Tag Archives: American Idol

Kara DioGuardi Glad Songwriters Getting Attention on ‘Platinum Hit’

Jewel, Kara Dioguardi Bravo photo

Former “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi returns to tube as a TV music competition judge May 30 — but on a brand-new show, Bravo’s “Platinum Hit.”  She tells us she didn’t think she’d be back “so fast, but I really loved the idea that songwriters were going to get some attention.”

Songwriter Evan Bogart (whose credits include Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Rihanna)” is one of the executive producers and creators of the show, she relates, and “he came to me about it.  I thought a songwriting show would be interesting, but how do you do it?”

Good question.  Watching contestants noodle around on a piano and scribble down ideas doesn’t sound like much of a show.  But that’s not what “Platinum Hit” is like, assures DioGuardi, who toplines with Jewel.  “Bravo is really great at creating drama and character development.  Part of what makes great songwriters is where they come from — their truth.  When you get to know their journey, you start to get emotionally involved.  There were some character revelations along the way of people’s back stories that were really compelling.  When they write from their truth — that’s when they really connect.”

DioGuardi wrote from her truth in her recently released “A Helluva High Note” memoir, including going through the hell of being molested as a young girl, and date raped when she was new in the music business.  Going public with her past has proven to be exceptionally moving — particularly in response from readers who said they were inspired to deal with, or talk about, their own similar traumas.

“That’s really why I wrote it,” she says.  “A lot of people write, ‘I’m glad you spoke about that.’  When you know someone else has gone through something, it helps to know you can get through it.  You’ve got to keep moving, keep going on.  You can’t let it get you down and stop you from living your life as you want, from pursuing your dreams.”

It’s an intense time for DioGuardi, who’s also awaiting word on the future of the USA Network “Big in Japan” series pilot on which she serves as producer.  “It’s about an old boy band, 10 years later, after the peak of their fame.  But they’re still always big in Japan,” she explains with a laugh.  Besides that, “I’ve been doing a lot of country writing,” says Kara, whose songwriting credits include tunes for the likes of Pink, Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera and Céline Dion.  “I’m loving it down in Nashville.  It’s a very song-centric industry.  Songwriters are revered down there.”

With it all, she admits, “I haven’t watched that much” of the current season of “American Idol.”  “It’s not because I’m not a big fan of them.  I am.  But that’s what I do every day — I have artists coming into my office all the time,” says Kara, executive vice president of talent development at Warner Bros. Records.  She’s quick to add, however, “I’ve been hearing great things about the show this season, especially about Steven Tyler.”

Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’ Will Compete in Different TV Landscape Than Anticipated

Simon Cowell

When Simon Cowell announced his intention to depart “American Idol” at the beginning of last year, the move was applauded as shrewd.   Now, maybe not so much.

The show was looking weary indeed after all the Paula Abdul drama, and he was off to fresh pastures before it completely jumped the shark, it was believed.  His U.S. version of “X Factor” might be just the thing to fill the void if and when “Idol” went kaput.

“X Factor” is different from “Idol,” as he explained to press during that January’s Television Critics Association tour, because it has no age limit and can be solo or group singers — and each judge takes a group of contestants under their wing and mentors them in everything from styling and choreography to song choice. “So essentially the judge is judged as well as the singer.”

How different the picture looks now, even as “X Factor” auditons are taking place across the land and new show announcements are flying.

“American Idol” has been revitalized by charismatic, stardust streaming Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, who work with Randy Jackson as an excellent team.  (That was one of our New Year’s predictions, by the way.)

And NBC’s “The Voice” has come along, preceded by a promotional campaign that looked like an experiment in whether it’s possible to beat audiences into submission with relentless, repetitious hype.

Of course, we all know that “The Voice” is different from “American Idol” because they have neat swiveling chairs with big red panic buttons, and each judge takes a group of contestants under their wing and mentors them.  So essentially the judge is judged as well as the singer.   Hm.   Sound familiar?

Interesting that Simon has recently been saying he’s keeping details of the new “X Factor” under wraps because other producers “watch you and copy you and you see your show on other people’s shows.”

Yes, that’s a problem — no doubt going even further back than “Pop Star” producer Simon Fuller’s 2005 U.K. suit claiming “X Factor” was a copy of his show.

“The Voice”so far has posted  numbers promising a big hit for NBC.  And let’s not forget, the peacock network also has “America’s Got Talent,” produced by none other than Simon Cowell, coming back May 31 and auditions are going on for that show as well.

So, what will all this do to “X Factor” by the time it’s finally unveiled in the fall on Fox, with cohosts Corbin Bleu and Nicole Sherzinger and judges Cowell, L.A. Reid, Cheryl Cole and (?!) Paula Abdul?  Dare we say it?  You be the judge.

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.”