Tag Archives: Randy Jackson

Gladys Knight ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and New Record, Too

Gladys Knight is not only in the TV spotlight as a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant — she’s also planning for the launch of her first album in six years, “Another Journey,” next month.  Among the helping hands producing the recording is “American Idol’s” Randy Jackson, who won a Grammy for co-producing her “At Last” album in 2001.

“Yeah, I’m still working with big Dawg Randy,” says the legendary Empress of Soul with a laugh.  “That’s my buddy.  I’m finally coming out with that album.  People kept asking me for it.  I really thought I was through with recording, to tell you the truth.”

She says she’s been amazed to hear Gladys Knight and the Pips songs being sung by contestants on “Idol.”  “It does my heart good to know I did something that’s lasted all these years, and that they feel the music we did is worthy enough to choose to perform at such an important moment in their lives.  That’s how I feel about it: ‘This is your time to shine, and you chose my song.'”

Now is her time to shine as a dancer.  Asked for a progress report on her training, she says, “I’m doing pretty good.  I’m kind of shocking myself, because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do this.  I think a lot of it is due to my partner, Tristan (McManus), and how he teaches and how patient he is.”

Is Gladys a natural dancer?  “Noooo.”  She laughs. “You would think so, honey, with all them Pips dancing around me all the time, but they never let me dance, you know?  I used to want to learn the routines of the Pips and in the beginning I did.  Then Pops said, ‘Ok, look.  This is how it is, Baby.  You’re a lady.  So you’ll strut and the Pips will dance.’  And that’s how they set it up.”

The 67-year-old grandmother of 17 has been keeping up her concert tour schedule, training with McManus while on the road.  She is in the midst of a two-week break as we speak, expecting to get back out for gigs in Canada and Mississippi after tonight’s and tomorrow night’s shows.  “Is that crazy or what?  But when I perform, our engagements are set months in advance and there were things I just couldn’t cancel,” she explains.

Where does all her energy come from?  “Well, I try to eat right, and, you know, exercise is always good for you.  I had fallen off the wagon, so to speak, in terms of exercise, but dancing gives me my cardio.  It’s working out pretty good.”

Kimberley Locke Plots Reality Show for Plus-Size Singers

Kimberley Locke

Even though Kimberley Locke is busy with the launch of her new “Strobe Light”  single – the first fruit of her collaboration with Randy Jackson – she’s also pushing forward with meetings this week about the reality show project closest to her heart, “Making the Curve.”  The show revolves around those belters, crooners and screamers who make amazing music, but have a way of turning up as backup singers because of the way they look.

“I know what it feels like to have more talent than the front girl, if you know what I mean,” says the singer who rose to fame on “American Idol” and has since gone on landing several Top 20 hits and No. 1 singles across Billboard charts – as well as proving an attention-getter among the celebs trying to lose weight on “Celebrity Fit Club.”

“We’re giving those girls the opportunity to have a shot.  This is a show for plus-size women.  It’s not open to everybody.”  There will be auditions in different cities, and “these girls are going to write together, they’re going to live in a house together and collaborate with those powerhouse voices.  We’re going to give them a makeover,” says Locke – who’ll serve as host as well as producer.

Weight loss “is not a part of it.  Healthy lifestyle is part of it.  If you want to lose weight after you’ve had some success, knock yourself out.  Most of us do that anyway,” she comments.  “It’s about the music, and it’s about their stories – moving beyond their weight issues and being successful.”

MEANWHILE:  Locke’s latest bid for musical success is the dance record for which Randy Jackson and Danish music master (Santana, Christina Aguilera) served as producers.  It’s being released via Jackson’s Dream Merchant 21 and INgrooves.  What’s it like working with the man who once judged her on “American Idol”?

“I’ve known Randy now for seven years, and I know, he really knows his stuff.  He’s all about ‘let’s do it now, and let’s get it done right.’  He was in A&R for 10 years in addition to being an artist himself.  I love being around him, hearing his stories.  When I m with him I’m like a sponge.”

FUNNY BUSINESS:  Winner of last season’s “Last Comic Standing,” Iliza Shlesinger, is reaching a new milestone this year with her very first half hour Comedy Central special, airing tomorrow (4/16), but don’t expect the comic to be cheering on the newest contestants of the reality show that helped make her a star.  “I didn’t watch it before I was on it and I’m not watching it now that I’m not on it,” says Shlesinger about “Last Comic,” which returns for a new season June 7.  “I didn’t watch it in the first place because it makes me anxious.  Plus, I’m so competitive that I get annoyed that I can’t be on the show.  I know if I’m watching it, I’ll want to be on it and I don’t need the headache.”

However, she is appreciative of what it’s done for career.  “I did not have a career before and now I have one.  ‘Last Comic’ opened up a lot of doors, but I truly believe it’s my talent that will keep those doors open.”

Fans will get to see a lot of that talent when the comedian presents a whole slew of new material for Comedy Central.  “I got my half hour special within a year or so of doing ‘Last Comic’ so a lot of my A material was used for that.  This was all newer stuff that I’ve been working on for a while,” she tells us.  “What’s funny is I can walk into a club and do an hour of comedy.  I’ve literally awakened out of a flu-induced coma and gone to perform and it’s not a problem, but doing this was a little nerve-wracking.  You think, ‘Oh, am I going to mess up?  Will get it edited ok?  What if I look fat?’”

Luckily she was funny and looked good too!  “It was an audience who was excited to be there and wanted to laugh so it was a lot of fun.”

Dixie Carter

HATE TO SEE THAT EVENING SUN GO DOWN:  Our sympathy goes out to Hal Holbrook on the loss of his wife, Dixie Carter.  We enjoyed it when the vibrant, feisty actress told us, just a matter of months ago, that we’d never see her on a reality show.  “I’m an actress,” she declared, “not someone who wants self promotion for self promotion’s sake, so my face, with half a pound of makeup on it, is constantly on view.  I can’t see the value of that — but it’s a virus that runs through our business.  You hear people say, ‘I’ve got to stay out there.’  Why?  If I let those winds of frenetic need to be in the public eye push me, I’ll lose every grain of dignity and self-respect, and, really, enjoyment of life that I have.”

Dignity and self-respect she certainly did have, and warmth and abundant talent.  The one-time “Designing Women” star, who won an Emmy nod for her work in “Desperate Housewives,” continued performing on stage, TV and film – her last big-screen appearance being in “That Evening Sun.”   The adaptation of William Gay’s story “I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down,” it’s about a strong-willed old farmer who walks out of the nursing home into which his son has placed him, and heads back to his farm.  Holbrook’s memorable performance and the movie itself won a number of indie film awards last year.  And — it’s poignant now — it features an unspeaking Dixie as Holbrook’s lonely character’s long-dead wife, who returns to him in daydreams.

THE BIG SCREEN SCENE:  There’ll be no rest for Patrick Dempsey this “Grey’s Anatomy” hiatus.  With his big-screen “Flypaper” speeding toward an early May production start, casting is being completed for minor roles.  The movie, on which Dempsey’s serving as producer as well as star, has him as a man who walks into a bank one day and finds himself in the middle of two simultaneous robberies – which his enquiring mind compels him to investigate.  All is not as it seems.  A variety of bank customers and employees are being cast.  The picture shoots in Baton Rouge.

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.