Tag Archives: Paula Abdul

Nicole Scherzinger in ‘Awesome New Chapter of Life’

Nicole Scherzinger NBC photo

Pop siren Nicole Scherzinger is getting a special kick out of fashion mags and websites following her as a trendsetter these days.  “For a long time, people only saw me as a tacky Pussycat Doll who only wore leopard print,” she candidly points out.  “Once people have a certain view in their minds, it’s kind of hard to get past that.  Wearing ladylilke clothes I love and feel good in — to get positive response from that is really fun.  I have a great team of stylists.”

Her attention in the fashion world is just one indication that Scherzinger is at the top of the celebrity hot list right now.  There’s also her first solo album, “Killer Love” coming out this fall, generating heat — and her latest reality role as an “X Factor” judge alongside Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and L.A. Reid.  The Fox show debuts Sept. 21, but she’s already judged competitors in six cities and gone through a grueling “boot camp” experience.  Contestants faced a series of tough challenges — and more than 125 were eliminated in just five days.

“That was the hardest part — letting people go,” says Nicole.   

She had her “X Factor” baptism as a guest judge on the U.K. version of the show.  “I wasn’t able to say ‘No.’  I’d say, ‘It’s not a ‘No,’ it’s just a ‘not now.’  I empathized with all the peformers,” she recalls.  She’s saying “No” now, though Nicole says she still feels empathetic. 

“For me, what has probably been the biggest surprise is that I’ve become more outspoken, that I speak my mind, that I’ve come out of my shell in that way.  I don’t know if it’s Simon’s dark side rubbing off on me or what,” she says with a laugh, “but it’s there.  There’s no acting,, none of that.  There’s no, ‘So-and-so has this role.’  It’s real people, real emotions — that energy.  Simon is very good about that.”

The influence might have been a two-way street.  A few weeks ago, Paula Abdul made the remark that notoriously caustic Simon was “turning into me,” which people found a tad confusing.  Nicole elaborates that “We felt that we were rubbing off on him, that he was coming more from his heart.”   

She also notes, “The thing about Simon, working with him — in the beginning, they don’t tell you anything.  They just throw you in the deep and it’s sink or swim.  The one thing he does say is, ‘Just be yourself.  Don’t hold back.’ You are then inspired to sort of match his level.”

Scherzinger has come a long way.  She gets kudos for hard work, with a past that includes winning a season of “Dancing With the Stars,” serving as a judge on “The Sing-Off” and doing an early career stint with the girl group Eden’s Crush.  “This is an awesome new chapter of my life,” she tells us. “It feels like the stars are lining up.”

Brooke Elliott: ‘Drop Dead Diva’ Gay Prom Episode Includes Prom Controversy Teen Constance McMillen

Brooke Elliott Lifetime photo

Constance McMillen — who was all over the news last year as the central figure in a firestorm of controversy, when her high school in the Itawamba County, Mississippi refused to allow her to bring her girlfriend to the school prom — will appear in a forthcoming episode of “Drop Dead Diva” that’s been dubbed the gay prom episode.

That is the word from “DDD” star Brooke Elliott, who tells us McMillen pops up as a bailiff in the July-airing episode, in which Brooke’s crusading attorney character is representing a “client who wants to go to the prom with her girlfriend.  They’re in a committed relationship, but the school won’t allow same sex couples to go together.”

Constance McMillen on Ellen Degeneres' show

Out stars Wanda Sykes, Lance Bass and Clay Aiken all appear in the segment as well.

“I think it’s great,” says Brooke.  “I think we do it in a way that, hopefully, is not preaching to people but is a reflection back of what is happening in our society right now, and what we as a group are going through.”

MEANWHILE:  Season 3 of “Drop Dead Diva” launches June19 with an armada of interesting guest star names including Paula Abdul returning as Brooke’s voice of reason (that’s right), LeAnn Rimes,  Kathy Griffin, Wendy Williams, Mario Lopez, Amanda Bearse, Tony Goldwyn, Howard Hesseman, Sharon Lawrence, Faith Prince, Jennifer Tilly and Louis Van Amstel.  The latter, you may recall, was “Drop Dead Diva” costar Margaret Cho’s dance partner on “Dancing With the Stars” — and Brooke says the two had a great time reuniting to perform together again.

The season opens with an episode that includes a musical dream sequence choreographed by “So You Think You Can Dance’s” Keith “Tyce” Diorio.  It also that gave Broadway veteran Brooke (Taboo, Wicked, Beauty and the Beast) a chance to exercise her pipes.  “The voice you’ll hear is mine.  It was a complicated song.  I hope people will like it,” she says.

Of course, Brooke has more than enough to do playing the character of a
shallow model who died and then, in an accident of cosmic cross-wiring,
wound up sharing the plus-sized body of a brilliant, socially conscious lawyer.

The role “is a challenge every day.  That’s why I like it,” she says.  With it all, “Drop Dead Diva” continues to be a show widely praised by critics — particularly for Brooke’s seamless performance — yet undiscovered by many viewers.  Brook observes, “You can drive yourself crazy spending too much time thinking about things that you can’t control.   I’m focused on my job and doing a good job with this character.”   Naturally, she is hoping that “Diva” will draw bigger viewership this coming season — and points out that people can catch up by watching the Season 2 DVD that just came out.  Of course.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE:  The L.A. Jewish Film Festival’s sixth year got off to an auspicious start in Beverly Hills with an eclectic group of luminaries — ranging from Buzz and Lois Aldrin to Miss India Préity Üupala, to “American Idol’s” Tim Urban — turning out for the opening night film, “An Article of Hope.”  The fest itself is eclectic as well, celebrating the Jewish experience from intense dramas like France’s “La Rafle” (The Roundup) to comedies, “Shalom Sesame” to the “Article of Hope” film about Israel’s first astronaut.  Thursday’s (5/12) closing night film is “Who Do You Love,” the story of rock ‘n’ roll’s fabled Chess Records.  Songwriter Diane Warren is among the musicos expected.

TRY, TRY AGAIN:  With the Disney Channel’s “Lemonade Mouth” movie attaining the distniction of being the No. 1 original television movie of the year among kids and tweens, it looks like the hoped-for sequel is a shoo-in.  “We hope so, we really want to do it,” says producer Debra Martin Chase.

Nick Roux

That’s also good news for the new collection of young stars in the movie.

Interestingly, Chase tells us that Nick Roux, who does a memorable turn as a rival band member in the flick, almost didn’t make it in.  “We brought Nick in give times.  There was a feeling in some circles that he might be too old” to play a high schooler.  But the handsome twentysomething actor, who is managed by none other than Blake Lively’s mom, changed his look to try again.  “I said, ‘Have him come in with his hair down like Justin Bieber,’ and he did, and he wore baggy pants and sneakers.”  And he got away with acting younger.

Besides her new Disney Channel franchise, Chase is the long-time producing partner of Whitney Houston, and she tells us they have another project in the pipeline.  “I can’t talk about it yet, but Whitney and I are planning something, hopefully for later this year.”

THE BIG SCREEN SCENE:  A Sept. 7 start date has been set for the Adam Arkin-Ethan Embry feature “Insecurity,” about a pair of security experts who decide to beef up business by robbing houses themselves — but run into major complications when they find a duffel bag full of money.

Scottish star Robert Carlyle (“Trainspotting,” “The Full Monty,”  “Angela’s Ashes,” etc.) will be tapping into his inner rock star for “California Solo,” in which he’ll play an aging rocker who lives in Los Angeles, but faces deportation back to Scotland after he’s stopped for DUI.  The movie’s described as being full of Brit pop and L.A. cultural references and pathos.  We’ll see.

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.”