Saints

Name: Richard Wilkinson
Age: 23
From: Leeds
Job: Unemployed

Name: Sean Rumsey
Age: 20
From: Warwickshire
Job: Student and works part time in a service station

The boys were originally given a no from the Judges as solo performers at Bootcamp but were given the opportunity to work together to form a boyband, along with a number of other solo performers.

The Futureproof story so far...
Adam was born and raised in Kent and lives at home with his Mum and sister. He attended The Brit School and is now a full time singer and promotions guy. He has been singing for eleven years and considers himself very lucky to earn a living from something he loves. At the age of 18 he owned his own entertainments company. Adam’s musical influences include Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra.

Aaron was born and bred in London and has been busking around Covent Garden since the age of 10. He has been in a variety of bands and can rap, dance, song write, sing and produce. Aaron is passionate about music and it’s been the one constant aspect in his life and insists he will make it one day.

Sean is passionate about music and has been singing for eight years. In 2003 Sean got through to the finals of Teen Idol and in 2006 he got through to the Bootcamp stage of X Factor in a duo called “Ste and Sean”. Sean was bought up in a small town in Warwickshire with his two brothers and three sisters.

Richard was born and raised in Leeds and lives with his Mum Dad and older brother. Richard has spent nights lying awake dreaming of being on stage so being through to the finals is like a dream come true for him. He has always loved singing but started taking it seriously from the age of 14.

Matthew has always dreamed of performing in front of thousands and attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School. Having performed backing vocals for Westlife and appearing on the West End in Ragtime the Musical, Matthew has already had a small taste of life on the stage and wants more. Matthew lives in London with his Mum, Dad and brother who all back him 100%.


Name: Charlie Mole
Age: 23
From: Sunderland
Job: Beauty Therapist

Name: Emily Biggs
Age: 17
From: Torquay
Job: Student

Name: Raquelle Gracie
Age: 20
From: London
Job: Singer/Actress

Name: Leah Lauder
Age: 20
From: London
Job: Student

Name: Phoebe Brown
Age: 16
From: Adelstone, Woking
Job: Student

The girls were put together at Bootcamp after they each received a no from the Judges when they auditioned as soloists. Mentor Simon likes the girl’s feistiness but wants them to lose their “attitude”.

The Hope story so far...
Leah lives in London with friends and is heavily into her spirituality. A keen singer all her life she’s always looked for inspiring females in the media for people like herself and sister to look up too, but never found any, so she’s hoping that through X Factor she can fill that gap.

Charlie lives in Sunderland with her partner Lee and five year old son Jack. Having just finished her beauty therapist course Charlie was all getting geared up for starting her new career before getting through to the finals of the X Factor, now she is hoping she can make her young son proud of her.

Emily is from Torquay where she lives with her Mum, Dad and older brother Andrew. Emily decided to audition for the show after singing in the audience of The Sharon Osbourne Show during an ad break. Both Louis and Sharon applauded, so she thought she might as well have a go at auditioning.

Raquelle was born and raised in Manchester but now lives in London. A budding singer/actress Raquelle studied at Italia Conti for three years and has appeared in a couple of plays. Raquelle impressed Simon Cowell at Bootcamp because of her “ruthless” nature, and her ability to do the splits!

Phoebe, the youngest member of the group has just finished her GCSE’s and lives with her Mum and younger brother in Surrey. At the weekend’s Phoebe has been attending the Guildford School of Acting and has singing lessons twice a week.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hung Huyn crowned the winner of Bravo's 'Top Chef 3 Miami'

Hung Huyn, a sous chef originally from Pittsfield, MA, was revealed to be the winner of Top Chef 3 Miami during the live conclusion of last night's Bravo broadcast of the reality competition's finale.

"I'm so excited!" said Hung once it was revealed he was the culinary king of Top Chef 3 Miami. "I worked so hard to get here, and to prove myself and have so much support from America... I'm speechless. I'm speechless. But I'm sure you'll hear more from me later."

The 29-year-old Las Vegas, NV-resident defeated Casey Thompson, a 29-year-old executive chef from Dallas, TX, as well as Dale Levitski, a 34-year-old chef and culinary consultant from Chicago, IL, to claim Top Chef 3 Miami's grand prize of $100,000 in seed money to help open a restaurant, a "dream" vacation, and a feature in Food & Wine magazine.

Top Chef 3 Miami's finale broadcast began with the Top 3 finalists preparing for their final challenge in their Aspen, CO hotel suite. They then got on a chairlift and were taken to the Aspen Mountain Club, an exclusive mountain-top club that served as the site of Top Chef 3 Miami's final cooking challenge. Once at the club, they met host Padma Lakshmi and judge Tom Colicchio and Tom explained each of the three would cook "the best meal they ever cooked in their life" in a three-way head-to-head battle that would require them to cook in the same kitchen and serve three courses against one another.

After choosing ingredients from a large table spread and complimenting their choices with whatever additional "special ingredients" they had brought from home, the Top 3 each had 35 minutes to plan their menus.

Hung's decided his first course would consist of hamachi; his second course would be a modern Vietnamese fusion dish; and his third course would be duck.

"I'm thinking what's more Asian than duck!" said Hung.

Casey was concerned the mountain's high altitude would impact her souffle, so she went with foie gras for her first course; giant prawns for her second course; and pork belly for her third dish. Since both Casey and Hung used prawns in their second course, Dale instead decided on French-style gnocchi with lobster. However he still went with foie gras -- the same as Casey -- for his first course and chose Colorado lamb for his final course, which he described as "sensible" for the environment.

The Top 3 finalists then drew knives to determine their sous chefs for the challenge, expecting it to be former Top Chef 3 Miami contestants. But -- surprise, surprise -- it was actually better than they imagined. Hung got former The Restaurant star, chef and author Rocco DiSpirito; Casey ended up with chef and restaurateur Michelle Bernstein; while Dale got chef an restaurateur Todd English.

The finalists' three-hour preparation time then began, with the pairs busily at work in the same kitchen. Hung was glad Rocco "understood" his flavors; Dale was "very nervous" around Todd but eventually came to see him as his "prep bitch;" while Michelle "personally wouldn't have chosen" Casey's pork belly and hoped there was time to cook it.

All the finalists found burners and boiling points were impacted by the high altitude they were cooking at, cutting into their prep time and causing them to adapt. Once the three hours of prep time was over, the three sous chefs departed.

"The food that I'm known for is strong Asian flavors and techniques," explained Hung as he cooked his dishes for the final challenge. "The judges tell me that the food lacks soul. This is like being run over by a truck! I have so much love in my cooking, so it's like a second chance to prove myself for real."

Tom then pulled the finalists out of the kitchen in the middle of cooking and informed them that although they'd only been expecting to serve three courses, they would also have to peparer an adidtional fourth course that could be served at anytime in the meal.

"I wanted to punch him in the face," said Dale.

Tom then revealed additional help was available in the form of previously eliminated third-season contestants Howie, a 31-year-old executive chef from Miami, FL; Sara, a 34-year-old cheese maker from Kingston, Jamaica who currently resides in Miami, FL; and Chris, a 31-year-old personal chef from El Toro, CA who currently resides in Venice, CA. The Top 3 drew knives again, and Hung got Sara, Casey picked Howie and Dale got Chris.

Casey decided to prepare seared sirloin with potatoes and mushrooms as her extra course. Dale decided to serve seared scallops and Hung chose chocolate cake for dessert.

After finishing preparing their food, the finalists then began to serve their courses to the Top Chef 3 Miami judges.

"It was an honor to cook for you guys," said Hung to the judges once all the courses were served.

Top Chef 3 Miami's final judging table then commenced, with Tom; Padma; Food & Wine magazine editor Gail Simmons; and now former Queer Eye food and wine expert Ted Allen judging the Top 3 on the final challenge.

Casey said her menu "rattled her," and it was evident in the judges' comments, as flavors in her first course clashed; she lost plating control on her second dish; and her third dish, the pork, was actually overcooked.

The judges then deliberated. Gail thought Hung's hamachi was the best first course, and Tom agreed. She thought Casey's prawn dish was the "least approachable," something that surprised her. Dale's scallop dish won Gail over, as she commented it was a "step above."

With Dale and Hung tied at a dish apiece, Tom said he was a big fan of Hung's duck course. He added Dale's lobster course was his least favorite dish of the night, however Dale received rave reviews for his "bold" lamb.

Top Chef 3 Miami's live portion of its finale broadcast then commenced -- and after watching the series unfold on television -- Casey, who had emerged as a strong contender in the challenges leading up to the finale, seemed to understand she was no longer in the running.

"I guess what makes a Top Chef is that they can cook every meal precisely and beautifully, and this just wasn't my challenge," she told the judges before the winner was revealed. "I accept that. I did remind [Hung and Dale] over the break that I was kicking their ass there for a while."

Tom then gave credence to Casey's comments, telling her the final menu she prepared "never came together." He added the judges were glad Dale found his "inner chef," and also described Hung as a "great technician" who "married it with passion" in the final challenge. Padma then revealed Hung was the winner.

Bravo has already ordered a fourth season of Top Chef, which will be filmed in Chicago. A Top Chef 3 Miami reunion show will also air next week.