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.”

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.

Beck/Smith Hollywood’s Tacky Taste Awards 2007 — 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

After three decades of tallying up votes that have run the gamut of celebrity strangeness and bad taste, we have to say, 2007 goes down among the tackiest — at least. The competition was tremendous, we’re sorry to say. Here are the Top 10 stars deemed tackiest of 2007 by readers:

1. BRITNEY SPEARS — “She parties the night away, she loses custody of her kids, has drug test problems, crushes a guy’s feet with her car, runs red lights with kids in backseat, and looks like a sausage packed into a bikini on the VMAs, where she forgets to sing. She’s way beyond tacky,” wrote Chris C. of Van Nuys, CA. Maura H. of Cleveland was among the many who said they were sorry for Spears’ two young sons with ex-husband Kevin Federline: “If she can’t even take care of herself, how can she take care of them?” Said Jordan F. of Arlington, VA, “Tackiest? I recommend the judge who decided to take Britney’s kids from her and give them to Kevin, who’s just as messed-up.” Dylan D. of New York suggested “maybe Brad and Angelina will adopt her kids.” “It was supposed to be her big comeback, but Britney let down tons of fans with her lethargic performance at the VMA’s,” noted F.F. from South Carolina, “and let’s not forget that earlier this year, she also went into a salon and shaved her own hair off. Now, that’s tacky!”

2. SARAH SILVERMAN — “Give your Tacky award to Sarah Silverman, who has worked so hard for it!” urged Jake G., Pasadena, CA. Wrote Shari M. of Bloomfield, N.J.: “She’s dirty, nasty… a perfect example of how sleazy things have gotten on TV nowadays, like her jokes about Paris Hilton on the MTV Awards — they’re going to paint the bars of her jail cell to look like penises so she’ll be more comfortable? If that’s not tacky, what is?” “Taking swipes at Britney, no problem, but when she called Brit’s children “the most adorable little mistakes ever” on an awards show, she was way out of line! Just nasty and tacky! — Foxy C., Los Angeles, CA

3. VANESSA HUDGENS — “She’s supposed to be a role model to young kids everywhere. She had no business posing nude in photos for her boyfriend Zac — wait, I mean, ex-boyfriend Drake Bell. Wait, was it both? So hard to keep track of naked pictures, you know,” said CompuServe reader Uneak1.

4. ROSIE O’DONNELL — “I still can’t believe the on-air fight with Elizabeth Hasselbeck…I used to be a fan of Rosie, but her inflammatory rhetoric, her feuds, her conspiracy theory nonsense — she’s gone from being terrific to terribly tacky,” wrote DPix of Bakersfield, CA. Paul V. opined via the internet, “She’s a bully, she’s rude, she’s vulgar, she believes her s— don’t stink. She is tacky to the tenth power.”

5. PARIS HILTON — PceCollgrrrl wrote on the internet: “The tackiest part of the time she spent in jail was the enormous media frenzy that ensued. We didn’t need to see a one-hour special of Paris, post-jail reading her journal entries during her experience. She broke the law. She deserved to be punished, not applauded for being “brave.”

6. ALEC BALDWIN — “His out-of-control rant against his young daughter was beyond tacky. It was abusive,” complained Leslie S. of Sherman Oaks, CA Internet writer TmW2 is among those who feel that Baldwin ought to “split the tackiness award for bad celebrity father of the year with DAVID HASSELHOFF, who destroyed his image for me forever in that video where he’s drunk and hurling expletives at his teen daughter.”

7. ELLEN DEGENERES — “We love Ellen, but it was a bit much seeing her sobbing on TV over the fact that she broke some doggy adoption rules, which resulted in the adopted dog being taken back by the agency,” barked Val V. of Chattanooga, TN. “The war in Iraq, global warming, worldwide abuse against women, children killing children in schools — and Ellen breaks down over a dog she didn’t even keep for herself? Tacky set of priorities if you ask me.” — M.S. Burbank, CA.

8. DENISE RICHARDS VS. CHARLIE SHEEN — “I don’t know whether her accusations about all his sexual perversions are true or not, but I do know that both these two are putting their vicious divorce battle ahead of the welfare of their children by making such public declarations against each other. Shame on them!” wrote Kelly O. online. “Charlie Sheen announcing to the world that his ex still wants to have children with him — whether true or not — while he’s engaged to another woman proved that Sheen is tactless, shameless and clueless.” — Naomi S., Sacramento, CA

9. LINDSAY LOHAN — “Every time I think Lindsay’s going to get it together, some new story comes out — like her chasing after her assistant’s mother in her car. Pretty tacky,” wrote Shannon B. of Phoenix. Added R.H. of Houston, “After getting in trouble with the law for a DUI, she went to rehab to get help, fine. Then she ended up starting a relationship with a fellow rehabber, who was in a serious relationship at the time. Not just tacky — skanky.”

10. PAULA ABDUL — “Everything about her reality show, ‘Hey Paula,’ was tacky,” said Manuela G. of the Bronx, NY, “from her erratic behavior to her public meltdowns.”

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: O.J. Simpson for his memorabilia robbing incident, Michael Vick for his apparent participation in dog-fighting, “The Hills” Lauren Conrad due to her sex tape scandal, Dog the Bounty Hunter for using the N-word, Nick Hogan (son of Hunk Hogan) for his street racing that finally resulted in a serious car wreck that left his best friend in a coma, Keifer Sutherland for his DUI arrest, Tim McGraw’s crotch-grabbing fans, and “you, Beck/Smith, for giving all this attention to tacky celebrities.”

Happy Holidays to you all, and may your turkeys be tasty ones!