Paula’s ‘Smart, Strong, Aware’ Says ‘Live to Dance’s’ Travis Payne

Kimberly Wyatt, Paula Abdul, Travis Payne CBS photo

Paula Abdul’s new CBS “Live to Dance” competition show took a ratings tumble when it ran up against her old show, “American Idol,” in head-to-head competition last week (26.2 million viewers compared to 5.3 million) — but “Live to Dance” judge and Paula pal Travis Payne refuses to go negative about that.

“The only way to look at it is that both shows are perpetuating the arts.  Both are so specific.  There’s room for both,” insists the renowned choreographer and dancer, known for his work with Michael Jackson as well as dozens of other top names including Beyonce, Shakira, Usher, Lady Gaga, Madonna and (small world!) Jennifer Lopez.  As far as all the talk about competition between Abdul’s former and current shows?  “Great!” he declares.  “It gets people to be interested.  As long as it’s not mean-spirited, wonderful.”

But people do get mean-spirited — very — when it comes to Abdul.

Payne, who had his first professional audition with none other than Paula years ago, admits he feels protective.  “Absolutely!  But I know she’s strong and she’s smart.  She’s very aware — very aware — of all that goes on and she’s an excellent sort of mentor and a wonderful businesswoman.  And she’s thrilled to be executive producing this show, and getting to use all her talents.  You know, we spend a lot of our time lending our names and talents to someone else’s vision.   Now, for her, this is her vision.  That’s a major accomplishment.”

The fast-paced seven-week “Live to Dance” competition is in semi-finals, with its winner of  $500,000 to be determined on the Feb. 9 finale.  “We are in just a sort of constant state of excitement,” says Payne, who adds that despite being aware of “American Idol,” he’s “only had time to focus on ‘Live to Dance.'”

He feels that, among other things, the show offers “a nice alternative” to shows that trade on devastating critiques.  I think about how my parents were with me, and how instructors were with me, and I was always way better when I was in a positive, nurturing place.  That’s how Michael Jackson was — everybody must be happy, everybody must be heard.  We give it to the contestants straight, but we also say how to improve, and how to meet a different level of challenges — rather than, ‘Oh my God, that’s the worst thing I’ve seen.'”

MEANWHILE:  Payne, who “just celebrated the release of ‘This is It’ in Japan” is also “gearing up for the Michael Jackson, Immortal tour, presented by Cirque du Soliel.  We’ve just completed the casting process and are now figuring out scheduling” for the show.  He reports it will be heading out on the road this spring, and will consist of “all his music and all-new imagery, new interpretations of his famous work.  I’m pleased to be able to be part of it.”

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This entry was posted in The Hollywood Exclusive by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and tagged , , , on by .

About Stacy Jenel Smith

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley when it was a kids' Shangri La in the 60s and we had Fabulous Eddie's miniature golf and trampolines on Ventura Boulevard. My big brother frequented The Third Eye psychedelic shop back in the day, but he wound up turning out anyway. Dad was an NBC video man who worked on "Laugh-In," Dean Martin's show, and specials by everyone from Sinatra to Fred Astaire. Mom was a first class home maker and PTA and GCA volunteer. They're still doing great. Anxious to get going in life, I quit college and jumped into journalism when I was still a teenager, and was writing for the New York Times syndicate and People magazine before turning 20. But that was a long time, many adventures, lots of traveling around the world and thousands of interviews ago. I go back to the very last days of hot type and getting to talk to Henry Fonda and Bette Davis, and Sammy Davis at the old Brown Derby...What a ride. That's in no small part thanks to my amazing writing partner, Marilyn Beck, one of the grand old-school Hollywood columnist stars -- a true star -- who knows how to do it right. I'm lucky, for sure. Now is fun, too. I love going out to events with my 17-year-old daughter (Jonas Brothers!). Seeing everything fresh through her eyes renews my excitement about the game. In-between I went back and finished school -- University of Redlands -- married, divorced, and at long last found my true love. My favorite things outside of the show business realm are being with my family, my faith and spiritual growth, learning new things (from doing Qigong to uploading stuff on Facebook), and running. See you on the trail.

2 thoughts on “Paula’s ‘Smart, Strong, Aware’ Says ‘Live to Dance’s’ Travis Payne

  1. Pingback: Canvas News Updates - Paula Abdul’s co-judge thinks she’s totally aware

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