Tag Archives: American Idol

Ask Stacy for May 9

DEAR STACY:  Whatever happened to the plans for Janet Jackson to do a movie playing Lena Horne? – Terry B., Cedar Rapids, IA

DEAR TERRY:  Apparently you missed the stormy weather when Horne, now 92, made it clear she wanted no part of Jackson’s portrayal after Janet’s breast-baring Super Bowl moment back in 2004.  She and her daughter asked ABC not to allow Janet to portray her, and even though the network resisted, Janet willingly backed out.  Then producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan left the project in solidarity with Janet.  It’s too bad.  With a dramatic life story that spans the heyday of Harlem’s Cotton Club, Golden Era Hollywood, blacklisting, the Civil Rights Movement and on, the sensual singer-actress certainly warrants a bio-pic.  A stage musical about her, “Stormy Weather,” was mounted at the Pasadena Playhouse last year.   (The brilliant, iconic performer passed away the day of this posting, leaving an amazing legacy.)

DEAR STACY:  You see Ryan Seacrest everywhere, but I haven’t seen much about him personally.  I’m curious.  What is his background? – John M., Chattanooga, TN

DEAR JOHN:   The ubiquitous “American Idol” emcee/radio host/budding TV mogul (“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” etc.), was born the day before Christmas in 1974.  He hails from Atlanta, GA, son of an attorney and a full-time mom.  There, he landed a job at radio station WSTR while still in high school – and continued with his on-air gig while attending the University of Georgia.  He landed his first TV show hosting job – ESPN’s “Radical Outdoor Challenge” – while still in college.  Aspiring toward a Merv Griffin-like career of hosting and producing television shows, Seacrest moved to L.A. in 1995.  He was hosting NBC’s “Saturday Night at the Movies” by 2000.  “American Idol” came along in ’02, and, of course, last year he signed a renewal on his “AI” deal for $45 million.  While there’s been much speculation about his romantic life and sexual orientation, Seacrest has said he simply doesn’t have time for relationships, and that when a past girlfriend and he split up after three and a half years, he just worked harder.

DEAR STACY:  How old is Mary Hart?  Have enjoyed watching her all these years.  Does she have any plans to retire? —  Angie S., Canton, OH

DEAR ANGIE:   The “Entertainment Tonight” anchor, 59, says she’s entertained the idea of stepping away from the microphone, but has realized over the last couple of years, “I’m not ready to call it quits.  I’m still having so much fun.  I love running into Leonardo Di Caprio, George Clooney, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  When you know people through the years, there’s a comfort level in your interactions and that’s fun.  In a sense, we’ve matured together.  And I enjoy the working with the people I see on a daily basis.”

DEAR STACY:  Can you tell me if and when “Burn Notice” is coming back? – Pat K., Woodland Hills, CA

DEAR PAT:  The popular Jeffrey Donovan-Gabrielle Anwar series returns June 3 on USA.

DEAR STACY:  What did they finally determine was the cause of Brittany Murphy’s death?  A friend of mine said it was a drug overdose. – M.L., Spokane, WA

DEAR M.L.:  The L.A. county coroner’s office found that the 32-year-old actress died last December primarily of pneumonia.  However, she was also found to have been suffering anemia and multiple drug intoxication from an assortment of over-the-counter and prescription medications used to treat colds and respiratory infections.  All the medications were legal.  Noted the coroner’s report, “The possible adverse physiological effects of elevated levels of these medications cannot be discounted, especially in her weakened state.”

Kris Adapts to Fame, Won’t Be Pressured on Adam Friendship

Kris Allen performs on American Idol

Kris Allen performs on American Idol

The “American Idol” summer tour hits Little Rock Saturday (7/25) – which means a homecoming for Kris Allen, the Conway, Ark.-born winner of Season 8.  He tells us he’s really looking forward to the concert where friends and family are bound to turn out.

Allen says he talks every day to his wife of 10 months, Katy, who’s stayed home “working and doing her thing” while he’s out dealing with the rigors and rewards of the immensely popular 50-city concert trek.   “She actually came out for a couple of shows,” he says.  “I mean, of course you’re going to miss the person you’re with.  It’s tough, but it’s also – I’m having a great time out here.”

Having endured sleepless nights, especially when the tour was just starting, he’s glad to be getting into a rhythm that allows him to get some rest.  He’s getting used to the tidal wave of fan attention, he says.  And the media.

You may recall the competition between Allen and first runner up Adam Lambert was described by the New York Times in Pat Boone vs. Elvis terms.  Kris continues to be viewed as the boy next door singer-songwriter who’s traipsed around the world doing missionary work, while Adam’s the guyliner and leather-sporting rocker who came out as gay in Rolling Stone.  Earlier this month, a small, fundamentalist church-affiliated group did an anti-gay demonstration outside one of the “A.I.” concerts.  The idols – all 10 finalists of the past season are on the tour – said later they weren’t going to let it bother them.  Does Kris feel any pressure to be a role model of one sort or another, as the Christian guy who’s pals with the gay guy?

“No,” he answers flatly.  “What would I have to be pressured about?
I’m just trying to be me.  If people don’t want me to be friends with
Adam, that’s their problem, not mine.  Adam’s an amazing person and I’m
so happy to call him one of my really good friends.”

Meanwhile, Kris is squeezing in time to write songs for his major label
debut
album, which is slated for a Fall release by Jive Records.  “I
haven’t done so much co-writing in my life.  That’s a little bit
different for me.  It’s going real well,” he says.  “The multitalented
musician adds, “It will have a sound that will be a surprise to people,
but I think a really good surprise.”

ALSO:  As far as whether the contractless Paula Abdul will or won’t
return to the show, Kris says, “I don’t know too much about that.20  I
know some of the other idols know a little bit more than I do, talking
to her, but I …I’m trying to …I’m just glad it’s not anything bad about
me,” he admits.  He laughs.  “That’s always a plus.”

THE VIDEOLAND TWO:  VH1’s dynamic brother duo Real and Chance, who have a rap group called the Stallionaires, soared to a new level of fame
when competing on the dating show “I Love New York.”  Chance made it
all the way to end before getting the boot, but he tells this column
he’s glad it happened.  Otherwise he and his brother wouldn’t be in the
thick of their own dating show, “Real Chance of Love 2: Back in the
Saddle
,”
which is currently in its second season.

Referring to reality star Tiffany Pollard by her better-known moniker,
he says, “The best thing New York could have did was get rid of a
brother like me.  As you see, she’s not about nothing.  I don’t know if
she’s a guy or a woman anyway,” Chance says with a jab.  “She’s said a
lot of negative things about me and my brothers and that hurts our
feelings because we thought she was a real friend of ours.  We became
great friends and I don’t know what went wrong after the show.  She did
ask me to do something where I don’t think I showed up so it was pretty
crazy from there on out,” he recalls. “But love goes out to her whole
family.”

Real says things have worked out the way they’re supposed to and
they’re just enjoying what’s come their way.  “Our life is so beautiful
right now.  The only thing is we don’t really have as much privacy.  We
can’t go as many places without getting bum rushed, but we’re doing
good.  Television has given us a lot of opportunities and this is just
our beginning stage.”

THINGS ARE ROUGH ALL OVER:  Think Hollywood’s famous folk have been spared the awfulness of the economic downturn?  Well, there might be
some celebrity  shadenfreude ahead.  Casting is going on for a new
reality show
that will feature – ready? – well-known actors and
musicians with financial problems.  Subjects, who must be willing to
tell it all, will work with a top financial expert to find the root of
their problems and get back on track, for a tidy sum of $25,000.

With reports by Emily/Fortune  Feimster

Expect gloves-off treatment of Sinatra in Scorsese pic

Frank Sinatra and daughter Nancy.

Frank Sinatra and daughter Nancy.

Just because Nancy Sinatra is producing Martin Scorsese‘s planned movie biography of her father, Frank, don’t expect the picture to shy away from the controversial, less flattering aspects of the show business legend’s life.

At least, it won’t if the film — for which Leonardo DiCaprio is already being mentioned — follows the tell-all pattern set out by Nancy’s sister, Tina Sinatra, back in 2000. Tina’s “My Father’s Daughter” disclosures about her dad getting the Mafia to help deliver the union vote to elect John F. Kennedy as president and his doing secret work for the CIA got her play on “60 Minutes.” Her exposure of family strife and discord — in particular with Sinatra’s fourth wife, Barbara Marx — got her in hot water with some Sinatra friends who felt those stories should never have been made public. Though the tome clearly showed how much Tina adored her father, she did, as she put it, “cover the good and the bad.”

Which is, of course, by far more interesting than a mere love letter about the entertainment great’s vocal prowess, enormous charm, loyalty and generosity to friends and charities. The dichotomy between the Sinatra loved by pals and fans and the Sinatra loathed by his many enemies were both real. His infidelities, grudges, temper and other negative behavior was depicted in CBS’ five-hour miniseries of the ’90s — which was produced by the family as well.

With more than 10 years having passed since his death and all the perspective that time brings, and with the talent of Martin Scorsese going into it, the Sinatra big-screen biopic just might capture lightning in a bottle.

STEP BY STEP: “Psych” star Dule Hill, who is a longtime tap dancer, tells us he’s trying to find a way to bring the dance back to the forefront. “I would love for the opportunity to bring dance to television in terms of dramatic scripted television. I’d also love to do tap on film and tap back on stage,” says Hill, whom many know from his days on “The West Wing.”

Gregory Hines was the one carrying that banner, so with his passing you lose some of that. Hopefully we can get back to it,” adds Hill. “We’ll see what comes next after ‘Psych,’ but first I’d like to do an episode on the show where we can do some tapping.” The cast and the crew of the USA network series certainly get to see Hill in action in between takes. “I do it on the set all the time. I have a piece of wood that I’m always dancing on in my trailer. I dance in my garage back home. I dance with friends and young students. I love tap dancing. I’m a tap dancer at heart.”

BY ANY OTHER NAME: Nine-year-old cutie Jadagrace Berry of “Terminator Salvation” tells us she loved doing scenes with Christian Bale in the flick, opening tomorrow (5/21). “He was so nice. He was always helping me, but he’d only answer to John,” she notes, referring to Bale’s character, savior of humanity John Connor. So did John — er, Christian — have any words of wisdom for this young co-star? “He told me to just stay in the moment and try to react,” she says. The pint-sized actress was among the young-uns at the premiere of Disney-Pixar’s “Up,” where she told us her burning desire for her next job: “I really want to be on the Disney Channel.”

AND: The audience was charmed by “Up,” another gem of a film from Pixar, a fanciful adventure about an old guy (Ed Asner) who travels to South America via a multitude of balloons from which his house hangs suspended. The poignant and funny modern fable is due on screens May 29. Producer Jonas Rivera told us, “For this one, we went back a little bit; we wanted to make an old-fashioned Disney movie. Computer animation tends to make things look very photo real, like in ‘Wall-E.’ For this, we went back and looked at ‘Peter Pan, “Sleeping Beauty,” ‘Snow White’ — we wanted it to have a little bit more of a painterly feel. That’s harder, technically,” he says. “A character drawing is a distillation. How does a Hirschfeld drawing of Lucille Ball look more like her than a photograph? There’s no computer that does that. This was a case of computer science and art colliding.”

JUDGING THE JUDGES: Season 8 of “American Idol” goes down as The Season of Judges’ Conflicts — in the view of “Access Hollywood’s” self-described “reality chick,” Laura Saltman, and who wouldn’t agree? Saltman spends January-to-May giving “Idol” her full attention, chatting with contestants, hanging out on set, etc. She points out, “Paula (Abdul) and Simon (Cowell) have grown closer this season because of their mutual feelings about Kara (DioGuardi). They mimic her … ” she notes. “They, of course, downplayed it, but things were pretty tense at first. It’s gotten better. They’ve kind of found a groove,” she says.

“I like Kara,” she adds. “I really do. She really says something, where Randy (Jackson) is just pretty much saying, ‘Dog. Dog, you’re great, Dog.’ And Paula you can’t always understand.” Still, “I don’t think the four-judge format works because it takes too long to get through the comments. I think they should go back to three.” So, who would she vote off? “Kara. You know, it’s a last one in, first one out kind of a thing.”

Laura says she’s not losing any enthusiasm for her “Idol” gig, though she’s covered all eight seasons. She’ll not only be at tonight’s (5/20) finale for the naming of either Adam Lambert or Kris Allen as the new American Idol, she’ll be up at 3 a.m. to be back on the job at 4 a.m., “spending the day with the winner and showing what he does. Who wouldn’t want to do that?” she asks.

With reports by Emily Feimster.

George Lopez celebrates four years of health by giving back

Ann and George Lopez

Ann and George Lopez

BY MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH

George Lopez reports that next month will mark the fourth anniversary of his kidney transplant, and “You know what? I feel fantastic. I’ve been healthy four of my 47 years, and it’s great. I sleep great. And it doesn’t pass me by a single day that there are people out there who are sick like I was and don’t even know it.”

Lopez and wife Ann — who donated one of her kidneys to George in an amazing medical match — have been deeply involved in trying to spread the word about kidney health and transplantation since he got well. Thursday (3/12), they will be hosting their annual “Keep It Hollywood” event to raise awareness for World Kidney Day at Guy’s North in Studio City, Calif.

The fact that Lopez managed to keep up with the demands of his career through the grinding exhaustion of his deteriorating health, pre-transplant, is a testimony to his force of will. Looking back, he says, “You know, the odds are against anyone succeeding in this business, and I worked a long time for it — and you know when you have something on the hook, you don’t give it up, no matter what. Also, I grew up in a family where you went to work when you were sick.

“On the other hand, with my family, sometimes if you were well, and it happened to be a really nice day, you wouldn’t go in,” he deadpans.

George has had countless letters from and encounters with people who’ve been touched by his story. “The greatest thing is when you see somebody who’s been helped,” he says. One example would be a woman in her 50’s who George met after one of his comedy concerts. She needed a kidney transplant, her daughter was a match and willing to donate to her. However, the daughter told George, ” ‘My mother thinks it’s going to destroy my life if I give her a kidney.’ I said, ‘Don’t you want to be around for your grandkids? You can live with one, resume your lives and be a healthy family.’ She had it done, in Phoenix, and things have gone good for them. They send me updates all the time.”

‘Idol’ 13 Reveal Plans, Makeovers, Hopes

We caught up with “American Idol’s” top 13 contestants as they celebrated in style at the swanky Los Angeles nightclub Area after last week’s taping. While being on the show is still sinking in for some, others are already planning their next big move on stage. “Hopefully I can get back on my piano so I can show them that I can arrange music,” said soul singer Matt Giraud. “You know how David Cook did. He just changed up everything. If I can show them that I can do that, too, and pull it off, then it’s a good thing. We’ll see what happens.”

Adam Lambert admitted that talk of the “American Idol” makeover has been discussed, but he doesn’t plan on changing much. “They can make suggestions, and I’m open to that. I like collaborations, but I don’t really want to change how I represent myself visually. It’s part of the artistic expression,” he noted while cloaked in lots of makeup, black hair with blue highlights and a black suit with black sequins. Artistic expression indeed! However, other things will be changing soon for the singer. Gone are the days of anonymity! “People screaming my name at the mall was kind of an unexpected thing,” he added. “I hope to maintain a private life. It is what it is, though. It comes with the territory. I’m comfortable with who I am, so hopefully everyone else will be, too.”

For the other singers, they’re just preparing themselves for what’s to come, which means being away from their comfort zones for a while. “Singing is my passion, but I miss my daughter,” admitted Alexis Grace. “I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve been with her every day of her life. I haven’t been able to see her in a couple of weeks, so that’s been a big change for me. She’s at home in Memphis with my family. She’s probably watching me on TV, though, going crazy.”

INDUSTRY BITS: Forces on the forthcoming Matt Damon “Adjustment Bureau” movie are certainly giving themselves ample time to find the key female dancer for the movie, which isn’t slated to begin production ’til September. They’re already looking now for the young beauty, a principle in a big-city modern dance troupe, for the feature loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s “Adjustment Team” story. It has to do with a politician (a salesman in the original) who keeps being thwarted from beginning a love affair with a dancer — opening the way for his questioning of the nature of reality and manipulative forces controlling our fates.

Casting is also underway for the part of Adam Carolla‘s annoying slacker stepson in his “Ace in the Hole” CBS pilot. The comic/radio host/actor will be playing a highly opinionated driving school instructor — something Carolla himself used to do.

And casting is underway for subsidiary roles in “Hung” — the Anne Heche-Thomas Jane-Jane Adams half-hour comedy show in the works at HBO.

With reports by Emily Feimster.


To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2009 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH
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