21Q

Daily posts from Bee writers on movies, theater, media, fashion, music and pop culture.



DEREK BLANKS

It's been five years since Camille McDonald (pictured), now 31, competed on Season 2 of "America's Next Top Model." Even though she didn't win, she's been a certified success story: working on an advanced degree at Howard University, working on a possible TV project, working as a stylist and, of course, working around the world as a fashion model.

This Friday, Camille will be in Sacramento to host the IMAGINE 2009 fashion show, which is being put on by the International Academy of Design & Technology. She'll share the spotlight with keynote speaker Robert Best, best-known as the "Barbie" apparel designer from Season 3 of "Project Runway."

I spoke to Camille the other day as she was preparing to head back to Washington, D.C., from Miami. Currently, she commutes between the nation's capital (for school) and New York City, where she lives. She says she's excited about coming to Sactown and sharing her experiences with the IADT students.

"I'm hoping to leave them with a better understanding of the fashion industry, based on my experiences," she says. "The fashion industry is a multibillion-dollar business, but you really need something to ground you, especially an education."

Camille has been fortunate to work in so many different areas of the business. But one thing she'll definitely be able to speak to a young crop of designers about is starting a fashion line.

"I've been transitioning from being a full-time model to being a designer of my own brand," she says. "I've been working on it for two years. It's a contemporary outerwear women's collection that I hope to launch next year."

She admits jobs aren't always easy in the industry and that it's important to find one niche that highlights special skills and talent. "Fashion is always transitioning," she adds. "Today, you might have a chemist involved in a fashion project creating organic, green fabrics.

"It can have an impact on everyone."

IADT's show is Friday at the Sacramento Grand Ballroom, 629 J St. Tickets are $60 VIP and $40 general admission and are available at the school, 2450 Del Paso Road, Suite 250, or call (916) 285-9468. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30. Nine students will present full collections, and 12 emerging designers will also be featured.


FOX

Talk about singing for your supper - er, survival. Last night's "American Idol" results show almost, almost saw the newly installed "judges' save" used to keep contestant Alexis Grace, 21, of Memphis still singing.

But, as Simon Cowell put it to her after she warbled "Jolene" one last time (while the judges practically were in each others' laps discussing her fate!): "It wasn't good enough."

I'm not so sure I was shocked at this. It came down to Alexis and oil-rigger and nice guy Michael Sarver of Texas (pictured). Looks like likeability won out over forgettable.

Remember what happened after Alexis sang Tuesday? Simon said the performance would be forgettable in "10 minutes." By the end of the show, when the voting began, I had a feeling that premonition might have merit. "Idol" fans/viewers have learned from the past not to take their favorite contestants for granted. That's probably why more than 31 million votes were cast this week.

Also in the bottom three was teen rocker Allison Iraheta, which was somewhat of a surprise.

If you're not into the show this season, you're missing out on some great acts - at least during the results show. Last week, Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson performed (as did Kanye West). Last night, it was Brad Paisley singing "Then." That was followed by an amazing duet featuring Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood and this week's mentor, Randy Travis. FYI: Carrie has been nominated for Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music Awards.

"Idol" reporters got a chance to talk with Alexis today about her experiences on the show and where her career heads. Here's what she had to say.

Q: Last night, it appeared you might be the first - and only - contestant the judges might have saved. What were you thinking, and do you wish you could have sung a different song or changed up "Jolene?"
A: I thought maybe they (judges) could save me, and I like the fact that they were actually thinking about using it - that they believed in me. I wish I could have done a better job. I love "Jolene," but I probably would have done a previous song, maybe "Never Loved a Man." Still, I don't know if they would have chosen me because it's still so early in the game. Maybe now it's not so good for TV.

Q: Any thoughts/regrets on your song choice this week?
A: I was considering a Carrie Underwood song. But two others were doing her, and I thought it might have been too much. I loved "Jolene," both the lyrics and the singer. You pick the songs you think will work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

Q: You were one week shy of going on the summer tour. Is that tough for you? And who among the Top 10 will you miss most?
A: I'm really disappointed about that. It would have been fun, especially if we got to perform duets. But there will be other tours. It would have been a sacrifice being away from my family. I was really close with Megan (Joy) and Matt (Giraud). He cracks me up! He's hilarious, doing riffs and runs all the time. Megan and I are a lot alike. We have kids the same age. On tour, we said our children would be boyfriend and girlfriend.

Q: The way the results were playing out last night, did you feel safe or vulnerable?
A: I knew I would be in the bottom three before the show. I had a feeling based on what the judges said. I don't know why I didn't connect with the viewers. I may never know. But it gave me a little bit of a reality check. It lets me know what I need to do to step up my game.

Q: There are seven guys and only three girls left in the competition. Do you think the guys have an advantage?
A: America still has the vote, so it could go either way. With only three girls you have to show the little girls who are voting at home for the boys that they're still in the competition.

Q: What did you learn from your "Idol" experiences - good and bad?
A: I learned that if you want to pursue a dream, you have to work hard and believe in yourself. I know who I am and what career path I want to take. I'll be writing music. But all the cliche things are true. Being away from friends and family was tough. I was a stay-at-home mom. I'm used to seeing my daughter every day.

Q: Being from Memphis, was it tougher going home after country music week?
A: Absolutely. I'm from the South. I think I should be able to sing country music well. And I think I let them (Southerners) down a little bit.


If you're a fan of the "Idol" tour, the Top 10 who will hit the road next summer are set. Seven guys/three girls, which is not exactly the norm. Anyway, next week's competition shifts to Wednesday night with the music of Motown as the theme. Results come on Thursday. Keep in mind: The judges have five more chances to save a contestant. Once they get to the Top 5, that's it.


FOX


Why on earth do we need - once again! - the formal introduction of the four "American Idol" judges, especially when Simon Cowell still chooses to wear a T-shirt that's about five sizes too small?!

Last night was the country music hoedown, and I think fans were probably both pleasantly surprised and somewhat shocked. Grand Ole Opry member Randy Travis was around this week to mentor the contestants. And there were a couple of unusual song choices - and arrangements - but getting 11 contestants to keep it somewhat in the musical ballpark was pretty amazing, considering there really isn't a country-esque crooner, except for perhaps Michael Sarver of Texas.

As it happens, Michael, 27, sang first, tackling Garth Brooks' "Ain't Going Down 'Till The Sun Comes Up," a song with about a kazillion words! Simon said he couldn't understand a single word. "You could have been singing in Norwegian." Michael retorted with, "Country music is about havin' some fun."

Allison Iraheta, 16, blew both Randy T. and Randy Jackson away with her super updated version of Patty Loveless's "Blame It On Your Heart." This season, instead of "That was dah bomb," Jackson has a new accolade: "That was dope!"

Cute guy Kris Allen, 23, put down his guitar and sang one of my favorite Garth songs, "To Make You Feel My Love." Randy called him a "tender dawg." Paula Abdul thought it was "vulnerable," and Kara DioGuardi said the performance "wasn't even country. It was very Kris Allen."

Lil Rounds, 23, however, struggled - probably for the first time - because she tried to stay true to the musical genre instead of her R&B riff. She tackled the monster Martina McBride song "Independence Day." Simon said she reminded him of someone forced to sing at a wedding, performing a song she didn't want to sing. "It just wasn't you." But the night will be remembered for his ridiculous mispronounciation of her name. It's "Lil" - not short for Lillian, Lily and certainly not "Little."

And then there was Adam Lambert, 27, channeling Elvis Presley via Alice Cooper. Sorry, but he's starting to creep me out big time with the sneer and the heavy foundation and the fingerless black leather gloves. And he had poor Randy Travis scratching his head with the black nail polish and a bizarre sitar/Egyptian/crypt-inspired version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." If Adam was trying to do what Season 7 winner David Cook did with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," he should be tossed into a ring of fire. Kara thought it was a little strange, and Randy said it was like Nine Inch Nails doing country." Simon, of course, called it "absolute, indulgent rubbish."

My least favorites? Unfortunately, it was Scott MacIntyre, 23, performing another Martina hit, "Wild Angels," which sounded exactly like last week's song, which I can't remember. Paula worried that his piano was becoming a crutch and that he might need to be closer to the fans. "I can move the piano closer," quipped Scott.

My other concern was Alexis Grace, 21, who has always been a popular contestant. She tackled Dolly Parton's "Jolene." The thing is, Alexis looks like a younger version of Dolly (minus the bustline), but there wasn't a lot of her own twist on the song. It just sounded like Dolly singing it back in the '70s. The ill-fitting dress didn't help much, either. If she stays, she promises to bring back "the dirty."

Neither I nor Simon could get past Danny Gokey's white Michelin Man coat. Danny, 28, also wrestled a monster with Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel." Randy thought it was pitchy in spots. Kara and Simon disagreed on Danny starting the song slow and building. But Simon had the best line: "It's not about the vocals, it's what you're wearing. It looks like you're going on a polar expedition, and it's 80 degrees outside!"

It was redemption week for "Snoop" Anoop Desai, 22 (pictured). Maybe it's because his UNC Tar Heels got a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but Anoop - the balladeer - had me clutching a hanky with his rendition of the great Willie Nelson classic, "Always On My Mind." "Anoop is back everybody!" shouted Paula. But it was Simon, of course, who found himself apologizing to Anoop for saying last week that he didn't belong in the Top 13. "You've managed to go from a zero to a hero. And you deserve to be on the show."

OK, so I'm guessing most viewers didn't know how sick Megan Joy, 23, has been this week. She's been battling the flu and made at least two trips to the hospital. But last night, I actually appreciated her raspy, rocky, bluesy version of Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight." Kara said it was the perfect song and the perfect look. Will there be pity votes? Most definitely. But I think Megan should stay. The competition needs her.

Last, Matt Giraud, 23, proved he deserved to get the Wild Card nod from the judges. He also performed a Carrie U. song, "So Small." Simon said his performance was similar to Danny's. "In fact, you outsang him," he said. "You remind me of Michael Buble. Terrific!"

Predictions for tonight's live results show (9 p.m. FOX40)? Dialidol.com has Michael near the bottom, and Votefortheworst.com still is trying to keep Megan safe. Talent could be a problem for Michael becauase likeability won't get you into the Top 10. And remember: Only the 10 get to go on this summer's "Idol" tour.

Oh, and guest performers you won't want to miss tonight include Carrie Underwood, Randy Travis and Brad Paisley. It's must-see results!


FOX

Sometimes nice contestants finish last or, in the case of "American Idol,", are the first to go.

On last night's live results show Jasmine Murray, 17 (pictured), and Jorge Nunez, 21, were the first two of the Top 13 to be eliminated based on viewers' record-setting 33 million votes. Even the new judges' twist couldn't save the two. I like the new twist: The four judges get an opportunity to save a contestant from being eliminated - until the final five finalists compete. It's a one-time-only deal, and everyone has to agree to the save. No singers will get the ax that week, but then two will go the following week.

"The whole point of this competition is America votes for who they want to save," explained Simon Cowell. "If someone happens to be at the bottom, and we think they deserve another chance, we're going to give them another chance."

Well, that didn't happen last night. Neither Jasmine nor Jorge got a break from the judges. But they both were gracious today when they spoke to "Idol" reporters. Here's what they had to say about their experiences moving on.

Jorge Nunez

Q: The world has plenty of good lawyers living good lives, and there are musicians out of work. As far as your education, what are your plans?
A: The show has been so amazing, so I'm going to do both! I'll finish college. But music is my priority, and I'll pursue it. I've gotten great coverage in Puerto Rico.

Q: What did you gain from your experience, and what was the biggest hurdle?
A: Being a singer is about staying true to yourself, no matter what others think. Picking songs was the most challenging aspect for me because it's not the type of music I'm used to listening to, even though Puerto Rico has a musical influence in the U.S. However, we have our own culture. I listen to music in Spanish.

Q: What was your family's reaction, and are you looking forward to going home?
A: I've received so many text messages! None of them said 'I'm sorry.' They said you've got a great voice and you're going to be great. They were happy I was on the show. I've been here (Hollywood) for a month or so, and I can't wait to go home and eat some Puerto Rican food.

Q: Do you guys (the contestants) talk about the judges' twist? Do you think it's a good idea?
A: We did. But we didn't know. It just happened. I kind of imagined it would be something like that because of all the talent on the show. I think it's a really good thing. Contestants like Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson didn't win, and people think they should have gone farther.

Q: Next week's theme is country week. Did you think about what you might have performed?
A: That's definitely intimidating for me! I'm sure I would have been the first Puerto Rican to sing country music. I had a few songs picked: 'I Know You Won't' by Carrie Underwood or 'Anyway' by Martina McBride because they're both ballads.

Jasmine Murray

Q: You're still a teen, and you received so much support from your home state of Mississipi. Will you return soon?
A: It's been unbelievable. 'Idol' really gets you out there. The students at my (high) school really supported me. When I get back, I'll be happy to see them and catch up on what's going on. I've got to finish school - I'm just a junior! And I'm definitely going to college, and I want to have a career in music.

Q: Jorge was asked about the changes in the show. What do you think?
A: We had no idea about the "save." I think it's a good idea. There's been the Top 36, the wild card and the Top 13. The judges are giving more people a chance to reach their dreams. They put us here in the first place, but America gets to decide. I think it's a good idea to increase the numbers. I was happy to be back on the stage with the lights and audience.

Q: The new "Idol" mansion is pretty amazing. What will you miss the most, and how did your mom fit in?
A: I'll probably miss the practice room. It's a big area with wonderful acoustics and a keyboard. I used to go down there and practice all the time. My mom was always encouraging me. It was great to have her there, and the other contestants got along with her.

Q: What's been the most rewarding aspect of the "Idol" experience for you?
A: Just being able to perform. That's what the competition is all about anyway - showing fans what you can do.

Q: What were you considering for next week's country music theme?
A: I was considering LeAnn Rimes or Carrie Underwood, and I was really looking forward to it. I'm excited to see what the others will do.

The 11 finalists remaining will compete for a vaunted place in the Top 10. Remember, unless they change the rules, these will be the finalists selected for the sell-out "American Idol" tour. Show times: 8 p.m Tuesday and 9 p.m. Wednesday on FOX40.


RAY MICKSHAW/Fox

First things first: Who has just crawled out from under a rock and discovered there are FOUR judges named Randy, Kara, Paula and Simon and a host named Ryan Seacrest on "American Idol?"

Last night's intro was just plain goofy. But enough about that. The Top 13 finally get to the big girls/big boys stage. What was also noticeable is that the "Idol" team of stylists/makeup artists/hair folks is back in action and helping the contestants with their "looks."

Alas - even with new clothes and new 'dos - they got stuck singing Michael Jackson songs. Some songs were obvious choices; others stumped me.

For example, Scott MacIntyre finally got to play the baby grand and chose "Keep the Faith." Simon Cowell said, "I hated the song. Nobody knows it!" Then there was "The Sneak," Kris Allen, who wrestled his guitar to the ground on "Do You Remember the Time?" Regardless of the judges' comments, Kris misled "Idol" reporters when he made it through a couple of weeks ago. He never mentioned being married, only that he had been with the same person for some time. Guess he hoped no one (read: female votes) would be watching the little family prologue, where his wife was introduced. Simon previously told him the "chicks will dig you." Last night, he told Kris he wasn't sure he should have brought the little woman out so early. She was in the audience and, if looks could kill, we'd be down to three judges!

I loved Danny Gokey's "PYT (Pretty Young Thing)," especially when he let Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi jump in. Lil Rounds brought an R&B touch to "The Way You Make Me Feel," which Randy Jackson appreciated. And Michael Sarver sang "You Are Not Alone," which was just OK for me. Simon said he wasn't the best singer in the competition but he made up for that with passion and a big heart.

Teen Jasmine Murray offered a Mariah Carey/Michael Jackson mix of "I'll Be There." She's starting to look more and more like a deer in the headlights. And then you get 16-year-old Allison Iraheta, who blew the paint off the wall with "Give In to Me," another song I couldn't recall. Simon called Matt (aka Justin Timberlake wannabe) Giraud's "Human Nature" a "meat-and-potatoes performance."

The worst of the bunch? Definitely Anoop Desai, whose tie and flack jacket weren't in keeping with "Beat It." Neither was his singing. Kara said she "felt disconnected." Simon lowered the boom: "It was horrible, lightweight and you looked stupid." AHHH!

Somewhere in the middle were Jorge Nunez, who got dinged for attempting "Never Can Say Goodbye." Even Paula admitted it was the wrong song choice. And what the heck was up with Megan Joy (pictured), who must still be going by "Corkrey," even though she said last week she was giving up her married name. Whatever. "Rockin' Robin" was a ridiculous song choice, and her "Caw! caw!" at the end was enough to get her tapped as the contestant to keep at Votefortheworst.com. And I fear the long lapse between performances hurt fan fave Alexis Grace. She's taking the "dirty yourself up a bit" comment from the judges waaaay too seriously. She sang "Dirty Diana" (never heard it) dressed in an odd mix of shorts and black stockings. Simon told her, "It was not as good as you thought it was."

So that leaves rocker Adam Lambert (pictured). His version of "Black and White" was spot on. Randy said he was the most current competitor and the "most right now!" Kara said he hit notes she didn't know existed. Simon said it was totally different. And Paula just frothed at the mouth.

Predictions? Two contestants will go, and I'm thinking there's trouble looming for Anoop and Megan. The live results show is at 9 tonight on FOX40. And Ryan warned they're changing the theme tonight - and it involves the judges. Please, no more intros!


FOX

List turning the "American Idol" Top 12 into the Top 13 among the reality show's efforts to grow and retain its audience.

Hello, we're still watching!

Anyway, my guess is the four judges had it already in the works to send four contestants through in last night's wild card round instead of three. The greatest gift (in my humble opinion) is that knee-scraping Tatiana Del Toro was finally and once and for all booted off the show. That after singing "Saving All my Love" not once, not twice but three times during the competition.

"Why fix something if it's not broken," she whined to the judges.

"Rubbish!" quipped Simon Cowell. With that, she was gone.

"Idol" reporters had a chance to talk to the four wild cards who now complete the Top 13 (pictured). Here's a sample of what they had to say.

Jasmine Murray, 17, Starkville, Mo.

Q: You're a singer who likes songs with big finishes. Do you see that as a plus moving on?
A: Christina Aguilera is one of my favorite artists. And I thought "Reflection" was an appropriate song for me. It paid off last night. Looking ahead, it depends on the theme of the week and the song I pick - and certainly how America votes.

Q: Have you done a lot of public performances?
A: I've been involved with pageants for a while, so I've gotten used to being on stage. And I sang at the Miss America Pageant a couple of years ago. The "Idol" stage is different because you're being judged. But my experience makes me less nervous.

Q: Who out of the wild card contestants were you surprised didn't make it through?
A: They were all amazing. I don't know how the judges made their decision last night. Everyone was so talented. I'm happy for the ones who made. I know the ones who didn't have big futures ahead of them. I would be doing the same thing - keep singing.

Q: How do you balance school work and "Idol?"
A: I do the work from my school, which my teachers send. It's about three hours a day. Here it's a shorter day. I go to a school of the arts back home, and my school day is 7:45 in the morning until 5:15. That's OK because I think education is very important.

Anoop Desai, 22 Chapel Hill, N.C.

Q: You looked utterly shocked last night when you thought it was over. How did you feel during those 10 seconds before you got the good news?
A: It was the difference between having all your dreams dashed and having them made alive again. I'm just glad I'm still here. Afterward, Simon and the judges and producers apologized!

Q: Last night, you gave a shout out to "Eve." What was your relationship with Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina who died a year ago?
A: Everyone on Carolina's campus knew Eve. When we graduated last May we all wore buttons with her name on them. I carry that button when I perform and during the results shows to remind me of her. It was difficult (the anniversary of her death). I've been thinking about it since I got back in the wild card. But I got to see the memorial at UNC streamed out here.

Q: Why did you decide to perform a song you already had sung, "My Prerogative?"
A: That song has become an anthem for me since Hollywood Week, so I thought it was appropriate. After all, it's my prerogative. The judges said I did it better this time, and it was great performing it in front of an audience.

Q: So it looks like you'll miss March Madness at Chapel Hill and this weekend's Duke/Carolina clash. Does that bum you out?
A: You have no idea. The last Carolina/Duke game I was watching in a hotel room with (contestant) Ricky Braddy, who's a Tar Heel fan. We were watching the game, and ESPN blacked it out! So I spent two hours pacing back and forth. I'll have to get creative this weekend and during the tournament and have someone keep me up to date.

Megan Joy, 23, Sandy, Utah

Q: Do you like having a fourth judge? And how will it impact your song choice? Do you play an instrument?
A: It's been pretty crazy, but it's exciting to have a fourth judge and her input. Kara (DioGuardi) is tough, but it's great to get that kind of feedback. If I was allowed to I would sing any song by Bjork, but it couldn't be too crazy or weird. And no on the instruments. I would love to learn to play the piano or guitar if anyone wants to teach me.

Q: What musical genre would you fear performing the most?
A: I'm a little unsure what I would do with country week. I don't listen to country music. But I'll tear it up!

Q: What do your tattoos mean?
A: It's a castle with a night sky above it. In the stained glass window, there's a king and queen - me and who knows. The prince is my son; the fairy godmother is my mom. I look at my life as a fairytale. There are other tattoos - two stars for me and my mom and my name "Joy" on my hip. The sleeve tattoo isn't finished yet.

Q: What name will you go by from now on?
A: Corkrey is my ex-husband's name, and I want to get past it. Megan Joy is what I'm going by even though Joy is my middle name.

Matt Giraud, 23, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Q: What do you think happened with your take on the Coldplay song ("Viva la Vida") in the first round?
A: I felt the judging was a little harsh, and I couldn't sleep that night. People thought I was going to do it well, and I let them down. I've moved on. The Jackson 5 song I did last night ("Who's Lovin' You?") is in my bones. I can sing this song. But I don't know why I didn't think of it the first time.

Q: So will you stick with R&B, or will you keep moving forward? Are there any mentors you want to work with?
A: I've heard some rumors about certain theme weeks in the works that I can pull off. I love gospel and soul and country. I want to play the piano and work the audience. As far as mentors, Billy Joel would be ridiculous. That would be a dream. Maybe Elton John or Alicia Keys. Someone once called me the white boy Alicia!

Q: What types of music were you playing back home, especially since you grew up near Detroit?
A: A lot of gospel. I played 'N Sync, and I got into jazz and Motown. And, when I about 19, I played an out-of-tune piano in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Ypsilanti (Michigan). I never got tips. I was just learning.

Q: What did you think of Simon dishing out fashion advice to you?
A: I trusted the ("Idol") wardrobe people with that outfit. They said go for it. Who takes fashion advice from him anyway?!

The first night of competition for the Top 13 is at 8 p.m. Tuesday on FOX40. Word is there will be a guest appearance by none other than Kanye West. If you're gonna start watching, now would be a good time!


MICHAEL BECKER/Fox

The last three "American Idol" finalists selected by viewer votes were tired but eager to talk about making it to the Top 12 and, in no small part, were appreciative that they were picked by fans. They are Lil Rounds, Scott MacIntyre and Jorge Nunez. (pictured).

Not that the wild card winners from tonight won't get the same shot at the title, but will it feel different to be sent through by the judges rather than voted in by America?

Here's a sampling of what last night's winners had to say to "Idol" reporters.

Lil Rounds, 23, Memphis:

Q: What were your feelings going into last night's results show, and how did you feel about the performance and Simon Cowell's comments about it being a little "copycat"?
A: The whole day I was really nervous. But I had no regrets. I got positive feedback, but it was up to America. As far as Simon's comments, I don't look at the performance as a copycat. Mary J. Blige and I have our different ways of singing. (Judge) Kara (DioGuardi) said I remained Lil from the beginning. Now I'll give you something to look forward to every week.

Q: Song choice is such a big part of the competition. How did you choose "Be Without You?" And how will you continue to pick songs?
A: I have to go with songs I can relate to. Not so much the beat, but the meaning. The song reminds me of my husband, my children and family. You think about how close you are to them. I plan to continue to sing with feeling. What comes from the heart reaches the heart.

Q: Why did you decide to audition?
A: I had been seeing the show for a few years, but I was also pregnant some of that time. It really was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I looked on the Internet thinking the auditions were over. The closest location (to Memphis) was Kansas City. My husband and I just got up and went. I felt it was the right time.

Q: Are there any mentors you would love to work with?
A: Stevie Wonder. I would just love to see him out there. It would be great if he could give me a couple of pointers - if he wouldn't mind.

Q: You and Alexis Grace are both from Memphis. Do you share any musical traits? Are you buds?
A: Well, I've been singing mostly in my church. Memphis has all genres of music. I just kind of picked what I felt in my heart. I'm more R&B. Alexis and I already were getting to know each other. We just clicked right away.

Scott MacIntyre, 23, Scottsdale, Ariz.:

Q: Have the show's producers worked with you on how to deal with your tunnel vision? What about the choreography?
A: I'm so up to rising to the challenge. I've actually had some dance in my background. Some salsa. There are lots of camera changes in the group song. I just have to learn where my focus is by memorizing distances and angles. The producers can throw whatever they want at me. They've been great helping me and so have the other contestants. I'm good at keeping an awareness of my space. I'm not too worried about it as long as I don't fall off the stage!

Q:Will you have the same person helping you on stage?
A: Not necessarily. That was my brother (last night). My mother was here during Hollywood Week. I'm hoping to spread the love around between my sister, dad and brother.

Q: Were you surprised when Simon criticized the lyrics to "Mandolin Rain?"
A: I had an answer for him, but I didn't want to interrupt. The lyrics are great. The song talks about listening - listening to rain, tears roll, hearts break. They're very applicable to me. I thought it worked because it represents a small part of what I perform and write. Whatever the theme is coming up I'm always going to choose something that I can make work for me.

Q: The judges talked about how excited they are to see you playing the piano. Do you feel the same way?
A: That's the entire reason I'm here. I've let them (producers) know that I do what I do best from behind a piano. It's not a substitute for my vocal presentation, it's just another layer. Here's where the magical moments happen musically. Next week I can start showing America who I really am.

Q: You finally got Ryan (Seacrest) do get the high five right. How did you accomplish that after he biffed it during your audition?
A: That's happened to me my whole life! I'm the last person who would ever be offended. People are always waving or high fiving me. He grabbed my hand then, and I had to return the favor. He's an awesome guy.

Jorge Nunez, 21, Carolina, Puerto Rico:

Q: How far do you think you've come since Hollywood Week?
A: My first solo there was my best. That was John Secada's "Angel." Our group performance was a mess. It was horrible! Luckily, when I sang "Closer" for the third round the judges liked it and I made it through to the Top 36.

Q; How do you feel about all this talk about your accent and working with a diction coach? Were the judges' comments confusing?
A: What they wanted me to do was change it (accent) when I was singing. I understand. It's distracting. I wanted to listen to what they say. Now, I'm more comfortable on stage.

Q: Will you perform in Spanish?
A: I'm hoping to get to a part of the show where I can sing American songs that are popular translated. "Killing Me Softly" is an example. I think my voice sounds best in Spanish. I might integrate a few verses in Spanish. I'm just very proud to represent my country in this competition.

Q: What kinds of music do you want to sing on the show, and do you think your emotions will get the best of you?
A: I like to make beautiful music, like the Elton John song I sang. I'm a pop artist, but I'm always looking for a softer side. And no, I'm not always crying!

Q: What are some of the cultural differences you've noticed being in L.A.?
A: Puerto Ricans are innocent people. Sometimes too nice, too hospitable. I'm definitely not used to such a big city. And yes, it's cold here!

Tonight at 8 on FOX40, the wild card round will determine the final three contestants who will make up "Idol's" Top 12. Check back to 21Q tomorrow for a recap and interviews with the judges' choices!



MICHAEL BECKER/Fox

Well, last night "American Idol" viewers were treated to multiple helpings of Elton John and Alicia Keys and one serving each of Martina McBride and, uh, Meat Loaf.

The final 12 contestants performed, and tonight three of them will move on, joining Alexis, Michael, Danny, Allison, Kris and Adam.

There were numerous blunders and bad song choices, especially at the beginning when I feared no one had the pipes to earn a vote. For example, Taylor Vaifanua, 17, did the first Alicia song, "If I Ain't Got You," and it was as pedestrian a performance as you'll see. Von Smith, 22, opened the show with "You're All I Need To Get By," which was judged better by the judges than I thought it was. Simon Cowell even compared Von to Clay Aiken (Season 2), for his look and his singing. And poor Alex Wagner-Trugman, 19. His rendition of "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" featured growling (no kidding), snarling and a knocked-over microphone. Arianna Afsar, 17, who entered the round with a lot of potential, blew it with a depressing take on Abba's "The Winner Takes It All." Simon called it "gloomy." Even Paula Abdul thought it was a little old-fashioned.

It wasn't until almost halfway through that Ju'Not Joyner, 26, changed up his Hollywood Week version of "Hey There Delilah" and got modestly good reviews.

Kristen McNamara, 23, got the purple out of her blonde hair, but her pink dress with a sash and rosettes looked more like she was going to a hootenanny, not performing on "Idol." And "Give Me One Reason" doesn't have enough range for even a bad singer to do anything with it. Simon said he was puzzled by her.

Drama guy Nathaniel Marshall, 19, appeared as a bad version of Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" get-fit get-up from the '80s - metallic headband, odd leggings-like pants, etc. He sang the Meat Loaf song "I Would Do Anything For Love," which left judge Kara DioGuardi saying she would take Nate on as her "karaoke buddy." For me, it was just uncomfortable.

And then things got interesting.

Felicia Barton, 26, was, essentially, a sub-contestant for Joanna Pacitti, who made the Top 36 but was ousted for having past conflict-of-interest ties with the show. Felicia proved why second chances are doled out with the other Alicia K. song, "No One." Paula hit her with one of those special Paula lines: "Isn't it funny how the universe works."

Scott MacIntrye, 23, was a little disappointing on "Mandolin Rain." I worry that without his piano, he's still a strong singer but missing just a touch of his passion. The judges, however, heaped on the praise. Simon says he would be surprised if Scott didn't sail through. "You're growing on me," he said.

Kendall Beard, 24, and Jorge Nunez, 21, both still had shots as the show neared the end. But her Martina McBride song, "This One is for the Girls" was not her best vocal performance. It got shrill, but Kendall definitely has the chops for country music. Jorge did the other Elton John song, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." It was good, not great. And he's a likeable guy.

Up last was Lil Rounds, 24, (pictured) who knocked it out of the vocal park with "Be Without You," a Mary J. Blige song she definitely connected with. Simon called it "brilliant." Paula added, "We'll see you for many more 'lil rounds." Hah!

My predictions? It's tough. But I'm going with Lil, Scott and - as my darkhorse - the risen-from-the-ashes Felicia.

The live results show is at 8 tonight on FOX40.


MICHAEL BECKER/Fox

Nick Mitchell (aka "Norman Gentle") is still looking for gainful employment, and Votefortheworst.com will have to find another contestant to pick on.

Last night's "American Idol" results show put through three more contestants to the Top 12, and Nick wasn't one of them. Even though it looked crazy to see him up against the heavily favored Adam Lambert as the final two to hear their fate.

More than 25 million votes were cast this week (up a million from the first Top 12 competition). Marching, er singing, on will be Adam, Allison Iraheta and Kris Allen (pictured).

"Idol" reporters got a chance to chat with each of them individually, and here's what they had to say about their experiences so far - and the long road ahead!

Allison, 16, Los Angeles:

Q: How did you come to pick "Alone" as the song that introduced you to "Idol" voters, especially since it's been performed on past shows?
A: I love the song. I love the band Heart, and I thought about it beforehand. Carrie Underwood sang it, and it was amazing! But I focused on how I would perform it, not change it.

Q: Judge Simon Cowell touched on your pre-performance interview with Ryan Seacrest, saying it was "boring." How will you approach his comments about your personality?
A: I was sooo nervous before I sang. I'll definitely chill a little bit more before my next performance. I just need to relax.

Q: There have been quite a few Latino singers on the show. What would it mean to be the first to win?
A: That would be really cool! My parents are from El Salvador. All my life I've been singing in both Spanish and English.

Q: You're one of the younger contestants. Do you think about waiting a couple years to audition, and are there any advantages or disadvantages to being 16?
A: I've been wanting to audition since I was 9 and watching the show. I don't think my age matters. What it comes down to is that we're all here for the same thing.

Q: Are you a natural redhead?
A: I wish! Then I wouldn't have to worry about dyeing my roots every five weeks. My natural hair color is black. I think I'll be red the next couple of months and then maybe change to purple.

Adam, 27, Hollywood:

Q: Simon had mixed comments about your performance on Wednesday. How do you interpret that?
A: I'm a risk taker. I'm not easy listening, and I won't be digested well by everybody. The judges are professionals. I'll listen, but it's important to maintain your integrity. I won't be wailing at the top of my lungs every week. People would get tired of that.

Q: What was it like being the last to perform?
A: I was very happy to close the show because it made me fresh in everyone's minds when they voted.

Q: Is there any song/genre you'd be terrified to sing? And whose musical career do you admire?
A: I like challenges, and I don't think range wise I'd be scared of any song. Styles, maybe. Country week might be a stretch for me if that comes up. As for artists, David Bowie has been really cool. He takes risks both lyrically and vocally.

Q: Are you getting tired of all the musical theater questions? And, speaking of which, what was your first stage role?
A: Well, I don't listen to show tunes in my spare time. And now I get to sing what I like. At age 10 I was cast in a production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." I was Linus, the kid with the blanket.

Q: The judges definitely are being picky. Are you strategizing? And has your strong presence on the Internet provided any tips?
A: I think strategy is half the competition. Picking a song and working on the arrangement, you use your brain. When you perform, you turn off the brain and work it. I'm aware of the YouTube presence, but I try not to dwell on the comments too much. It's like market research. You find out what the fans like.

Kris, 23, Conway, Ark.:

Q: What's been the biggest challenge for you since Hollywood Week, and were last night's results a surprise, especially with Megan Joy Corkrey next to you?
A: I've had to learn to perform without my guitar! I was really, really shocked last night.This group had a lot of talent. Anyone could have made it through. Megan did a great job, and she's a lovely person who will go far in the music industry. I feel very lucky.

Q: We haven't seen as much of you as some of the other contestants. So do you think Simon's comments about "chicks will dig you" helped?
A: It (lack of exposure) went through my head a little bit, and I hoped it wouldn't matter because more people watch the live show. Simon's comment probably helped. I kind of like being the guy in the background. But I've been with the same woman for seven years!

Q: What theme week would be strong for you?
A: I would love the Beatles. They have so many songs. It would be the coolest thing to have Paul McCartney as a mentor.

Q: You were standing next to Nick Mitchell last night at the end. Did his act irritate the members of your group?
A: Nick wasn't mocking the show. He's just an entertainer, and he's really good at it. We liked him so much.

It will be a busy week next week for "American Idol." The final 12 contestants perform Tuesday with live results and three more getting through on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, it's the return of the "Idol" wild card to determine the final three spots. All shows are at 8 p.m. on FOX40.


February 22, 2009
Brangelina sighting!

By Leigh Grogan

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier puts together Mickey Rourke's look, with a
necklace featuring a pic of his now-deceased chihauhua. "I don't remember
what I had for breakfast today," he says. "If Sean Penn wins, I'll clap my
a.. off!

Diane Lane, with nominee/husband Josh Brolin, might be the best-looking
couple. Josh says he'd like to play "Ryan" in a real-life movie. Believe it
or not, Richard doesn't like Beyonce's black and gold dress. Jessica Biel is
caught on the red carpet talking on her cell phone: "She's probably calling
her stylist, saying my hair is falling apart!" Looks like a MySpace photo.
"She had serious evening wear on. It's called a satin sheet with low thread
count!"

Young actress Evan Rachel Wood from "The Wrestler" is gorgeous in a
strapless gown. On Anne Hathaway: "The beading on Anne's dress is
outrageous. She's letting you have it with those layers of paillettes
(beading)," Richard says.

OK, the first shot of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie arriving. "He could have
worn thermal underwear to the event and looked amazing, right," says
Richard. Angelina is waving to the crowd and totally oblivious that Brad's
ex, Jennifer Aniston, might be lurking.

But both Richard and I are asking the big question? "Where is Bobby Trendy?"

February 22, 2009
What's up with Ron Howard?

By Leigh Grogan

"I would call this (my gown) barely mint," says Sarah Jessica Parker of her
Dior Haute Couture gown. Richard thinks hubby Matthew Broderick looks
terrific. "Marisa Tomei's dress is stunning, amazing," Richard says. "But
her hair is a disaster."

We both like nominee (and Bee movie critic Carla Meyer's favorite) Sean Penn
in all black; "but Natalie Portman looks like she should be on top of a
birthday cake." E! Loves it, but we both wonder if they're looking at last
year's footage. Director Ron Howard looks like a Confederate/Union soldier.

By Leigh Grogan

Michael Sheen of "Frost/Nixon" has that rockabilly look: didn't shave, big
pompadour - and a tux.

Mickey Rourke, nominated for best actor for "The Wrestler," shows up in a
white jacket, greasy hair and smoking a cigarette. Hey, the guy's chihuahua
just died.

Anne Hathaway, also nominated for "Rachel Getting Married," alights from her
limo looking absolutely porcelain and goddess-like in a silvery strapless
gown.

February 22, 2009
Who are these actors?

By Leigh Grogan

Leslie Mann shows up, and we have absolutely no idea who she is. OK, so we don't get out much.

Richard and I both wish the camera would back out of the camera shots so we can see the stars - not so much their companions.

Richard beats Jay Manuel of E! with the origami reference to Heidi's gown. She's letting you have it in this dress," he says. She says she's been sitting on one butt cheek during the whole ride over to the awards venue.

Another lady in red? Amanda Seyfried of "Mamma Mia!"

Taraji P. Henson of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" looks amazing - love the gown and a quick pick at her Spanx when she hiked her gown to show off what I believe was a tattoo in honor of her late father.

"Am I out of the loop, or do I just don't know any of these actors," Richard says. He's not alone. I definitely feel like I'm watching an independent film red carpet. Guess we're both waiting for the DVDs.

By Leigh Grogan

On Ryan interviewing the kid cast of "Slumdog Millionaire": "They're cute, but Ryan Seacrest shouldn't be doing this job!"

There was a slight language problem.

Richard thinks singer John Legend's face is "painted for the gods. It was so matte."

Informal tux vs. traditional tux? I'm liking the traditional bow tie.

Nominee Melissa Leo of "Frozen River" shows up. "Her stylist needs to be contacted because she looks like honey mustard," says Richard.

"She looks like a complete catastrophe," Richard says. Her hair woman kept, and left.

On a good note, we both love Viola Davis ("Doubt") in her golden goddess gown. The E! Glamastrator spotlights the stars as they walk the red carpet.

Richard just informs me that all the makeup he just bought in San Francisco will have him looking like Jay Manuel of E! come Monday morning.

Designer John Galliano did actress Freida Pinto's elegant blue gown. But forget the gown, Ryan keeps asking who she's dating. "Ryan has no interest in her whatsover!," says my co-host.

A quick shot of Heidi Klum and husband Seal. Even though her red dress has a slight "origami" look to it, she still is amazing.

By Leigh Grogan

My friend and local fashion designer Richard Hallmarq just joined me and, so far, he thinks Kevin Kline's "old" hairdo makes him look sooo much older than his wife, Phoebe Cates.

Ryan had to toss out an "American Idol" plug. Phoebe didn't vote, but she likes Danny Gokeym, who made the Top 12.

Richard says he hasn't seen one dress that he likes so far.

Ken Baker of E! reports that there will be stars at the show who haven't been announced and won't walk the red carpet. Some big curtain with past winners presenting. It's supposed to be a break with tradition. Snoooze!!!!

Madonna arrives, and Richard and I think she looks great. Who's she with? "Another new man. She goes through them (men) like a pack of cigarettes," he says.

By Leigh Grogan

OK, so it's the 81st annual Academy Awards. I still don't know why E! starts its coverage of the red carpet (with host Ryan Seacrest) at 3 p.m. - two plus hours before the broadcast - because pretty much all we got was Miley Cyrus in a gown that weighs more than her, asking to be adopted by Angelina Jolie!

"I'm just here star-stalking," the teen quipped, as her mom "date" stood by - wearing her first pair of "borrowed" earrings.

Entertainment news: E! gets the scoop that Nicole Richie is pregnant with her second child.

The guess was it was either Angelina or her nemesis, Jennifer Aniston, who is scheduled to present tonight.


MICHAEL BECKER/Fox

Last night's results show on "American Idol" wasn't a crazy surprise: Alexis Grace and Danny Gokey are through. Tatiana Del Toro seemed poised to take her "act" to the next level. But then Michael Sarver won over fans' hearts -- and more importantly votes.

More than 24 million votes were cast -- 10 million more than last year at this time. (And that pretty much mirrors the average number of viewers.)

We got a little reunion with Season 7 contestants Michael Johns (always pleasant to look at) and Carly Smithson. They performed "The Letter."

But, by far, Tatiana and Danny as the final two left me stumped. When she realized she hadn't made it through, the impact got the best of her. The show went off the air with her visibly distraught. Keep in mind: The judges can put her back in as a wild card after nine contestants get through.

As for the lucky three, "Idol" reporters got to speak with them today -- individually. And the one question each of them was asked was: Of your group, who do you think deserves another shot at making the Top 12?

Gracious as only newly hatched contestants can be (the cynicism will come), they each thought all of the singers could have been Top 12. Really!! Casey Carlson? Stephen Fowler?

But there were other opportunities to find out more about Alexis, Michael and Danny. Here's a sampling of what they had to say:

Alexis, 21, is from Memphis, Tenn.
Q: With the three-week elimination process, do you think it's an advantage or disadvantage going first? And what will the three of you be doing while the rest of the Top 12 is determined?
A: It could go either way. Everyone knows there's a lot of pressure to get through. The most important thing is to have fun. During the next few weeks we'll keep busy. They ("Idol" producers) haven't said specifically what's happening, but I know you'll see more of us.

Q: Since your audition in Louisville, when the judges (in particular Randy Jackson) said to "dirty up your look," what have you changed style-wise? Would you say you identify with artists like Duffy or Amy Winehouse?
A: I like the '60s soul, cocktail kind of vibe. I have a lot of input on hair, makeup and clothes. And my girlfriends help me shop. I'm definitely trying to form my look because it's very important in this business. As for comparisons (to Duffy or Amy), I identify with their style of clothing, not necessarily their music.

Q: What did you think when Simon Cowell compared you to (Season 1 winner) Kelly Clarkson?
A: It's more than flattering. It shook my world - in a good way. It also pushes me to do better. I have to step up my game.

Q: Are there any mentors you'd love to work with this season?
A: Definitely. Aretha Franklin, Fleetwood Mac or Bruce Springsteen.

Michael, 27, is from Jasper, Texas
Q: You've watched previous "Idol" seasons. How do you think it's been having a fourth judge -- Kara DioGuardi? Were you intimidated?
A: Not at all. She adds more flavor and intellect. It benefits us as contestants. Kara brings an incredible mind for music to the table. And her comments are easy to understand.

Q: Were you told you were the top male vote-getter -- over Danny?
A: Ryan (Seacrest) said 20,000 votes separated me and Anoop (Desai), who stood next to me. I've heard some Fox outlets reporting it was me, but the important thing is we're both here. It's done. The three of us have a chance to sit back and watch the process and soak it in. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Q: What do you think of the wild card format?
A: The wild card means last night is not the end. I can't imagine the disappointment for the other nine in my group. But it gives them hope. Clay Aiken (Season 2) was a wild card. Good things come out of wild things!

Q: After you sang on Tuesday, Simon said he hoped America would give you another shot. Do you think that helped?
A: Him making a plea on my behalf I don't take lightly. Singing is nice, but so is character. I can acknowledge that the hard-working American thing is an appeal. Real-life people can relate to me, especially with the economy. My life isn't bad, but it's been tough.

Danny, 28, is from Milwaukee
Q: You're obviously an early fan favorite, even with the judges. How does that feel? And what do you think of the elimination process so far?
A: I'm honored that people want me to succeed. It's never been harder to get into the Top 12. Also never easier. We don't have to go from 24 to 12; it's 36, one shot and then to 12. But it makes it gut-wrenching. Some amazing talent is being sent home.

Q: Speaking of which, do you miss your friend Jamar Rogers, who didn't make it out of Hollywood Week? And, what was it like being up against Tatiana last night?
A: I was mad. I expected Jamar to go through because I was confident he showed his ability. He's received such recognition, I know he'll do well. Tatiana is a great person. You could see the desire and passion, which might have hurt her on TV. As for me, I felt like a wreck on the inside. I prepared myself mentally to go out gracefully.

Q: Going forward, are there aspects of your performance you believe you can improve?
A: I want to clean up my vocals. I notice I'm hitting a flat or sharp here and there. I like taking risks. But if I jump off a bridge, I want to land on my feet. I plan to loosen up a little bit and not be so nervous.

Q: How will you balance the background story about your wife's death and your journey on this show?
A: Some will think it's too much. It's only been seven months. But I don't think I've thrown it in people's faces. It weighs on my mind a lot, and it's shaping my life. But now I have a mission. There's a fun side to me that will come out. She's still in my heart. No one can take that away.


FRANK MICELOTTA/Fox

Last night's first round of live competition on "American Idol" featured 12 of the 36 finalists (six guys, six girls) singing for the first time for the fans' votes. On tonight's elimination show (8 p.m. on Channel 40), the top male vote-getter, the top female vote-getter and the next in line (either gender) will make up the first three of the elite Top 12.

Got that?

It sounds complicated but, as far as Tuesday night's performances went, nerves and (natch) bad song selection made for an easy vote - unless "Idol" fans are rebelling against good singing.

Alexis Grace, (pictured) 21, of Memphis is my top pick for the girl to make it through. Her rendition of "Never Loved a Man" was soulful and sultry and she's a natural with the camera.

New judge Kara DioGuardi said Alexis "released something inside. You're a new girl!"

Simon Cowell said she was the best contestant by a mile.

"You remind us of someone else who performed eight years ago by the name of Kelly Clarkson," he quipped. "You're definitely one to watch. The darkhorse."

Sentimental favorite guy Danny Gokey, 28, from Milwaukee, is my pick for the male to advance. His version of the Mariah Carey hit "Hero" was called "stellar" by Paula Abdul. And, because Danny sang last, Randy Jackson hailed him as the "redeemer of the night."

That's because the other 10 contestants were, well, pretty much a mediocre mess. In some cases a singing train wreck. Song choice slayed some singers who might otherwise have had a shot: Jackie Tohn ("A Little Less Conversation"- Elvis Presley). Stevie Wright ("You Belong With Me" - Taylor Swift), Casey Carlson ("Every Little Thing You Do" - the Police), Stephen Fowler ("Rock With You" - Michael Jackson) and even Anoop Desai ("Angel of Mine" - Monica) were blasted for their choice of songs and even arrangements.

Ricky Braddy, 26, of Elizabeth City, N.C., got very little face time during the auditions and Hollywood Week. Last night, he tackled Leon Russell's "Song For You." The judges liked the vocals but thought he lacked charisma. Guys like Brent Keith, 29, and Michael Sarver, 27, got stuck in the country music genre and failed to demonstrate versatility. And Ann Marie Boskovich, 22, got one of the first seasonal Simon jabs after singing "Natural Woman."

"It would work if we were searching for the best hotel singer in California," he said. "Your voice is not good enough for that song. It was irrelevant."

And then there was the laugh-track nightmare that is Tatiana Del Toro, 24, of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Either the show was doling out mood suppressors or Tatiana has a twin because the girl who sang last night was not the same "roller-coaster ride" we've all experienced. So said judge Kara.

When Tatiana said she was singing Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You," (in a flowing caftan no less), I was sure the judges would eviscerate her. But they were more concerned that the long-lived drama queen had bitten the dust.

That said, we could be in for a shock and see Tatiana as the third winner tonight. Stay tuned!


SACRAMENTO BEE FILE

One thing's for sure: Valerie Werder knows how to re-invent herself -- and her business. She's been the owner of Blush Boutique since first opening at N and 28th streets in March 2005 and, then, relocating to 2317 J St. almost two years ago.

Now her retail dream is taking another form. "I'm shifting with the economy," Werder says. "But I won't go away."

Her midtown lease expires at the end of April, and she's closing the physical store -- at least for now. She'll still be a part of her customers' lives, offering personal shopping and other services, including something she calls "the recession-proof closet."

"I'm not giving up," Werder says. "But I've been the only one running the show (read: store) for the last eight months. With two young children, I can't be here six days a week. But I'm hoping with this shift that I can stay alive and re-open a store in the future."

Her online shopping site - www.blushboutiqueshop.com - is still thriving, drawing customers from Seattle to the East Coast and even abroad. The Bee has featured Blush Boutique in several fashion shoots (pictured above).

"There's a woman in Turkey who shops online all the time," Werder says.

In fact, during last year's "American Idol" competition one of the dresses worn by contestant Carly Smithson was only available at Blush and its Web site. The dress sold out immediately, thanks partly to judge Simon Cowell's flattering comments about it.

"It was outrageous how many hits I got when she (Carly) wore that dress!" Werder says.

Werder hasn't stopped considering alternatives to keeping the physical boutique in place, even co-opting the space with other people or keeping it only on weekends.

"My wheels never stop spinning. It's why I took this risk in the first place," she says.

Customers have been receiving e-mails and letters about Blush's closure. So, if you haven't been, pay a visit. Online customers just click here.


ANNIE LEIBOVITZ / VOGUE

Michelle Obama is officially the first lady - and face - of fashion to all women, appearing on the cover of the March issue of Vogue.

It's nothing new for first ladies to be featured in the fashion magazine. It's been happening since Lou Hoover (except for poor Bess Truman). Obama, however, is only the second first lady to be featured on the cover. Hillary Rodham Clinton did so in 1998.

Obama (pictured) was photographed by none other than Annie Leibovitz. On the cover, she's wearing a magenta sheath dress by New York designer Jason Wu, who also created her one-shoulder inaugural gown.

Andre Leon Talley, Vogue's editor at large, conducted the interview, which, obviously because of press deadlines, took place before the actual swearing in. In his own one-on-one with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Talley says the cover - and eight-page spread inside - reflects "her warmth, which comes from within. It's not about her being a fashion icon. ... It's just the naturalness and the grace of Michelle Obama. It's who she is."

Traditionally, most cover shoots are "styled." In other words, someone else, usually a fashion editor, selects the clothing. Not in this case. Talley says Obama picked not only the Wu dress but the outfits inside. Some of them came from her own closet, including several pieces from one of her favorite retailers, J.Crew. (Her daughers, Sasha and Malia, wore J.Crew Crewcuts designs on Inauguration Day.)

Also featured is designer Narcisco Rodriguez, whose black and red dress Obama wore on Election Night. It was perhaps that dress with the panels topped with a cardigan that has drawn the most raised eyebrows among fashion watchers.

Of the criticism? "In the end, someone will always not like what you wear - people have different tastes," Obama says in the article.

The first lady also talks about her primary role as "mom in chief" to her daughters. Talley says she has specific goals for the White House regarding entertaining and welcoming children.

"She wants to use the kitchen as the classroom for young urban kids to come and see how a kitchen works," he says.

Blitzer asked Talley to offer up one thing about Obama readers and viewers might not know:

"When she was on the train coming from Philadelphia to Washington (for the inauguration), ... her daughters spent two hours in the children's train decorating it to give their mother a surprise birthday party because she was turning 45 that day. ... She was surprised and led all the kids in a stomp dance singing a cappella.

"The first thing she said to me after the party was, 'I just said to Barack, this is nice, but who is going to clean up this mess. We can't leave Amtrak this mess.' "

Talley and friends helped clean up the train.

Check news stands for the issue, which is sure to be sold out. Subscribers should receive their copies sometime next week.



BUSINESS WIRE

Yuck! When I heard back in December that fast-food chain Burger King was coming out with - dare I spray it - a fragrance dubbed Flame, I thought it would be char-broiled (with onions) in a flip second.

I was wrong. Apparently sales of the body spray were so popular that Burger King is "rekindling" Flame in time for Valentine's Day. This according to the Boston Herald. The company had advertised the body spray as "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat."

Well, nothing says romance like a guy who smells like your car the day after you've brought home bags of Burger King for dinner.

Sales of the scent, which at $4 a bottle is probably less than a combo meal, might be just the spark the company needs. Burger King announced last week that its profit dropped 10 percent in the second quarter. So, the company says it is also cutting its full-year earnings forecast.

Perhaps a woman's fragrance would be a nice to-go addition. How about one called "Shake," so you'll smell like milk and (chocolate, strawberry or vanilla)?


FOX

Last night's "American Idol" group competition proved one thing: It's every singer for himself/herself - certainly among the least talented performers.

I've been watching this show too long not to appreciate that part of the drama of the group sing-a-long is to have people fight about who they're singing with and who isn't practicing enough and who's trying to sabotage the person next to them. All the tears and trauma make for better TV than four singers who actually get along.

That didn't stop me from wanting to reach through the tube and throttle Tatiana Nicole Del Toro and "Bikini Girl" Katrina Darrell. Disruptive? Yes!! Whiney? YES!! Talented? NO!

There was a Team Compromise, a Team Diva (pictured), the Action Squad and - my personal favorite - White Chocolate. All four of its members made it through to the next round.

Last night's judges' admonition? "Forget the words, you're out." The good singers were soooo much better than the bad singers, prompting Simon Cowell to mutter, "Has anyone got any Advil. We're going to need a case."

It was tough following exactly who got through because entire groups (of three or four) made it through or got cut altogether, and individual group members were either ousted or sent through.

I know it's the last we'll see of Katrina (at least on this show), and it was the end for David Osmond of the Osmond family singers. On the plus side, we'll be hearing more from Adam Lambert and Jasmine Murray.

In the end, 75 singers will compete next Tuesday and Wednesday (8 p.m. on Channel 40) for the coveted Top 36 spots. A certainty is that bikinis won't be a clothing staple anymore.



The CW

Analeigh Tipton, the Sacramento native and St. Francis High grad (pictured), takes her first steps tonight on Cycle 11 of The CW's highly anticipated "America's Next Top Model."

The two-hour premiere - at 8 p.m. - on Channel 31 might test your patience, especially if you've grown weary of hostess Tyra Banks. (I have!)

But it's always interesting when a local talent makes the scene.

Let me know what you think of how the premiere pans out!

May 29, 2008
Cycling in style

I just want to be the first to say that I'm all for alternative modes of transportation to and from work, to and from other routine trips. Heck, between the meltdowns we all feel at the gas pump and what's coming with the I-5 construction, I'm loving how Sac companies are coming up with ways to allow folks to either work from home or installing bike racks so they can pedal to their desks.

Just one teensy piece of fashion advice. Riding a bike in work clothes does your apparel no favors. On Wednesday, I spotted a woman in a dress, and part of her hem was caught in the rear spokes. Then there was the guy motoring along in dress socks and leather shoes!

Bad fashion statements, yes. But, even though I'm not a cyclist, I figure it's probably not safe, either. Invest in a messenger bag or backpack to carry your work wardrobe essentials.

And, helmet hair can be fixed with a quick trip to the bathroom. Gals: Throw your hair over your head, brush and spritz with a touch of hairspray. Guys - or anyone with shorter hair: Throw a little styling gel in your briefcase.

Meanwhile, if you're walking, I can attest to what happens when you attempt a mile-plus hike home in pointy-toed pumps. You'll be wearing flip-flops for days to come!

May 16, 2008
Show time at the Lofts

When fashion gives back, it's always a good thing. And tonight, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., a show titled "Fashion for Autism Charity Show" should be a great event.

Hosted by local designer Michael Lopez, it will be held at the 1801 L (street) Lofts in midtown.

Who will be showing? Among others, M. Lopez Designs, Martini Kisses, Pretty Trashy, Emily Rose, Paola Hernandez and Porkchop.

In an e-mail, Michael says, "We are putting this event together because we feel that fashion needs to be brought into the midtown atmosphere, but most of all, autism needs to be recognized and looked at as something that needs help."

Tickets for the show are available today for $4 at Bows and Arrows boutique, 1712 L St.. Or you can pay $6 at the door tonight. Food will be provided by Urban Kitchen, Buckhorn Grill and Old Soul Coffee Co.

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Fox

Finishing third on "American Idol" is nothing to feel bad about. It just depends on how a contestant handles the offers - because there will be a horde of producers, record execs, etc., eager to pounce once the summer tour ends. Maybe even before.

For Syesha Mercado, she's not going to let any grass grow. Not this gal! She did take time out today, though, to do a phone conference with reporters about what's ahead. Here's some of what she had to say:

Q: Maybe more than anybody, you’ve symbolized the real "Idol" journey. How did that work for you?
A: I consider myself a hard worker. I'm always rehearsing, trying to improve. I was in a little shell at first, thinking nobody sees who I am. That was harming my performance. So I got my mind right again, like at the audition. And I got comfortable with performing and the stage. I just enjoyed myself more every week. The goal was to feel satisfied after every show.

Q: Judge Paula Abdul said on Tuesday that you sang songs that didn’t define you. Your thoughts?
A: Everyone says I'm a mix of a lot of things. "Oh, she’s Broadway. A black Christina Aguilera." I love pop, R&B. I'm growing as an artist. People can see the transition I went through. You just learn so much. Everyone will know who I am when I put out an album.

Q: A follow-up question to Tuesday night: Were you puzzled by the producers' choice of song for you, "Hit Me Up?"
A: I knew that song. My nieces and nephews love "Happy Feet." They watch it over and over. I couldn’t change it. When something comes that’s a challenge, I try to turn it into a positive. It wasn't a singer's song. Most of it is back-up singing. It was weird.

Q: What did you learn on "Idol," and what was the best piece of advice you received?
A: A lot! That there’s a fine line between over-rehearsing and just doing what you need to do. Sometimes I worked so hard, I couldn’t enjoy myself. I learned to relax, read and deal with stress. Of the mentors, Andrew Lloyd Webber encouraged me to perform my song the way I wanted. To be animated. That helped me break out of my shell even more.

Q: Was it a roller coaster being in the bottom three or bottom two so often?
A: Every week is new. I never packed my bags. They ("Idol" brass) told us to, but I didn’t. If you want to be Top 3, you’ll be Top 3. (Now), whichever David is most passionate will win.

Q: Speaking of the two "Davids," what do you think is special about each of them?
A: They’re (each) really unique. David Archuleta has that beautiful smile and good connection with the younger audience. Girls go crazy over David Cook. Even older women love him. I've been both little sister and big sister, with just the three of us. We just had fun. The competition could go either way. I wish them both luck.

Q: It's come up a bit, from other departing female contestants, that this season there seems to be a preference among voters for the male singers. Any merit to that?
A: I never focused on the voting. It will be obvious at the end. It is what it is. Whoever wins is supposed to win. Being the last girl standing is an honor.

Q: What are your plans after the tour?
A: I tell people I want to do everything. I'm very goal-oriented. I want to make an album, star in a film, go on Broadway, open an organic restaurant! I write all my goals down. I'll look for the best opportunity and just live in the now.

I'm not surprised by the outcome, and neither should "American Idol" fans: For those of you who predicted that "David" will win, you're right!

But the question remains, which one?

After more than 56 million votes were cast Tuesday night, David Archuleta and David Cook are left to face off in a "Battle of the Davids" (which may or may not include David A's father, Jeff - just sayin') on Tuesday in the Season 7 finale.

That means a guy vs. guy for the first time since Season 2, when Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard sung it out for the title.

It also means we say goodbye to Syesha Mercado - well, until at least the "Idol" tour hits the road - who truly gave it her all in the last couple weeks. No regrets from her, just a simple "Thanks!"

(Don't forget: Tickets for the tour, which is set to hit Arco Arena on July 9, go on sale Saturday.)

Judge Simon Cowell said if it turns out the way he thinks, the finale will be a "real humdinger." Never heard him use that word before.

Tonight's show featured the annual sojourns back to the Top 3's hometowns. I don't recall as much crying in past seasons, but, what the heck. A baby thrown in your arms and a mayor with a handlebar moustache will do that to you.

David A. went to Murray, Utah, Syesha to Sarasota, Fla., and David C. to Blue Springs, Mo. (and Kansas City). There were cheerleaders, screaming teens, basic screaming, parades, appearances on "Good Day, (fill in the blank)," helicopter rides and one really sweet surprise as David C. brought flowers to his elementary school music teacher.

Low moment of the night?

A really, really raunchy - yes, I said raunchy - performance by Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, who hit the stage with newly dyed, bright red hair and three back-up singers who might or might not have been sporting Under Armour.

Fantasia, clearly winded after the performance, should be grateful Simon wasn't offering a critique because he was shaking his head (and not in a good way) at the end of her "act."

Hope everyone stuck around for Syesha's encore performance of "If I Ain't Got You." It's one to remember.

Moving on, Tuesday's finale will feature the winning song from the songwriter's contest. Cross your fingers it won't be anything like last season's sappy, no-one-would-ever-actually-say-this "This Is My Now."

Also, rumors were running amok today that David A's father was not happy that "Idol" producers seemed more taken with rival David's performances Tuesday night.

Guy needs a new hat - and a new attitude. OK, I don't like him.

May the stronger David prevail.

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Hybrid autos, solar panels and other things "green" aside, I'm glad I wrote about eco-friendly fashions back in April. (To see the story that appeared in the Scene section, click here.)

It's becoming a super-hot topic.

Right after the story ran, I got word from UC Davis that an exhibit titled "Fashion Conscious" was set to open Thursday at the school's design museum. Curators Susan Taber Avila and Julia Schwartz have put together an amazing look at sustainable fashions, including garments and textiles.

To coincide with the exhibit's opening, there will be a free symposium from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday titled "Designing With Conscious". It will be held in the UC Davis Technocultural Studies Building (just south of the Art Building).

Target audience? Design students and professionals, retailers and consumers who want to know more about sustainable fashion beyond hemp. The overall goal: to find alternatives to commercial cotton and all the pesticides associated with producing it.

The symposium will feature at least seven speakers, including a designer who works with recycled cashmere and an environmental analyst at Patagonia in Ventura.

To register for this free event or for more info on the exhibit, which runs through July 13, click here.


For a while on Tuesday night (well, only after one song), it looked like the last girl standing on "American Idol" might give the two "Davids" a run for the finale.

But then Syesha Mercado's own song choice and the one picked for her by the show's producers fell flat, likely setting up next week's season ender with David Archuleta singing against David Cook for the confetti drop and Season 7 "Idol" title.

No great shocks, right?

Well, at least song selectiion was not entirely the fault of the contestants. They performed three songs - each judge picked one, the three contestants each picked one, and then those pesky producers got involved with certainly two of the worst choices this season.

Here's how it broke down:

* David A. got his judge's pick from Paula Abdul, who chose Billy Joel's " And So It Goes" for the teen. It always gets a little tricky when the other judges do their critiques. Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell thought it was very good. "Predictable, no surprises," Simon said.

* Syesha's song came from Randy - Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You." Great choice and definitely her best performance of the night, though Simon wished the "Dawg" had chosen "something so you wouldn't sound like the original."

* David C. received a text message from Simon with his song, which was a stunner: Roberta Flack's "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." And, as usual, David's arrangement, especially the high note at the end, was amazing. Round 1? Cook and Cowell take it.

The contestants' own choices were odd at best, leaving the middle round "just OK" in Simon's opinion.

David A. sang Chris Brown's "With You." Syesha did a chair dance to Peggy Lee's "Fever," and David C. rocked "Dare You To Move" by Switchfoot.

But the final round - the producers' picks - was, in my opinion, a big, fat flop.

David A. sang a wishy-washy version of Dan Fogelberg's wishy-washy "Longer." I didn't like that song 20 years ago. (No disrespect to Dan.) Simon agreed, calling the performance "gooey."

Syesha got stuck with "Hit Me Up" from the "Happy Feet" soundtrack. She would have been better off with penguins as back-up singers. And it was sweet Paula who delivered the bad news: "I'm not sure it's good enough to get you into the finals."

David C. closed it out with Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," an uber-predictable performance that likely will get him into the finals. Simon declared he definitely had "won the night."

Dialidol.com put the red-light prediction on Syesha. Of the two Davids, Archuleta certainly would be the most vulnerable. But don't count on it.


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Fox

The Top 3 perform tonight (at 8 on Fox40) on "American Idol": three songs for three finalists seeking a shot at next week's Top 2 finale.

And let's hope young David Archuleta has found some semblance of a backbone hidden behind that big voice of his and has told his father (for lack of better words), "Butt out!"

Sounds disrespectful? Well, if you've been a fan of Season 7, you have to have picked up on David's vulnerability to his old man. Jeff Archuleta has been dubiously dubbed the worst stage parent of all time, reportedly badgering his son and bullying his way into rehearsals and other places a guardian isn't needed.

According to a variety of reports - from the Associated Press to TMZ - the elder Archuleta has officially gotten the boot as far as attending "Idol" rehearsals, where, unless he's a music teacher, he has no business.

No one at "Idol" will go on the record but apparently Jeff talked David into changing a lyric on last week's "Stand By Me", one of two songs David performed from the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Reports say Jeff was duly warned to stay out of the rehearsal, but David ended up performing the song by adding a verse from Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls," , clearly a violation because the Hall doesn't allow lyric changes. "Idol" apparently incurred the wrath of Cleveland (Hall's home) and a nice, fat fine.

You're probably wondering why it was OK for Brooke White to change a word on her version of Neil Diamond's "I Am, I Said" two weeks ago. Well, he wrote it, he was the mentor and he told her to do it!

Just a thought, but maybe "Idol" should up the age requirement to 18 and rid themselves of overzealous parents.

Geez, what a headache this guy has been!

Given all the hoopla, it will be interesting to see how David handles the pressure tonight. If (and it's a long shot) he gets the boot on Wednesday, it will be a long drive back to Utah.

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Associated Press/The White House/Shealah Craighead

Well, first daughter Jenna Bush tied the knot Saturday at her family's 1,600-acre Prairie Chapel Ranch, just as the sun dipped around 7:30 p.m.

And, while few details about the ceremony have eeked out, I did find out via Vogue magazine and other news services that Jenna, 26, wore what she described as a “very structured” Oscar de la Renta organza gown when she wed longtime beau Henry Hager.

So, for those wedding fashionistas expecting a mile-long train, a la Princess Diana, it didn't happen.

However, having seen the pics, I think Jenna made a lovely choice. Heck, you simply can't go wrong with a de la Renta gown. Even with a simple one, the attention to detail - the lace, the beading - is exquisite. And no giant veil to obscure the groom's view!

This is certainly not the first time the Bush family has called on de la Renta for fashion advice. As you may recall, all the Bush women - Jenna, mom Laura and twin sister Barbara - all wore "Oscars" for the second inaugural ceremonies in January 2005.

The day after his daughter's big day, President Bush told the AP, “The wedding was spectacular. It’s just - it’s all we could have hoped for.”

Barbara Bush served as her twin's maid of honor and the other 14 "house party" members (that's Texan for bridesmaids) were attired in pastel-colored, short chiffon dresses by designer Lela Rose.


The Event Foundation in Sacramento is looking for talent - good talent, they say - so that cuts me out of the hunt. Anyway, the group is hosting a mega fundraiser, "From Film to Fashion," on Oct. 4 at Raley Field.

The auditions run the gamut. That's because the event will feature everything from theatrical acts to dance performances and lots and lots of music.

So, here's what they're looking for:

* Dancers: A ballet performance will be performed during dinner.

* Orchestra: Musicans are needed for an orchestra that will perform several movie scores during the runway fashion show.

* Theater/drama: Performers are needed to reenact scenes from several movies, including "Indiana Jones" (male lead and five to eight extras).

* Vocals: Vocalists are needed to perform "Summertime" (female), "The Music of the Night" (male), and the theme song from "The Phantom of the Opera" (one male, one female).

There are two ways to audition. You can submit a performance DVD or schedule a live tryout. With either option, you'll also need to submit an application - deadline is Friday. Click here to print an application form out.

Address:
The Event Foundation
930 Alhambra Blvd., Suite 80A
Sacramento, CA 95816

or call (916) 440-9703 for more information.

No, you probably don't need Michael Crawford's voice, but as close as possible wouldn't hurt!

And remember: You have to be available Oct. 4, the night of the event. Duh.


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OK, so you're down to that last-minute Mother's Day gift. Well, you can't go wrong with a beautiful bauble.

Why not make a stop either today or Saturday at Arareity Jewelry & Art Glass Gallery, 1021 R St. The store is hosting trunk shows both days featuring the Masriera collection, which has been around a loooong time, first produced in 1839 in Barcelona, Spain.

What will you find? Lovely pieces - including earrings, brooches, rings - in 18 karat gold and enamel, very reminiscent of the Lalique line. In fact, the Masriera collection has been featured in New York's Museum of Modern Art and will be heading to an upcoming exhibit in Amsterdam.

Arareity's show today ends at 5:30 p.m.; Saturday's is from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information: (916) 446-1535.

After shopping, stroll down the street a bit and enjoy some fine dining and a cold beverage at Fox & Goose, 1001 R St.

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Hector Amezcua/hamezcua@sacbee.com

Let's put politics aside for the moment in the race for Sacramento mayor, and talk about the really important stuff. Like style. Or lack thereof.

After Wednesday night's debate, the seven candidates seem strong enough to take pot shots from each other - and from the voters - so I thought I'd lob a few fashion salvos their way, as well.

I watched the debate in between catching the live results on "American Idol." And I was stunned. This was TV. A live broadcast. Do or die.

And I'm talking about the clothes worn by the candidates, not the "Idol" contestants. (The latter whom were appropriately dressed.)

Bottom line: If you're campaigning to be the mayor of the capital city of one of the largest states in the country, you can't, can't, dress as if you were dumpster diving at the nearest thrift store. Or appear like you'd rather be a back-up singer for ZZ Top or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Or wear black (with a bad tie) because you think you're channeling your inner Charles Bronson.

Yeah, it makes you a standout, but not in a good way.

To candidate Adam Daniel, I'll leave you alone because you dropped out of the race during the debate.

To everyone else, when you're trying to represent us, especially outside the city limits, i.e., during confabs with the likes of Michael Bloomberg (mayor of New York) or Shirley Franklin (mayor of Atlanta), you can get away with talking the talk (even if it is about chickens) but, if you dress inappropriately, that just solidifies the notion that California is, indeed, the land of fruits and nuts.

Trust me on this one: Appearance does impact your credibility. So, call me if you need someone to help you shop.

And, by the way, a trim here and there wouldn't be a bad idea, either.

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Fox

Jason Castro really is Jason Castro.

What do I mean by that? Dude is just as laid-back over the phone as he was during his incredible ride on "American Idol."

In a conference call with reporters today, Jason says his busiest days are ahead of him. And the thought of singing three songs next week, had he stayed? He's happy that it's not happening.

Here's some more of what he had to say about his experience on the show:

Q: You seemed utterly relieved when you were eliminated last night. Is that accurate?
A: I was as happy last night as when I made the Top 24. It's just really been hard. I had been thinking ahead to next week and three songs. I couldn't even do two! There was some freaking out about all the work. But the pressure is off, even though I loved my time on the show.

Q:After the results show, there were rumors flying that Simon Cowell thought you deliberately forgot the words to "Mr Tambourine Man" because you wanted to get the boot. Any truth to that?
A: No, I didn't do it on purpose. That's such a popular line that's written on your soul. When I got on stage, I was really rushed, my mind was in a blur. I just forgot where I was in the chorus.

Q: At one point, the judges said you weren't the same Jason they brought into the competition. Do you think your lack of experience, which you mentioned, hindered you?
A: The lack of experience really showed when we doubled up on songs. I was not connecting to the songs, I couldn't fall in love with them. But it also has everything to do with song selection and then finding time to rehearse. As the show progressed, there was less and less of that.

Q: Do you feel like the show portrayed you as you really are - super mellow?
A: I think it (the show) very much did. I am a goofy person. I'm an awkward conversationalist, as you guys can probably tell. But I am kind of grounded. What you see is what you get.

Q: Quite a few of the other contestants have professional backgrounds. Did you see yourself as the guy who just wandered in and was having a good time?
A: Hey, I made it farther than I ever imagined. And I did just kind of wander in. But, then I thought, "Hey, I'm here. I might as well be in it to win it." Every week I wanted to give it my best.

Q: There's no doubt you were very popular with the female viewers. You even got kissed in Las Vegas! Are you uncomfortable with the fame?
A: I don't really get it yet. I've never been starstruck, but I think it's cool because it means they like you. Actually, we (the contestants) don't go out at all. I had dinner once a week with my parents and tried to be inconspicuous.

Q: Do you have a girlfriend?
A: I do. She just finished school and is headed back to Texas.

Q: Are you looking forward to getting back to the Lone Star State?
A: I wish I was there now. But I hear I'm not going home. Instead, I'm headed to New York and then I come back here (L.A.) for the finale and rehearsing for the tour.

Q: What have you learned about yourself from your experience? And what do you think about the remaining three contestants?
A: I've learned I can do a lot more than I thought. And I did it for a few months straight - on TV! Everybody left is strong, especially the "Davids." And Syesha has been really working hard. Every week you're on there are more chances, but no guarantees.

Jason Castro had every dread locked into place tonight - even after being eliminated on "American Idol."

His thoughts? "Three songs next week? I don't know what I would have done!"

So, that leaves "Idol" viewers with their Top 3: David Archuleta, David Cook and Syesha Mercado. This, after close to 51 million votes were cast after Tuesday night's competition, the highest this season.

This week's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame selections - a virtual vault of the best music ever performed - didn't impress the three judges. Simon Cowell said tonight that he "was surprised at the disastrous song choices."

But the Final 4 contestants didn't have much time to worry about Simon's musings. They received a private 737 plane ride to Las Vegas as guests of honor at a Cirque du Soleil performance of the Beatles' sold-out "Love."

They got gussied up (David C. got his first manicure), and Jason was ambushed by girls and a dolphin in the hotel pool.

Tonight, viewers also were treated to performances by Season 4 runner-up Bo Bice and one of my favorite groups, Maroon 5, set to launch a worldwide tour.

* Worst moment of the night? The Final 4 Ford video featuring Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and the contestants in uber-tight matador pants. UGH!

* Best moment of the night? Before the elimination, Jason was asked his thoughts on Tuesday's performances:

"Somebody told me yesterday that I shot the tambourine man. I screwed up."

This in reference to his two song choices: Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man."

Next weeK? Three songs, like Jason said. And trips to the Top 3's hometowns.

Check back here at 21Q Thursday for a Q&A with Jason.

(And, if I'm in a particularly sporty mood, I'll offer a fashion assessment of our fair city's mayoral candidates. This, after tonight's televised debate. You won't want to miss this.)

Hey, with another nice forecast this weekend, there's no reason not to take advantage of all the shopping options in midtown and thereabouts.

Oh, and OK, and to check out some of the galleries, too, during the popular monthly Second Saturday artwalk.

Of course, Mother's Day is Sunday. So this also could be your chance to pick up that last-minute gift for mom, your partner's mom, your wife the mom, a mom-to-be - or, heck, for yourself if you're a mom!

Here are some ideas:

* Lululemon Athletica, a yoga-inspired apparel company based in Vancouver, B.C., is having a special Sacramento grand opening from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; the store, at 2310 J St. in midtown, will feature complimentary yoga classes and demos.

The store's manager, Lorena Beightler, e-mailed that she's looking forward to the store becoming sort of midtown yoga hub, with, according to press materials, "yoga and fitness classes."

"Yoga as a fitness activity is growing stronger in Sacramento and is taking its place alongside other popular outdoor activities, like running and cycling," she writes.

The Lululemon store will officially open May 16, and will only be open from 2 to 7 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. On Wednesday evenings - from 7 to 8 - Lululemon will offer a free yoga class at McKinley Park.

To get a sneak peak at the apparel for both women and men, or to get more more information, click here.

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* Felicia Strati boutique will host a fashion show Saturday featuring spring/summer European collections. The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the shop's Capitol Avenue and 19th Street location; Apartment 19 will be styling the models' hair, so you can anticipate "fierceness."

* Madam Butterfly boutique in Pavilions (off Fair Oaks Boulevard) is hosting a trunk show Thursday through Sunday featuring Junior Drake handbags. But don't stop there. If you find the perfect gift, Madam Butterfly will wrap it for free while you nibble on canapes.

Note to you: One special mom I know just asks for the chance to sleep in this Mother's Day. Keep the breakfast warm!

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Fox

If "American Idol" voters even come close to listening to judge Simon Cowell's opinions Tuesday night, there will be no big shocker on tonight's results show (at 9 on Fox40).

Jason Castro may have dreaded (no pun intended) hearing it but, after his second song, Simon threw down the gauntlet: "I'd pack your suitcase."

Yow!

The Final 4 performed two songs each from the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. However, after last week's flub with Paula Abdul, host Ryan Seacrest told the three judges they would critique after each song.
"Everybody got it right?" he asked. (Camera pans to Paula.)

David Cook surprised me (and apparently the judges) with both his songs: Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" and The Who's "Baba O'Riley." (Most folks might remember this song as "Teenage Wasteland.")

The judges definitely preferred the latter song. Randy Jackson said "Hungry" was an "OK choice," but "Baba" was great.

Syesha Mercado went all Tina Turner on us with "Proud Mary" first: shiny, short dress, hips swaying, working the band.

Randy said, "It was the third week in a row Syesha was in the zone!" However, Simon put a damper on the performance, saying it was a "shrieky version."

Her second song? A heartfelt rendition of Sam Cooke's 1964 "A Change is Gonna Come." Randy, however, said Syesha was trying for "things" that weren't there. "It was disconnected and fell flat."

Paula and Simon took sides against Randy, both loving it. Syesha was brought to tears by their praise - and also by the emotion of the song and its connection to the Civil Rights movement. While she cried, the judges bickered among themselves, to the point that Ryan warned that "Hell's Kitchen," which follows "Idol," was going to start any minute.

And then there was Jason, strummin' and chillin' to two "Bobs:" Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man."

Dreadlocks notwithstanding, Jason wasn't the bomb. He just bombed. He dropped the lyrics on the Dylan song and was told by Simon that the Marley song was one "you don't touch!"

"Stand back. That was utterly atrocious!" he said.

That left young David Archuleta (pictured), who seemed to have put a lot of thought into his selectiions, starting with Ben E. King's "Stand by Me," on which Paula said he delivered. Randy said he thought David A. was trying to win the whole thing. (Simon took another swing at Jason, who had just sung, saying, "David, you could have whistled better than the last song." Ouch!)

David's last song was Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender," one of the best arrangements I've ever heard. Randy said he "caressed each word." Paula said it was one of her favorite performances. And then, this from Simon: "You didn't beat the competition tonight, you crushed it!"

In the end, Ryan warned voters/viewers to not let down their favorite contestant by not voting.

"Remember, Tamyra Gray (Season 1) and Chris Daughtry (Season 5) both went home in the fourth spot," he said.

Predictions: Dialidol.com wasted no time putting the "red light" on Jason, polling him as definitely headed home. I won't argue with that. But, his lock on the female vote could be a stunner for, say, Syesha.

I'm sticking with my two "Davids" for the finale. What do you think?

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Fox

Tonight's version of "American Idol" will feature the Final 4 (pictured) - one competition away from the Top 3. (Notice how we go from Final to Top?)

Yes, there are major perks to advancing.

The last three standing traditionally get a private plane ride to their hometowns, maybe a parade, a mall appearance, a key to the city, a street named after them.

And then it's back to L.A.

But, I'm jumping the gun a bit. We've got a show tonight (at 8 on Fox40). Syesha Mercado, David Archuleta, Jason Castro and David Cook don't have many more opportunities to woo fans away from each other. Forget what the judges say - or mumble! (Let's just hope Paula Abdul didn't attend dress rehearsal.)

They'll perform two songs from the vaunted collection that is the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. What does that mean? Anything from Madonna to Mick Jagger.

Yes, the judges harp ad nauseum on song selection, but I seriously can't think of a week when it will count as much. David C. could go mellow and then rock it, or rock it twice. David A. could just go mellow/mellow. With Brooke White's mellowness gone, Jason can't count on those dreads if he, too, goes mellow/mellow. For me, Syesha is the one to watch because she can mix it up with the best of them.

If not, find a spot for her in "Dreamgirls."

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Autumn Cruz/acruz@sacbee.com


It's been just a little more than a month, but there's been a lot of change since I wrote about local handbag designer Ada Komorniczak-Deferrari (pictured) and her incredible accessories. (To see the article that ran in Scene, click here.)

Anyway, over calamari and cool drinks on Friday, Ada filled me in on her recent trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where her handbags, belts and wallets are designed andl handmade.

"After people saw the bags, especially the croco one in The Bee, I had to increase orders from once to twice a month, and I've extended that croco line to include new shapes and sizes and new fabrics, such as metallics," she says.

Ahh, sweet success!

Ada, whose collection is, well, simply called "Ada," traveled to Argentina in
April with her husband, Gaston, who's also her business partner and a native of that country. (I asked if they had spotted the "Today" show's Matt Lauer, who was there last Monday on the first leg of his "Where in the World" tour. "No, but I'm sure he had a good time with the dancing and the dining," she says.)

Anyway, what's in the works for Ada's upcoming collections?

Well, her portfolio of fabrics tells an interesting story. Customers will see textures like anaconda, and the fall collection will focus on deep plums with reptile and a mixture of patent leathers.

This summer, Ada is also putting together a tote-bag collection to benefit a women's shelter in Buenos Aires. She found out about the shelter on the recent trip, where she met women who were making beautiful heart keychains to raise awareness about abuse. Now, Ada is creating a signature tote (in multiple colors) that will include the keychain, with a percentage of the sales to go to the shelter.

"They're earning a living to support their families, so I see it as a chance to contribute to their well-being," she says.

To find out more, check out Ada's Web site here.

Besides Argentina, Ada and Gaston traveled to Dallas and Chicago, where they found the markets mixed.

"Chicago is more conservative in terms of fashion," she says. "Dallas tended to embrace my suede bags in purple and green, and white is big for summer."

Another thing Ada is learning? Fashion trends definitely enter from the two coasts and then move inland. And, there's always a demand for both classic and trendy looks.

For those of you who gotta-have-an-Ada, here are some local boutiques that carry her line:
* Morgan Lain, 613 Munroe St. in Sacramento
* Five, 2580 Fair Oaks Blvd. Sacramento
* The Pink House, 1462 33rd St. in Sacramento
* Sandra D's Fashions, 3941 Park Drive, Suite 60, in El Dorado Hills

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Fox

What a difference a night without any sleep makes. You're too TIRED to cry anymore!

"American Idol's" latest eliminated contestant, Brooke White, put all her vulnerability out there Wednesday when she got the bad news. (See my posting below.) But, in a conference call today with "Idol" writers, she was back to being happy Brooke. So, she was definitely composed and eager to talk about her experiences on the show and about moving forward.

Here's some of what she had to say:

Q: Last night was quite emotional for you. Did you think being eliminated would be that tough?
A: I kind of anticipated it. At that moment, I thought I was strong. Then, boom! It hit me that it’s over. The finality of it was sad. There's a fear of going back into the real world, of what’s to come. I had hoped I could have been stronger. I’m emotional and passionate. And I felt vulnerable every time. But it's been an amazing journey.

Q: It has been a journey. How do you think you dealt with the pressures, and did your faith help?
A: I didn't have a choice. It was just something within me. When you feel like you’re sinking, you say, "OK, swim." You have to make the best of it. Even with the challenges, I thought I could do it. Yes, there were two of us who are Mormon. It's just part of our lives. My faith definitely helped me make some decisions.

Q: What are you looking forward to?
A: I actually had an interview with Carly Simon this morning, and she gave me a lot of support and the hope that I can make it happen. She told me it was OK to be different. People appreciate it.

Q: What kind of album would you like to make?
A: I want to be a singer/songwriter. I would love to co-write and build an album around that organic sound, playing the piano and guitar. I want to connect with people on an honest level.

Q:You were upset about Carly Smithson going home last week. Was there any guilt because you had to stop and start your Andrew Lloyd Webber song?
A: I was grateful (I got to stay). The voting process is very interesting. You never know what will happen. I had to see past my mistake of forgetting the words last week. I’ve been packed (to go) for two weeks. Ever since Michael Johns went home, I wondered, "How long do I get?" I hoped for the Final 2. I also tried to set goals: Top 24, Top 12, Top 10, Top 5.

Q: Can you talk about judge Paula Abdul's incident on Tueday night? And how did Jason Castro feel afterward? Did it impact him?
A: It’s live television - anything can happen. I had to start and stop again last week. Human moments happen on the show. Things can change very quickly. Paula probably got lost in the moment. She’s a good-hearted woman. Jason is a very laid-back guy. He’s great. We've all learned to fly by the seat of our pants.

Q: This week's mentor, Neil Diamond, told the contestants last night not to listen to Simon Cowell. How do you feel about Simon now?
A: It was quite a challenge. I always give my best. But there was always this place of vulnerability. Sometimes Simon's delivery is plain mean. He can be harsh and blunt. But he wants to push you do to your best.

Q: We always ask about your relationship with the other contestants and, of course, who you think has the best shot at winning?
A: I had great friendships with the contestants. And I'm looking forward to going on tour together. There was always a lot of sitting in rooms and waiting for something to happen. We’re very different from one another. It’s what people like. As for predicting a winner, each contestant is really special. It just depends on what America wants. The boys are awfully popular and charming this year. They get stacks and stacks of mail!

Q: Your husband, Dave, pledged not to cut his hair as long as you remained on "American Idol." Any idea when will he cut it? How great was it to have him for support?
A: He'll get a haircut whenever I get around to it. I’ll be the one doing it! Maybe 3 a.m. He likes to hear me sing. Dave is a laid-back fellow with a great perspective. I was very fortunate to have him hang with me.



I've said to every "American Idol" fan who asks: If - and when - Brooke White is eliminated from the singing competition, would she have a meltdown? (Read: Tears!)

YES!

It wasn't as bad tonight as I expected (though there were plenty of water works), but I credit that in large part to the show narrowing the bottom two to Brooke and Syesha Mercado with a half hour left before the elimination. Plenty of time to think, plenty of time to get weepy.

The three guys - Jason Castro, David Archuleta and David Cook - breezed to the next round in the first 20-24 minutes.

Still, there were several notable on-air moments beyond the elimination:

Host Ryan Seacrest addressed the whole Paula Abdul critique clunker from Tuesday night. (Note to "The View" hosts: When you toss out conspiracy theories and notions of sleep aids, be careful, especially when you don't have any cred to back them up. Ditto for MSNBC.)

Ryan defended Paula, saying: "Before we move on, the judges were thrown a curve ball last night, which happens on live TV. Today, it sparked rumors on-air and online about Paula. The rumors are not true. She's part of our family, and we love her."

In my opinion, "American Idol" - the show - doesn't need to resort to judging trickery to win ratings. What other show is even coming close? Let it go.

Anyway. There were performances by Natasha Bedingfield, who seems to have a fondness for David A. And there was this week's mentor, Neil Diamond, who sang "Pretty Amazing Grace," a cut off his upcoming CD. And hey, I'm not a big N.D. fan, but I actually liked this single.

Finally, there was a great on-air call from a woman named Tara Miller, 46, from Petaluma, whose question - in a noticeable Brit accent - was directed at Simon Cowell: "I kissed you in the garden when you were 9. Was it better kissing Paula?"

Simon, once convinced it truly was Tara from his childhood, admitted she was his "first kiss, his first crush," but was totally taken by surprise. Up until now, these questions were an excuse for me to start a load of laundry, but this one was worth holding off on gym clothes.

In case you're wondering, next Tuesday, the Final 4 will tackle the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. David C. must be salivating over that one. And rightly so.

My next challenge? Hoping Brooke holds it together for Thursday morning's Q&A/phone conference with "Idol" writers. Check back to 21Q for the interview after noon.

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Well, this just in on the Paula Abdul/"American Idol" speak-before-you've-actually-heard-him-sing saga:

According to the New York Times, Paula (pictured in an Associated Press picture) admitted today what some "Idol” viewers have long suspected (and I knew but couldn't say after conversations with judge Simon Cowell and producer Nigel Lythgoe - so there):

"The show’s judges sometimes see portions of the dress rehearsal for the show and use that to help formulate their comments on the evening’s 'live' performance.

"The issue came to light on Wednesday as Abdul ... tried to explain comments
she made during Tuesday evening’s live broadcast, where she offered
a critique of a performance (by Jason Castro) that had not yet taken place."

The show's producers changed the normal competition format, asking the judges to wait to make final comments until after the Final 5 had performed both of their Neil Diamond songs.

What I believe threw Paula is that host Ryan Seacrest did jump in after the contestants had sung one song and asked the judges for an initial mini-critique - a first impression, if you will.

Paula obviously had already seen both of Jason's dress rehearsal performances and was prepared to comment on both. Think what you want, but I know for a fact it's usually just water in those "Coke" glasses. (Simon says.)

Check out my earlier blog.


April 30, 2008
ARC gets its fashion on

Got room on your fashion calendar to squeeze in yet another show this Friday?

Well, if it helps, you've actually got two chances to check out the seventh annual American River College spring fashion show, titled "Lights...Camera...Fashion." It's produced as a joint effort by the ARC Fashion Collection and Fashion Promotion classes.

The collection class creates all of the fashions; the promotion class produces the show. About 15 designers will debut their pieces, some for the first time. One of those students is Jesus Medrano, who will show his "GEE!SUS LOVE" collection.

Local salons will help with hair and makeup.

Show times are 11 a.m. (free) and 7 p.m. ($5) at the ARC cafeteria, 4700 College Oak Drive. For more information: (916) 484-8011.


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Fox

Well, there's an hour I'll never get back, though I did get a couple loads of laundry done. Tuesday night's "American Idol" competition featured the Final 5 singing the Neil Diamond songbook.

Ugh!

With the exception of a couple of croonings, I would have preferred another week of Andrew Lloyd Webber. And no one warned viewers ahead of time that the five contestants would sing two songs.

In fact, even judge Paula Abdul was so befuddled by the format - sing two songs, with a quick critique in between, before being judged - that she gave feedback on poor Jason Castro's two songs when he had only performed one.

In case you've been in a cave somewhere and haven't heard or seen all the other blogs, Paula said she was confused with her stack of notes and that changes to the judging process had been made at the last moment. After muttering something about having to "write things down so fast," Paula still went on to talk about Jason's two songs, saying "you're not fighting hard enough to get into the top four."

That's when judge Randy Jackson leaned over and whispered only one song had been song so far by the five contestants. It was basically an on-air bungle that left judge Simon Cowell uttering - at the hour's end - "This was officially the strangest show we've ever done!"

Anyway, back to the show: Diamond, who just so happens to have an album coming out next Tuesday, said "for me, to turn my music over to someone else, I like it."

Wonder if he feels the same after Tuesday night's performances?

* Jason Castro: He sang "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "September Morn," both of which sounded exactly the same. No change in tempo - or temperament. Yes, he looks good on camera, but it's almost like he wants to go home and take a nap.

Simon was, as usual, the harshest, saying: "We don't recognize you. There was no intent to make the arrangements your own. You'll look back at tonight and say 'I don't know who this person is.' "

* David Cook: He sang "I'm Alive" and "All I Really Need is You," two Diamond songs that probably were the least recognizable. No matter. David did his own thing - again - with the arrangements and his vocals.

Paula said he pulled it off. "I feel like I'm looking at the 'American Idol.' " Simon called the second song "brilliant," adding that it felt like it could have been written this year.

* Brooke White: She sang "I'm a Believer" (with guitar) and "I Am, I Said" (with piano). I'm sure everyone, especially me, loathed the first song. I would have rather heard the version from "Shrek" - or even the one by the Monkees.

Randy thought Brooke was vulnerable - not as in being eliminated, but he definitely prefered the second song. Simon really "hated" "I'm a Believer," calling it girls' night out at karaoke. "Your second song is the Brooke we like, at the piano."

* David Archuleta (pictured): He sang "Sweet Caroline" (which Carly Smithson said she would have sung had she not been eliminated last week) and "America" (which I assumed would have been the group offering tonight). Sorry fans, I was a little bored, but the judges can't get enough of this teen heartthrob.

Paula thought the second song was the perfect choice. Simon said it was a clever choice. "You ticked all the right boxes - check, check, check!"

* Syesha Mercado: She sang "Hello Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Night Time." With each week that Syesha survives, it's more evident this finalist is definitely Broadway bound.

Randy agrees with me about the play/theater thing. And Simon added she had the actress/singer thing down. However, he didn't think she had a memorable second song. "You may be in trouble tonight," he uttered.

I know I sound like a big David Cook fan. But, hey, I am! In fact, when all is said and done, I plan to download all his songs and put them on a CD.

Anyway, predictions: Dialidol.com disagrees with Simon, with Syesha and David C. safe and Brooke and Jason in the bottom two, with David A. in the middle. Most viewers I talk to - every week - say Jason will go and yet he's safe. Can you say strong fan base?

The live results show is at 9 tonight (on Fox40).

April 29, 2008
Keep Thursday nights open

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I missed Week One, but now I'm up to speed on The Park Ultra Lounge's Thursday night fashion shows, titled Spring Fashion Series. The shows pair fashion collections from local boutiques with fab hairdos from local salons.

The inaugual show last Thursday featured Krazy Mary's and Sugar Shack boutiques paired with Spanish Fly salon.

This Thursday? It's the "Wear Your Jeans Out" event starring the best in denim from Dara Denim boutique and amazing hairstyles from Mosaic Salon, both in midtown. Each show selects its own DJ and theme music, by the way, where necessary.

I spoke with Mosaic owner J.C. Allen last week and she promises the boutique, owned by Jessica Horton, and the salon will "work it" Thursday night.

"Jessica and I are really looking to make this a memorable, fun night," she says in a subsequent e-mail. The rock 'n' roll feel of the jeans will be emphasized with a live performance by Sin City Angels . J.C. adds that models from Cast Images will first walk out with "a more controlled, daytime look, and then be transformed for that wild night out - while still sporting their daytime denim."

The Spring Fashion Series will continue through June 5. Other shows will include Six Degrees Boutique/Salon 701 and Serendipity Boutique/Sassy Salon.

For a complete list and other details, click here. FYI: Doors open at 9 p.m. for attendees 21 and over. The shows usually get under way around 10. The Park Ultra Lounge is at 15th and L streets.

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Lucio Montana


The inaugural Sacramento Fashion Week, presented by Magnum Opus, concluded Friday night at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria downtown with the full see-and-be-seen parade.

From my floor-level vantage point, the place was certainly packed, with quite a few folks watching from the library's balcony. No doubt the whole event owes a huge "thank you" to Grace Ballesteros for pretty much organizing the entire thing - much of it on her own time.

And, as with any first-time endeavor, there are always a few missteps: signs that won't stay put, microphones that crackle and, for lack of a better term, the occasional "performance" that seemed, well, out of place.

For example, I'm still trying to figure out why the fashion show featured a beauty pageant parade, which showcased Miss India America. Honestly, and with no disrespect, I've never heard of such a title. Fashion shows should first and foremost be about the local designers and their collections. Killing time before the first model hits the runway usually results in people sitting around talking to each other - or digging through goody bags.

Overall, however, the event was yet another big step in showcasing local designers whose efforts definitely should be recognized and appreciated.

Eight collections, broken into two parts, were featured. Of the first four designers, Preston Doh's Lucio Montana menswear (pictured) was a huge hit. Hands down. Why? Because you can always get lovely women's clothing. It's the rare show that features an entire men's collection that works from the first casual outfit to the show-ending tux.

Doh, originally from Malaysia, studied fashion design in Florence, Italy, and his impeccable tailoring was evident in every piece, especially the detailing on his men's pants and jackets. A flawless show.

I also mentally pulled out designer Nancy Wong's long-sleeve, full-length dove gray hoodie dress. Wong designs several collections, all under the Pegasus Maiden label. And, certainly Dee Aguilar's stretchy fitted dresses with multi-colored insets were comfy and cute. (Most folks would probably be able to pull off the look with about four inches of fabric added to the hemline.)

The show's finale featured the work of husband/wife team Michael and Sanea Sommerfield, who own Miosa Couture on Sacramento's J Street. They can add the word "couture," which defines a garment that goes above and beyond in terms of detail, fabric, hand-sewing, etc. Their gowns are red-carpet-ready, but most likely area residents know the Sommerfields for their exquisite wedding gowns, which closed their show.

My favorite? (And I'm not sure it's for a wedding): the white Swiss dot fitted dress that reminded me of Audrey Hepburn's wedding dress in "Funny Face." The model did the numerous layers of filmy fabric justice by twirling as she reached the end of the runway. What set the dress off was a beautiful fuschia bow at the waist.

Meanwhile, the other runway presentations were a mix of spring/summer looks that ranged from whimsical to practical.

My biggest gripe? The shoes! There's no getting around not looking at a model's feet when she hits the runway. And it appeared quite a few of the models Friday night were wearing their own version of a black something: pump, sandal, etc. Some were scuffed up. Others just didn't work with the outfits.

There are so many local shoe boutiques that probably would be willing to donate pairs that could be shared. I know going barefoot defeats the whole runway "walk" thing, but don't let mismatched shoes ruin a great outfit.

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Fox

Here's a big shoutout to my friend "Just Jules" of another great blog, "Just Jules and Your Average Joe."

Jules - or Julie - is a fashion fiend like me, and she beat me to the punch on a great bit of news. (Gotta give credit where credit is due.)

Seems the dress that ousted "American Idol" contestant Carly Smithson (pictured) wore during last week's competition can be purchased locally at Blush Boutique, 2317 J St.

(I agreed with judge Randy Jackson that the dress was great, by the say. In a conference call Thursday, Carly said she bought it at Century City Mall, but couldn't remember the designer.)

So, good job hunting, Julie!

It's a paisley print dress by designer Phillip Lim, made of 100 percent silk with beading and embroidery. The price? A mere $675. (That tells me the shopping budget for "Idol" clothes is bigger - a lot bigger - than my own!)

For those who don't live near midtown, the dress can be ordered online. Just click here.

April 25, 2008
WEAVE fashion show rocks

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On Thursday night, the elegant Elks Tower in downtown Sacramento was the setting for WEAVE's inaugural Jeans for Justice fashion show, which wowed a packed crowd of more than 300, who enjoyed great food, drink - and multiple runway events.

The first show featured models showing off great spring/summer fashions from local boutiques, including Blush Boutique, Sugar Shack, Felicia Strati, Olipom, DV8 Boutique and Krazy Mary's Boutique.

Another show - and my personal fave - featured "Community Couture Models," and, man oh man, did they strut their stuff! There was Judge Morrison England, a member of the U.S. District Court, who walked the walk minus his robe. We saw State Assemblywoman Nicole Parra and Dennis Mangers of the California Cable & Telecommunications Association.

And, with her major theatrical expertise put to the runway, Anne-Marie Petrie - wife of Geoff - was a major hit.

I had the honor of being one of the four judges for the Student Designer's Scholarship portion of the show. Fashion design students from throughout the region submitted sketches and an essay to take part, and finalists were chosen based on their fashionable integration of denim.

The finalists were Elise Richleri and Dana Smith, both design students at UC Davis.

The winner, after the student runway show?

Elise, whose "Shock and Question" collection (sketches pictured) connected the history of denim to breaking the cycle of abuse against women. For her efforts, she received a $5,000 scholarship from Wells Fargo.

(Both designers were terrific, and, in my humble opinion, created collections that could have walked off the runway and out on to J Street.)

I caught up with WEAVE spokesperson Angela D'Arcy today, and she gave me the good news that, with proceeds from tickets, a live auction (hosted by actor Jason Hervey - "The Wonder Years"), a raffle and corporate sponsorships, WEAVE raised more than $80,000.

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Fox

In the three+ seasons I've covered "American Idol," I've yet to hear anyone so elated to leave at No. 6 as contestant Carly Smithson (pictured with Syesha Mercado) apparently is.

Certainly, while most of the contestants have either been stunned, are still in shock or plain old sleep-deprived, Carly was euphoric - excited about having a couple of weeks off to be with her husband, go to the beach, hang out in the kitchen, and, for once, not having to sing something themed - during a phone conference today with reporters.

Here's some of what she had to say:

Q: Last night, it looked like you took being voted off quite well. Were you surprised to be in the bottom 2 and then leave?
A: I think at this stage, everybody was thinking they could go home. But I'm not that sad I’m leaving. I'll be back in two weeks to prepare for the tour and the finale. Being anywhere after Top 10 is a bonus. I believe I made enough of an impact to reach a fan base and make a cool record.

Q: You made a reference after last night's performance of "Jesus Christ Superstar" that you remembered the words. Did you forget them on Tuesday?
A: That song was last-minute. I had already learned "All I Ask of You" and then I changed the song choice after meeting Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, I fumbled on some of the lyrics. But, last night, I got them all right!

Q: How did you feel about the mentors you worked with on "American Idol"?
A: Andrew Lloyd Webber is so incredible. Actually, I'm not sure Broadway was challenging to any of us. There's such a vast amount of music from the Lloyd Webber catalog. Mariah Carey - it was a hard week for everybody. But she was so cool, normal and nice. I come from a bar. I didn’t know how a star was supposed to act.

Dolly Parton has such a positive outlook on everything. The room just lights up when she walks in. The whole experience was really cool. But, honestly, I'll be glad when I can sing my own songs.

Q: What did you feel about the notion that this season is becoming a popularity contest?
A: I agree a little bit. Contestants accumulate a fan base...Women really vote for this show, they vote for the boys. Why not? They’re charming and adorable! The girls had more of a struggle trying to get the popular vote.

Q: What about David (Archuleta) vs. David (Cook) in the finale?
A: It's anyone’s game. People have their favorites already. (Jason) Castro could look into the camera, bat his eyelids and go into his amazing falsetto; Brooke (White) could melt your heart. Nobody saw Michael (Johns) or Amanda (Overmyer) going home. There still could be another shocker.

Q: Of all the contestants, you seem to have the most unique fashion sense, even though Simon Cowell came after you on your style. Your thoughts?
A: I loved my dress last night, which I got at Century City Mall. I'm tattooed, so dainty wear doesn't exactly work for me. Every week, I wanted to stand out more. I know what Simon thought, but I wouldn't change anything I wore. I loved the blue dress for "Come Together."

I do need to clarify the tattoo on my arm. It's a geisha, not Amy Winehouse! I had it before she even came out. It's not not colored in because I haven't had the time. It bothered me (on the show) that it wasn't finished.

Q: What have you learned?
A: The show is amazing. It's such a huge platform to launch yourself off of. I might have been a little more upset had I been eliminated earlier. But now, I get a gift of two weeks to spend with my family. I'm excited to start writing songs. I'm looking forward to going home.

As for me, I won't change as a person. I'll go to the beach. Hey, I miss my pots and pans. I'm a kitchen gadget nut.

Note to you: The sked for this summer's "American Idols Live" tour has been set. It kicks off July 1 in Glendale, Ariz., and reaches Sacramento's Arco Arena on July 9. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m May 17. For more, click here, or check out my fellow 21Q blogger, Rachel Leibrock's, item below.

OK, so are the more than 38 million fans who voted this week picking a prom king/queen or the next "American Idol?"

If it's all the same to you, I'd like to see a contestant win who actually can cut an album, win awards and WOW a year later. (Read: Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.)

And I'm not saying Irish lass Carly Smithson isn't all that. But, geez, I don't think she deserved to be eliminated this week - with pseudo-suited Jason Castro and lyrically lost Brooke White still left standing.

Tonight's results show shrunk the bottom from three to two (Carly and Syesha Mercado - are you kidding me?)

They performed their respective Andrew Lloyd Webber songs from Tuesday night's competition. And, actually, Carly seemed more resolved to her elimination than, say, Brooke might have been.

"I've had doors closed in my face before," she said during her exit video. "But I feel like I've won already."

The two "Davids" (Cook and Archuleta) were the first to be declared safe. And I loved what David C. had to say about his rendition of "Music of the Night:"

"What's more unpredictable than doing a song the way it was written?"

Brooke likely earned the "human" vote because her lapse in lyrics Tuesday night was, well, human. That, according to judge Simon Cowell. (Said Lloyd Webber, who accompanied the six finalists Wednesday on a group version of "All I Ask of You" ("Phantom of the Opera"), of Brooke's bumble:
"Losing your way, it happens to the best people. ... She's a very talented girl. In her dress rehearsal, she was flawless.")

Lloyd Webber even offered his poignant thoughts on a possible parting song for Paula and Simon (if ever the day comes): "Time To Say Goodbye" or "How Can I Say I Miss You If You Won't Go Away."

Now, here's one Brit with a sense of humor!

Next week, mentor Neil Diamond will set the stage for the Final 5 "Idol" contestants.

OK, so I admit I won't allow Neil anywhere near my iPod. That doesn't preclude Jason from tackling "Holly Holy."

Heaven help us!

FYI: Check back to 21Q on Thursday for a Q&A that I take part in with Carly, plus details about this summer's "American Idol" tour. Sacramento's a usual stop!

Are you good at cleaning up messes?

Well, Tangles Aveda Salon Spa in Davis is on the lookout for sponsors for its Clean Team, which will take part in a beach cleanup May 4 at Folsom Lake.

Consider the project a mini-extension of Earth Day - call it Earth Month. So says Tangles owner John Hausler.

Tangles is joining forces with the Surfrider Foundation to clean up the beach with other Aveda salons in the area. Hausler writes via e-mail that he hopes Tangles alone will raise $2,000 at the event.

(Meanwhile, Tangles will donate all proceeds from sales of Aveda Earth Month candles to water-related projects of Global Greengrants, which I mentioned earlier this month in an article
in Scene.)

For more info on the cleanup: (530) 759- 0795.

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Fox

The way I sum up Tuesday night's "American Idol" competition is like this: It was like a great pair of bookends - strong at the beginning and at the end of the show. But the books fell off the shelf in between.

The Final 6 contestants performed songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber (who was in the audience) - a difficult assignment because it was set to take most of them out of their comfort zone. (It was easy to tell that judge Simon Cowell has as much interest in Broadway in New York as Broadway in Sacramento.)

But, I digress. In my opinion, the show's best two performances started with Syesha Mercado (pictured) and ended with David Cook. Period. The other four were, with all due respect to Christian Siriano ("Project Runway"), a "hot mess."

Lloyd Webber met with the contestants at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, where he's overseeing yet another production of "Phantom of the Opera." Earlier stories making the rounds had it that the composer was wiped out after working with the Final 6, but he gave them great pointers, even urging Carly Smithson to change her song choice.

Syesha's sexy (Simon's words), fast-paced "One Rock & Roll Too Many" ("Starlight Express") was great. Judge Randy Jackson thought Syesha definitely could be "a Broadway star." For sure, she's picked up her game, gaining confidence with every week.

That's in sharp contrast to Brooke White, who was supposed to evoke utter sadness with her "You Must Love Me" (from "Evita"). I was stunned when Brooke "lost the lyric" at the beginning of the song and asked to start over.

From that point on, it was only a matter of a few bars before Brooke completely fell apart. Again, indicative of how much her confidence has failed her as the competition continues.

Perpetually sunny judge Paula Abdul actually chastised Brooke, saying you "must never start and stop. You just have to pick up the pieces."

Moving on - I loved Lloyd Webber's comment that "I never thought I'd see a man singing 'Memory' with dreadlocks." Working with Jason Castro, you could tell the composer was uncertain what he would hear Tuesday night. (Jason admitted he didn't know "Cats" actually featured "cats" on stage.) Anyway, it was just OK, really. Simon said it had to be the longest two minutes of both their lives. "It was like a young guy being forced by his mom and dad to sing that song at a wedding. It was miserable throughout. Not your style of music."

David Archuleta probably had his weakest performance of the season, singing "Think of Me" (from "Phantom of the Opera"). For "Idol" fans, remember when David had the habit of licking his lips when he sang? He broke that one, and Lloyd Webber got him to break another habit: closing his eyes during a performance.

Randy said he thought David A. (at this point in the evening) was the "boy to beat."

Not so fast, dawg!

Next to last was Carly with a very shrilly rendition of "Jesus Christ Superstar" (from the show of the same name). Yes, she still has that big voice and, yes, it held up better than some of the others, i.e., Brooke and Jason. Simon said it was one his favorite performances of the night, to which Carly grabbed a T-shirt that read: "Simon Loves Me (this week)." Cute.

The finale was David Cook singing "Music of the Night" (also from "Phantom of the Opera"). I had chills from the first couple notes. As with every song he's performed, David put his own spin on this bold choice. From Randy: "I've said it before, dude - that was an amazing vocal performance." Simon still prefers David C.'s "gritty" side, but clearly, he's pulling away from the other contestants, even from David A. - with the "Idol" finale a scant four weeks from tonight.

That brings up another important note: Today is the last day to vote in the "American Idol" songwriting contest. Don't forget, we have a local guy - Ryan Gilmoor - who definitely has a shot at winning and having his song, "In This Moment," performed by the "Idol" winner.

To hear Ryan's song, click here and go to the "Show Guide" pull-down menu. The songs aren't listed by artist, but as you go through them, the titles will pop up.

Predictiions for tonight's live results show (at 9 on Fox40): Carly, Brooke and Jason in the bottom 3 (if they even have a "three").


Just as we're all taken over by growing concerns of a recession, the NPD Group, which tracks consumer spending (and is one of my most reliable fashion sources), has released its second "Fast Checks Study."

The bad news, according to NPD is: In just two months, consumers who said we're heading toward a recession or economic slowdown grew from 79 percent to 84 percent.

As a result, "they're beginning to throttle back (on spending)" Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst, says in an e-mail.

The industries most likely to feel the spending pinch? Dining out, home entertainment and - oh no! - apparel. (Does that mean those new Kenneth Cole shoes I just bought have to go back?)

However, I want my retail friends to take heart: Even though 42 percent of the survey folks say they'll use their government-rebate checks to pay down bills, Cohen has an afterthought.

"Again, this could be good news," he says. "If consumers pay off their debts right when they get their checks, the next month they will be out shopping again."

Meanwhile, what are consumers not putting the spending brakes on? Toys, video games and home improvement. (Can't let Johnny go without that latest version of "Guitar Hero"!)

It's hard to believe CBS is toting out a 10th season of its can-we-all-get-along? reality show "Big Brother."

The real question is, do you think you have what it takes to be manipulative, back-stabbing, sweet, honorable, evil and wear the same T-shirt over and over and over - for as long as a month - until you get evicted or win $500,000?

Oh yeah - all the while, locked up in a house with people you might feel major disdain for?

If so, and you're 21 or older, the show, in conjunction with CBS13, will be holding a casting call from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Jackson Rancheria Hotel's Grand Oak Ballroom in Jackson.

Hey, great opportunity to jump into a hot tub with a buncha perfect strangers!

The casting call does require you to bring two forms of ID. For more information and directions to the casino, click here.

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Fox

Kristy Lee Cook (pictured), 24, doesn't want to go home to Selma, Ore. And, no, she won't get her horse back - see my posting below. (The buyer has grown too attached to him.)

But, life will go on for the sixth (of the Top 12) eliminated finalist. But, don't cry for her. The "Idol" tour awaits Kristy Lee - and some very exciting personal news.

In a conference call with "Idol" writers this morning, she talks about her experiences on the show and what's ahead. Here's some of what she said:

Q: It felt like you were getting used to being in the bottom three (not last week). How tough was that, especially with the twists last night?
A: I thought about being there all the time! But I built up a stamina for it. I learned to control the emotions, especially this last time because it was so nerve-wracking. We didn’t know how they were doing it. I was standing with David Cook at one point, but I didn’t know if we were safe. David Archuleta was still in the back. It was definitely a shock to go home so soon. I wanted to make the Top 5. Brooke (White) is still in the competition, and I'm really happy for her.

Q: Do you think you proved Simon wrong by lasting as long as you did?
A: I was struggling the first three weeks from being sick. I outlasted (the criticism) because I was getting into a comfort zone - getting stronger and singing songs I was comfortable with. He saw that.

Q: You were making improvements. Does that make it tougher to leave?
A: Yes. I was kind of upset because I went at this stage of the competition. I thought "Forever" was my best performance, especially the vocals. The band loved it. I think I really connected with the song. And I definitely thought I had another week in me.

Q: Who are your Top 3 at this point on the show?
A: I don’t have three contestants in mind. The show proved to me it’s anybody’s playing field, especially with Michael Johns leaving last week. All of them have a unique sound and tons of talent.

Q: Next week the mentor will be Andrew Lloyd Webber. Had you picked out your song should you have stayed?
A: "Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina." It was going to be a good one.

Q: We understand you received an incredibly romantic gesture from your fiance last night. Can you tell us about him and your plans?
A: His name is Andy. And yes, he proposed to me - again! - last night after the show. The first time he proposed was March 15 - in the sauna - at the apartment where we (the contestants) stay. It was the only place where there were no other people! We downplayed it because we didn't want our engagement to interfere with the show. We haven't set a date yet - maybe next June.

Q: Were there any backstage romances?
A: That’s a good question. If so, I was totally blind. Most of us had boyfriends, girlfriends or spouses. They already were taken, though David (Cook) told America last night that he was single.

Q: Last night, you said Simon can be kind of a “butt." Do you think saying that would have made a difference if you had stayed on the show?
A: He’s got his own little remarks, and sometimes he's not very nice to people. After time, it builds up, like what he said to Brooke about the hamburger (on Tuesday). I was debating between brat and butt.

Q: What can you take away from your "Idol" experience? And, obviously, you built a fan base. What do you tell them?
A: It's been an amazing experience. I learned about all the different kinds of stress levels I hadn't known before. I learned to make friends and what singers go through to perform every week in front of so many people. And, there's the workload. But it's fun - stuff you wouldn't get to do if you weren't on the show.

To the fans, thanks for voting for me and keeping me on. I’ll put on a terrific show for the tour. Music that’s good for my voice.

OK, so the biggest issue I have with tonight's results show on "American Idol" is that some guy, somewhere, who bought Kristy Lee Cook's horse so she could pay to audition for the show, won't sell her horse back!

But, Kristy Lee will have time to persuade him otherwise because she got the boot.

Guess nothing should shock "Idol" fans anymore, even Kristy Lee calling judge Simon Cowell a "butt" tonight. Thing is, fans got a major wake-up call last week with contestant Michael Johns' departure. I'm guessing fans of, say, Carly Smithson, Jason Castro and Syesha Mercado probably text-messaged and called for the full two hours of voting Tuesday night.

FYI: More than 36 million votes were cast.

Tonight's show took the usual "Idol" twist (you can only do this with an odd number of singers) with host Ryan Seacrest separating the contestants into groups of three: Jason, Carly and Syesha against David Cook, Kristy Lee and Brooke White. Teener David Archuleta was left backstage to bite his lower lip for almost an hour.

In between? Season 5 finalist Elliott Yamin, who recently returned from an "Idol Gives Back" stint in Africa, sang "Free." It was great. And, if "Idol" fans will recall, Elliott's mom was battling cancer two years ago while he was on the show. We found out tonight she recently passed (he had "We Miss You Mom" written on his right palm).

Mentor Mariah Carey powered through "Bye Bye," a single off her new CD, "E=MC2."

Question: Is there no depths to which her attachment to judge Randy Jackson will be exploited? Just curious.

But, I digress. Back to the groupings. Ryan swapped Syesha and David C's spots, which, DUH, set up the bottom three: Syesha, Brooke and Kristy Lee. (I'm losing track of who has been in these spots the most.)

Anyway, Syesha is safe. Brooke professes nothing has been settled yet. And, then, Kristy Lee goes home.

So, here's what's going down: Brooke needs to zip her yapper about the criticism she's getting, especially from Simon. She had been one of my faves. But the pouty lip? Her "Hero" rendition was a bust on Tuesday, and we all know it.

Next week? Andrew Lloyd Webber is the mentor, so I'm hoping Brooke tackles "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina."

Can you say swan song?

April 16, 2008
Looking ahead to summer

Just a head's up: There are several days left in the Carlisle Summer Show, a local trunk show that features fashions from the upscale women's clothing line.

Not familiar with the Carlisle Collection? The line isn't sold in stores but through consultants throughout the country. They hold trunk shows in various venues and invite customers to peruse their items as they come out based on seasons.

Right now, Marcia Goldmark, along with several other local Carlisle consultants, are showing the summer 2008 collection through Saturday in Carmichael- by appointment only. That way, you're assured of getting one-on-one assistance as you peruse the apparel.

I checked the Carlisle Web site here and was impressed with both the fabrics and the attention to detail. The outfits cover pretty much every wearable need: workplace, weekend, formal.

If you're interested in seeing the summer offerings, contact Marcia at (916) 600-8900. They're booking appointments from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

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Fox

I'm not a huge Mariah Carey fan - certainly not to the degree "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson is. Heck, I only recognized three of the songs the Final 7 (pictured with Mariah) sang Tuesday night!

Right off, I was glad host Ryan Seacrest asked the judges how they would rate the contestants since Mariah's songs typically would be discouraged at any other stage of the competition.

(Oh, did I mention Mariah has a CD coming out, titled "E=MC2"?)

Randy spoke for all three: "We'll judge it fairly. I'm looking for identity."

He initially was worried about "boys singing girls' songs." David Archuleta was up first with "When You Believe" and, even though it had sort of an "anthem" feel to it, he's definitely safe.

Oddly, all four remaining gals sang one after another. Carly Smithson took on "Without You." Interestingly, my "Idol"-watching companions and I actually prefer the Harry Nilsson version over the Mariah version - and certainly over the Carly rendition.

Syesha Mercado's "Vanishing" was, according to Paula Abdul, a song "not many people know." Simon Cowell thought it was technically very good. No surprise, Brooke White took on "Hero." Paula liked the "unplugged" version, i.e., Brooke on the piano. Loved Simon's theory:

"It was like ordering a hamburger and only getting the bun. The vital ingredient was missing."

Of course, the where's the beef? reference deteriorated into a lack of condiments, etc., leaving Brooke confused - or hungry - and Ryan telliing viewers, "If you'd like to order take-out, call ...."

I liked Kristy Lee Cook's version of "Forever." She's starting to remind me of a young Lynn Anderson. Paula loved the arrangement; Simon thought it was "whiny at times."

The performance of the night? No question, it was David Cook's bluesy/R&B version of "Always Be My Baby." Randy gave him a standing "O." Paula thought it could be turned into a movie soundtrack. Simon delivered a bit of a scare, saying, "We are coming out of karaoke hell - into a breath of fresh air."

"It was original, daring and the sign of a great potential artist."

Tuesday was definitely an emotional night for David C. He got choked up. And, with good reason. His brother, who is battliing cancer, was in the audience.

Closing things out was Jason Castro, with "I Don't Wanna Cry." The arrangement certainly fit Jason's laid-back style. But Randy compared it to being at "a weird beach luau, with music playing in the distance." Paula and Simon liked it.

But, no matter. Simon was spot on at the end of the show when he said the remaining three guys "completely won the night."

Predictions on who gets the boot tonight (at 9 on Fox40)? I've got Carly, Brooke and Syesha in the bottom 3 with either Carly or Syesha headed home.


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Photograph/Charr Crail

I did a little digging - with a giant shovel - and found out that one of the Top 20 finalists in the "American Idol" songwriting contest is from right here in our midst!

His name is Ryan Gillmor (pictured), he's 24 and he lives in the Pollock Pines/Placerville area. His band, Gillmor, has made the rounds in Sacramento and throughout Northern California and also is a musical splash in SoCal, where most of the band members reside.

His "Idol" entry? A song titled "In This Moment."

"I'm a songwriter first and foremost," he tells me by phone today. (FYI: Ryan also wrote the theme song for the Fox TV show "Unhitched.")

Ryan, who is an "Idol" fan, missed the deadline to enter the contest last year. But there was no fooling around for Season 7.

"I thought last year's song was good, and I really feel strongly about my song," he says. "I get butterflies thinking about it. It's such a huge opportunity for the winner. It's something that comes around once in a lifetime."

Ryan got the good news last week (while at Disneyland, no less) that his song made the cut - out of tens of thousands of entries.

Now it's Sactown's chance to give back to this talented musician.

To hear Ryan's song (and the other finalists, but we're voting for Ryan, right?), click here and go to the "Show Guide" pull-down menu. The songs aren't listed by artist, but as you go through them, the titles will pop up. Voting ends April 23, so get cracking.

I listened to "In This Moment" for the first time this afternoon. Props to him for not going all "inspirational" on me. It's certainly an appropriate song for the "Idol" winner. Sort of like when someone wins something big and realizes, hey, "I'm getting confetti poured down on me, and I'm singing this really cool song!"

In addition to having the winning song performed on the show's finale, the winning songwriter will earn a publishing deal - and the song will be released by this year’s winner.

I definitely could hear David Cook releasing Ryan's song.

As far as tonight's "Idol" competition (8 on Fox40), the Final 7 will perform under the mentorship of none other than Mariah Carey. Because they were instructed to sing her songs, none of the judges can complain about taking on Mariah. Right?

OK, so don't count me among the many fans who love the “American Idol” finale song. You know, the uber-syrupy, ballad-like tearjerker that the winner sings after being crowned.

Last season, Jordin Sparks proclaimed “This Is My Now.” I know, more than 2 million online votes were cast for “This,” written by Jeff Peabody and Scott Krippayne. (If I remember correctly, the duo penned the song while sitting in the dark in Seattle during the rainy season. Just kidding.)

The song did become the first hit single off Jordin's self-titled debut album.
So that sparked thousands of wannabe songwriters to submit offerings for this year's Season 7 finale. “Idol” has narrowed it to the Top 20 finalists. Fans can listen to each submission and cast their votes here. Voting continues through April 23.

Here are the offerings. You’ll have to listen on your own:

“Align,” “All You Will Need,” “Believe,” “Dream Big,” “Faith,” “Fly Me Away,” “Here I Am,” “In This Moment,” “No Turning Back,” “Only Love,” “Overcome,” “Something Like Heaven,” “Stronger,” “Thank You Whatever Comes,” “The Time of My Life” (no, not from “Dirty Dancing”), “We’re Gonna Make It,” “When You Come From Nothing,” “You Believe in Me,” “You Believed in Me” (not a misprint) and “You Can Do Anything.”

Flying and believing seem to be major themes.

April 14, 2008
Say 'I do' to Oscar

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Associated Press

You don't have to live in the Big Apple to pay big bucks for the wedding gown of your dreams. And because "Bridal Week" is in full swing in New York fashion circles, I couldn't resist letting folks in on the doings of one of the most influential designers of all things clothing: Oscar de la Renta.

De la Renta has dressed more brides than he probably wants to admit. But exquisite doesn't even begin to describe how gorgeous his gowns are. Take a look at the one pictured, especially the detail to lace.

Of course, with the height on that headpiece, the bride probably needs a 7-foot groom!

Also presenting a wedding gown collection was designer Carolina Herrera.

And, get this, you can even have a storybook wedding gown. No joke. Designer Kirstie Kelly for Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings collection includes everything from a "Cinderella" gown to an "Ariel" ("Little Mermaid") gown. And don't forget "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White."

As for bridesmaids? Just grab the closest wicked stepsister!

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Fox

Michael Johns' Aussie accent - and true feelings - came through loud and clear Friday during an interview with "American Idol" reporters. Yes, he's still in shock over last night's elimination, but geez what a positive guy. Michael, 29, already has gotten phone calls from musical stars none of us will ever hear from, and he's ready to move ahead.

Here's what he had to say about his experiences on the show.

Q: Your parting performance was great last night - maybe even better than during Tuesday night's competition. Your thoughts?
A: "Actually, I wasn’t thinking at all. But, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked, too. I believe the last two weeks were my strongest. Stuff happens, and it did."

Q: This week, with its inspirational theme, do you think picking a rock song was an advantage or a disadvantage, especially considering what the other contestants were singing?
A: "I never chose a song based on what the competition was doing. I chose songs based on their lyrical content and emotion. The Aerosmith song was amazing. I’m living my own dream. The song is about struggle and overcoming it. Living in America is my dream. I have no regrets on the song choice at all."

Q: Dolly Parton was the first mentor. How did you handle country, considering your're rock and soul/R&B?
A: "Dolly week, of course! I sang 'It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right.' I took a country song and turned it into a soul song."

Q: Next week is another mentor week - with Mariah Carey. Had you already picked a song?
A: "Yes, I was going to sing her first hit, 'Vision of Love' (1990). The song spoke to me, and I wanted to put a nice bluesy feel to it. But, that's not going to happen. Maybe on the tour."

Q: How do you feel about the judges' remarks during the competition, and what did they say to you last night after you performed?
A: "Sometimes Simon (Cowell) is off the mark. But I respect him. They wanted me to sing soul/blues stuff every week. But I'm both a rock and a soul singer, and I stayed true to that. Paula (Abdul) has been spot on. I think it's been a weird judging year. She whispered she would bet her house she would be at one of my concerts. Randy, too. I ended the night in a good place."

Q: Host Ryan Seacrest gave you sort of a cruel twist last night, saying no one got kicked off after "Idol Gives Back" last year. Did you think you might be safe?
A: "I get the television aspect of this competition. Yeah, I thought, 'Wait a second, I’m not going home.' I've never been in the bottom three. But then Ryan gave me a look, and I knew."

Q: Who have you heard from since last night?
A: "It's been amazing. I got to speak to Dolly (Parton) this morning. She’s a fan of mine now! She loved what I did with her song. And she said she hopes to do a duet with me. I've also gotten messages from mates Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman. It's nice to hear from fellow Australians."

Q: Where did you get that Dolly shirt you wore on last week's results show?
A: "That's a funny story. I saw it backstage while we were getting ready for the show. One of the stylists said it was a vintage shirt he got just as a gag. I asked if I could wear it."

Q: There already are comparisons between you and Chris Daughtry, who many still believe was eliminated too early in Season 5. Do you think he ended up with more credibility because he didn't win?
A: I’ve heard that a bunch this morning. I've met him, and Chris is an amazing guy and musician. Winning or not winning depends on the artist, and it depends on what album you make afterward. The 'Idol' finalists have stayed true to themselves."

Q: What will you miss most about being on "Idol?"
A: "Not getting enough sleep! You know, the crying (from the other contestants) wasn't a put-on. You get to know them - their lives, their families. They're really talented people. I think we've all struck a nerve this season. It proves you can't let your favorite go."

Q: Are you excited about the upcoming tour?
A: "Certainly. Most artists don’t get this kind of audience of thousands at this stage of their careers. It’s an honor. I can’t wait to get out there and rock."

Q: How do Australians drown their sorrows?
A: Pick your poison, mates! Australia is a beer-drinking country, so I guess I'll have a few beers."

OK, so check it out. Last week was no surprise when Ramiele Malubay was eliminated on "American Idol." This week, after a one-day break for the second annual "Idol Gives Back" charity show, I'm telling you jaws dropped nationwide on tonight's live results show.

The No. 7 contestant to leave? Aussie Michael Johns.

OK, you can pick up your jaws now.

Michael was in the bottom three for the first time since making the Top 12. With him? Syesha Mercado and Carly Smithson, who (in my opinion) deserved to be there.

The three judges were taken aback, the audience was taken aback, Michael's family was taken aback.

Said Michael: "I'm definitely surprised. But if there's a song to go out on, it's not a bad one."

Props to him for singing his parting shot, "Dream On," with pretty much everything he had.

The results show had to do a little damage control from Wednesday's huge charity extravaganza. What happened was there were a lot more folks who wanted to participate on camera than there was room when the film was edited.
So tonight's viewers got a hefty dose of "Give Back" wannabes: Dr. Phil, Ricki Lake, those two kids Zack and Cody and - most of all - the three presidential candidates, who got air time to ask for your donations to www.americanidol.com.

Sen. Hillary Clinton played it straight, as did Sen. Barack Obama. However, thumbs up to Sen. John McCain for warning judge Simon Cowell (a Brit) that, if he is elected, immigration will be a hot topic.

No doubt, contestants Kristy Lee Cook and Jason Castro were happy to be safe. Both have been in the bottom three (her, every week). And no surprises with David Archuleta moving on. Brooke White and David Cook certainly were borderline after Tuesday night's show, so being safe was a gift of sorts.

The show also featured a somewhat awkward performance by last season's "Idol" winner, Jordin Sparks, and Chris Brown. Loved the song, "No Air," but too touchy-feely for my taste.

Michael's ouster really shakes up the competition. Obviously fan lines have been drawn - deeply.

Check back at 21Q on Friday for an interview with Michael on his experiences and his exit.

In the meantime, dream on.

Funny thing about numbers. Sometimes they just don't make sense.

Tuesday night's "Idol Gives Back" marathon on Fox whacked the other network competition, but its audience was still measureably smaller than it was in 2007. That, according to early figures from Nielsen Media Research.

The two-and-a-half-hour show averaged about 17.5 million viewers (compared to 10.4 million for CBS), but that's quite a dip from last season's 26.9 million folks who were watching.

On the bonus side, the celeb-filled show already has blown by last year's in terms of money raised. The Associated Press reports that "Idol Gives Back" already tops $225 million (vs. $76 million in 2007). Keep in mind, a huge chunk of that change comes from a $200-million contribution from Britain for mosquito nets for malaria victims in Africa.

Donations can be still made on the show's Web site. Just click here.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), one more contestant goes home. Dialidol.com has five contestants (Brooke White, Michael Johns, David Cook, Syesha Mercado and Carly Smithson) in the "cautionary" category. I'm going with the gal from Ireland.

Check back and see if I'm right.

Talk about Al Capone's vault - or Pandora's Box. Where's Geraldo Rivera when we need him?

Here's the thing: The Nelson Gallery on the UC campus is in possession of a sealed box valued at $188,000, from the auspicious Andy Warhol Foundation in New York.

The PR folks at UC Davis say the box contains 100 Polaroids and 50 black-and-white 8-by-10s, all taken by Warhol.

But - of who or what?

Speculation is running rampant. Are they photos of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Jackie O, Andy himself? Or might the box contain pics of Campbell's soup cans?

The box arrived Tuesday and has, according to the gallery, been sitting around to "acclimate" to our atmosphere and that of its new surroundings before its grand re-opening.

But, don't get too excited just yet. The folks at the Nelson Gallery are keeping the unveiling under wraps. (Wouldn't want to be disappointed like Geraldo on national TV and all.)

That said, they're unsealing and taking inventory of the contents Friday morning. But only media types are invited to watch the process, which will be conducted by Renny Pritkin, gallery director.

Once the contents have been scrutinized and scanned, the pics will be stored until an exhibit can be arranged at the Nelson.

OK, so check it out. I'm still picking my jaw - and my starstruck eyes - off the ground after Aussie Michael Johns was eliminated tonight on "American Idol."

I have a vague memory of what happened the first 57 minutes of the show because, while I had a feeling maybe Michael or David Cook would get a bottom three scare (like Brooke White last week), my sights were set on either Carly Smithson or Syesha Mercado, who joined Michael on the "silver thrones."

Said Michael: "I'm definitely surprised. If there's a song to go out on, that's not a bad one."

No shock: David Archuleta is safe. And a last-week ukelele purchase protected Jason Castro. For the first time in as many weeks, country crooner Kristy Lee Cook got sent to the safety of the sofas. However, I don't think she actually sat.

As for the rest of the show, host Ryan Seacrest navigated the audience - and us - through a montage of "Idol Gives Back" leftovers. Let's face it: There were waaaay more celebs who did participate than made it on Wednesday night's broadcast.

So, folks like Dr. Phil, Ricki Lake and (sorry I don't watch the Disney Channel) Zack and Cody were relegated to tonight's recap, which started with Ryan announcing that $60 million had been raised. (That doesn't take into account Great Britain's beaucoup $200 million for mosquito nets to combat malaria in Africa.)

Folks can still contribute, of course.

Icky moment of the night? Sorry, but I was sort of creeped out by Season 6 "Idol" winner Jordin Sparks caressing and carrying on with "No Air" and Chris Brown..

I'm too old, right?

Props to the three presidential candidates - Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain - for making it on air tonight to ask for donations. McCain even warned judge (and Brit) Simon Cowell that if he won the election, immigration reform would be at the top of the list.

(I happen to know all three judges are signed through two more seasons.)

I'm very eager to hear what Michael has to say about his departure, so check back to 21Q on Friday for an interview.

In the meantime, "Dream On."

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Fox

There must have been some serious anxiety for "American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe: How do you condense "Idol Gives Back" into a measly two and a half hours?

Well, he did it. Period.

Wednesday night's second annual charity drive was just as emotional, just as gut-wrenching, just as uplifting as last year's. And just as star-studded. But of course.

And guess what? Whatever bad stuff going on in most of our lives pales in comparison to what's still going on in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and in Africa with epidemics of AIDs and malaria. And then, there's the ridiculousness of poverty in our own rural backyards, plus the lack of health care on the streets of New York.

These were the areas most touched upon in the show, which certainly hopes to surpass last season's fundraising efforts of $75 million.

This season's "Idol Gives Back" drew some amazing talent, from comedians Billy Crystal and Robin Williams to amazing musical performances by Fergie and Heart sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson (my husband knows Nancy - hah!), Carrie Underwood, Snoop Dogg, Miley Cyrus and Gloria Estefan with Sheila E.

The three "Idol" judges - Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell - did their own profiles on after-school programs for disadvantaged kids outside L.A. and families with no health insurance in New York. (Just when you thought Simon might be cold as a cucumber, think again.)

But, certainly, the videos of celebs visiting children suffering from HIV and malaria in Africa and poverty in the U.S. are what this show is all about. Props to Annie Lenox, who was on last season's show and who this year visited Tanzania and a family of four brothers - orphans - about to be tested for HIV.

And to the amazing Alicia Keys for journeying to Africa to raise awareness about the need for medical supplies; to Miley and her dad, Billy Ray, for helping get books to kids in rural Clay County, Ky., (where Billy Ray grew up), and to actor Forest Whittaker and his wife, in Africa urging the need for mosquito nets.

FYI: Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, pledged 20 million nets in the malaria effort.

There was Bono, Ben Stiller, Ellen DeGeneres, the NBA's Kobe Bryant, Celine Dion, Jimmy Kimmel, NASCAR's Jimmy Johnson, David and Victoria Beckham, the NFL's Eli and Peyton Manning, Whoopi Goldberg and - get your hands up for...the first lady of California, Maria Shriver, who said, "We are the ones we've been waiting for," in her effort to drum up support for volunteers working with charitable organizations.

Then add an amazing clip of Daughtry (i.e., Season 5's Chris and his band), visiting and performing in Africa.

The final eight "Idol" contestants (pictured) sang and manned the phones, taking donations throughout the show.

The show ran over, but it was worth it. Mariah Carey closed with "Fly Like a Bird," with Randy J. on guitar. Guess we finally figured out why the contestants aren't supposed to sing Mariah songs.

Some of the charities that will benefit? The Children's Defense Fund, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Make It Right (the campaign launched by actor Brad Pitt to help New Orleans rebuild homes and recover from Katrina), Malaria No More, Save the Children, and the Children's Health Fund.

Oh, and for the actual "Idol" competition? I'll be back Thursday with possible fund-raising figures and, of course, a quick look ahead to Thursday night's live results show (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40).

One last thing: Even after tonight, you can still donate at www.americanidol.com and download performances at iTunes.


April 9, 2008
They're still into bags

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Sacramento Bee file photo/January 2003

I think it's really cool when teens start a community project when they're teens -and then see it through when they're no longer teens!

That's the story behind the WIND (Works in New Directions) project started in 2000 by Libby Abbott and Lucy Plum-Reyes (pictured in 2003), then a junior and sophomore, respectively, at Mira Loma High School.

Their idea back then was to create handbags out of vintage fabric and add a dash of community activitism. Now, eight years later, the two designers will be hosting the seventh annual LiLu Benefit Fashion Show. It'll take place this Saturday and will benefit the WIND Youth Center, a drop-in shelter for homeless teens.

The fashion show has blossomed over the years to include student efforts from both Mira Loma and McClatchy high schools. And at this weekend's show, teen designers from both schools and from WIND will model their handbags on the runway. The event also will include an auction, music and refreshments.

The show is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at 701 Dixieanne Ave. in Sacramento. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for adults, and can be purchased at the door or from LiLu students or board members.

For more info, click here.

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Fox

I know it's a two-and-a-half-hour show (much shorter with a DVR), but tonight's "Idol Gives Back" (at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 40) is probably going to have its share of interesting performances - from musicians to comedians, maybe even the prez.

And, it's a one-night break for the remaining eight contestants, who can draw a breath without worrying about someone telling them they were just "OK."

That said, Tuesday night's competition of inspirational songs was, well, just OK for me. I don't know if I wanted all the choices to leave me with a tear in my eye or feeling uplifted and ready to save the world.

It was a mixed bag.

My faves? Actually, I liked Michael Johns' Aerosmith take on "Dream On," even though the three "Idol" judges and host Ryan Seacrest had just appeared on "Larry King Live" and said they wanted him to stay away from rocker songs and focus more on blues and R&B.

Syesha Mercado once again tackled a song that was beyond her comfort zone: Season 3 winner Fantasia's "I Believe." I agree with the judges (on "Larry King") that she's likely headed to the theater, not a recording studio.

I was, however, waiting for a house in Kansas to fall on Jason Castro (pictured) after he sang the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," complete with ukelele. But Randy Jackson emoted: "It was blazing, molten hot!" Who knew?

Kristy Lee Cook might, might finally elude the bottom three with her rendition of "Anyway" by Martina McBride. I went to iTunes after the show and listened to Our Lady Peace's version of "Innocent," which David Cook tackled. Liked the Toronto-based band's take better.

And I agreed totally with Simon Cowell that Carly Smithson was taking out some serious aggressions with "Show Must Go On" by Queen and that she could be in trouble Thursday night. (The hourlong live results show is at 8 p.m. Thursday.)

David Archuleta could do not wrong with "Angels" (on keyboard), from UK artist Robbie Williams. And Brooke White? What can I say? Her confidence has been totally shaken after landing in the bottom three last week. So much so that her "You've Got a Friend" (the Carol King version) sounded much like my scratched-up original of King's "Tapestry" LP.

Predictions? Syesha and Carly definitely in the bottom three. And, just for a shake-up, either David C. or Michael, to rattle their vocal cages.

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Fox

The Final 8 contestants (pictured) on "American Idol" get to reach down - into their hearts, that is - to find an inspirational song for tonight's show (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40).

A perfect song choice, and you'll win over the judges and the viewers, who might dig even deeper - into their pockets, that is - because this is, after all, "Idol Gives Back" week.

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Wednesday night's extravaganza/charity show is two and a half hours. Now, don't get upset, but it was held on Sunday in L.A. so the producers would have a couple days to edit. But trust me, it'll probably be worth it. I saw pics of Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, the Wilson sisters (Ann and Nancy) performing with Fergie (pictured), Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, et al.

And, of course, it's all for a good cause. Last year's inaugural "Idol Gives Back" raised more than $75 million for children living in poverty in the U.S. and battling disease and famine in Africa.

One of the charitable organizations that benefited in 2007 was Save the Children, which received a whopping $14.5 million, which went to its charities both here and in Africa.

I caught up with managing director Mark Shriver just before the show was taped, and he reports - happily - that Save the Children is once again earmarked to receive funds from this season's efforts.

"We stayed in touch with the show's producers and with the foundation that distributed the money," he says. "They were kept abreast with the number of kids we served (more than 24,000), and we were chosen again, which is a great honor."

Shriver adds the money certainly "raised the visibility of povery in this country."

"With this year's allocation, we'll continue to spend money to serve more kids living in poverty in rural America, of which there are about 2.6 million."

A quick "Idol" update: None of the contestants will get the boot on Wednesday night's show but, instead of waiting until next week and eliminating two singers, there will be a live results show on Thursday (at 8 p.m.).

April 7, 2008
Fashion for a good cause

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Photograph courtesy Dee Aguilar

If you don't know about all the good work Francis House does in the community, there's a fashion show this weekend that will enlighten.

It's called the Shear Glory Suede Salon Red Carpet Event, and it's scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the salon's Folsom location, 850 East Bidwell St., Suite 140.

Shear Glory will feature local designer Dee Aguilar, whose spring/summer collection, Antique Goddess, was the talk of the town at the recent "Imagine" fashion show at the Crest Theatre.

The event also will include fashions from the salon, raffles and catering by Mikuni.

Tickets are $30 at the salon or call (916) 487-2566 or (916) 817-4481.

Francis House is a nonprofit organization that reaches the needs of those who are homeless or, frankly, just down on their luck in our community. Counseling is provided, and Francis House gets support from 17 area churches. Sometimes, just a warm cup of coffee and a shoulder are the best remedies.

In addition to the fashion show this weekend, mark your calendars because Francis House will host its 17th annual Feast for the Streets on April 30 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 6151 H St. Like great food and great wine? Then fork over $50 for a fun evening. Emcee will be Jennifer Smith from Channel 10. Last year's event raised more than $88,000.

For more info about Francis House click here or call (916) 443-2646.

For anyone wondering about the whereabouts of Cinderella's Closet, I've got an update.

The business, which launched several years ago to help teens find prom attire, was in downtown Sacramento. However, the "closet" couldn't maintain the space and closed. To the rescue? Second Hand Rose thrift shop at 1120 Fulton Ave. The store had additional space that was offered up to Cinderella's Closet.

According to Carol Loew, a volunteer store director for Second Hand Rose, the new "formal" area of the store is now called the Glass Slipper Room. And, in keeping with the original philosophy, any young woman can still purchase a gently used or new gown at a great price.

In fact, Second Hand Rose will host a Drive Thru Dress Drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot at the Fulton Avenue location. You can drive through and donate gowns, cocktail dresses, jewelry, evening shoes and handbags.

Cinderella's Closet still provides gift certificates to financially and academically qualified high school girls so they can select an outfit at no cost. If you want more info about the program, click here or call Carol at (916) 487-4500.

We're right in the middle of prom season, so clean your closets and donate to Cinderella!


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Fox

I was a little nervous going into this week's "American Idol" conference call. Ousted contestant Ramiele Malubay (shown with Brooke White and Kristy Lee Cook) has one big voice when she sings, but afterward, she's usually reduced to a whisper!

So I was worried I wouldn't be able to hear her answers!

Not so. Ramiele was very poised and together after a long, emotional night and plenty of interviews already under her tiny belt this morning.

Here's some of what she had to say about her "Idol" experience - and what's to come.

Q: You've always been so cheerful! What were you feeling last night and did you feel like you hadn't reached your goal on the show?
A: I kind of felt like I was going. I’m not negative - it's OK. There’s only one winner. My goal was to get by week to week. I didnt want to think about what place I would finish because then your experience could be totally erased. I made the tour and I'm am excited about that.

Q: How much has "Idol" dominated your life? How important was your family during this experience?
A: It's pretty much taken over my life. But that's good. The show is the first real big thing that’s happened to me. It provides both exposure and a future. And I'm grateful to the judges for getting me this far. My family is very important. My dad would fly here every week. He spent sooo much money! But they're very proud of me.

Q: Season 3 finalist Jasmine Trias was from Hawaii, and "Idol" proved a big deal for her. Can you take anything from her experience? And was there added pressure to become the first Asian American "Idol?"
A: I moved (to the United States) from the Philippines when I was 5. I'd like to see what I can do over there. Jasmine meant a lot to me, especially for being a different type of contestant. Yes, there was a little bit (of pressure), just to see how the fan base would grow. And it's been very flattering. I hope nobody is disappointed!

Q: How tall are you? And were you considered the "Idol" little sister?
A: "I'm 4’11. I'm actually older than David Archuleta, but he was always patting me on the head. I hate wearing heels! Last night, I wore flats so the world would see how tall I am.

Q: Any predictions as to who will win?
A: We all went into this being totally different from each other. I don’t really know who will take it. Other years you could kind of tell. But this season, everyone sings so differently, but on the same level of greatness."

Q: What happened after last night's show, and who will you miss most?
A: We get together and talk after someone leaves. But last night, the others had rehearsals for "Idol Gives Back." I was roommates with Kristy Lee and Brooke. We were like sisters. When I got back to our room to pack, they had left me a really cute card.

Q: What did you learn from your experiences on the show? Any advice for future contestants?
A: I learned to be more of a humble person and to appreciate smaller things. I want to acknowledge the other people on the show. I learned so much from the band and from the vocal coaches and from this week’s mentor (Dolly Parton). I went into this really clueless. But you see how fame gets to certain people, not necessarily these contestants. I pride myself on walking in and out the same way. As for future contestants, just be yourself and enjoy every single moment or you’ll miss something.

Q: Did your confidence drop as the show went on? And talk about the level of stress. Were you concerned about David Cook's health incident?
A: Yes, it definitely dropped. I kept asking myself, "What are the judges talking about? What am I doing? What do they want from me?" I was psyching myself out. David had high blood pressure. But he’s fine. Everybody goes about things differently. We break down. My breakdown was crying every week when someone left. That’s how I dealt with stress.

Q: Talk about your plans. What type of album would you like to do?
A: I'm going to stay here in L.A. and pursue music. I'm hoping (Top 24's) Danny (Noriega) and I will become roommates. We got so close on the show. You can't share that experience with just anybody. We take care of each other. I'm not sure of definite plans because of the tour.

As for an album, I grew up listening to what my parents listend to. A lot of '80s music. I would love to do R&B and add my flavor to some old songs. Me and Danny will do a duet - not matter what!


There really can't be an "American Idol" fan out there who was shocked - shocked I tell you - that Ramiele Malubay, 20, was ousted at No. 9 on tonight's live results show.

The good news is that rocker David Cook, who was rushed to an L.A. hospital after Tuesday night's performance with heart palpitations, is OK.

"My high blood pressure just spiked. It's no big deal. I'm not going anywhere," he told host Ryan Seacrest. Dude, I know where you're coming from!

What did throw me for an "Idol" loop was country crooner Kristy Lee Cook being in the bottom three - again! Sorry dreadlocks fans, I had Jason Castro in that group, along with "Miss Popularity" Brooke White. Not because I don't think Brooke's a good singer. She's just too much of a goody two-shoes.

Even tonight, Brooke was pleading with judge Simon Cowell to apologize to the violin player who accompanied her on Tuesday night's Dolly Parton song fest. (She sang "Jolene.")

I just don't have that many good bones in my body.

Anyway, it was indeed Ramiele's turn to go, and she knew it - quivering and shaking until she got to sing at the end and, as most contestants do, she stepped up to the plate and performed admirably. As Ryan always says, "You've got a lot to be proud of."

However, I kept watching the clock during the show. The hourlong results was as jam-packed as my clothes closet:

There was the group sing-along to Dolly's "9 to 5," which last week's ousted Chikezie was going to perform; more stupid questions from viewers, though I liked the woman who asked Simon why he felt the need to apologize for being critical; an ear-splitting performance by country/rock group the Clark Brothers. (They looked like they were going to be eliminated.); a Ford music video featuring the Final 9 on a basketball court, performing to the strains of "It's Tricky"; a trip down memory lane to Nashville where we got updates on past "Idols" Bucky Covington, Phil Stacey and Bo Bice, and, of course, the judges weighing in on this week's performances. They were pretty much in agreement that it was Ramiele's turn to go.

Guest judge Dolly wowed -in a big way - with "Jesus & Gravity" off her new CD, complete with an "angelic" white costume and full gospel choir. She even quipped to Ryan: "I've got Jesus, you've got Simon. But you couldn't do it without him."

Amen.

To her credit, Kristy Lee came to the results prepared to be in the bottom three again. She walked out on stage with a silver throne "seat card."

But, she's safe for next week's "Idol Gives Back" show, which was promoted in a very moving video about two sisters in Africa who were separated in their Ethiopian city but were united because of funds raised from last year's show.

Maybe, if the producers take heart, Kristy Lee will be sitting pretty on that big sofa after next week's charity drive. The contestants likely will perform inspirational songs next Tuesday and all be safe next Wednesday. (Two will get the boot on April 16.)

If you think this contest isn't heating up for a dandy stretch run, you've been listening to too much of the "Clark Brothers."

And all that hugging and tears? It won't last!

There really can't be an "American Idol" fan out there who was shocked - shocked I tell you - that Ramiele Malubay, 20, was ousted at No. 9 on tonight's live results show.

The good news is that rocker David Cook, who was rushed to an L.A. hospital after Tuesday night's performance with heart palpitations, is OK.

"My high blood pressure just spiked. It's no big deal. I'm not going anywhere," he told host Ryan Seacrest. Dude, I know where you're coming from!

What did throw me for an "Idol" loop was country crooner Kristy Lee Cook being in the bottom three - again! Sorry dreadlocks fans, I had Jason Castro in that group, along with "Miss Popularity" Brooke White. Not because I don't think Brooke's a good singer. She's just too much of a goody two-shoes.

Even tonight, Brooke was pleading with judge Simon Cowell to apologize to the violin player who accompanied her on Tuesday night's Dolly Parton song fest. (She sang "Jolene.")

I just don't have that many good bones in my body.

Anyway, it was indeed Ramiele's turn to go, and she knew it - quivering and shaking until she got to sing at the end and, as most contestants do, she stepped up to the plate and performed admirably. As Ryan always says, "You've got a lot to be proud of."

However, I kept watching the clock during the show. The hourlong results was as jam-packed as my clothes closet:

There was the group sing-along to Dolly's "9 to 5," which last week's ousted Chikezie was going to perform; more stupid questions from viewers, though I liked the woman who asked Simon why he felt the need to apologize for being critical; an ear-splitting performance by country/rock group the Clark Brothers. (They looked like they were going to be eliminated.); a Ford music video featuring the Final 9 on a basketball court, performing to the strains of "It's Tricky"; a trip down memory lane to Nashville where we got updates on past "Idols" Bucky Covington, Phil Stacey and Bo Bice, and, of course, the judges weighing in on this week's performances. They were pretty much in agreement that it was Ramiele's turn to go.

Guest judge Dolly wowed -in a big way - with "Jesus & Gravity" off her new CD, complete with an "angelic" white costume and full gospel choir. She even quipped to Ryan: "I've got Jesus, you've got Simon. But you couldn't do it without him."

Amen.

To her credit, Kristy Lee came to the results prepared to be in the bottom three again. She walked out on stage with a silver throne "seat card."

But, she's safe for next week's "Idol Gives Back" show, which was promoted in a very moving video about two sisters in Africa who were separated in their Ethiopian city but were united because of funds raised from last year's show.

Maybe, if the producers take heart, Kristy Lee will be sitting pretty on that big sofa after next week's charity drive. The contestants likely will perform inspirational songs next Tuesday and all be safe next Wednesday. (Two will get the boot on April 16.)

If you think this contest isn't heating up for a dandy stretch run, you've been listening to too much of the "Clark Brothers."

And all that hugging and tears? It won't last!

And the fashion shows just keep coming. And coming. I love it! (Keeps me busy.)

Anyway, mark your calendars, highlight your Outlook, remind your BlackBerry - whatever - for 2008's Sacramento Fashion Week, which debuts April 18. Shows will be held that day, and each day of that week, at various locations, including the Parlare Euro Lounge (1009 10th St.) and DV8 Boutique (1050 20th St.).

The fall fashion showcase event will be April 25 at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria.

The event's being presented by Magnum Opus Enterprises. Its president, Grace Ballesteros, e-mails that "the growth of the fashion industry in the Sacramento region, the Central Valley and the Bay Area is the major focus of our mission."

So, which local designer types can you expect to show at the shows? Well, I know several of them firsthand. Good stuff - always.

The Tsakopoulos Galleria finale will be a red carpet show featuring eight designers: Miosa Couture (Michael and Sanea Sommerfield), Dee Aguilar (who just did the local "Imagine" show - for more on "Imagine" and a link to a slide show, go here), Mercedes Benz (Benzo Couture), Casey Sue Douglass (Casey Sue), Michael Afshar (Elephant Couture), Tamika Chontel Pascual (Exquisitely Eclectic) and Preston Doh (Lucio Montana).

Ballesteros goes on to say that "our current focus is producing professional, top-notch, and high-quality fashion shows that would expose the Northern California area to a new type of culture and fashion that is still very young and untouched.

"We will accomplish this by promoting Sacramento Fashion Week at related fashion events in the region.”

For more info on the show, including how to purchase tickets, click here.

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Fox

I got several e-mail alerts, including ones from TMZ and the L.A. Times, reporting that "American Idol" contestant David Cook (pictured) apparently was rushed to a hospital immediately after Tuesday night's show.

The Times says he was "experiencing stress-related heart palpitations. He was later released with a prescription for medication to lower his blood pressure."
(I've got your back on that one, David.)

Obviously, if you watched the show, you know he was able to perform his Dolly Parton song, "Little Sparrow" - to rave reviews, no less.

Heck, the show itself is a pressure cooker. I'm surprised someone hasn't succumbed to the anxiety before now. David was released after a short stay and headed back to the hotel, where the other "Idol" contestants are staying.

"He is fine and not at the hospital," another show insider told E!

Insiders told the Times that another factor adding to David's anxiety may have been news about his brother, who is fighting cancer.

And show host Ryan Seacrest told listeners of KIIS-FM (in Los Angeles), "I don't know what he was stressed about. He said yesterday that his blood pressure was high and he wanted to get checked out after the show."

(Did viewers catch that Ryan banged his leg on one of the metal railings Tuesday night while navigating the set? Ouch!)

It will be interesting to see how everyone's doing on tonight's live results show (at 9 p.m. on Channel 40). And check back at the conclusion of the show to see what I have to say about who gets the boot.

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Fox

Hey, I matched two songs with two of the Final 9 Tuesday night on "American Idol." I'm kind of proud of that accomplishment!

Dolly Parton served as this season's first mentor. A fine choice - Dolly. She was warm and admitted she hadn't been on the show before because she "couldn't criticize or judge someone else's singing."

Luckily, I have no problem with that. Nor do the judges, who offered a mixed bag of positive and negative comments. The word "performance" came up at least 100 times.

Before my wrap-up, I'm gonna throw something out there and see if anything comes of it: I predicted someone would tackle "I Will Always Love You," and I was right that it was Syesha Mercado.

Here's the deal: I thought she did a nice job with that big old song but she got more comparisons to Whitney Houston than Dolly. Well, until Whitney can finally get her act together after years and years of making a mess of her life, I don't think she deserves the pedestal treatment.

But, I digress.

"Idol" jammed nine performances into one hour, and several of the final contestants got little - if any - time with the judges. Probably not a bad thing.
Considering they had to pick from Dolly songs, I thought the Final 9 were spot on (for the most part). I'm going to lump them into groups of three - from best to perhaps tonight's bottom three. Just my opinion, of course.

Top 3:
* David Cook: He sang "Little Sparrow." Dolly gave him high marks for his voice.
Randy Jackson: "You're a rocker with unbelievable range. That was another hot, consistent performance."
Paula Abdul: (She liked David's new haircut, too, which I really didn't notice.) "I've never heard a guy sing that song before."
Simon Cowell: "If you can make a song about sparrows sound good, congratulations."
FYI: This is the second "bird" song a contestant has sung that Simon has dissed. Carly Smithson sang "Blackbird" a couple of weeks ago.

* David Archuleta: He sang "Smoky Mountain Memories." Dolly said it brought back a lot of memories for her.
Randy: "David Archuleta is back!"
Paula: "There's just a beautiful aura about you."
Simon: "I had issues with your song choice last week. This week, it was absolutely on the money."
FYI: Notice David isn't licking his lips as much?

* Michael Johns: He sang "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right." Dolly said if Michael keeps singing, she could write songs for him.
Randy: "You keep bringing it up. That was a blazing, hot performance."
Paula: "These songs have great melodies. You're a rock star and a blues star."
Simon: "It's been an interesting night. That was the best I've heard you sing throughout the competition."
FYI: An "Idol"-watching companion compared Michael to a Jim/Van Morrison combo meal.

Middle 3:
* Carly Smithson: She sang "Here You Come Again." Dolly said she picked the perfect song.
Randy: "I do believe that that will be one of the better performances of the night."
Paula: "That was glorious! You're an amazing talent."
Simon: "I thought it was good, not great. You need to have a word with whoever is dressing you. You need to start looking like a star, and I'm not seeing that progression."
FYI: The show does have stylists, and the contestants do get to go shopping. I agree with Simon that Carly's sleeveless tops and leggings are not very flattering, but the stylist can't force a look on her or on any of the others.

* Syesha Mercado: Again, she sang "I Will Always Love You." Dolly thought she made a good choice and found an emotional connection with the song.
Randy: "You took on the biggest tiger of the night. It was pretty good."
Paula: "Your voice has a velvety tone to it. That's it for you - connecting with the audience."
Simon: "Dolly is a brilliant songwriter. But I almost wished you hadn't done that song. It paled to Whitney's version. It was a good, not fantastic, version."
FYI: See what I mean?

* Kristy Lee Cook (pictured): She sang "Coat of Many Colors." (I predicted this song choice.) Dolly felt she made it her own.
Randy: "Country music is your wheelhouse. It was a very nice performance for Kristy Lee week!"
Paula: "You look stunning! It was your best performance."
Simon: "I totally disagree. Last week was your best performance. This week, it was pleasant but it was forgettable."
FYI: I personally don't care for the whole barefoot thing.

Bottom 3:
* Brooke White: She sang "Jolene." Dolly said there was an honesty about Brooke.
Randy: "This suits your voice. But there were some pitch problems, and you rushed the music."
Paula: "You're consistent and excellent. And you had a strong connection with the song."
Simon: "I totally disagree with Paula. It was lacking emotion. You were busting your way through it. And it was an odd group up there. The weird violin player. It was not one of your better performances."
FYI: I'm sure Brooke will be safe, so don't panic. I put her below Kristy Lee because I wasn't a big fan of the song choice. But a word of caution: Brooke needs to take her dose of judges' medicine and not talk back.

* Jason Castro: He sang "Travelin' Thru.'' Dolly thought it was a nice, sweet piece for him. (I hadn't heard this song before.)
Randy: "It started out rough. But in the middle, you worked it out."
Paula: "It was one of your strongest performances. Your voice was strong and rich."
Simon: "I'll lose my season pass to Dollywood. I didn't like it at all. If it was the first time I'd seen you, I wouldn't get it. The music doesn't suit you."
FYI: I don't think Dolly got Jason's dreads.

* Ramiele Malubay: She sang "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?" Dolly said about the only thing she could say: "The fact that she's little won't stop her from doing big things." Just not Tuesday night.
Randy: "I'm not jumping up and down. You showed signs of strength. I give it a six-and-a-half out of 10."
Paula: "I was worried you wouldn't connect (with this music), but you did."
Simon: "We won't remember this in 10 years. It was cute but forgettable. More like a cruise-ship performance."
FYI: I predict "Idol" voters will give back Ramiele before next week's "Idol Gives Back" show.

OK, let's get real here. Ramiele, Jason and probably Kristy Lee aren't in the same vocal ballpark with the two Davids, Michael and Carly. Syesha and Brooke are somewhere in the middle because they kind of sound the same each week.

On tonight's live results show (at 9 p.m. on Channel 40), Dolly will perform. And get ready for the group sing-along to include some of her duets with Kenny Rogers.

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Fox

We're down to the Final 9 contestants (pictured) on "American Idol," and we're gearing up for the first mentor of Season 7. And that's none other than country music legend Dolly Parton for tonight's competition (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40).

OK, I'm already hearing groans out there. I know - you can't imagine resident rocker David Cook putting his unique spin on "Mule Skinner Blues."

Otherwise, I'm sure Kristy Lee Cook will continue to avenge her Beatles bashing from several weeks ago. She could pretty much tackle any Dolly offering - from "Coat of Many Colors" to a rollicking rendition of "Jolene."

Hah!

What should the contestants avoid? If it were me, I would forget "I Will Always Love You" was even a Dolly song. Why? Because the queen, Whitney Houston, sang the daylights out of it on the 1992 "Bodyguard" soundtrack.

In other words: Don't go there! But, I'm sure the vocal coaches have persuaded someone - maybe Syesha Mercado - to take on the challenge.

Last week's eliminated contestant, Chikezie, had planned to sing "9 to 5," so I don't know if another singer swooped on that happy-go-lucky tune. And there's always "Islands in the Stream," but Dolly did that so well with Kenny Rogers that it might not work as well as a solo.

Meanwhile, save this date: Next Wednesday is the second annual "Idol Gives Back" charity show (from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on Channel 40). And it will be a star-studded affair. Who's showing up? I hear Bono, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Miley Cyrus (she's everywhere), Mariah Carey (also a mentor this season), QB bros Eli and Peyton Manning, Fergie, Season 4 rocker Chris Daughtry, and winner Carrie Underwood. There's also Annie Lennox, John Legend and Snoop Dogg.

The show is a U.S./international benefit to raise money for underprivileged children in America and to battle poverty and disease in Africa. In 2007, the show raised more than $75 million.

There's a good chance we'll see a clip of Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, who traveled to Ghana in February with President Bush and first lady Laura Bush to distribute bed nets in the fight against malaria.

Anyway, last year the show aired with six contestants instead of the eight who will perform next week. No word yet if the eight will be safe (out of the kindness of their hearts) for a week, with two to get kicked off the following week.

Stay tuned.


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Florence Low/flow@sacbee.com

Looking back at Friday night's fashion show at the Crest Theatre, it's amazing to me that more than 900 folks care enough about the local fashion scene to support a show that, obviously, was a labor of love for those involved.

Didn't make it? No worries. Check out Bee photographer Florence Low's multimedia presentation here.

The show was titled "Imagine: Where Fashion, Music & Art Unite." It was a first for the almost year-old International Academy of Design & Technology. It showcased both established Sacramento designers - Richard Hallmarq, Tomiko Abella (designs pictured above), Steven Willey and Dee Aguilar - plus the first collections from a number of the Sacramento design school's students.

(For more info about IADT, click here.)

I got lucky and was seated next to school president Melody Rider, who cheered each of her students' offerings. Rider got the school up and running last May, so it's to her credit - and fashion department chair Denise Reed - that almost 30 designers were "seasoned" enough to put together collections this fast.

Last fall, some of them didn't even know how to sew!

The individual collections had different names and themes - all focused on looks for spring and summer.

For example, designers Melisa Celestial and Naomi Persinger's "Seaside Celebrations" was all about the beach: natural cottons, warm colors. The clothes made you forget how cold it was outside in Sacramento!

Student Jeremiah Hill has been designing for less than a year. His first collection, titled "Asian Knight," featured flirty dresses and a multi-tiered skirt I would have purchased on the spot. Hill paired it nicely with a satin and metallic bandeau top.

Meanwhile, major props to both Abella and Aguilar, who continue to grow as established designers. Abella's "Romantica" segment offered an incredible mix of ruffles, lace and detailed beading in her flamenco-inspired fashions. Aguilar got her inspiration from old Hollywood films. And her designs were pure elegance, from a white sequin dress reminiscent of the 1960s to leggings and a simple fitted top.

The show was hosted by Naima Mora, Season 4 winner of "America's Next Top Model." She did a nice job, considering the number of designers she had to introduce (even when the order changed). Her energy (and beauty) on stage makes you realize why she won that title.

And keynote speaker Jack Mackenroth, from "Project Runway," was pretty entertaining, especially his slide show of pics from his stint on the show, including some of eventual winner Christian Sirano mugging for the camera.

Finally, Hallmarq's show-ending segment featured multiple celebs, including a stunning Nyabel Lual, one of the most exotic models on the planet. Musical artist Carmen Xtravaganza wowed as the models, sporting floor-length ponytails, presented Hallmarq's collection, simply titled "X."

DJs Billy Steele and SpekrFreks were outstanding with the musical accompaniments. And I loved the performance by musical guest Armstrong Jr.

Also seated up front was Tom McNamara, the vice president of Start-Ups for IADT in Chicago. He flew in from the mother ship for the local school's first show and was very impressed, he says, with the level of talent the students already had achieved.

Did I love everything I saw? No. But overall, the younger, more youthful looks certainly can work for the 20-somethings who can pull it off. And if you have a good fashion imagination, it's easy to see how the separates could find their way into many different wardrobes - including my own!


With the exception of a rude heckler and his cronies from the Bay Area, the "Imagine" fashion show Friday night at the Crest Theatre was, by all accounts, a sell-out success.

Kudos to the International Academy of Design & Technology in Sacramento, whose students put on the show, either working backstage, manning the guest tables or, for nine special students, showing their first fashion collections.

The theater was packed for a show that was nothing short of ambitious. Local designer Richard Hallmarq, whose incredible (natch) collection closed the show and featured supermodel Nyabel Lual, was the event's ringleader. He masterminded getting an array of musical guests to perform, including Armstrong Jr. and the outrageously entertaining Carmen Xtravaganza

But it was the school's fashion design students who sparkled - literally. I've never seen such a proud group, and that includes all the friends and family attending who cheered each collection.

The audience was also treated to local fashion stars Dee Aguilar, Tomicko Abella and Steven Willey's latest runway designs.

I don't want to give everything away today, so come back here - to 21Q - on Monday for a complete wrap-up plus Bee photographer Florence Low's amazing slideshow presentation.

As for the heckler, he didn't make it past the first intermission. The "locals" took care of him.


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Jack Mackenroth is in the house, well, city. Our city, to be exact.

The former Season 4 "Project Runway" contestant (pictured) arrived in Sactown late Thursday night, but he quickly got on West Coast time. Just in time to talk this morning about his appearance at tonight's "Imagine" fashion show at the Crest Theatre, as well as about his future in the garment biz.

For those of you who got stuck in hibernation over the winter, Jack left "Project Runway" after the season's episode five for medical reasons. But, ever the fan, he kept watching to the end, cheering on one of his best friends on the show, eventual winner Christian Sirano.

And, yes, Jack thinks Christian's talent is "fierce!"

"I was a huge fan of the show since its inception," Jack says. "It was bittersweet for me to leave because I was close to so many people."

Jack, 38, grew up in Seattle, but he graduated from UC Berkeley.

"Oddly enough, I was in pre-med for two years," he says. "I was already making my own clothes, but I was sort of programmed to be in the sciences. My dad is a doctor, my mom's a nurse.

"But I knew being a doctor wasn't something I wanted to do the rest of my life."

Jack graduated from Cal as an art major, moved to New York and attended the Parsons the New School for Design. You know, the one that "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn was so instrumental in building up.

"I didn't have Tim as a teacher while I was there," Jack says. "But when I auditioned last year for 'Project Runway,' I tracked down the acceptance letter I got in 1991 (from Parsons), and his signature was on it."

Currently, Jack is living in New York in what he calls a "strange limbo." Interestingly, he's in negotiations to appear on Season 5 of "PR" because his run was cut so short. Auditions are about to get under way for the next show, with shooting set for June and July.

"There are some legal things to be worked out, but I would love to go back on the show," Jack says.

Jack says he already knows he would do things differently if he gets another chance.

"I might be more competitive," he says. "I've talked with some of the show's producers who fear I might have an edge because I already was on. But I think actually there's some disadvantage because I know I'll have to be more inventive."

Jack is actually still on the fence about whether to do the show again. As I've blogged about other reality TV contestants, "Project Runway" (like "American Idol" and "Top Chef") are exhausting shows for the competitors.

"I think what's great is that the show is giving the finalists more than a couple of months to design a 13-piece collection," Jack says. "My goal would be to not get stuck in a design mold."

As for winner Christian, Jack says the young designer is not as "catty" as the editing reflected on the show. Right now, Jack says, Christian has been doing the celebrity thing: talk shows, appearing on "Make Me a Supermodel" (another Bravo show), etc. (A sure sign that Christian has made it onto the pop-culture radar, he was even "featured" on a recent "Saturday Night Live" skit.)

"Did you see that? It was hilarious," Jack says. "Christian got to meet Amy Poehler, who played him in the skit. He calls me and says, 'Jack, she looks exactly like me. She even has my body movements down!'

"I'm so excited for him and the other finalists because I think they produced the best (collections) of any prior season."

Jack his a reality TV junkie. Not so much the "Big Brother" voyeur/catfight thing ("I can go to a bar and watch that happen"). But he loves "Idol" and "Top Chef." ("Shows where talent is involved, where interesting people are actually doing something.")

For tonight's show at the Crest, which is put on by Sacramento's International Academy of Design & Technology, Jack will be the keynote speaker. His plan? A little bio info, some sound bites about the importance of education in fashion, and how he once had hair as crazy as buddy Christian's.

"There will be a slide show. Look for picture No. 3, where I had a hairdo that would rival Christian's," he says. "I'll also talk about my experience on 'Project Runway.' It should be entertaining."

Indeed. And check back here at 21Q Saturday for early impressions of tonight's show, plus our own slide show early next week.


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Fox

Chikezie, the LAX employee with the soulful pipes, says he'll march on in the music world - maybe even win a Grammy one day!

Chikezie, 22 (pictured), was eliminated on Wednesday night's "American Idol" results show. But, in a conference call with "Idol" reporters, he assures that he'll still be a part of the mix because he'll be going on tour with the Top 10 this summer.

Sounding weary (as they all do the day after), he was - as always - optimistic. Here's some of what he had to say about his experience on the show and what's to come:

Q:You are one of the most joyous contestants we've seen on the show. Are you always this happy?
A: I tend to wear my emotions on my face. I can be sweating without doing any kind of work.

Q: On Tuesday, you sang "If Only For One Night." It seemed like the judges weren’t feeling it. What was your impression?
A: I didn’t care, honestly. I already knew Simon (Cowell) wasn’t going to feel it. I came in knowing that. But I had to do what I felt best represented me. It's like running on a diving board. It’s eventually going to end and you have to keep going. Actually, it took the pressure off. I was performing for the sake of performing. I knew I was going to be in the bottom three, and I knew I was going home.

Q: What have you learned about yourself from being on "Idol", and what's the best piece of advice you've received?
A: That hard work and perseverance pay off. And that you've got to fight with everything you’ve got. As for advice, all the voice coaches and the band members got together and told me to be true to myself.

Q: How hard was it to leave the other contestants?
A: Last night, I was glad none of the other guys had to go home. It's hard to say goodbye to your friends. But I really didn't have to say goodbye. They didn’t have to say goodbye, either, because we're going on tour this summer.

Q: In your bio it says you've never attended a concert. So what was it like performing on the "Idol" stage? And what is the new mosh pit like with the swaying arms?
A: That’s true about the concert thing. It’s incredible being able to get on stage and perform songs you love. I didn’t know it was like a skill. And there's stuff you do when you think no one is watching. (The pit) isn't distracting. It's exciting! I've never heard people scream so loud.

Q: How did you feel about the weekly group numbers and the choreography? And what kind of relationships have you formed with the other contestants?
A: With the group thing, it was like, 'Here we go again. Does anybody actually enjoy these?' With the contestants, it becomes a family. We're going for a similar goal - not necessarily to win or beat somebody but to be successful at something we love. It's an amazing support system. And there's nothing more than friendships going on. It would be awkward on the tour!

Q: This wasn't your first "Idol" audition. So what made the difference this go-round?
A: The biggest difference is realizing that, yes, I can sing, but what else is there? At the other auditions, I kept asking myself why I wasn't getting anywhere. I came to the realization that everyone else is singing. But can I perform, work a stage, entertain? Going to Hollywood last year and getting sent home told me something was missing. So, I studied music styles and different artists. I videotaped myself performing to figure out why I wasn't connecting. This experience was actually easier than that.

Q: "Idol" is a great platform for the contestants. Where do you see yourself headed 10 years from now? And what kind of music would you like to record?
A: I love fusion, the melding of different styles of music. I definitely want to take risks. In 10 years, I'd love to win at least one Grammy. I want to get started with my music career, making albums that make other people feel good. Acting? Why not try everything? I'm always testing myself to what I can accomplish. I'm realizing more about myself every time I hit the stage. It's been more of a growth process than a change for me.


Being in "American Idol's" Top 10 is a big deal. So, what does it mean to be cast off at this point?

Just ask Chikezie, who got the boot Wednesday night. And, first off, I really like this guy. He's got the ability to record that album that women of a certain age will buy in the next year or so. Attention Donny Hathaway fans.

Who got the big scares? Syesha Mercado (another bottom three) and first-timer Jason Castro. My "Idol" faithful (guys who watch with me every week) have a theory that the "safe" person from the bottom three - which last week included Carly Smithson (she says she's not pregnant; she just didn't get her Spanx delivery) - really isn't that far down. It's just a wake-up call for that contestant to get it together.

Anyway, the bottom three's Syesha really didn't deserve to be there. I think Chikezie, though, was a goner at 10, nine or eight.

Loved Season 2 finalist Kimberley Locke's performance. Again, it goes to show that finishing third, as she did, doesn't close the doors on a singing/restaurant career. She was great!

Kristy Lee Cook, who just might have felt safe this week, was, well, SAFE! She continues to build a fan base and good for her. I think song choice sealed it for her.

I'll keep you posted as to next week's song category as soon as I know. In the meantime, check back to 21Q later today for an interview with Chikezie.

FYI: The Fox network in New York jumped on some David Cook fraud story. Is it the "Billie Jean" cover he performed Tuesday night? Like I said, that song was on the 1982 (the year he was born) album "Thriller," but it didn't crack the Top 100 until 1983.

Try again, Fox.

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Autumn Cruz/acruz@sacbee.com

Several readers have gotten in contact with me, wanting to know more about the "Ada" handbags that I wrote about in in today's Scene, and I'm more than happy to oblige.

For those who missed the story, the three Sacramento boutiques that carry the line are:

* The Pink House: 1462 33rd St.
* Five: 2580 Fair Oaks Blvd., Suite 12, in the Lyon Village shopping center.
* Morgan Lain: 613 Munroe St. (behind Loehmann's Plaza).

By the way, Orangevale-based designer Ada Komorniczak-Deferrari takes off today for trips to Dallas and Chicago to see if Texas and Windy City women are ready for her collection. I'm betting they are!

Then, Ada and her husband, Gaston, will be winging their way to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where her bags are manufactured.

"I'll be checking in on the winter 2008 collection and already gearing up for spring 2009," she says.

Keep in mind, though, Ada's bags are truly seasonless.

See for yourself; check out Bee photographer Autumn Cruz's slide show of Ada's bags and hear the designer's thoughts on the collection here.

Tuesday night, the Top 10 (you know, the ones you'll be paying to see this summer on the national tour) performed songs from the year they were born.

Blow out the candles: Is this party over or what?! The show almost made me ready for Neil Diamond week!

With the exception of maybe three performances, I felt like a hundred birthdays had passed before this show was over. Lackluster efforts and boring song choices abounded. If you missed it (or fell asleep), here's my wrap-up:

* Ramiele Malubay (1987): She sang Heart's "Alone." (Nice pick, Jason Barsky from 107.9. - check out his predictions. You rock!)
Randy Jackson: "I know you're under the weather, but it was not the right song choice. It was a little too big for you, not quite right. It was pitchy all over the place."
Paula: "I'm glad America has heard you sing. I know you picked it (the song) healthy." (What was up with Paula's silly sequin dress with black gloves? But, I digress.)
Simon Cowell: "It's not as bad as Randy said. The first part was OK, a bit shrieky and shouty. But, after last week, you'll get through on that performance."

* Jason Castro (1987): He sang Sting's "Fragile" (with guitar, of course).
Randy: "It was a very good choice of song, but dude, you didn't do anything new with it."
Paula: "You're staying true to who you are and your niche. But I missed the 'Wow' factor."
Simon: "You've had two bad weeks in a row, and I think it's time for you to start taking this seriously. It sounded like someone busking (huh?) outside the subway station."
Note to self: Am I awake? Do I have a pulse? Am I in a coma?

* Syesha Mercado (1987): She sang "If I Were Your Woman."
Randy: "This is the best I have ever heard you sing, including when you auditioned. It was stellar, it was unbelievable. I am shocked."
Paula: "This is going to be the moment that everyone remembers as when Syesha 'flipped it' and became a contender."
Simon: "I agree that it was the best performance so far, but I think you were reaching your limit toward the end of the song."
Note to Syesha: Way to rebound two weeks in a row.

* Chikezie (1985): He sang "If Only For One Night."
Randy: "It was an oldie but a goodie. But very old school for me. I just didn't love it for you. There wasn't enough vibe, enough energy."
Paula: "It was a good throwback, upping the tempo. You do have amazing vocals."
Simon: "I think you sang it well. But it was very cheesy. You have to show originality. I miss your personality."

* Brooke White (1983): She sang the Police's "Every Breath You Take."
Randy: "The first part was great. But I didn't love the band coming in. It was just OK.'
Paula: "I enjoyed it so much more than last week. It was unique."
Simon: "I totally agree with Randy. You on the piano, you picked up the tempo. But when the band came in, it was very old-fashioned. You'll stay another week, but you've got to work this out."

* Michael Johns (1978): Go Jason Barsky, go! Michael did just as you asked: Go for two Queen songs, "We Will Rock You," spliced with "We Are the Champions." Brilliant.
Randy: "Finally, you believe in yourself! It was the best performance since you've been on the show."
Paula: "We can shut our mouths. It's your shining moment."
Simon: "It's the first time I saw star potential. You've got it right. Confident. It's the only memorable performance so far tonight."

* Carly Smithson (1983): She sang Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." (Sorry Jason - he had this one going to Brooke.)
Randy: "It was an interesting song choice. I liked it, but I didn't love it. The run at the end wasn't in tune."
Paula: "I'm not crazy about it, but I'll buy it."
Simon: "Something didn't quite work. You seem uptight and tense. You've got to lighten up."

* David Archuleta (1990): He sang "You're the Voice," an Aussie song, It sounded a little "Up With People" for me.
Randy: "It was a strange song choice."
Paula: "I'm trying to figure this one out. I know you can sing the phone book."
Simon: "I actually didn't like the performance at all. It was all theme park, with animated creatures performing with you."
Note to David: Who is helping you with song choice - your dad? Ok, mini-low blow.

* Kristy Lee Cook (1984): OK, Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" threw us all for a loop. But props to Kristy. It probably saved her for yet another week.
Randy: "Great song choice. A very nice performance."
Paula: "It was a poignant, respectful song that shows your voice is getting stronger."
Simon: "It was your best performance by a mile and I believe the most clever song choice I've ever heard in years. It should keep you in the competition."

* David Cook (1982): He sang an outrageous version of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," which actually hit the Top 100 in 1983. The album it's from, the legendary "Thriller," came out in '82.
Randy: "I've gotta say, that's the most original, most bold (take) I've heard on that. You might be the one to win the whole thing!"
Paula: "I was blown away at how smart, how brave, how willing you are. You're right to the edge."
Simon: "That was brave. It was amazing."

OK, so Season 2 finalist Kimberly Locke performs tonight on the live results show (at 9 p.m. on Channel 40) as part of the "Where are the 'Idols' now?" program.

My prediction: I would be concerned if I were Chikezie, Ramiele and - hold on to your Irish beer - Carly. She's just not connecting anymore, folks. And Kristy Lee is pulling on those heartstrings.

Note to executive producer Nigel Lythgoe: After Tuesday night, I would seriously consider cutting the results show back to half an hour.


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Autumn Cruz/acruz@sacbee.com

If you're still thinking about attending Friday night's fashion show, "Imagine," at the Crest Theatre, I just got word that there's a smattering of tickets still available. (Smattering meaning slim and few.)

The complete title of the show is "Imagine: Where Fashion, Art & Music Unite," and will put on by the less-than-year-old International Academy of Design & Technology school in Sacramento. (Read my recent story on the school here.)

"Imagine" will feature nine student collections, including those by local luminaries Richard Hallmarq and Dee Aguilar, and student Jeremiah Hill (pictured).

The show, which is set to hit the runway at 8 p.m., will be jammed with a variety of other artists. Check this out:

It will be hosted by Naima Mora, Season 4 winner of "America's Next Top Model," and will showcase appearances by Jack Mackenroth, a contestant on this season's "Project Runway"; Maneca Lightner, cover model for the R&B group "Madhouse," and model Nyabel Lual.

Musical guests include DJs Billy Steele and SpekrFreks, and recording artists Armstrong Jr. and Carmen Xtravaganza.

Tickets are $20 general and $50 VIP at R5 Records, the Crest and Tickets.com. Proceeds to benefit CARES, the nonprofit Center for Aids Research, Education & Services.

FYI: Check back here, at 21Q on Friday, for a pre-show interview with "Project Runway's" Mackenroth. We'll see just how "fierce" he thinks winner Christian Sirano really is!

March 21, 2008
Colors count in the NCAA

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Associated Press

So, OK, the NCAA basketball tourney is a "basketball" test of wills. You've got to win six live-or-die games to earn the title of nation's best.

But this season, in particular, it seems it's also a challenge of school colors, especially the blues: navy, bright blue and - my personal favorite - Carolina Blue (notice the cap letters?) vs. the oranges - Tennessee and Clemson - and the abundance of reds - Stanford and Wisconsin.

Even if your alma mater isn't in the hunt - or already has been knocked out (sorry about that, Saint Mary's fan who wore maroon and navy to work) - the next couple of weekends provide great opportunities to wear some great school colors, paint your face and "party like it's 1969," which is what the Drake fans (pictured) did until getting knocked out today by Western Kentucky in overtime.

The Drakies, who were in the Big Dance's Final 4 in, really, 1969, came with faces painted and kooky hats. In other words, they worked it in terms of school spirit fashion.

So if you see any folks walking around Sac in that special shade of blue, you'll know what it means.

Psycho T? You betcha!

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Fox

I can't recall chatting with an eliminated "American Idol" contestant who sounded as exhausted as Amanda Overmyer (pictured). She admitted getting to bed at 1:30 this morning, getting up at 3:30 and starting - I assume - East Coast interviews at 4 a.m.!

So props to her for putting up with us print folks for half an hour today.

Here's some of what she had to say about her elimination:

Q:Were you as shocked as your fans probably were that you were the one to go last night? Did you see the results in Ryan Seacrest's hand?
A:No, but I tried. I was kinda not really surprised. I didn’t go in with any preconceived notions. It's just such a crapshoot being a square peg in a round hole.

Q: Will you be heading back to Indiana and your job or pursuing the music thing?
A: I'm definitely going on to the next step because I'm capable of moving on. I’ve owned a home in Indiana for three years. I'll give this music thing about six months and then probably go back to my career, but I have no idea if there are any (entertainment) options in L.A. It's just a waiting game for me.

Q: You actually sound optimistic. Would that be accurate?
A: Absolutely. Yesterday wasn’t the most traumatic thing that has happened to me. I got voted off a TV show. But I was privileged to stay on until 11. I'm just cut from a different mold than anyone else. But I found it warming that I had that much fan support.

Q: Can you say what was your favorite and least favorite performances?
A: I loved the songs I performed on the big stage. I'm more in my element with the crowd. All the group numbers were my least favorite. Personally I liked the Kansas (song), but I got slammed on it.

Q: The show's producers are always excited about unique personalities. Does that benefit a performer like you?
A: It benefits anybody with any kind of distinction. "American Idol" is an amazing platform to start from. It's the biggest we could ever get.

Q: At one point, (judge) Simon Cowell was joking with you about "smiling." How serious did you take the three judges' comments?
A: When I was done singing, I was done singing. I was respectful and listened when the judges give comments. But it wouldn’t sway me one way or another on what I would do. I performed like me, looked like me. Their comments were targeted at winning the contest, and that wasn't what I was about.

Q: Any predictions on which contestant you think could win?
A: No. All I can say is Syesha (Mercado) wasn’t favored last week. And David Archuleta got slammed by the judges. It’s anybody’s game.

Q: You really looked down at being in the bottom three. Were you surprised because a lot of people were predicting Kristy Lee Cook would be off?
A: Actually, I thought more than likely I would be done. I know how different I am. I target an older, different audience than maybe the show provides.

Q: The three of you (including Carly Smithson) were in a tense position. Did you say anything afterward to Kristy?
A: She thought it was her (who would go). I told her to chill out and stop worrying.

Q: Any regrets about song choice on Tuesday (or any other night) or about performing first?
A: No, I don’t think it was song choice. If it hadn't been "Back in the U.S.S.R," it would have been another song that sounded like me singing it. You'll never hear me whining I was first.

Q: Are you sad about finishing 11th and not going on the "American Idol" tour?
A: I definitely had hopes for position six or seven, but it is what it is. Yeah, it (the tour) was somewhat of a goal, but I'm not exremely disappointed. The ultimate goal is to get my own tour. They’ve got the best group (Final 10) for it.

Q: What about the social side of being a contestant? Did you bond well, fit in?
A: I tend to keep pretty sheltered. I can count on two hands the friends and family I rely on. Sure, there's an element of camaraderie there. Everybody is going through the same thing. They’re the only ones who understand. Carly was my roommate. We spent the most time together and had things in common.

Q: You stuck to your musical roots. Were you concerned about being forced to change your personal look (hair, clothing) to fit the show?
A: Yeah, I do my own thing, but I was definitely kind of nervous about that (the hair and clothing), but they (stylists) were really good to me.

Q: Any last thoughts?
A: It's just a good feeling that somebody who's different like me gets this opportunity. And it's good to know there were people out there who kept me in as long as they did.


OK, I officially declare my incompetency as a prognosticator of "American Idol" votes.

Country vs. rock? Contestants who pop off vs. contestants who take their judges' medicine and get on with it? So, what are you gonna do, Votefortheworst.com?

Your pick, Amanda Overmyer, got her ticket to ride - home - tonight.

Not only that. Get ready Lafayette (I'm assuming Louisiana). Amanda told Simon Cowell she could basically care less if he thought she was verging on "boring." "I'll sell out a bar in Lafayette and be happy."

Well, hope that works out for you, hon.

This week's live results show was much better. The bottom three weren't humiliated and we weren't subjected to them singing all the songs they butchered the night before.

Instead, we got more goofy questions from viewers. This is the most annoying part of the show.

The rewards?

Loved, LOVED Season 5 finalist Kellie Pickler in her cute red cocktail dress and red stilettos crooning "Red High Heels" (natch). Pay attention Season 7's Top 10: If I recall correctly, Kellie went out at No. 5 and is now touring with Rascal Flats.

My point? Winning isn't everything. Getting on the summer tour? Priceless.

So, here's how the evening went:

* Brooke White, David Archuleta and Michael Johns are the first three to make the Top 10. A way-startled Carly Smithson is the first in the bottom three. (Remember, she made a big deal Tuesday night about broken wings and musical hardship after singing "Blackbird.")

* This week's Ford commercial was shot out on the "moors" of Los Angeles to "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

* David Cook, Jason Castro and Ramiele Malubay (surprise) are safe; Kristy Lee Cook, who should just take a throne without the wait each week, is once again in the bottom three.

* Then, instead of the bottom three singing, the show promoted the April 9 "Idol Gives Back" show, with former contestants Elliot Yamin and Fantasia Barrino distributing mosquito nets to malaria victims in Africa.

* A very relieved Syesha Mercado and Chikezie make it nine safe, leaving Kristy, Amanda and Carly in the bottom three.

No surprise - Carly is safe. But here's the thing: She and Amanda have been roommates from the get-go, and she had no problems saying adios to her roomie. It's like, "Better you than me." All's fair, right?

Kristy must have some major country fans out there who like sequins and cowboy boots. I'm all for it, now. I'm not putting her on the chopping block again.

Host Ryan Seacrest announced the upcoming mentors. Interesting mix of talents. They include: Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Neil Diamond.

Oh, and for you songwriters out there, "Idol" is looking for the next finale song, and if there's anyone who can top last year's totally boring "This Is My Now," you'd better bring it in 2008 - you've got until March 31 to come up with something better than that sappy salute.

Game on!

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Fox

I had mixed feelings about another week of Beatles songs on "American Idol." The song list seems endless on paper, but the opportunities for individual hits - especially 11 of them - is not as easy as it might sound.

That's why I'm going to keep this wrap-up short and sweet.

David Archuleta, 17, who wasn't even a blip on the screen when his Beatles hit came out, sang the group's last No. 1 song, "The Long and Winding Road", and blew the rest of the competition away. Done deal.

And I'm sure he was the only performer who got any sleep afterward.

David A. rebounded after last week's misstep with "We Can Work It Out," missing the lyrics and opting for a bad arrangement.

This week, the "road" to the "Idol" title is his to take - and I predict he'll be accompanied by throngs of giddy teen girls (and the "granny" vote) to the finale.

As for the other 10 contestants, the judges (even Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul) didn't mince words. We heard a lot of "not your best performance, predictable, just good." And, of course, the inevitable fashion death knell: "You look gorgeous."

Simon Cowell thought the whole evening was weird and that maybe doing another week of the Beatles was a bad idea. I'm officially giving him the green light to use "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano's phrase, "Hot mess!," because that's what Tuesday was.

I think we'll see a bottom three that includes a regular, Kristy Lee Cook, and two possible surprises: Chikezie and Ramiele Malubay.

Kristy Lee's "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" featured another bad arrangement. Simon said she's just not a good performer. "It's like musical wallpaper; you notice it, but you can't remember it."

Several of the Final 11, including the bossy Amanda Overmyer, with a jarring "Back in the U.S.S.R", and the meek Brooke White (pictured), with a lackluster "Here Comes the Sun," had too much to say after their performances.

Amanda barked about selling out a future show that Simon quipped didn't have any tickets available - yet. Brooke got one of her first all-judge negative reviews, maybe not so much for her singing but her truly awkward, gangly dancing. She definitely needs her piano/guitar so she has something to do besides sway and wave.

Rocker David Cook's "Daytripper" was gritty but not as great as last week's "Eleanor Rigby." He incorporated a "voice box" and guitar into the performance, but I agree with Simon. David C. needs to lose the smug stuff, especially the creepy sideways glances. "It was not as good as you thought it was," Simon said.

Randy and Paula, who rarely pounce on any of the contestants too hard, were accurately critical with guys like Michael Johns. He took on the daunting task of turning "A Day in the Life" from a five-minute song into a minute-and-a-half that was like a musical jigsaw puzzle.

And Jason Castro, who is safe because he's got major camera appeal, had to learn French and more goofy hand gestures to get by with "Michelle." Randy actually liked the song choice but was subdued by the performance. Paula thought he was disconnected without his beloved guitar.

Syesha Mercado redeemed herself and probably avoided another trip to the bottom three with a soulful - albeit incredibly sad - version of "Yesterday."

And I'm not sure why Simon has issues with the Beatles' "Blackbird," a song he kept telling Paula orginally was called "Sparrow." Irish crooner Carly Smithson, dressed in what looked like a rose-infested lingerie top, gave us a very unique interpretation of the song, but she and Simon got into it over "broken wings" and the meaning of life, blah, blah, blah.

(Carly found time this week to get a No. "7" tattooed on her right finger - for the season, not her ranking.)

Baffling was Chikezie's "I've Just Seen a Face,", which started at a dead snail's pace and then accelerated to hoe-down tempo - with Chikezie blowing on a harmonica. And, finally, Ramiele's "I Should Have Known Better". She should have known better. Didn't like the fedora, didn't like the bad pants. And I think Ramiele needs to quit playing the role of "little sister" who needs protecting. It's grating. And heaven help us if she goes tonight. She'll need counseling.

OK, so maybe this wasn't so short and sweet, but I think the live results show (at 9 tonight on Channel 40) will be very interesting. Season 5 contestant Kellie Pickler will perform in yet another attempt to keep "Idol" viewers in tune with past contestants.

Guess we won't be seeing former finalist Jessica Sierra on the show - ever. According to TMZ.com, she's sitting in a jail cell in Florida - pregnant and with no hope of getting out anytime soon.

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Fox

I can't wait to see who smashes it (one of Randy Jackson's new lines) and who butchers it tonight on "American Idol." The Final 11 (pictured) get another crack at the Lennon/McCartney songbook. That's because so many viewers e-mailed/text-messaged/called/begged for another week of the oldies, but goodies.

It's a good test to see who can once again make the right song choice (and make it their own) and who crashes and burns.

This is one of those pivotal weeks in the competition because it gets narrowed to the Top 10 - who get to do the exhaustive summer tour and get even more noticed and interviewed.

Note to Kristy Lee Cook: The clock is ticking, hon. And you're doing yourself no favors with videos out there of you performing in tight, white pants and then riding a tiger.

Her singing stock dropped off the charts last week with that awful country-crooning "Eight Days a Week."

Anyway, I expect David Archuleta to rebound - and remember his lyrics. I'd like to hear something more up-tempo from Jason Castro (one of my favorites). And pleeeeease let Amanda Overmyer perform something that I can remotely understand.

And perhaps this will be the week that Aussie Michael Johns finds that one perfect song Simon Cowell keeps hoping he'll hear. I'm not worried about Brooke White or Carly Smithson. And, unless David Cook wears a goofy fedora, he'll be fine, too.

Syesha Mercado, who was in the bottom three last week, needs a strong performance. Where's the "Wow" factor gone? I still haven't forgiven Ramiele Malubay for torching "In My Life," which I found out last week was a song played at my editor's wedding. See, it has special meaning for a lot of people.

Chikezie's hopes still ride on picking another great song and going for broke on the arrangement. He had stage presence, too, so bring the whole package, dude.

The Final 11 perform at 8 tonight (on Channel 40), with the live results show at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Wonder which "Idol" also-ran will perform. The Katharine McPhee song-that-wouldn't-end left America in a nationwide coma. And "Something" wasn't even a Lennon/McCartney song. George Harrison wrote it.

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As my Bee colleague and fellow 21Q blogger Rachel Leibrock wrote recently in a Scene story, more and more stores are doing the whole "green," reusable bag thing. But get this: they're not just for folks who fill their bags with alfalfa sprouts and multivitamins anymore.

I found the cutest eco-friendly bags at Madam Butterfly in the Pavilions (off Fair Oaks Boulevard). These are reusable, recyclable bags that certainly fit the bag-it-green trend.

Owner Denise Masunaga says she's got two styles to choose from: Dogeared and Green World (pictured).

The Dogeared bags are 100 percent cotton canvas, silk-screened with either a peace sign or the word "karma" on front. And who couldn't use a bit of good karma these days? The Dogeared bags are $25 each and will hold up to a heavy load of environmentally friendly products.

The Green World bags are sold as a set of four ($30). With modern, colorful designs, they're soooo not limited to the grocery store. They're great for toting books, toys to the park, etc. Buying the four-pack also allows you to share with a friend or family member.

(The Green World designer, Trudy Balisteri, lives in San Diego, but has family ties to Sactown.)

Besides the cute, eco-friendly bags, Madam Butterfly is bringing in clothing lines with a "green thumb." They include Eco-ganik, Habitude and Earth by CP Shades. Denise says the lines are unique in that they use bamboo and organic cottons and "manufacture according to the principles of fair trade."

With Earth Day coming up next month, it's not too soon to get into an earth-friendly shopping mode.

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I'm sure many of you will be getting a jump on your St. Patrick's Day fun this weekend. (It's not an official holiday, so how many folks will be taking a "mental health" day Monday? Just askin'.)

Anyway, I've got a hair/beauty alert: Our fair city will be playing host on Sunday to the Global Hair & Beauty Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center. If you're already a pro at styling hair - or if you're one of the many students on track to becoming a stylist - here's your opportunity to see what's going down with mousse and sculpting gel.

(Also, if you're a manicurist or aesthetician, this show is for you, too.)

Sac's own Jesse Lewis (pictured), who's in VH1's "America's Most Smartest Model" as well the movie "Meet the Spartans", will be at the show. (He graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School.)

There will be other celebrity makeup artists and stylists, so there will be something for everyone.

FYI: Jesse's also been featured on "Nip/Tuck," "The Tyra Banks Show" and at the recent Scream Awards with director Quentin Tarantino. And he's working on another feature film with Hillary Swank and Martin Scorcese.

Sunday's show is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $45 for professionals; $35 for students. They're available by clicking here or at the convention center box office, 1400 J. St.

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Fox

So there's really no hard feelings from "American Idol" contestant David Hernandez (pictured with host Ryan Seacrest), who was eliminated Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old, from Glendale, Ariz., put up with his share of media scrutiny (over his stripper past) and judges' jibes (mostly from Simon Cowell) during his stint from auditioner to a member of the elite Top 12.

But, during a conference call with reporters on Thursday, he was absolutely poised - and oh-so charming. Here's some of what he had to say:

Q: In retrospect, was the Lennon/McCartney songbook tougher than you thought? And, because it's the theme again next week, which song would you have wanted to perform?
A: I've been pretty consistent with my R&B style, and I think I did the best I could. I chose a more upbeat song ("I Saw Her Standing There"). If I were still on the show, I hoped to sing "Yesterday," which would have been great. It's such an amazing song to tackle.

Q: Was the media attention on your past a distraction, and were the "Idol" folks aware of it from the get-go?
A: I did a good job of blocking it out, staying away from the Internet and TV. If this is the worst thing that could happen, I'll be OK. I was still able to perform in front of 35 million people. If "Idol" wasn't comfortable, I wouldn't have been on the show. I'm not ashamed of my past, but the media can be vicious. I'm just looking forward to moving on.

Q: When Ryan said you would be leaving, you said "Wow!" Were you totally taken aback that you were eliminated? Did you feel it was Kristy Lee Cook's time to go?
A: I was genuinely shocked. I didn't think I was going to go home. I know what the judges said about my vocals, and I thought I would be in the bottom three. But I didn't feel like I deserved to go home. The competition is so intense, and all the contestants can sing. Nobody is safe. Vocals are important, and song selection is very, very important.

Q:What did you and Kristy say to each other afterward?
A: Kristy is a really talented girl. We'll stay in touch. Maybe we'll even do a collaboration in the future.

Q: How did you end up singing "I Saw Her Standing There?" Was it your first choice, and how did the arrangement come about?
A: I wanted to sing "Let It Be," but it was gone (Brooke White sang it) when it was my turn to pick. But I'm happy with what I chose. It was fair. We had 25 songs to choose from. We put in our top three choices, and if there's a tie, we draw out of a hat. You'd be surprised. We (the contestants) have a lot of say in the arrangement. We have mentors to help us stay true to the song. I added some breaks in the beginning and changed up the verse. But we pay respect to the artist who did it. We sit down with a piano player and vocal coach for serveral rehearsals and work together.

Q: What have you learned so far about the entertainment business? What do like most/least?
A: It's been a roller-coaster ride. You go from being anonymous to being, well, famous. But I've gained a deeper respect for myself and the music business, and a newfound confidence in myself as a performer. In this industry, you definitely have to have thick skin. I won't miss the paparazzi. I tried to go to the store the other day, and I had to have security go with me! I've also learned that all is fair in love, war and entertainment. I've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Q: What does the future hold? You're obviously not going back to the pizza bistro.
A: Yes, I'm unemployed. I'm shopping around a record deal and would love to have something out in a year. I'm doing the "Ellen" show and "Today." But...I really want to focus on writing my own songs. Singing, thank God, is something I've been blessed with.

Q: Which contestant(s) were you closest to? Are you pulling for anyone?
A: Chikezie and I were roommates until the end. We were best friends, and we would listen and critique each other. We were both pegged as R&B singers, but Chikezie is more soulful. I'll vote for everybody or not at all. They're so talented.

Q: What are you going to do first - once you get a break?
A: Eat pork-flavored Ramen noodles! I want to go to my mom's house (in Glendale), lay on her couch with her cats and watch nonsense TV. I'm staying away from reality shows for a while. I need a break. I'll probably watch reruns of "Friends."

Now I get why "American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe wanted the live results show to go from 30 minutes to an hour. More time for Katharine McPhee to sing perhaps the longest, most affected version of George Harrison's "Something" - ever.

The "Kat Woman," runner-up in Season 5, returned to perform on the live results show tonight, accompanied by music icon David Foster on the piano, which probably gave contestant Brooke White a small seizure because, at that moment, there was still one spot left in the bottom three.

(FYI: Brooke played the piano for her rendition of "Let It Be" on Tuesday.)

Anyway, cut to the chase. After 29 million votes, Top 12 guy David Hernandez got the boot for his cruise-ship, cabaret, corny version of "I Saw Her Standing There." I nailed this one. My "Idol" colleagues at chez Bee thought it would be the other bottom feeder Kristy Lee Cook, whose country-crooning "Eight Days a Week" was a hot mess.

But I believe the country-music voters out there kept Kristy in the competition. The other bottom three vote-getter? Syesha Mercado, who was totally taken aback that she had to sing "Got To Get You Into My Life" again - without knowing she eventually would be safe.

So, how else did Nigel fill that extra 30 minutes?

* A Lennon/McCartney Top 12 medley. The new Top 11 will perform the songbook again next week because "Idol" fans loved it - and e-mailed in droves. No mentor, as previously discussed. Note to Amanda Overmyer: You're still scaring the children! Note to David Archuleta: Pick a better song, learn the lyrics.

* Actor Jim Carrey doing a major promo - in partial costume - for Friday's opening of the Fox animated film "Horton Hears a Who." (He's the voice of Horton, the elephant.) Jim also took the stage as a "contestant," saying he never should have sung "that REO Speedwagon song." By the way, the "Idol" Top 12 made their red-carpet debut at the movie's L.A. opening.

* The return of the "Idol" singers doing Ford commercials, this time to something called "The Distance," with a decidedly political bent. Point of interest: The song is by Cake, one of Sacramento's most successful bands. Good to know.

* Really, REALLY stupid on-air phone calls from "Idol" fans who asked lame questions like (to Jason Castro): "Which judge would you be?" "Well, I'm not a girl, like Paula," he responded.

* Did you look close at the audience? At the conclusion of the "Idol" medley, quick pan to Season 6 fiasco Sanjaya Malakar (and his sister), who was almost unrecognizable. Sanjaya - not his sister.

Back to Kat McPhee's performance - in a way-short dress with a giant wedding ring - was Ambien-esqe.

When it was time to finally say goodbye to David H., they played Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard's farewell song, a lovely version of Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home."

Here's seeing the last of the guys go - for a while. Gals, you're about to get picked off (except for Carly) like ducks at a carnival. But hey, that's just my take. Let me know what YOU think!

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Fox

The highly anticipated performance by the "American Idol" Top 12 pretty much lived up to the hype.

That is, except for the over-the-top snipping and sniping between host Ryan Seacrest and judge Simon Cowell, which pretty much punctuated the two-hour show.

I've been told by both of them that it's not personal, not planned but, for me, it's getting obnoxious - even more so than some of Paula Abdul's chitchat.

As for the show, it opened with Ryan raving about the new set, the lights, the "penthouse" for some members of the expanded band, and two strange, elevated blue "bowls." And I'm sure the three judges loathe having a female mosh pit standing and waving directly in front of them.

But, I digress.

As expected, the Top 12 performed selections from the Lennon/McCartney songbook. The judges mentioned things like taking risks and how the music was some of the greatest in history.

When all was said and sung, I broke the performances into three categories: shining solos (SS), mediocre melodies (MM), and bathroom breaks (BB). Here's my wrap-up from the show:

* Syesha Mercado: (MM) She sang "Got To Get You Into My Life." Syesha had some nerves going, even though she oohed and ahhed over the new set and bigger stage. Judges' comments?

Randy Jackson: "Nice arrangement. (It was the Earth, Wind & Fire version.) A little rough at the beginning."
Paula: "You found your zone, even though it started pitchy."
Simon: "It was better than all right, but you need to get past the nerves."

(Note to Syesha: You'll go somewhere in the middle if you don't pick up the pace!)

* Chikezie: (SS) He sang "She's a Woman." It opened with Chikezie hooking up with three musicians playing a banjo, fiddle and a tambourine. Then he broke bad into a rock finish.

Randy: "Dawg, I was looking for a jug, too. I was thoroughly entertained."
Paula: "You started with that whole 'Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?' thing. It was a risk that paid off."
Simon: "I'm reallly surprised that I agree with these two. You've changed within a week. Now you controlled the stage."

(Note to Ryan: Romping around the stage only leaves you winded, my friend.)

* Ramiele Malubay: (BB) She sang one of my favorite songs, "In My Life." I'll just let the judges take over on this train wreck.
Randy: "Kind of pretty. Kind of pretty boring, too."
Paula: "You look pretty (death knell). It was pretty safe."
Simon: "I was bored to tears. It was a dreary song choice, and I expect a lot better from you."

(Note to contestants: Forget there are stairs leading up to the "blue bowls." Stay away from them. They're bad luck!)

* Jason Castro: (SS) He sang "If I Fell." Jason brought back his guitar, and I loved it. He has to stay!
Randy: "I liked it, I didn't love it."
Paula: "It was special and unique. You made a connection with the audience."
Simon: "It was like a student in a bedroom at midnight. (Huh?) I'm a big, big fan and, up until now, you've chosen brilliant songs."

(Note to dermatologists: Does Jason have the best skin or what?)

* Carly Smithson: (SS) She sang "Come Together." Carly is definitely the strongest female contestant. I don't think there's even a close second (except for maybe Brooke).
Randy: "You sounded amazing. It was a stellar performance."
Paula: "It's like I'm already watching a star."
Simon: "Week after week, you've chosen the wrong song - until now. That reminds me of the same week six years ago with another contestant - Kelly Clarkson."

(Note to Carly: Don't let the whole Kelly comment go to your head.)

* David Cook: (SS) He sang "Eleanor Rigby." Not one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs, but David took it to a level even I didn't expect.
Randy: "You can rock out on 'Idol.' "
Paula: "You're a dark horse and more in this race."
Simon: "I thought it was brilliant. If this show remains more about the talent than a popularity contest, you could win."

(Note to Simon: Don't take Paula's "donkey" comment to heart.)

* Brooke White: (MM) She sang "Let It Be" (barefoot, playing the piano). I thought it was - and I think I have the creds now - a little pitchy in places.
Randy: "It was a heartfelt performance. I love that you've got conviction."
Paula: "This is your niche."
Simon: "It was again one of the best performances of the night. It was believable."

(Note to Simon and Ryan: Don't go there about women's shoes - or the lack thereof.)

* David Hernandez: (BB - big time) He sang "I Saw Her Standing There." David H. was one of the first contestants to start his song standing behind the judges. Too much twisting and shouting (natch).
Randy: "You've got a big voice, but it was too overdone. You lost me from the jump."
Paula: "I love your voice, but you kind of overdid it a bit."
Simon: "No, no, no! It was corny verging on desperate. You looked like a rabbit in the headlights."

(Note to Simon: What did you do with the deer in the headlights?)

* Amanda Overmyer: (MM) She sang (er, blasted) "You Can't Do That." I almost turned this performance into a bathroom break because it was hurting my ears.
Randy: "You rocked it. It was like a Southern bar, Southern club kind of thing."
Paula: "You are a star. This is definitely the best season of talent."
Simon: "Not as good as last week. I understood about 30 percent of the words. You're still a breath of fresh air in the competition."

(Note to Amanda: I can't help feeling that the stylists (fashion and hair) are abandoning their jobs when they get to you.)

* Michael Johns: (MM, but he looks sooo fine) He sang "Across the Universe." Nobody can stand still and sing as good as Michael.
Randy: "You've taken a little liberty (with the song). It was a little sleepy."
Paula: "I disagree - again. You've got an inner quiet confidence. It was brilliant."
Simon: "I agree with Randy. It was little bit monotonous. I'm a big fan of yours, but I still haven't heard what you're capable of."

(Note to Michael: You definitely look better in a white T-shirt than Simon.)

* Kristy Lee Cook: (pictured) (BB) She sang "Eight Days a Week," and, instead of actually going to the bathroom, I ended up flat-footing in the living room with my neighbor. This was a country-music catastrophe.
Randy: "I'm half and half. I liked the arrangement, but you forced the runs."
Paula: "I didn't enjoy it. You can't take what we say (about singing everything country) too much to heart."
Simon: "I thought it was horrendous! It was like Dolly Parton on helium. It was a brave but foolish thing to do. It was like you were at some ghastly country fair."

(Note to Kristy: Ripped jeans and a sparkly top does not a Lorrie Morgan make.)

* David Archuleta: (MM bordering on BB) He sang "We Can Work It Out." David A. said in his intro he was really nervous about this week. Well, it showed. Stay away from those stairs! It definitely was the teen's worst performance since his audition. Imagine that.
Randy: "Not on point. It wasn't your vibe. It felt forced."
Paula: "Not your best week. If you forget the lyrics (which he did), don't let it show on your face."
Simon: "There are 12 people fighting for a spot in this competition. And that was a mess. You stumbled over the lyrics. It was your weakest performance so far."

(Note to David and his huge fan base: Dude will bounce back next week.)

Predictions: Dialidol.com actually has David A. the only safe contestant. Surprise? Not really. Again, fans do factor in past performances, and he has been a superstar. Their bottom three are Syesha, Ramiele and David H. My pick? David Hernandez. But Ramiele better get it together - and fast.

The live results show will see one contestant go home. That's at 9 tonight (on Channel 40). I'll be chatting with the guy or the gal who gets the boot. So stay tuned here at 21Q.

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Fox

OK, at last "American Idol" has its Top 12 singers (pictured).

But I'll get to them in just a minute.

That's because, in even bigger news, ousted contestant Danny Noriega apparently has secured a "cabaret" gig on Rosie O'Donnell's cruise ship. On Monday night's "Access Hollywood" (and also on Rosie's blog), she says Danny is welcome to sing on her R Family Cruise to Mexico.

"And I love your hair straight," Rosie blogs.

But, I digress. Let's get back to the Top 12 guys and gals, who will be performing tunes from the Lennon/McCartney songbook, which Sony graciously released to "Idol."

Ah, the songs to pick from.

I predict we'll hear some version of both "Yesterday" (maybe David Hernandez) and "Let It Be" (maybe Brooke White).

And here's hoping none of the Top 12 tackles "I Am the Walrus." I wouldn't mind a really soulful rendition of "In My Life" from "Rubber Soul." Maybe Michael Johns or David Cook.

For sure, you won't hear a couple of my personal Beatles favorites - "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun" - because they were penned by the late George Harrison.

Chikezie could put a whole Earth, Wind & Fire spin (because they also recorded it) to "Got To Get You Into My Life."

As for rocker gals, Amanda Overmyer and Carly Smithson, I predict they both might slow things down, whereas teen sensation David Archuleta was told last week by judge Simon Cowell to not "be so gloomy and depressing."

(But David certainly is in good standing over at iTunes, where his version of Lennon's "Imagine" is currently the most popular download. In distant second and third place, respectively, are David C.'s "Hello" and Jason Castro's "Hallelujah.")

Back to the songlist for tonight, how about a little "I Want To Hold Your Hand?" for David A.? Amanda definitely could pull off "Revolution," if it's one of the songs offered up. And Carly? I can see her going for something like "I've Just Seen a Face."

As for Jason, his security-blanket guitar is likely to return, perhaps with "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away." Kristy Lee Cook will likely stick to modifying something to her country-music standards. Maybe "Blackbird?"

Ramiele Malubay needs to step it up a notch and let those big pipes explode. I'd love to hear her tackle "Get Back."

Last, Syesha Mercado, who has been one of my favorites from the get-go, won't have Whitney Houston songs on the list (hallelujah). I'd like to see her take the tempo up a notch. "Can't Buy Me Love" comes to mind.

It's a two-hour gig tonight (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), with the hourlong results show at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Stay tuned!

The UC Davis Fashion Week, hosted by the Student Fashion Association, culminates on Saturday with its huge Project Relief charity fashion and trade show at the Veteran's Memorial Theater (203 East 14th St., Davis).

This is the second year the association has held a fashion week, and all the models will be wearing the latest styles designed by UC Davis students plus several local designers. You'll see everything from high-end to ready-to-wear to sustainable art. Music will come courtesy of DJ Pasha.

The trade show is at 6 p.m., with the fashion show hitting the runway at 7. Tickets are $5, and proceeds will go to the Yolo County Crisis Nursery, a program of FamiliesFirst, which assists families with children in crisis situations.

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Fox

The votes are in - all 36 million of them - and viewers nailed it with their picks for the "American Idol" Top 12 (pictured).

(Now, if we can just pool our resources and get a Xanax prescription for Ramiele Malubay, we're good to go. I'm not trying to be mean, but Ramiele, who advances in the competition, continues her major meltdowns as other contestants get voted off.)

Anyway, Thursday night's results show yielded few surprises. It opened with Season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis performing "How Many Words,", a cut off his upcoming CD. The beatboxer from Seattle didn't wow the crowd, but he was sporting some nice threads.

The first three guys to advance (and sit on those goofy silver thrones) were David Cook (who was told Lionel Richie loved his take on "Hello" on Tuesday night), teen sensation David Archuletta and Jason Castro (my dark horse favorite).

Two gals advanced next - Brooke White and Syesha Mercado. And, the first elimination was sooo obvious. Kady Malloy heads home. I just wish she had elected not to sing one last time. ARGHHH!

David Hernandez and Michael Johns made it five guys. Luke Menard is the first dude to depart.

Brooke and Syesha are joined by Ramiele, Carly Smithson and Amanda Overmyer (with hair extensions). Asia'h Epperson and Kristy Lee Cook get to wait out the long commercial break before getting the results to determine the final gal to get through. That would be Kristy Lee, who is probably the weakest of the six girls.

Danny Noriega and Chikezie were the last two guys. Danny fidgeted with his fingers, but he didn't crumble with his ouster. In fact, he sang "Tainted Love" better than Tuesday.

Next up? It's everyone for himself/herself. Host Ryan Seacrest mentioned the Lennon/McCartney songbook, so perhaps that's where the competition will start in earnest.

Note to Ramiele's roommate: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Fox

Can you say snooze-a-roo?

I'm reiterating my earlier prediction: It's going to take a major "tunearounnd" for the gals to topple the guys on "American Idol," especially after Wednesday night's butchering of '80s songs.

Half the time I couldn't even figure out what songs were being performed. And then there were the numerous attempts at doing diva impersonations. You know, Whitney and Celine, whose vocals these young women simply can't tackle.

No matter. Six of the eight remaining gals will advance to the Top 12 (with six guys), and we'll see if they get picked off one at a time. Here's a recap of the mostly forgettable performances.

* Asia'h Epperson: I had high hopes for her, but Asia'h's version of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" was, as judge Simon Cowell put it, a "second-rate Whitney." In other words, she didn't bring anything new to the song.

* Kady Malloy:(pictured) She should have been eliminated last week and definitely so this week with a real clunker I had to look up afterward. Oh, it was a Queen song, "Who Wants To Live Forever?" I think. Paula Abdul thought it was Kady's best performance, but she was acting so goofy, who knows if she was even listening. Simon put the nail in the coffin with this rant: "You have a massive lack of personality. When you sing, it's gloomy and somber. No emotion. You may be in trouble."

* Amanda Overmyer: Nurse Cruella got a major makeover this week, losing most of those awful white stripes in her hair and wearing less makeup. She actually looked 23 instead of 43. She rocked Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You" and probably secured a spot next week. Said Randy Jackson: "That's the Amanda we love, a bluesy rocker chick." Simon was downright giddy, declaring it one of his "favorite girl performances of the entire competition." Now, if he can only get Amanda to crack a smile.

* Carly Smithson: From a fashion standpoint, the sailor jeans were a mess, and I didn't particularly care for the song, "I Drove All Night," but Carly's got some pipes. Randy said she keeps "smashing it every week" (whatever that means). And Paula uttered these words of wisdom: "Dude, you're like a dependable dog." Simon simply said she can sing the phone book.

* Kristy Lee Cook: Kristy is definitely the most improved performer. She sang Journey's "Faithfully" and, as Randy put it, added "a country lilt to it." That's the genre Kristy shines with. Simon liked the country music influence but still thinks she's forgettable. "You're battling bigger voices, and I see you coming in 10th." I agree.

* Ramiele Malubay: Ramiele delivered a singing sleeping pill with Phil Collins' slow-going "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)." Simon thought it was old-fashioned, and he kept looking for the "big money note." It wasn't there. Randy saw a real breakdown in Ramiele's confidence. For the first time in the competition, she could face eviction.

* Brooke White: Props to Brooke for coming up with a completely off-the-music-wall take on Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield." All the judges loved it because Brooke didn't let the band take over the song. "You worked it perfectly," Simon said. "Two weeks running, you've had great performances."

* Syesha Mercado: Because of the judges' silly banter about yogurt and other completely unrelated topics that had nothing to do with assessing a performance, poor Syesha got a smattering of comments after singing another Whitney song, "Saving All My Love for You." Randy: "Good, good." Paula: "Sophisticated, lovely." Simon: "Predictable. Good." Whatever.

Simon was asked what he thought of the gals vs. the guys and confirmed the guys were definitely better, with Amanda being his favorite performance of the night.

Tonight's live results show (8 p.m. on Channel 40) will feature Season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis. (So where the heck has the beatboxer been?) And four more contestants will go. I do hope they'll have the Top 12 sit on those silly thrones like they have in past seasons. And, hopefully, we'll find out if next week is a mentor week or a wing it week.

Stay tuned.

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Fox

Stripper or singer? More on that in a bit.

On Tuesday night's show, the Top 8 guys competed for the honor of making it to the elite Top 12 (including six gals). That means moving to another theater and, if you make it to the Top 10, going on the months-long "Idol" tour next summer. (Sac is typically one of the stops.)

Yes, advancing does have its perks...

Anyway, Tuesday was '80s night, which included songs that made me reminisce about guys who couldn't dance, music I didn't particularly like, and polyester.

* Luke Menard was up first with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! (George Michael and that guy with the dark hair.) Yes, it was up-tempo, which is new for Luke. The judges weren't getting it, though. Paula Abdul was "surprised" by the song choice. And Simon Cowell, who seems to be getting more obnoxious (is that possible?) with each show, didn't like it at all. "It sounded a bit girly," he said. And then, the death knell: "You have no chance to make the final 12."

* Audience - and viewer - favorite David Archuleta started off Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" by playing the piano, but eventually stood and did the audience thing. Randy Jackson said it was "like watching one of your concerts." Of course, David hit a couple of mini-clunkers, which Paula said convinced her he wasn't a "make-believe perfect person." Simon said the performance wasn't as good as last week. (Hard to top David A's "Imagine.") "You're getting a little gloomy, a little depressing," Simon said. But then, he put David way ahead in the competition - the final two, no less.

* OK, so I'm not sure the Votefortheworst.com campaign to keep Danny Noriega in the competition is going to work. Unlike last season, with Sanjaya Malakar, I think the viewers want the cream of the bad crop and Danny just didn't pull it off with a really goofy rendition of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love". I loathe this song, and Danny was dressed like he was going "disco snowboarding." Too-tight pants and a lot of outerwear. Paula said he was "sensitive and spicy." (Good grief!) Randy Jackson loved the arrangement. Simon, well, he said it was horrible and useless. "I didn't like anything about it." And I didn't like the purple hair streaks.

* After revelations that he worked as a male stripper in Glendale, Ariz., David H. was up next. Nothing was mentioned about the scandal on the show - obviously because it was taped before the news broke. Anyway, tackling the Celine Dion version of "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" was, er, an interesting song choice regardless. Paula thought David was getting into his groove, finding his niche. Simon said the performance secured his spot in the Top 12 - unless, of course, America holds his past against him.

* In my book, Michael Johns could just talk with that great Aussie accent and get through. The guy is easy on the eyes. Loved, loved his version of Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me") from the 1985 film "The Breakfast Club." Randy thought it was a good song choice. Simon liked it, loved it. "You're a huge talent," he said. But, as with some of the other contestants (especially the gals), Simon's still waiting for Michael to connect with that "big song."

* It took a shift in performers to get David Cook's guitar hooked up, and he took Lionel Richie's sad-sack "Hello" and turned it into sort of a rock song. Randy thought it could be a hit single. Paula loved that David C. always surprises her. Simon, who hasn't been too kind to our rocker/bartender, appreciated the risk-taking. "Lionel Richie would be happy (with that)."

* Jason Castro finally took the judges' advice and survived without his guitar. He performed "Hallelujah," which was written/arranged in 1984 but is more recently remembered as part of the first "Shrek" soundtrack (2001). "It was a tall order, but I give you props for coming out without the guitar," Randy said. Simon thought it was the strongest performance so far and that Jason is getting "better and better." "It was absolutely brilliant what you did."

* Chikezie put me to sleep (sorry dude) with an uber-slow version of "All the Man That I Need," a song recorded by Whitney Houston and Sister Sledge. Randy and Paula were on board with it, but Simon didn't think it worked at all, handing out his first "cabaret" reference of the night. "Not a smart move," he said.

Overall, Randy thought the guys were much better than last week, and I agree. But two of them have to go. My predictions: Luke and Danny with Chikeze a possibility if Danny has a strong enough fan base.

Tonight? The Top 10 gals perform (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40). Have you got all the blondes straight?


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You didn't expect Season 7 to pass without some big brouhaha? Right?

This year? It's Top 16 guy David Hernandez (pictured), who the Associated Press outed today as a male stripper. And this as the guys get set to perform tonight (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40) for a coveted spot in the "Idol" Top 12.

But lest you fret that David got his backside slapped, "Idol" executive producer Ken Warwick tells TVGuide.com that he doesn’t care about David H.'s stripper past.

“The truth is we're never judgmental about what people do to earn a living. They've gotta put food in people's mouths,” he says. "We've had strippers on the show before….If it were some sort of heavy porn, then maybe we'd have to take action. But certainly not on this.”

So again, that means David's performance (which has already been taped) will go on.

For those of you who haven't heard: For three years, 24-year-old Hernandez worked as a stripper at Dick's Cabaret in Glendale, Ariz., where he danced nude and gave lap dances to a mostly male clientele.

Guess it will be up to the voting public whether to keep David H. on the show. And can I just go on record: Never, ever run for office if you've been a bad boy or bad girl. It will come out. And, most definitely, don't think you'll win the "Granny" vote on "Idol" if you've been paid for lap dances. Just sayin'.

Besides, David H. really should have gone the first week. He's not as strong as some of the other guys. If he goes on Thursday (along with another guy and two girls), don't be shocked. Remember Antonella!


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The first time I laid eyes on Allie Crandell (pictured), she was fresh-faced (no makeup) with her long brown hair floating in the San Francisco breeze.

I was covering San Francisco Fashion Week in August 2005. Allie was one of the models that local designer Richard Hallmarq had hand-picked for his first foray in the show. He was a hit, and so was she.

Fast forward to 2008, and Allie, 20, a Sacramento native and daughter of Fox40 sportscaster Jim Crandell and his wife, Patti, is now an international model to be reckoned with.

Jim, who was profiled by my colleague and fellow 21Q blogger Sam McManis in today's Scene, reports his daughter is currently working in South Africa.

"My daughter has a much more interesting life than I do," Crandell quips. "In the last year or two, she's lived in L.A., New York, Milan and Tokyo. She's been to Brazil and Morocco.

"But Sacramento is still her mailing address."

Allie is represented in Los Angeles by the Wilhelmina agency and by Marilyn Models Inc. in New York. (She was "discovered" after sending her pics to Wilhelmina.)

And last July, Allie was Model.com's pick for hot new face of the moment. So don't be surprised if you pick up a copy of Vogue or Harper's Bazaar and see our local girl on the cover. I'd rather see her than Lindsay Lohan starring back at me.

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Getting into the pages of Harper's Bazaar magazine is a challenge - unless, of course, you happen to be Julius clothing, in Sacramento's Pavilions shopping center.

In Harper's March issue, Julius has been honored by the magazine's editors and other important fashion figures - for the third time - as one of the magazine's Style Leaders and listed among the Top 100 best specialty stores in America. The complete list can be found on page 218.

"We're very proud (of the honor)," says Julius owner Sharon Anapolsky, who recently returned from a buying trip to New York, where she also attended a dinner at the Hearst Building (home of Bazaar's publisher).

"The magazine's publisher and fashion director spoke," Sharon says. "And we exchanged ideas about the industry and how we could take things a step further."

Here's what Valerie Salembier, Bazaar’s senior vice president and publisher, had to say in an e-mail about speciality stores in general and Julius in particular:

“Women’s specialty stores have a special place in fashion retailing. Harper’s Bazaar’s Style Leaders provide the most discerning customers with high-quality customer service and unique, luxurious products, resulting in a personalized shopping experience that our readers truly appreciate. We're proud to salute Julius ... the top tier of women’s fashion specialty stores."

FYI: Julius was the only Sacramento store to make the prestigious list. The closest honorees are Cielo and Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco, Susan in Burlingame, and Susan Graf Ltd. in Healdsburg.

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Fox

Let's rename "American Idol's" results show "The Crying Game."

I can't recall a season when so many tears were shed as the Top 24 were whittled to the Top 16. What are the contestants going to do when there's only six or seven of them left and someone has to go?

Hope there's a therapist on call.

Anyway, almost 31 million votes were cast after Tuesday and Wednesday night's performances. I predicted two of the four contestants going home. I still maintain that I should have been four for four because I totally disagreed with the two gals who left.

But guys first. Jason Yeager was a no-brainer, even though he said he was surprised by the criticism from the judges on Tuesday. "I agree it was about song choice," he said. "I just wasn't able to find the perfect song."

Simon Cowell said Jason didn't "stand out in the crowd. But you're not a bad singer."

And poor Danny Noriega. The show set it up to be between him and Jason. When he found out he was safe, I thought Danny was going to pass out!

Anyway, no surprise with Robbie Carrico, either. He, too, admitted making a bad song choice ("Hot Blooded"). "I could have done it better." And the whole rocker thing "never, ever" felt real for any of the judges.

Now, on to the gals.

First up, Alexandrea Lushington or Amanda Overmyer. Are you kidding? I know the Chicago song ("If You Leave Me Now") was risky, but Alexandrea is a better singer than Amanda. Besides, Amanda, you're scaring the children!

It was Alex's departure that got the tears flowing, especially from teen favorite David Archuleta. They're both 17, so I'm assuming they've become buds. After Alexandrea sang her finale, she went and gave David A. a big hug.

And then it came down to Alaina Whitaker and Kady Malloy, the two contestants whose performances Wednesday I completely erased from my memory bank.

It looked to me like Kady was all set to return to Houston, Texas, when Ryan Seacrest stunned her and a shocked Alaina with the results: "Alaina, it's the end of the road for you."

To say she took the news badly is an understatement. And don't blame it on her age. Yes, she's only 16, but most of the other kicked-off contestants have been teens and they managed to keep it together.

Alaina started sobbing and said, "I can't sing. It's so embarrassing." Ryan, knowing he's got airtime to fill, launched in with his "someone's-got-to-go" speech, telling her she should be very proud. Paula Abdul chimed in with words like "gifted, bright, a young talent."

Finally, the other girls joined Alaina on stage and helped her get through "Hopelessly Devoted."

Kleenex definitely needs to sign on as an "Idol" sponsor.

Meanwhile, Ryan had news to report - BIG news.

First, the Top 12 will perform on Tuesday, March 11. There will be a new set and a new exit song, from Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard. My favorite part? Sony finally released the John Lennon/Paul McCartney songbook, which obviously is going to play a big part in the Top 12 competition.

Also, mark your calendars for April 9. That's the night of the second "Idol Gives Back" performance. Some of the celebs scheduled to appear include Brad Pitt, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood..

I'm assuming, in the spirit of giving, that none of the contestants will be kicked off that week.

I'm also assuming that next week will be an '80s week as the show finally reaches the Top 12. Can anyone say Flock of Seagulls?

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Dreyer's Slow Churned

So Becky Pricer, 30, of Citrus Heights has a new friend - and five gallons of ice cream in her freezer!

Becky was the winner of the Dreyer's ice cream/"American Idol" private concert with Melinda Doolittle. Melinda performed Wednesday night for Becky and 25 of her best buds at a friend's home in Granite Bay.

"I own a condo, so we could never fit 25 people in there," Becky says in a phone conversation today. "It was fantastic. And I wouldn't have even cared if there was ice cream or not."

(Melinda did dish a bowl for herself before she performed. And she dished afterward for the attendees.)

Her song choices?

"She let us pick," says Becky, an office manager for a local construction company. "I chose 'I'm a Woman' because I love the energy in the song, and I love the words. They're so powerful."

One of her friends selected "My Funny Valentine," which will appear on Melinda's upcoming CD. The third song was "I've Got Rhythm," a classic jazz take.

Becky got some one-on-one time with the "Idol" finalist (Season 6), too, before introducing her to the gathering.

"I've read how she's a people person, and it's true," Becky says. "She wants to be your friend and, talking to her, it's like chatting with one of your best friends."

Melinda also posed for pictures and signed autographs. The whole gig lasted about an hour, just in time for fans to catch the Top 10 gals performing in Wednesday night's show (see my roundup below).

Not surprisingly, Becky says Melinda remains one of her favorite "Idol" contestants, and "probably the only one whose CD I'll buy," she says, adding that she thinks Season 7 has some strong performers.

"I like David Archuleta and Syesha (Mercado) so far," she says.

Meanwhile, Becky has enough ice cream to get her through, well, at least a week's worth of songs. Her favorite flavor? Mint Karaoke Cookie - just like Melinda.


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Fox

Best I can tell, er, count, the judges liked only four out of the six songs chosen by the Top 10 gals on Wednesday night's "American Idol."

At this rate, it could be an all-male finale, which hasn't happened since Season 2 with Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken.

The contestants who were sick last week - Carly Smithson and Kristy Lee Cook - redeemed themselves with the judges, though. Apparently, Carly has been waiting her entire life to sing Heart's "Crazy On You" in front of 30 million people. Simon Cowell said it was much better than last week, but he's still waiting for her to have an "absolute moment" (whatever that means). I think she's still recovering from whatever she had because she was totally out of breath at song's end.

Kristy did a cover of Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good," and, while no one could recall what she sang last week, Randy Jackson thought this was a "100 percent improvement." Either that, or Kristy picked the right outfit. Let's just say it was fitted.

Alaina Whitaker's "Hopelessly Devoted" from "Grease" bored me to tears. (I kept seeing Olivia Newton-John out by a swing), but Simon thinks she's a dark horse in the competition, though he did say he thought her look (hair, dress, jewelry) looked as if her grandmother prepped her. ("Too pageanty for me.")

As for the other six, it was either a mixed bag or a mess.

For example, there were two odd gender issues. No one liked Syesha Mercado taking "Me and Mrs. Jones" and turning the song/affair into "Me and Mr. Jones." I think she's definitely one of the better singers, but Simon said the trickery was indulgent and silly. "It (the song) was not written for a girl, and it wasn't designed for your voice."

Then there was teen Alexandrea Lushington, oddly dressed in boots and cargo shorts, singing Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now." Paula said she had never heard a female sing that song. Simon said it was "boring." "You were in tune, out of tune and now you're struggling."

So too is Kady Malloy, who continues in the "Idol" let's-get-to-know-the-contestants blurbs to show she can do everything from opera to impersonations of Britney Spears. But when it comes to plain old singing .... another Heart song, "Magic Man," which left Randy in the lurch: "You never found a pitch, never found the notes." Never should have sung this song.

Two of the judges' favorites slipped with their song choices. Asia'h Epperson sang the 1975 Eric Carmen sad-sack song "All By Myself," which Celine Dion later blasted the daylights out of. So it's the Celine version everyone seems to remember, and poor Asia'h just doesn't have the pipes to pull it off. Simon called it one of the diva songs of all time, and "you're not that good." Ouch.

Ramiele Malubay did disco, "Don't Leave Me This Way," which I didn't think was as bad as Randy did; he said it was "a little rough for me." Meanwhile, Paula's got this new catchphrase (I think it's new), something about "powering through," sort of like an 18-wheeler. Simon put the whole performance in perspective. "I've heard (the song) so many times at ghastly weddings."

My favorite performance? Brooke White's "You're So Vain" (with guitar accompaniment) - a great, great song choice. And that she directed most of the lyrics at Simon was priceless. (He even whispered to Paula that she was singing to him.) "I absolutely loved it. It was the perfect song for you," Simon said. "You connected with it, and it didn't sound old-fashioned."

My least-favorite performance? Amanda Overmyer's (picftured) "Carry on Wayward Son" made me realize I'm not in college or into Kansas anymore. Her scary hair has morphed even more into a Cruella crisis. And my gosh, who went shopping with this young woman? I totally agree with the judges that she looks so much better without the theatrics. Lose some of the goth. Alas, she may be "laying her weary head to rest" after Wednesday's performance. "It felt very contrived and indulgent - the song, the hair, the outfit," Simon said. Paula said the competition needs Amanda, but does America need her?

We'll find out tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), when two guys and two gals get the boot. My prediction? Amanda and Kady.

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We have a winner!

I just found out that the winner of the Dreyer's ice cream/"American Idol"in-home concert is Becky Pricer, 30, of Citrus Heights.

Lucky girl. Becky and her "select" friends and family will gather from 7 to 8 tonight at a friend's home in Granite Bay for a private show with Season 6 finalist Melinda Doolittle (pictured, photo courtesy of Fox.)

Oh, and yes, there will be plenty of the five new "Idol" flavors, including Melinda's favorite, Mint Karaoke Cookie. Melinda will be dishing ice cream, signing autographs, posing for photos and, of course, singing.

I venture one of the selections will be "My Funny Valentine," which can be downloaded at iTunes. (Check out my Q&A with Melinda in Tuesday's Scene.)

As for tonight's "American Idol" show, the Top 10 gals will perform (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40). As I said in an earlier blog entry, they'll have their work cut out for them because of an outstanding performance by one - yes, one - of the Top 10 guys. I've already had a sneak peek at their attire for the competition - be sure to check out Amanda Overmyer!


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Fox

You heard it here first: There's really only one name you need to remember from Tuesday night's "American Idol" show featuring the Top 10 guys: 17-year-old David Archuleta (pictured).

He performed last on a show that featured songs from the '70s, a decade I embraced affectionately - if nothing else for the abundance of polyester.

But, I digress.

David A. basically made the other nine contestants' performances forgettable. I needed the recap at the end of the show just to refresh my memory.

Why all the gushing?

Young David, who is quickly winning the hearts of teen girls (and the "mom" audience) tackled John Lennon's "Imagine," a noble choice that I believe Blake Lewis also performed last season.

But Archuleta's version made me almost forget what Lennon's version sounds like. He, as the judges so like to quip, "made it his own." Here's what they had to say about David's performance:

Randy Jackson: "I keep saying this season is about the young ones. You're singing beyond your years. It was the best vocal of the show. Brilliant!"

Paula Abdul: "You're ridiculous! I'd love to have you hanging from my rearview mirror." (I'm assuming Paula would have David made into a pair of dice.)

Simon Cowell: "It was a very risky (song choice). But it worked. You're definitely the one to beat. And I have a feeling there are 19 other miserable contestants (including the Top 10 gals) after that."

To give just due to the other nine guys, I think Danny Noriega may, may have bought himself another week after singing the Carpenters' "Don't You Remember?" ("It was better, not fantastic," Simon said.) And kudos to Danny for not acting like the little jerk he was last week.

Other improvements? David Hernandez earned much praise for his rendition of the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." ("You're finally showing your personality," Randy said. "Amazing notes," Paula said.)

Chikezie took sound fashion advice and ditched the tangerine suit. David Cook opted to play an instrument (guitar) on Bad Company's "All Right Now." ("I love that you threw your guitar picks into the audience," Randy said. "You're a real rocker. I liked it.")

Dropping a notch - just a notch (I hope) - were Aussie Michael Johns with a Fleetwood Mac song, "Go Your Own Way." ("OK, it was the weakest performance (since the audition). A week song choice," Simon said.) And then, Jason Castro took the stage looking exactly like he did last week: same patterned shirt, same guitar. He sang "I Just Want To Be Your Everything,", probably one of the weakest of the Bee Gees' songs. ("It was too schmaltzy," Simon said. "You did yourself no favors with that.") Both Randy and Paula want Jason to come back next week without stringing so they can hear his singing.

My verdict is still out on contestant Luke Menard. He's easy on the eyes, but "Killer Queen" by Freddie Mercury? Simon thought it was a huge mistake. Randy thought the degree of difficulty was tough, and there were pitch problems. "But I liked you better this week," he said.

And now, my picks for the worst performances of the evening:

First, pseudo rocker Robbie Carrico attempting "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner. UGH! Paula thought he played it safe. Randy is still not sure Robbie is a "rocker." Simon said, "OK."

And, pack your bags Jason Yeager. You're a nice guy who can play three instruments, but singing? Nahhhh. Simon was particularly critical of the ending of Jason's version of "Long Train Runnin,' " a terrible song choice. ("It was horrific. It sounded like you were drunk at a party or something.")

Bye bye, Jason.

We'll see how the Top 10 gals fare when they perform at 8 on Channel 40.

Stay tuned.

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I just got word (OK, an e-mail) that Serendipity Boutique in east Sac is now carrying a chunk of the Ella Moss fashion collection, which many of you familiar with the line might have seen in those super-cool Anthropologie stores.

Ella Moss is the creation of L.A. designer Pamella Protzel, who is known for her use of bright colors and comfy fabrics. Oh, and did I forget to mention that she made bold stripes all the rage after designing a green-and-white striped dress for Sarah Jessica Parker on "Sex and the City"?

Now Pamella is moving on, adding prints and other patterns to her collection.

Serendipity is carrying mostly the super-soft cotton tops and several dresses, all of which are easy to wear, especially with jeans.

"They're girly without being too feminine," says one of the sales associates at the boutique. Translation: They'll be perfect for the warm days ahead.

Prices range from $75 to about $120. Serendipity is at 5362 H St. You also can preview the collection here.

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Associated Press

OK, Hilary Swank is wearing Versace. Love Katherine Heigl, also in flaming red. She's amazing. Love the lipstick and the curly do.

So far, I think the TV stars should receive more kudos than the movie stars - at least as far as the fashions go.

Omigosh, where's the Viggo Mortensen I remember? He looks like my grandfather with that ZZ Top beard!

Quick sneak peek at Penelope Cruz. I hope she's presenting; I want a closer look at that incredible gown.

In short, lots of hits and misses (and could have definitely gone with missing Gary Busey) ... Heidi, Anne (pictured), Katherine and Miley - again, all in winning red - are definite dos.

The stars all seemed to survive the inclement weather on the red carpet. I swear, it seems like it was rougher in Sactown than in SoCal.

Check out more images from the red carpet in Monday's Scene. But for now, on with the show!

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Associated Press

How do you achieve effortless and glamorous at the same time? Again, Anne Hathaway gets the nod - so far.

E! is echoing what I just blogged: Jennifer Hudson cast aside that goofy bolero from last year and is getting it right this time around.

I think, however, a lot of the stars must have forgotten that this show is being broadcast. They looked a little - shall we say? - undone. I would be rockin' this thing if they let me out there.

And, quit rolling your eyes, Miley Cyrus! Not a good look.

Colin Farrell is with his mother. She looks a gazillion times better than him. I'm surprised she hasn't told him to get a haircut.

Only 10 minutes left: Where's Nicole Kidman?


Last year's best actress winner, Helen Mirren, looks just as fantastic as she did in 2007. We find out she knitted a scarf for her "Naked Man" (read: Oscar).

Back for a sec to Jessica Alba, who looks fabulous. Is that aubergine with feathers? I want to know more about the dress, but Ryan Seacrest asks if she's going to breast-feed? Huh?!!!

They're moving fast on the red carpet now...

* Jennifer Hudson (last year's BSA) is a huge fashion improvement over 2007.

* Cameron Diaz in Dior (couture, no less), definitely did nothing with her hair. And where's the bling? I could've loaned her my pearls.

* Marion Cotillard's "fishy," fantastic gown is by Jean Paul Gaultier. Love the hair - she's sooo French!

* Caught quick glimpses of an unempt Colin Farrell and an old-fashioned Hilary Swank.

* Finally, Tilda Swinton. What can I say? I'm sorry, she's just too minimalist. And she doesn't get that George Clooney is a charmer. OK, I don't like her. She's never watched the Oscars. Never dressed for it - obviously. Moving on....

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Associated Press

Finally, someone got Gary Busey out of view of the camera. Ryan Seacrest can't talk away the look of terror on Jennifer Garner's face. Seacrest has apparently never met him, and he looks truly frightened himself. And well he should.

But, back to the red carpet. Young Miley Cyrus is really pretty in Valentino. I see expectant mom, Jessica Alba, in something really purple and pleasing to the eye. Please don't let Gary get anywhere near her!

Overall, a lot of the stars are playing it safe tonight. A lot of black - and not just the tuxes. I think they're just too sick of the rainy weather to put in the effort. (Heck, I'm in jeans!)

Keri Russell, Cameron Diaz and best actress nominee Marion Cotillard (pictured) appear to be taking the biggest fashion chances. We'll see as we continue to make our way down the red carpet, well, via the fine folks at E!, of course.

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Goofy Gary

Jennifer Garner (presenter) chats with Laura Linney, both in strapless gowns. Linney is wearing Michael Kors; Garner is wearing - uh, I can't find out because of an idiot: Read on.

Crazy Gary Busey (I do mean crazy!) physically breaks up Seacrest's interview with Laura and Jennifer, bear-hugging Jennifer (and scaring her) and acting a fool. Who let him in?

Unbelievable!

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Associated Press

Yikes! What's up with John Travolta's spray-on hair?

How is he looking? "Fabulous," according to wife Kelly Preston (pictured). "The red carpet is for the missus," Travolta says. He calls Preston's Roberto Cavalli gown orange; I say it's caution-light yellow and yucky. Doesn't work with her hair color or skin tone - or anything else.

But more on George. Apparently, history was made tonight: Clooney's cocktail-waitress girlfriend (she worked at the Maloofs' Palms in Vegas) has been generally kept out of the awards-show limelight up until now. OK, so she appeared on "Fear Factor." So, she eats bugs. Big deal.

Meanwhile, lots of buzz about the upcoming film "Get Smart" (June). It stars Anne Hathaway and Ryan Seacrest's next guest: Steve Carell of "The Office."

What's it like waking up next to Brad Pitt? (A recycled red-carpet question). Carrell says he's real "hormonal" right now, and Seacrest continues to ask stupid questions.

But, back to the fashions: Lots of color, some plunging necklines (odd for the weather), and not as much jewelry as I would have imagined. Maybe there weren't enough bodyguards to go around.

Amy Adams (presenter) is wearing black, strapless Proenza Schouler (double-faced satin) and carrying a very impractical mesh handbag. I couldn't fit a lip gloss in there.

George Clooney finally joins Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet - with The Girlfriend (Sarah Larson). Is she really worthy of him?

So, I'm praying that Seacrest asks as many questions as possible! To wit:

Do you ever have a bad day? "I'm like a robot, and I'm losing my battery!"

And no, he hasn't bought a house in Malibu. But he did spend Valentine's Day in Vegas.

But, at this point, I still don't know who designed his tux.

Meanwhile, actress Anne Hathaway, who is a presenter, is also amazing, wearing red - that's the color of the night - so far. Beautiful roses. She took heat last year for black and white Valentino - with bows. This year, she's got it right. And no faux tanning for Anne. All porcelana.

This just in: Anne is the new face of a Lancome fragrance - she can't tell us which one!

Seacrest admits he doesn't recognize a lot of the faces. Does it really matter? Look at the clothes, Ryan!

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Hi Heidi!

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Associated Press

By the way, Ryan Seacrest's suit (pseudo tux) is from Dolce & Gabbana. Still don't like it.

Is that George Clooney's back I see? Turn around, George! Quit talking to that nobody in the press corps!

One face we won't see? Some E! correspondent named Ken Baker says Angelina Jolie won't be here tonight. But she was seen at another awards show Saturday, and word is, she's visibly, visibly pregnant.

Heidi Klum (in beautiful red Galliano, pictured) and husband Seal (in Christian Dior) just arrived. She admits she's not wearing a bra (natch) and that her couture gown will be auctioned off afterward for research into women's heart disease. Heidi's hair is so very '60s. Giant up-do, and she's sooo elegant.

(Still, I like the new shag cut she's currently sporting on "Project Runway.")

Turn around, George, turn around!

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Associated Press

The red carpet looks dry, but shaggy, in Hollywood as Ryan Seacrest, co-host of E!'s pre-Oscars broadcast, told viewers from the get-go: "Put on your jewelry and your Spanx."

(Not sure what it is that Ryan is wearing, by the way. Odd suit with goofy brown stripes. I like his "American Idol" attire much better.)

But, I digress.

The tarps are up (pictured), as the weather forecast in SoCal calls for a line of showers - and some winds (15-20 mph) - with the temperature at 59 degrees as the show starts. The tents will probably hold up. Not so sure about the up-dos.

E! co-host Giuliana Rancic caught up with Oscar show host Jon Stewart, who says he'll be wearing Giorgio Armani for the telecast.

Let's get real. The first arrivals are going to include people I really don't care about. But, guess what? We hear a lot of TV stars will be serving as presenters tonight. Don't tell me George Clooney won't be here!!

Stay tuned; I know I'll keep watching.


February 22, 2008
Oscar goes under the big top

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Associated Press

Rain is in the forecast for L.A. on Sunday. Could that mean a soggy red carpet for the Academy Awards?

Not according to my sources. The (red-carpet) show, as they say, will go on.

Certainly, so says actress Lisa Rinna, who will co-host TV Guide Network's red-carpet coverage. In a call with me earlier this week, Lisa says tents (pictured above) are at the ready to protect those stars and starlets as they make their way from their limos, down the carpet and eventually into the Kodak Theatre for the awards ceremony.

"It is what it is," Lisa says. "We'll make it happen."

Of course, with tents (and umbrellas and the like), our at-home views might be a tad obscured because the TV platforms won't have their usual clear vantage points.

(A virtual monsoon is predicted on Sunday for Sacramento, while the L.A. (Hollywood/Beverly Hills) forecast, according to The Bee, Weather.com and USA Today, calls for rain and a high of 61. That's downright BRRRR! for those starlets who plan to arrive scantily clad.)

Whatever the view, however, I'm not seeing any Burberry raincoats covering up thousand-dollar gowns. The stars will just have to grin (and answer the same questions over and over) and bear it.

A note from one fashionista to another: Want to dish about the red carpet? Join me here at 21Q from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday as I blog in real time about my take on the fashions - and/or the abundant outerwear. See you then!

February 22, 2008
Macy's needs models

We've got another local model search in the works. Macy's is gearing up for its Prom 2008 fashion show, which is at 2 p.m. on March 8.

Here's the plan: The department store is looking for teens (both male and female) ages 14 to 19 with lots of energy and the proper 'tude to model at this prom show, which will be co-hosted by Seventeen magazine.

If you're interested, swing by the juniors' department at Macy's Arden Fair from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Reps from the store as well as from Ford Modeling Agency will answer questions and give you the once-over. (Note to prospective models: Fresh-faced is always better than overly made up!)

Models who make the cut will be notified by next Thursday. For more info, call (916) 444-3333, ext. 4234.

If you're just interested in getting prom-fashion tips, check out the show on March 8. Afterward, there will be mini-makeovers at the BeneFit counter as well as free samples of Roxy Love fragrance.

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Fox

I can't argue too much with America's choices for elimination Thursday night on "American Idol," though I'm sure Joanne Borgella (pictured) would love to get a re-do.

More than 28 million votes were cast to kick off two of the guys and two of the gals. But first: The Top 24 were forced to croon a medley of '60s songs.

The "Idol" wardrobe and hair departments went wild with black and white pleather and hair extensions. Heck, I didn't recognize some of the contestants!

The first guy eliminated was Garrett Haley. No surprise there, though I admit Ryan Seacrest pretty much asked him to step forward and told him, "I have to say goodbye." Brutal? Kind of. But even more so was having the kicked-off contestants' family members and friends perched overhead as they performed for the last time. The loved ones looked awkward and uncomfortable and very unhappy.

Kristy Lee Cook, who suffered bronchitis earlier, was spared. (I said the sympathy vote would save her.) Not so for Amy Davis, who left the show with "lots of memories." I know it will be a while before any of us forget her take of "Where the Boys Are."

Next up? Viewers got a sneak peek at judge Paula Abdul's upcoming music vicdeo (due out March 11), "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow." I was impressed. She seems waaay more comfortable performing than judging. Her cohort Randy Jackson is producing the album. He even performs on it.

Anyway, Joanne and rocker Amanda Overmyer were the next female contestants to face the ax, and Amanda is safe - with a lot more hair than she had a couple days ago.

I have a hunch Joanne was one of the flu-bitten among the gals. Her parting song had a lot more going for it than when she sang for votes. Too bad, because she does have a pretty good voice.

The last to go? Teen Colton Berry, who was encouraged to go for a singing career by Randy and Paula. Simon Cowell's parting shot, though: "Get a good job and enjoy singing." In other words, don't count on performing as a permanent gig.

The Top 10 guys get another crack at it next Tuesday (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40).

Oh, and we already know Season 7's parting song, which will mean months of hearing "Best Days" by Graham Colton.

FYI: Let me know if anyone out there is downloading the performances from iTunes.

February 21, 2008
Idol Chatter: Gals are bugged

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Fox

Wednesday night's competition among the "American Idol" Top 12 gals was a mixed bag of so-so '60s songs sprinkled with high-octave performances. Oh, and several of the contestants were (or had been) very ill leading up to the show.

Host Ryan Seacrest told the judges that the sick ones could barely get up on the stage to rehearse, yet alone sing.

Add to that, some really frayed nerves, and you get two hours that, for me, were pretty forgettable. But, a wrap-up is in order.

* Kristy Lee Cook (24, Selma, Ore.): I could tell right away that Kristy was one of the sicker contestants (bronchitis bit her), and I wanted to rescue her from her "Rescue Me" rendition before she passed out. The judges were a little less sympathetic. Simon Cowell even pointed out he could have done better if he was sick himself. "I didn't get a lot from that performance. It was very robotic and the wrong song choice." Prediction: A lot of sympathy votes because she's sick.

* Joanne Borgella (25, Hoboken, N.J.): Her "Say a Little Prayer" was more of a sermon - in terms of length. I'm betting she was another performer bitten by the bug. Joanne clearly looked uncomfortable - for whatever reason. Paula Abdul was almost as tough as Simon, telling her she needed to "pull it together." Prediction: Improve, or no Top 12.

* Alaina Whitaker (17, Tulsa, Okla.): Today is Alaina's birthday, and you know what she wants: to make it through to the next round. If I'm granting wishes, she will. Alaina was one of two female contestants who performed the same song as two of the guys on Tuesday - "More Today Than Yesterday." Hers was much more relevant (new buzzword on "Idol") than Chikezie's. "It's the year of the young ones," Randy says. "You sung it with conviction and confidence." Prediction: Is Alaina the next Carrie Underwood?

* Amanda Overmyer (23, Mulberry, Ind.): If Amanda's 23, I'm 33! OK, so I guess I'm not progressive enough - her over-the-top rocker look (Lily Munster hair, 100 clanking bracelets, mucho makeup) was distracting to me. It didn't help that I (like Simon) had no idea what she sang. Oh, it was Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go," she said. Uh-huh. Paula and Randy gushed; Simon wants Amanda to come back and "prove what a great singer you are." Prediction: She'll move on, but there will be a battle with the "AI" hairstylist.

* Amy Davis (25, Lowell, Ind.): A lack of confidence could be Amy's undoing. And I'm not sure "Where the Boys Are" can switch gears and go country, which is what Amy attempted. Simon said, "It was what it was - a boring song that sounded like it went on for 10 minutes." Prediction: The camera might like Amy, but the voters won't.

* Brooke White (24, Mesa, Ariz.): The professed "good girl" had a little darker look to her. The big blond curls were there, but Brooke opted for darker eye makeup for her version of "Happy Together." (David Cook sang this Tuesday.) Randy said that, in the end, she "slayed it." Translation? Killed the song, but in a good way. Simon said something about Brooke looking like someone in a '60s commercial in the UK for "washing-up liquid." Translation? Dish soap. Prediction: I'm putting Brooke into the Top 12 because I'm running out of options.

* Alexandrea Lushington (17, Douglasville, Ga.): There was blood, sweat and even tears for me when Alexandrea descended the stairs singing "Spinnin' Wheel." I agree with Simon, who "didn't get it." But Randy and Paula loved Alexandrea (don't mispronounce her name!). Said Randy: "You blew the doors off that." Prediction: Top 12, not Top 10.

* Kady Malloy (18, Houston, Texas): Kady does better Britney Spears impersonations - and other impersonations, too - than she does when singing on her own. Her "A Groovy Kind of Love" was compared by Simon to the zombie-inspired flick "Night of the Living Dead." "If someone did an impersonation of you, it would be a pencil," he said. Prediction: She could be one of the first two gals to go.

* Asia'h Epperson (19, Joplin, Mo.): I was hoping there would be no Janis Joplin (sorry, it's tooo loud), but here comes "A Piece of My Heart," which I think has been performed ad nauseum by female contestants. But, my bad. All three judges loved Asia'h's version. At least it kept me awake. Prediction: Memorize Asia'h's face. She'll be sticking around.

* Ramiele Malubay (20, Miramar, Fla.): No one was more excited about hair, makeup and new shoes than Ramiele, who sort of had her coif done a la Christian on "Project Runway." Her rendition of Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" showed that a big voice can live inside a little body. Paula said she was a "force to be reckoned with." Simon had Ramiele outsinging the other gals - so far. Prediction: Definite Top 10.

* Syesha Mercado (21, Sarasota, Fla.): Fortunately, Syesha (pictured) didn't suffer another bout of laryngitis like she did during Hollywood Week. Her trip down "Tobacco Road" had a ton of attitude. It might not have been her best effort, but Randy labeled Syesha one of the most "consistent" performers. Prediction: Unless she stumbles, a for-sure Top 12.

* Carly Smithson (24, San Diego): There's been so much buzz about Carly because of her previous recording contract, but it all came down to Wednesday night, and she definitely was one of the sickest contestants. It was evident from the first bar of "The Shadow of Your Smile," which, in my opinion, was too "old" for Carly. OK, so I'm wrong, according to Randy, who thought it was the best vocal of the Top 24! Prediction: Give her some antibiotics, and she'll sail through to the next round.

After the two-night competition, Simon said he thought there were three "hot" guys and three or four "hotter" gals. That doesn't give us a Top 12, but it's a start.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), two guys and two gals will be eliminated during the live results show. My guess is that both the younger voters and the older voters will be weighing in heavily on who stays and who goes.

Stay tuned!

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Associated Press

Lisa Rinna (pictured with Joey Fatone) is still undecided about which dress she'll be wearing to co-host the TV Guide Network's red-carpet show this Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. (She has two to pick from.)

It's an important choice because, this year, the Academy Awards will be providing pretty much the only opportunity for big-name designers to showcase their frocks. With the writers' strike, there were no Golden Globes, and did we really care about the SAG Awards - at least from a fashion perspective?

So, designers will be falling over their tape measures to get next season's (even this season's) gowns on celebrities. After all, it's free publicity with very handsome rewards.

“People are dying to dress up in this town,” says Lisa, speaking on the phone from Los Angeles. “The nominees and presenters in particular will have their pick of whatever they want. They can call up any designer and say, ‘I want to wear one of your dresses.’

“I think we’ll see a lot of couture, perhaps on (best actress) nominee Marion Cotillard,” Lisa adds. “Penelope Cruz loves couture, and we’ll probably see Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera.”

As for the men, Lisa says they usually get it “right.”

“I love them!,” she says. “They know how to wear Tom Ford and Prada. (Best actor) nominee Javier Bardem is sooo stunning. I think the men will really be strong.”

She's equally effusive about her co-host.

"Joey is a guy's guy," Lisa says. "He can bring a husband, watching at home, into our audience because he's refreshing. You can't fake that."

A note from one fashionista to another: Want to dish about the red carpet yourself? Join me here at 21Q from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday as I blog in real time about my take on the fashions.


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Carrie Underwood is in full-blown travel mode, on the road co-headlining with country bud Keith Urban on the Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride Tour.

But she's taking a break in the action this weekend to appear on "Saturday Night Live" (at 11:30 p.m. on Channel 3).

I spoke with Carrie today as she prepared to head into rehearsals for the show, which is back on the air for the first time since the writers' strike ended. When the request for her to perform came through, she says, she made a beeline for the Big Apple.

"It was great because it worked out in our (hers and Keith's) schedule," she says. "We were playing in the area, driving in and out of New York, so it worked out perfectly."

This is Carrie's second time performing on the late-night comedy show. She'll be sharing the stage with former "SNL" performer and writer Tina Fey, who will be scripting a big chunk of the welcome-back episode.

"My band was sooo excited when I told them about the opportunity to be on the show," Carrie says.

Meanwhile, next month (on March 12), the Urban/Underwood entourage (read: buses) pull into Arco Arena for Sacramento's "Crazy Carnival" tour stop. Stay tuned here at 21Q and in The Bee as we get closer to the Arco show for more from Carrie on how the tour's going, as well as all things "American Idol." (She still loves talking about it!)

February 20, 2008
Casting call for local models

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Kevin German/Sacramento Bee, August 2005

Can you walk the walk? Can you strut your stuff? If modeling is part of your resume, there's a casting call next weekend for both men and women to participate in a show called "Imagine: Where Fashion, Art & Music Unite." The show is being presented by the International Academy of Design & Technology, a less-than-year-old local college for super-creative types, like fashion and interior designers and visual communications majors.

The school's fashion design students will present their spring/summer collections, and they need models for the show. The casting call is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 1 at the school, 2450 Del Paso Road, Suite 250 in Sacramento.

The requirements?

* Men should be 5-foot-11 or taller with a waist of no more than 32 inches.
* Women should be 5-foot-8 or taller and wear a dress size 0 to 6. They should wear or bring heels for the runway walk.

Both men and women should have clean hair and no makeup. The fashion show is March 28, so models will need flexibility in their schedules for fittings and a walk-through prior to the event. For more information, call (916) 285-9468 and ask for Denise Reed, the chair of the school's fashion department.


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Fox

Tuesday night, "American Idol's" Top 12 guys performed for the first time in their bid to win America's votes - and loyalty.

No doubt there is some major talent among them. But hey, that's what we were promised: better singers and no Sanjaya! (Two of the contestants will be eliminated on Thursday night's live results show.)

Anyway, it didn't take me long to find some worthy nominees. The judges - Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell - spoke their minds with the usual smattering of "Yos" and "Dawgs" and something about the contestants being "colors." (Simon was not as easy on the guys as the other two.)

Here's my wrap-up of the competition, which featured '60s songs:

* David Hernandez (24, Glendale, Ariz.): His "Midnight Hour" was just OK. I lost interest halfway through, but Randy thought he did a good job. Prediction: David won't be around for the Top 10.

* Chikezie: (22, Inglewood, Calif.): Ugh, Chikezie butchered one of my favorite shag songs from college - the Spiral Staircase classic "More Today Than Yesterday." He sang it so slow that I almost didn't recognize it! Simon thought his tangerine suit was "hideous." Prediction: Chikezie needs a strong comeback if he comes back at all.

* David Cook (25, Blue Springs, Mo.): David rocked the Turtles' "Happy Together." Yes, it was a different take on the classic but, as Simon put it, "it was believeable." Prediction: David C. will definitely make the Top 12 (guys and gals).

* Jason Yeager (28, Grand Prairie, Texas): Jason might pass for a much older contestant, especially with his stodgy version of "Moon River." ZZZZZ! We got our first "cruise ship" reference, and Simon said the performance would leave a lot of young viewers with a question mark about Jason. Prediction: No post-"Idol" tour for this crooner.

* Robbie Carrico (26, Melbourne, Fla.): Loved this rocker (the look, the bandana, everything). Robbie's take on Three Dog Night's "One" won me over, as well as the judges. Paula said he picked the perfect song. Prediction: Definitely a keeper.

* David Archuleta (17, Murray, Utah): Give this teen a big hug! What a performance. I almost forgot who did the original version of "Shop Around" (Smokey Robinson). Simon touted, "When you've got it, you've got it. By a comfortable mile, it was the best performance of the night." Prediction: We might be looking at, listening to, this season's winner.

* Danny Noriega (18, Azusa, Calif.): "Elvaz" needs to leave the building. Danny's rendition of "Jailhouse Rock" was a mess. You know it's not good when Randy says you were "having a good time." Prediction: Danny, quit pouting. It's not working for you.

* Luke Menard (29, Crawfordsville, Ind.): "Everybody's Talking" about how boring this version of the "Midnight Cowboy" theme was. And what was up with Luke's jacket? He looked like he was auditioning for the Jon Voight character in the movie. Randy said it was pitchy the whole way through, and that was kind. Prediction: He's forgettable.

* Colton Berry (18, Staunton, Va.): He didn't get much airtime during the audition process and is making up for it with a lot of preening and prancing and silly comparisions about himself and Ellen DeGeneres. Huh? I'll give Colton a kudo that his version of another Elvis song, "Suspicious Minds," was better than Danny N's. Simon said the performance was more in tune with musical theater. Prediction: Possible Top 12 contestant. Get rid of the mirrors in the dressing room.

* Garrett Haley (17, Elida, Ohio): Garrett didn't do a thing with his sappy take on "Don't Take Your Love Away From Me." I don't especially like this song anyway, but Garrett's eerie likeness to Peter Frampton didn't help. Simon quipped that he "looked like he had been shut up in a bedroom for a month." Prediction: Garrett will be back in Ohio either this week or the next.

* Jason Castro (20, Rockwall, Texas): Jason C. was the only contestant to play an instrument (the guitar) Tuesday night, and there was a lot to love about his version of the Lovin' Spoonful classic "What a Day For a Daydream." Simon said it was one of the top two performances of the night. "You're great with the camera," he added. Prediction: Count on seeing Jason for weeks to come.

* Michael Johns (29, Buckhead, Ga.): With a nod to Kings announcer Grant Napear, "Turn on the sprinklers, this guy is on fire!" Michael (pictured) didn't disappoint with "Light My Fire." Dude was hot! Randy said he threw all caution to the wind. "What a way to end the night. I loved it!" Prediction: Michael and David A. were the cream of the crop.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), the Top 12 women compete, also singing '60s songs. They've got their work cut out for them. Check back here for updates.

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Fox

During a recent conference call, Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of "American Idol," couldn't shake questions about Top 24 contestant Carly Smithson (pictured) and the fact that she's "been around" when it comes to performing. Lythgoe continued to set the record straight beyond what he said in today's Scene story.

Q: Carly signed a major label deal, it was marketed, but she was a washout. How will that impact her relationship with voters?
A: I don't know what the angle is. All we're saying is she's very talented, and she hasn't broken any rules. We've never not shown their (contestants) past when we can. And there's nothing wrong with saying she had a record deal and it didn't work.

Q: Why was so much airtime devoted to Josiah Leming (the teen living in his car), and why didn't he make the Top 24?
A: We felt he was a major story. As to why he didn't get through, I don't get in their (judges') heads. I don't think his voice was as strong compared to the others. His voice itself was strange. He turned into an Englishman when he sang. It was shaky. And I don't think he picked the right tune when he dismissed the band.

Q: What happens to someone like him?
A: I honestly don't know. When contestants leave, I would be left worrying about 100,000 of them.

Q: Does "American Idol" continue to benefit from having rockers compete? And how do you see at least two of them - Robbie Carrico and Amanda Overmyer - doing this season?
A: It's important that we have character in the music, that it's not bland. For example, if it's good country, like Bucky Covington (Season 5), that's a hook for people to latch on to. Amanda is the real deal. Ronnie might not be as strong as, say, Bo Bice (Season 4).

Q: What was the reasoning behind not doing group night during Hollywood Week?
A: We wanted to be able to hear the contestants sing on their own. We didn't want them spending the night with other contestants, haggling over song choice and choreography and then not remembering the lyrics...I think the contestants benefited because they were given a second opportunity to perform.

Q: Do the more experienced contestants, like a Carly, have an advantage?
A: Sometimes they're more at a disadvantage. But you never know who will rise or fall. Lakisha (Jones) last season started off as the one to beat. Then, we watched her pull up like a good racehorse at the end. No one had heard of Vonzell (Solomon) (Season 4), and she finished third. Jordin Sparks grew every week last year. It comes with the excitement of getting more confident. Even the pros probably have never had this kind of intense musical training and exposure. It makes - and breaks - some of them.

Q: The live results show (at 8 p.m. Thursday) has been extended to an hour. Why?
A: I never felt comfortable doing 21 minutes (the airtime on a half-hour show). The "American Idol" hour is 38 minutes. I wanted viewers to get to know the contestants better. We'll also be doing a package on "Where are they now?" to update viewers on past participants, like Kimberley Locke and Diana DeGarmo.

So, there you go. Tonight's first round features the Top 12 guys singing '60s songs. Check back here - at 21Q - for my wrap-up.

February 18, 2008
J.Crew spotted in Rome!

94409_PK6199.jpgSo let's say you've made the rounds of all the local stores for Presidents' Day sales. Yet, you're still in the mood to shop. Have I got a site for you! You have to visit it, especially if you're into Italy.

J.Crew's "Ciao Roma" video (click here) traces one beautiful yellow handbag as it makes its way around the streets of Rome. It's been to the Colosseum, hanging on a chair at an outdoor restaurant, spirited up and down steps. It goes for a ride on a moped and serves as a "pillow" for a young man's head.

Good idea. It makes you want to peruse the site even more to see what goes best with the handbag. And I found it! These brightly colored, patent leather peep-toe Mary Janes (pictured). Yes, they cost $198. But, of course, they're made in Italy and feature a 3-inch covered heel. They come in black, for sure. But why not go for color and pick either the autumn berry, emerald or (pucker up) sour lemon. Check online for more J.Crew peep-toe options.


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If you've been on pins and needles this season as "Project Runway" has made its march down the catwalk, you also know that the show is now down to four designing hopefuls.

For those who missed it: The Final Five went on yet another field trip in Wednesday night's episode - this time to get devine inspiration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the end of the show, we lost Sweet P, whose outfit was deemed too commercial. (That is, been there, seen that.)

So, of the remaining four, Jillian and Christian will definitely be competing during Fashion Week. A slight wrinkle, though, for Chris and Rami, upon whom the judges deadlocked. As a result, these two must vie one last time for the third and last spot by - yikes! - also whipping up an entire collection. That's a lotta work, only to wind up being told, "You're out!"

Next week? The catty reunion show (at 10 p.m. Wednesday on Bravo), when you know the claws will be sharpened.

In the meantime, here's a little tidbit that ran today in The Bee's City edition, in my colleague Carlos Alcala's column.

Carlos tells us that contestant Chris has a local connection - a brother, Doug March, who lives in Curtis Park. A landscape designer, he's apparently not so good with the scissors. But thankfully, bro Chris has been there to create Halloween costumes for Doug's kids ever since they were born.

Hey, no store-bought Spiderman getups for these kids!

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Fox

No one was happier than me when Season 7 of "American Idol" finally got past the audition rounds and made it to Hollywood Week. Whew!

Tuesday's two-hour show was actually very entertaining. It opened with the 164 hopefuls packing their bags and leaving home for a weeklong showdown with the three judges. But it took host Ryan Seacrest a chunk of time to explain all the changes this go-round.

To wit:

* Mercifully, no more group nights, that nightmare where contestants must learn to sing nicely together in groups of three or four. Instead, the 164 were on their own and could play instruments if they chose, which proved to be disastrous for many of them.

* The first two days of competition, there were no cuts, with the best of the contestants getting a bye on Day 2. But on the third day, the rest were singing for their lives. The judges needed only 50 of the 164 from which to choose the Top 24 (pictured above with Simon Cowell, wearing masks to, er, mask their identities).

Anyway, here's my recap of Hollywood Week, just in case you opted to watch "Big Brother" over on CBS instead.

* It only takes a single song: Brooke White, 24, with the curly blond hair and Carole King-like pipes, played the piano and sang a King compilation, "Beautiful." Randy Jackson said, "100 percent yes!" Among the guys, hands down for me was Michael Johns, 29, the Aussie with the devilishly good looks (Ok, he's hot), who sang "Light My Fire" and got the bye.

* I didn't need this song: Why in the heck did so many contestants pick "When I Need You," the sappy Leo Sayer love song? For the most part, they all reminded me of 1:30 a.m. in the lounge of a Holiday Inn with last call and the last slow dance. Anyhoo, the quote, "You've got the stage presence of a flea," came from Simon during all this.

* Songs in the key of anger: Several "yellers" were told to take it down a notch, including one young woman who got this from Simon: "It sounded like an angry girl in the bedroom."

* Beat this: For those who opted for instruments, many got the thumbs down, especially the drummers.

* Nurse with a song on her Harley: Everyone - except for me - is apparently in love with the motorcycle-riding, rock 'n' roll nurse Amanda Overmeyer, 23 (who I think looks 33). She took on the Doors' "Light My Fire." Sorry, but there's something creepy about the Lily Munster hair and the crackly voice. It made me think Amanda's been in the Holiday Inn past closing.

* Love song falls flat: Remember Ghaleb Emanchah, who impressed Paula Abdul with his Venezuelan-ness during the auditions? Well, instead of working on his vocals, Ghaleb spent Hollywood Week hitting on all the female contestants - anyone who would hold still for him. That was really clear when, while singing for the judges and strumming a guitar, Simon quipped, "You remind me of a waiter performing in a restaurant." Ouch! The proverbial kiss of death.

* Swan songs - or not: Josiah Leming, 18, the kid who was living in his car, finally got to sleep in a hotel bed. His first song (he played the piano) earned this from Simon: "Of all the auditions, this is the one I'm going to remembers." Still, on Day 4, Josiah was so nervous, he dismissed the band and backup singers and sang alone - and not very well. The judges let him through based on past performances.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), the judges will reveal the Top 24, who will go on to perform for America's votes. I see folks like young David Archuleta, 16, from Utah, getting through, as well as Syesha Mercado, 21, who Randy dubbed, "One to watch. You could sneak up and give everyone a run for their money."

As for hunky Aussie Michael? I think he offered the final day's best audition ("Bohemian Rhapsody"), and he and Irish lassie Carly Smithson should both should make it to the Top 24.

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Fox

Last year, it was Season 5 heartthrob Ace Young who dished up bowls of Dreyer's ice cream after crooning a few tunes in the backyard of a lucky Citrus Heights family.

What am I "churning" about now?

This year, it's Melinda Doolittle.

Here's the backstory: In 2007, Dreyer's came up with the nifty idea of pairing a past "Idol" favorite with new ice cream flavors, then having a contest where folks in 10 communities - Sacramento being one of them - could win a private concert/ice cream party in the privacy of their own homes and/or backyards.

As a result, the contest was a promotional success for both the ice cream company - and for Ace.

Now, as Season 7 of "American Idol" prepares for the Hollywood rounds (at 8 tonight and Wednesday on Channel 40), Dreyer's is launching five new flavors with Melinda, who finished third last year (she's pictured with winner Jordin Sparks and runner-upBlake Lewis).

The Sacramento-area private concert is set to take place Feb. 27; on that same day, Melinda will appear from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at a Raley's in El Dorado Hills (3935 Park Drive).

To enter the contest, vote for your favorite Dreyer's "Idol" flavorhere. Votes must be cast by 1 p.m. Feb. 26 to be eligible.

Oh, and the new flavors are Cheesecake Diva, Cookies 'N Dreamz, Mint Karaoke Cookie, Most Orange-inal and One Split Wonder.

Back to tonight's show for a moment: There are 164 contestants vying for 24 spots during the Hollywood rounds, which, if you're an "Idol" fan, you know are grueling at best. They will be allowed to play an instrument if they want. But, as the promos have been touting all week, only the strong will survive. Hope that actually means talented.

February 11, 2008
The Grammys zipped, unzipped

Grammy-Awards-Arrivals.jpgOK, so the Grammy Awards are supposed to be all about the singing, but we know better.

Heck, it's about the wardrobe changes!

Grammy-Awards-Sony-BMG-Part.jpgThis, in stark contrast to the grand dame of awards, the Oscars (slated for Feb. 24), where stars are locked into their ensembles from the red carpet on. But with the Grammys, someone like Beyonce (pictured in AP photos), who also performed, might change as many as four times between her arrival and her after-party departure.

By the way: Loved the lighter locks on this bundle of talent. I'm thinking she opted for the look because of her rockin' duet with none other than Tina Turner. We should all be able to move that well at age 68 - and in silver spandex no less.

Also, kudos to fashion (and Grammy) winners Alicia Keys and Rihanna, as well as to Fergie, who looked great with all three of her outfit changes.

Still, as with any awards show, there's always a few style missteps. I'm guessing no one got hold of Kid Rock with the attire requirements. He looked, well, "stringy" and strung out. Definitely a style don't.

And who - or perhaps what - got hold of Fantasia Barrino's hair?! Her two-toned (white/black) coif was sheared on one side and with what looked like a hair attachment on the other. I wish the Season 3 "American Idol" winner had found a mirror before Sunday's show.

I was made aware of her style fiasco via TMZ.com on Friday. The site showed pics of Fantasia at a pre-Grammy swag gathering. Too bad they weren't passing out free hair appointments along with the energy drinks!

February 8, 2008
A cut above on Sunday

If you're in a giving mood - and have 10 inches of hair you'd like to lop off for a good cause - GS Hair in Carmichael and its professional styling team is hosting the annual Love Salon Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

All "donated" hair will go to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to children suffering from hair loss because of medical conditions. Last year, GS Hair got 20 volunteers to shear their tresses. They hope to double that number on Sunday.

Here's how it works: Donors must have at least 10 inches of clean, dry hair (or longer) from a ponytail. The pony will be cut and the donor's remaining hair coifed for free.

For Sunday's event, there will be a contest for the longest hair donated (a styling iron valued at $150 is the prize), plus gourmet cupcakes from Cupcake Craving and a raffle of Maly's gift basket of hair-styling products.

To get in on the Locks of Love donation drive, call GS Hair at (916) 481-2340. The salon is at 2415 Walnut Ave. in Carmichael. For a map or more info, click here.

Don't forget, Saturday is a Second Saturday so get out and support your local designers and artisans. Hey, it should be great weather!

February 7, 2008
Jewelry in the trunk

With a nice break in the weather, I decided yesterday to stop by Serendipity Boutique to check out the Gorjana jewelry collection. That's because the boutique is hosting a two-day trunk show Friday and Saturday.

It was my first look at the line, which is both simple and elegant. Delicate is a word that comes to mind. I like that the earrings are lightweight, even the hoops. The necklaces come in different styles and lengths. My favorite? It would have to be the stacked rings, which come in clusters.

The Gorjana line features both gold and silver pieces. The first thing I thought of is how pretty one of the necklaces would look paired with, say, a strand of pearls.

But jewelry wasn't the only thing that caught my eye. Like most retailers, Serendipity is hosting a sale of its winter wear as spring collections arrive. So, it's a good time to grab a sweater or layering top, while perusing all the new things, including cute cotton tops and lighter-weight sweaters.

By the way, if you plan to stop by Serendipity for the two-day trunk show, the boutique's hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It's at 5362 H St., next to Selland's Market. For more info: (916) 454-2900 or click here to visit the Web site.

At last, the "American Idol" Season 7 auditions are over!

Last night's pitstop in Atlanta marked the end of the grueling process, which leaves us with more than 100 contestants going on to Hollywood next week.

And no, I cared not that host Ryan Seacrest's parents showed up. (Atlanta is his hometown.)

Anyway, I kept switching back and forth between Super Tuesday coverage on CNN and Channel 3, then over to Comcast Sports where the Sacramento High varsity guys were taking on Luther Burbank in a big-time game, which the Sac High Dragons won.

Ain't TV grand?

But, back on topic. Atlanta delivered 20 golden tickets, which seemed puny for such a huge city. But it felt like the viewing audience saw mostly really bad acts, including one - Eva Miller, 26 - whose performance was labeled "an act" by judge Simon Cowell because at one point Eva slipped and fell on her derriere.

"It's not a joke," Eva said. "I accidentally fell. I love you Simon, and this was a serious audition."

So, just in case anyone out there was watching election returns or Sac High, here's my recap of the final audition.

* Most forgotten guy from Season 4: There was J.P Tjelmeland, 20 (and a misplaced music major) who auditioned three seasons ago a couple of spots from eventual winner (and real singer) Carrie Underwood. "I didn't get to know her," says J.P. Nor pick up any performing points. J.P.'s Rascal Flats' song fell flat from the get go. It's hard to come back once you've hit the ground.

* Most likely to perform backward: Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul (minus Simon's blessing) let through Joshua Jones, 26, of Atlanta, who kept goofing up his Queen song because he had some demonic eye thing going. He ended up singing with his back to the judges. Simon quipped, "He can't go through and perform backward!"

* Most likely to have made us cry: Cynic that I am, I'm generally a leary of the contestants with major hard luck stories. But you'd have to be a robot not to feel something for Asia’h Epperson, 18, from Joplin, Missouri. Asia'h's dad died in a car accident a few days before the audition last fall. But she took on a big song, "How Do I Live?" and broke the judges' hearts. Simon: "That was tough. Your dad will be proud of you." Paula: "You're very brave to do this." (She had to leave and dry her eyes afterward.) Randy: "You worked it out."

* Most annoying crown wearer: UGH! That would have to be Brooke Helvie, 18, of West Palm Beach, who is the reigning Miss South Florida Fair. She kissed a pig and milked a cow to earn the title. Some talent. "I'm doing this for God, my mom and my dad and because Simon is such a lovable teddy bear!" she squeaked. I can't believe the judges let her through because everyone will pay dearly for this guffaw. Unfortunately, Brooke will be brining her "elegance" - and a Web site - to Hollywood.

* Most likely to knock 'em dead next week: Definitely teen crooner Alexandria Lushington, 16, whose extended family - including her 93-year-old great grandmother - came with her to the audition. Her bluesy "My Funny Valentine" evoked memories of Season 6 finalist Melinda Doolittle, who also sang the song. She should do well.

* Most likely to finally get out of his car: Josiah Leming, 18, came from Morristown, Tenn., with his home. That would be his car. He dropped out of school, but doesn't consider himself homeless, just "scared and lonely." Again, the old heartstrings were strung. Funny thing is, Josiah has a good voice, but he somehow morphs into a British accent when he sings. Simon thought it was weird but intriguing. And he said he usually doesn't like guys from Tennessee. But Josiah's own composition, "To Run," got him through to Hollywood.

OK, so tonight I'm mandating that everyone watch the Duke-North Carolina ACC matchup at 6 p.m. on ESPN. Then, you can switch to Fox (Channel 40) at 8 for the "Best of the Rest" show featuring weird auditions we didn't see, plus a recap of all the goofballs that got through to the judges.

Mercifully, "American Idol" moves to the Hollywood rounds next week. I'm personally holding Simon accountable for making sure talented singers keep singing.

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Associated Press/Al Seib, Pool


Well, one thing's for sure. Everyone at the polling place set up in an elementary school in Brentwood knows how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, first lady Maria Shriver, voted today.

(The couple split in their choices for presidential candidates: He publicly endorsed Sen. John McCain; she, Sen. Barack Obama (as did their daughter, Katherine, 18, a first-time voter. According to the Associated Press, Schwarzenegger quipped afterward, "So far, it’s two-to-one in our family.")

Anyway, voting aside - as I am bound to do each Election Day, I take note of how notable folks are dressed. And even not-so-notable: Earlier today, down on 21st Street, I saw a couple of guys sporting red-and-white striped pants and flag tops. I'm hoping they were just doing some sort of survey and not going overboard with fashion patriotism.

UCLA.jpg But, I digress.

I have noticed that Shriver has been staying away from anything red, white or blue as she's been making politicial appearances on Obama's behalf. And voting today (pictured above), Shriver opted for a brown leather jacket. And on Sunday, (when she should have been getting the guacamole ready for the Super Bowl bash), she surprised everyone at an Obama rally at UCLA wearing a brown wrap coat.

Just a fashion note on this most patriotic of occasions. And hey, I'm sporting my red, white and blue "I voted" sticker on a gray sweater. So I guess I have no room to talk.

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MCT

Before taking the stage at Sunday's Super Bowl, Jordin Sparks (pictured) appeared (emphasis on appeared) a little skittish, which is odd considering Jordin, last season's "American Idol" winner, should be used to singing to large audiences, including guys like Simon Cowell.

But she belted out one of the best renditions of our national anthem I've heard. And heaven knows, the anthem has been butchered in the past. On a quick fashion note, I liked her midnight blue tailored suit even though I couldn't see what were supposed to be black leather side panels. Designer Lloyd Klein was commissioned to create the made-to-measure ensemble.

But, at some point before the kick off, Jordin ditched the designer duds for a New York Giants sweatshirt and helmet. Good choice!

In other "Idol" news:

* Did anyone else notice Fox's endless promotions for the Hollywood rounds of "American Idol?" They showed several of the better contestants crooning and playing instruments, with the judges saying stuff like, "That was amazing!" Unless I was watching the wrong network last week I could swear they've got one more audition show, in Atlanta at 8 p.m. Tuesday (on Channel 40). If that's correct (and I believe it is), the ads were misleading at best and the Hollywood rounds won't kick off until next week. (Wednesday night's show is a recap of the auditions.)

* After raising a whopping $75 million in Season 6, there will be a repeat of "Idol Gives Back" this year. If you were tuned out in 2007, the musical benefit raised all this money to help various U.S. and international charities. This season's two-hour concert/fundraiser will air from 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 9. In last year's inaugural event, the remaining contestants were safe from elimination for the one night. However, two of them went home the following week. We'll see how "charitable" the producers are this season.


February 1, 2008
Seeing red - even in Sac

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Associated Press/Jason DeCrow

Today is National Wear Red Day, in case anyone was wondering why the color is popping up so much - or not. It's all part of February's designation as American Heart Month.

The biggest splash's been in the Big Apple, where red ruled the runway at the annual Heart Truth Red Dress Fall 2008 show. The collection was shown as part of the Fashion Week festivities continuing in New York.

First lady Laura Bush was there with daughter Barbara. Mrs. Bush opted out of the color code and wore a white suit, but she had a little "Red Day" pin prominently displayed on her jacket.

Celebrities were the stars of the show, including actresses Molly Sims and Lisa Rinna (pictured). They joined the likes of "Project Runway's" Heidi Klum and Broadway star Rita Moreno.

As for Sacramento? If you're out and about at the Downtown Plaza, the Red Day celebration is in full swing, with health screenings, lifestyle tips, etc., to mark the Go Red For Women cause. That would be that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. (Great. I ate a scrambled egg for breakfast.)

You'll also get to nosh on healthy snacks from local vendors, and stock up on free Go Red pins and bracelets. And, the big, big bonus? If you're into the wearing of the red today, you'll get 15 percent off of apparel and accessories at Macy's in the plaza.

I've got red gloves. See ya there.

January 31, 2008
Idol Chatter: Mad for Miami

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Fox/Michael Becker

Hey, I actually enjoyed Wednesday night's "American Idol" auditions in Miami. Yes, there were the usual wack jobs, but they didn't seem quite so, well, out there.

OK, so Contestant No. 1, Shannon McGough, 18, of Okeechobee, Fla., looked promising and, my gosh, I really wanted to get her out of her family's meat-grinding business. I had high hopes she could sing as good as she could, well, belch. (Indeed, Shannon could peel paint with her burping!)

Unfortunately, her Janis Joplin performance was an upchuck. And judge Simon Cowell, who apparently experienced a late night the night before, crowed, "I feel worse after that. It sounded like a Hungarian Janis Joplin. It actually sounds like you're eating when you sing."

Yikes. Poor Shannon was just devastated, whining that "I've never been told I sing bad before!"

Thankfully, the overall crooning improved after the belching. If you missed the auditions, here's my recap:

* Most likely to marry Paula: The sparks flew between judge Paula Abdul and Venezuelan (now in Miami) heartthrob Ghaleb Emachah, 27. Still, Simon didn't take the bait. "I would like you if I was drunk. Sober, I don't like you." Randy Jackson pointed out that Ghaleb's heavy accent might be a problem, but he and Paula let him through, prompting a flurry of kisses - from Ghaleb to the producer, the security staff, even host Ryan Seacrest.

* Most likely to marry Simon and/or Randy: Oh mama, were best buds Corliss Smith and Brittany Wescott (pictured), both 20 of Jacksonville, a hoot or what? They seemed more interested in scoping out men than singing, but both of them have major pipes. Corliss opted for throwback jazz for Randy; Brittany serenaded Simon with "My Guy." Major hugs were exchanged and both women bolted through the double doors with golden tickets.

* Most talented gals (the guys were a screaming mess at this point): Props to Suzanne Toon, 21, of Clearwater, Fla., Ramiele Malubay, 19, of Miramar, Fla., and Syesha Mercardo, 20, of Miami. Simon liked Suzanne's "sultry sexiness." Randy said Ramiele, who hopes to become the first Asian American "Idol," had "a big voice for a small girl." Syesha got through on her "effort."

* Most likely to get beat up outside the audition room: Easy enough. I wanted to climb through the tube and throttle Julie Dubela, now 16. Four years ago, we learned she made the Top 20 on "American Juniors." "I'm not a quitter," Julie intoned. But, duh, why would she tackle another Joplin song, "Me and Bobby McGee?" Simon jumped on the performance quickly. "Are you precocious?" he asked. "What does that mean?" Julie responded. Then things pretty much fell apart. Julie whined, the judges said she was over dramatic. She complained she gave up singing at a Red Sox game to audition (this was last fall). Afterward, Julie told "America" to be sure not to watch "American Idol."

* Most ridiculous, most ludicrous: Brandon Black, 20, of Pompano Beach, Fla. Period. Biggest idiot verging on lunacy. I can't remember ever hearing Simon begging security to "Get him out, get him out."

Ultimately, only 17 tickets to Hollywood were doled out. Mercifully, there's only one more audition - Tuesday in Atlanta (Ryan's hometown) - before we finally get to La La Land.

Let's hang in there together!

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Sami Swanson couldn't wait to get out to Arden Fair mall the day she found out she was one of the newly installed "faces" of Abercrombie & Fitch Kids.

But, first things first: As a school cheerleader, she had a gig at a freshman basketball game at Rio Americano.

"At halftime of the game, my mom (local TV personality Beth Ruyak) brought me some ice water and showed me photos she had taken of my pictures at the store," Sami recalls. "After the game, we went straight to the mall so I could see for myelf."

The picture above, taken by her mother, shows Sami posing with the entryway photo of herself and a male model. (The image also pops up online; click here to see it and more photos.)

I spoke with Sami and Beth recently about the whirlwind experience. The Q&A appears on today's Scene cover. But there's always more to talk about when it comes to fashion and having fun, right?

Sami is definitely the right choice for an A&F Kids campaign. As her mom says: "She just exudes joy in the pictures."

Sami was discovered in August 2006 in a Starbucks in Santa Barbara by someone in the biz who said (natch), "Have you ever thought about modeling?" One Polaroid led to another, and soon Sami had an agent in L.A. and bookings with Abercrombie. She's traveled to the Florida Keys, the company's home base in Columbus, Ohio, and the Hamptons in New York.

But for the time being, Sami is firmly grounded in Sacramento. She's about to turn 15 and has quite the busy teen schedule. In addition to cheerleading, she performs with the River City Theatre Company; they're in rehearsals for the spring production of "Swing."

She also swims on the Gold River Stingrays swim team, holds a 3.7 GPA, and maintains quite a connection with not only her friends in town but "model" friends she's met on her shoots.

"I recently heard from the guy who is in the picture with me," Sami says. "He messaged me to say he couldn't believe we were in the stores."

(An interesting note: Beth's parents, who live outside of Milwaukee, visited an A&F Kids store out there to see their granddaughter's pics. The store clerk informed them that the male model's grandparents were on their way in to see them, too. How's that for a coincidence?)

Anyway, Sami refuses to rest on her good looks. Eventually, she says, she wants to go to medical school and perhaps become a plastic surgeon - not so much for cosmetic clients, but to help veterans with scarring.

For now, though, there's nothing wrong with having a little reminder of your big accomplishment. In fact, Sami has two small shopping bags from A&F Kids, and one big bag, with, of course, her image on them.

"We call them 'Sami Bags,' " Beth says.

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Fox


Omaha was the setting, and corn was the crop of the day during Tuesday night's "American Idol" auditions. The show has never been to Nebraska (that I can remember), and 10,000 hopefuls showed up.

But, guess who was a no-show? Judge Paula Abdul, whose plane was delayed, leaving Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson to "flirt" with each other.

Actually, the flirting was more entertaining than the "singers," who were a mix of part-time farmers and, well, the worst of the Heartland - both vocally and fashion-wise. Where are these people shopping?

Anyway, only 19 golden tickets to Hollywood were passed out, the least of any audition city so far.

If you missed the show, here's my quick recap:

* Most wasted time spent on a human being: Chris Bernheisel, 25, of Fremont, Neb., was waaaay too excited to be there. Dude wore me out opining about how "happiness is going flying everywhere. This is the greatest moment of my life!" He wooed Simon and Randy with gifts, including stuffed animals, some sort of shirt and copius pics of himself with Kelly Clarkson. But his version of her "Since You've Been Gone," featuring a handstand of all things, was horrifying.

Chris bombed but was still rewarded by Simon, who promised him he could work the red carpet at the season finale for the local Fox affiliate. Apparently, bribes do have payoffs.

* Most likely to be an alien: Former pro wrestler Sarah Whitaker, 25, from Iowa, who did the whole Goth thing and almost beat the you-know-what out of Ryan Seacrest before "singing" for the judges. Again, awful. Simon called her warbling the perfect "soundtrack for this town."

* Most times forgetting the lyrics: Was there something in the Midwest waters? Soooo many contestants crashed and burned trying to remember their words. The show even played one of its silly games, "You Forgot the Lyrics," to illustrate the point. Jason Rich, 21, of Stout, Iowa (population 500), was given four chances to croon his country song. He made it through, but Simon berated him, saying, "I'll never give you another shot like that. If this were live, we'd be off the air."

* Most likely to get caught in the middle: Poor, delicate Samantha Sidley (pictured), 22, came all the way from L.A. to get trapped in a judging juggle when Ryan and Paula (who finally arrived) swapped jobs, with Ryan quipping, "How do I pretend to be overpaid for doing no work?" Hah! Actually, Samantha's rendition of Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why" was very good. She twirled a bit much, and her performance was overshadowed by the judges' antics - planned out, I'm sure.

* Most likely to get on the wrong show: One contestant, whose name I can't recall 'cos I was probably numb by then, descended the escalator after making it through, only to proclaim that "I'll prove to Simon I'm 'America's Next Top Model.' " Uh, that's with Tyra Banks, honey.

* Most schmaltz. Period: Of course, what would the auditions be without a heartfelt audition coupled with a family squabble. That would be Angelica Puente, 17, from Kenosha, Wis., who doesn't live with her parents because she has "issues" with them (read: her father is too strict). She went after Celine Dion, got chastised for listening to too many "records," but made it through because it wouldn't be "Idol' without a phone call to the father to tell him his daughter, who doesn't live with him, is going to Hollywood.

* Most worthy of the gold: There were several rocker contestants who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Chris Daughtry, probably one of the show's most successful non-winners. The best? Definitely David Cox, 24, of Tulsa, who watched and re-watched Chris' audition from Season 5. His "Livin' on a Prayer" earned an odd remark from Simon - "It was a little bit worthy" - but this guy actually has major potential.

The last auditioner, Leo Marlowe, 23, of Charlotte, Iowa (only 200 people live there), scored major kudos, including a "touchdown" from Paula. I can see him and David definitely making it to the Top 24.

* Least worthy of gold: Yikes, that would be Johnny Escamilla, 18, of Scottsbluff, Neb., whose gold lame jacket was a fashion disaster. Couple that with a ridiculous rendition of "Shout," and you've got "one of the weirdest guys you could ever meet," according to Simon. One thing in Johnny's favor? He cured Paula's bout of hiccups.

Tonight's show (at 8 on Channel 40) comes to us from Miami. Let's hope there are no contestants wearing bathrobes and using a feather duster as a microphone. (Yes, it happened in Omaha.)

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Fox


Paul Marturano (a.k.a. "Pauley Nipple," pictured), the "American Idol" contestant who serenaded judge Paula Abdul with his creepy "Stalker" song at the Philadelphia auditions, continues to command his 15 seconds of fame.

According to the "Idol" insiders at Popculturepr.com, Pauley has exceeded 150 radio interviews (including one recently at Sac's own The End, 107.9).

He's appeared on "Access Hollywood" (wow!), and has his own Web site.

Alas, Pauley's attempt at an appearance at this Sunday's Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., has been scotched. WIRN radio says it had planned to have Pauley provide on-field coverage but were denied a press pass because the NFL "considered the musical comedian a liability and did not want any antics during Paula Abdul's performance."

Note to me: Am I missing something or has Fox neglected to promote that Paula is set to appear at halftime? All I've heard about is Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

Anyway, Popculturepr.com says Pauley was not too happy about the NFL's decision, saying, "Why not give them (WIRN) their passes on the condition that I stay home? Take me out of the equation and don't punish WIRN for having a creative idea that you (NFL) didn't like. Oh well, maybe Tom Brady can lend me one of his girlfriends."

Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen.

So, Pauley aside (and on a couch somewhere, I'm sure), the "Idol" auditions continue at 8 tonight (on Channel 40) with a stop in Omaha, Neb. Does it feel like this part of the show has been going on forever?

January 28, 2008
SAG awards in full fashion

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Associated Press


The Hollywood that we all know and love - i.e., the red carpet fashions - were back in full regalia Sunday night at the Screen Actors Guild awards show.

From TV stars to movie stars, most (emphasis on most) of the actors didn't misstep when it came to what they wore. This, after not having to pick anything for last month's Golden Globes televised "announcement." In fact, most of the stars said what they wore to the SAGs wasn't a leftover from the abbreviated Globes.

They started from scratch!

E! covered the red carpet with the usual mix of silly questions, e.g. to nominee Glenn Close: "What actor best represents this generation?" Glenn looked completely dumbfounded but managed to mention a few up-and-comers. How about narrowing that a tad?

Anyway, I digress. Back to the clothes. I heard over and over what a chilly, yucky day it was in SoCal, so what do many of the women wear? But of course: strapless, metallic gowns and cocktail dresses.

Among the TV stars, I loved Debra Messing in her beaded bronze Oscar de la Renta with a jeweled halter neck, and Eva Longoria (pictured) looking radiant - as usual - in a beaded dress with a cowl front and cowl back (dipping oh-so-low) by designer Naeem Khan.

Among the movie stars, I didn't know Cate Blanchett was pregnant with her third child (due in April), but she looked elegant in a navy strapless gown from Balenciaga. And, speaking of adding to the family, there was quite the red carpet buzz as to whether Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who both showed up, were expecting. This because of the looseness of her coffee-colored vintage gown.

Meanwhile, "Ugly Betty" nominee Vanessa Williams, took bad advice from her oldest daughter, wearing a bright, bright yellow Escada gown with an ill-placed black waistband.

Blue was a wildly popular color choice for stars like Kyra Sedgwick and Marcia Cross, both wearing it well.

Of course, I enjoyed all of the hoopla from the confines of the couch at home, appropriately swathed in flannel and fleece.

Now, we move on the fashion insanity of the upcoming Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, followed (and cross your fingers) by the Oscars on Feb. 24. Stylists, get ready!


January 25, 2008
Lisa Heyamoto style watch

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Michael A. Jones/Sacramento Bee file, September 2007

The Bee's very own columnist, Lisa Heyamoto (pictured), shows up in the Up Front section of the February issue of Sacramento magazine. Lisa, a founding resident of 21Q, left the blog last fall to pursue a higher calling - to write a three-times-a-week, three-dot column for the metro section. (She also physically moved from the third floor of the newsroom to the second floor. But, I digress.)

Anyway, what fame now! The mag focuses (as well it should) on Lisa's personal style. I've known Lisa since she arrived in Sactown from Seattle two and a half years ago. And the mustard-yellow Stuart Weitzman shoes she wears for her Sac mag photo shoot are just the best. And you've got to appreciate a young woman for discovering the unique qualities of the mani-pedi and a good night's rest.

Now, about her desire to own a Marc Jacobs handbag...Are we working in the same industry? Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something.

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Fox

I've been so fixated on the cast of zany characters during auditions for Season 7 of "American Idol" that I haven't paid that much attention to the panel of judges.

Plus, Randy, Paula and Simon (and host Ryan) are such show stalwarts, I don't really take note beyond what they say to the winners and losers. But local "Idol" viewer Debbie e-mailed me to register a fashion complaint:

"So, do you have any idea what's up with Simon's shirts? (pictured). He seems to own only two - plain white and charcoal gray. He seems to interchange the two frequently during the day. The (producers) may need to work on their editing. Simon is not consistent in his wardrobe, and it really bugs me. Randy and Paula each have one outfit for each (audition) day. Have you noticed?"

Well, Debbie, I fear I've become somewhat jaded to Mr. Cowell's simplistic wardrobe. I don't recall him wearing anything but jeans and T-shirts for past auditions and then slipping in one or two long-sleeved crew shirts once the show moves on to Hollywood and goes live. (I guess that's his formalwear.) He has gotten gussied up for the "Idol" finales.

You're right, though. Randy and Paula must have vastly larger wardrobes than Simon. I know Paula is a shoe-aholic!

Bottom fashion line: Simon marches - and dresses - to his own beat. But hey, my biggest issue with him is I want him to take that stupid pen out of his mouth!

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Fox

One of the best things about Wednesday night's "American Idol" auditions in Charleston, S.C., was imagining myself on a warm beach instead of the damp, dank surroundings in Sac.

But the show proved something else: Gather together more than 10,000 people, and most of them can't sing a lick.

The scenery was pretty, but the crooning was anything but. The first three "acts" were, as judge Simon Cowell might say, "torturous." And there seemed to be a particular need to butcher Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood's songs. "Before He Cheats" took a vocal beating.

In all, only 23 yellow tickets to Hollywood were handed out. So, if you didn't set your DVR or you want to relive the evening, here's my recap:

* Most creative coif: Raysharde Henderson, 27, of Atlanta arrived with a perfect Afro, dubbing himself the next "black Clay Aiken." His version of "I Can't Make You Love Me" was, er, quite theatrical. Simon even quipped, "I wouldn't have been surprised if you had thrown a magic trick in the middle of that." Raysharde might have elicited the seaon's first "cruise ship cabaret" reference.

* Duo dos and dont's: Charleston saw its share of duets, including brother/sister Jefferey and Michelle Lampkin. He definitely had the "ow" factor, sporting a tie around his head. They sang "I'm Your Angel," and there was some discrepancy among the judges as to whether to let both through. (Michelle's voice was not as strong as her brother's.) But, Simon insisted they couldn't split the pair. On the flip side, Randy Stark, 27, of Abilene, Texas, and Crystal Ortiz, 26, of Raleigh, N.C., (boyfriend/girlfriend) only had love going for them. Their duet hurt everyone's ears, but I was impressed that Randy's expertise is in giving audition advice on an "Idol" message board.

* No means "No": Great montage of contestants getting the boot. Some seemed resigned to the rejection; others, like Aretha Codner, 22, of Buffalo, N.Y. (pictured), refused to accept their lack of talent. Aretha, named after "Aretha," sported a horrifying pale blue cocktail dress with an oversized silver belt. "I'm as good as Fantasia (Barrino) or any of the other 'Idols,' " she said, promptly murdering a Whitney Houston song. "But I have a beautiful voice," she whined. "I stop crowds." Judge Paula Abdul, never one to be too mean, told Aretha she "loved your confidence."

* A love/hate thing: I wished Air Force pilot Lindsey Goodman, 28, of Charleston could sing as well as she flies C-17s. She was genuinely nice. However, I completely agreed with Simon that Amy (Catherine) Flynn, 16, of Knoxville, Tenn., who made it through, will annoy the snot out of everyone. The captain of her high school dance team, Amy also preaches abstinence to other students. She even gave Simon a lecture on pre-marital sex! HAHHH! I personally didn't think her rendition of "Reflections" was anything to gloat about.

* Most likely to serve rather than sing: That would be DeAnna Prevatte, 26, of Albemarle, N.C., hometown of that Southern darling, Kellie Pickler from Season 5. Like Kellie (who worked at a Sonics), DeAnna waits tables at a restaurant where the patrons are aggressively hungry on Sundays. "It's all you can eat, and they (customers) run us to death. It's not a buffet," DeAnna complained. "Then they just leave you a dollar." DeAnna took out her frustration on a song called "Fancy," losing her dress straps and dropping to her knees at one point. Unlike Kellie, though, it was a "No" for DeAnna.

Of course, it wouldn't be "Idol" auditions without a schmaltzy ending story. And that would be Oliver Highman, 27, of Cornelius, N.C., who missed the first day of the auditions because his very pregnant wife, Allison, went into labor and delivered their daughter, Emma Grace. Not missing a beat, the new parents showed up on Day 2, newborn in tow. Oliver, who looked more like he should be selling insurance than singing, pulled a falsetto on the judges and was dubbed "corny and old-fashioned." But the baby was really, really cute.

We're heading down the audition stretch. On Tuesday (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), the gang hits the heartland with a stop in Omaha, Neb. I'm not sure when it happens, but host Ryan Seacrest will become Judge Ryan, replacing Paula for part of the gig.


January 23, 2008
AARP: Is 50 the new, er, 50?

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A lot of things/people have been turning the big 5-0 recently. And at 21Q, we don't like discussing ages.

Nevertheless, I admit I've been hearing a lot lately from AARP, in particular its magazine, which also marks a golden anniversary this year. In honor of the momentous occasion, the publication devotes its January/February issue to famous faces who also are marking a 50th birthday, including Caroline Kennedy, who graces the cover.

So, do we really believe 50 is the new 50?

There also are six celebs who will turn 50 this year and who were quite willing to open up to AARP about what it feels like - or will soon feel like.

For example, Ellen DeGeneres will celebrate on Saturday as well as on her show, with some new dance moves. Actress Sharon Stone (March 10) is my kind of 50-something, adhering to a vigorous lifestyle of no exercise and lots of dark chocolate. And Michelle Pfeiffer (April 29) has given up smoking and taken on sunscreen.

Prince (June 7) is contributing to the fragrance world with 3121, and Viggo Mortensen, who on Tuesday received a Best Actor Oscar nomination, may be celebrating from Feb. 24 (when the Academy Awards are set to be handed out) all the way to his big day, Oct. 20.

And it does my heart good to know how great a woman can look at 50 when she has plenty of "people" to keep her going. Of course, that would be Madonna, who will mark the day on Aug. 16. AARP says the Material Girl is even contemplating a "Madonna at 50" tour.

Maybe I'll go and find out what all this yoga yakking is about.

The 50th anniversary issue of AARP is on newsstands now. No discounts for being old!

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Fox

The "American Idol" auditions Tuesday night in San Diego produced the most yellow tickets to Hollywood - 30 - but the show itself hit one too many sour notes as far as this fan is concerned.

It was only an hourlong show, but it left me thinking about shows to come, including the season finale of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." What does that tell you?

About 12,000 contestants showed up, and viewers were "treated" to a smattering of bad singers from Northern California, including one Christopher Mitchell, 19, of Citrus Heights, who was absolutely horrible!

Anyway, just in case you switched over to "The Biggest Loser," or just want to relive the moments, here's my recap of the show.

* Most endearing contestant: This one's easy, and it really wasn't the contestant, but his son. Perry Cataldo of Phoenix is a single father who brought his adorable kid with him. Mom died in 2005, so Perry has been going it alone. His little boy was allowed in the audition room after dad made it through to Hollywood.

* Worst Mariah moment: The honor goes to Valerie Reyes, 20, of Riverside, who was told by judge Simon Cowell that her Mariah CD "had been left out in the sun for a year." When will these folks learn the rules regarding Mariah, Whitney, et al.?

* Most 'that-creeped-me-out' moment: Contestant Samantha Musa, 20, of Baldwin Park, Ca., dragged her Simon-obsessed sister into her audition. While Samantha belted out a pretty decent Aretha Franklin song, the sister was perched on Simon's lap! She even got to vote (natch), making it four "yeses" to send Samantha on to Hollywood. Yuck!

* Most memorable moments: I liked the Aussie Michael Johns, 28, who now croons in L.A. Simon likened him to a "white soul singer." And then there was young David Archuleta, 16, from Utah, who had suffered some form of vocal paralysis, but pulled off a great audition, with Randy Jackson singing with him.

* Most embarrassing moment: Christopher Baker (pictured), 22, of San Diego couldn't get over the fact that the judges just didn't like him. Changing songs didn't help. At one point, Simon put it bluntly: "You and I are listening to two different things."

* Most worthy show stopper: "Idol" always saves either a freak or a swan song for the final audition. In San Diego, it was Carly Smithson, 23, who originally is from Ireland. She auditioned for Season 5 (in Las Vegas with eventual winner Taylor Hicks) and earned a ticket to Hollywood. Alas, Carly's visa didn't come through in time and she was disqualified. This audition, in which she sang "I'm Every Woman," took about five seconds before she got another ticket - and another chance.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), the auditions move back to the East Coast and lovely Charleston, S.C. Prepare for some "drawling" and, if we're lucky, some decent singing.

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As we head into Week 2 of "American Idol," Season 7, it's occurred to me that maybe no one is more invested in the show than me.

That, despite the fact that more than 75 million other viewers tuned in for the two audition shows, which took place in Philadelphia and Dallas, respectively.

But, just when I felt sooo alone, I got an e-mail from Jason Barsky (pictured), host of the local "Wake Up Call" on 107.9 The End, which proves that I'm not the only Sacramento "Idol" geek.

Jason wrote to say that he agreed with me that "AI" contestant Renaldo Lapuz and his original "Brothers" anthem (sung at the Dallas audition) might earn him the same kind of "fame" as "She Banger" William Hung.

"Was it kind of ridiculous? Yes. That is a typical theme of our (radio) show," Jason says. "We typically spend a lot of time talking about 'American Idol.' "

In fact, just last week, Jason and crew interviewed ousted contestant Pauley Nipple, who crooned that "stalker" song to judge Paula Abdul. Keep in mind that, because the auditions actually happened last August/September, folks like Jason have had plenty of time to set up interviews with the, er, losers.

"Pauley was pretty outrageous," Jason says in his e-mail. "He seemed like a pretty good guy. His personal Web site, www.paulpiano.net, actually has some very funny content on it."

Jason warns, however, not to view the site with the kiddies around.

On Tuesday night (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), "American Idol" broadcasts its only West Coast stop - in San Diego. Socal is a relatively quick Southwest flight from Sactown - might we see someone local make it through to Hollywood?

I'll be watching! Jason, too. Tune in to the "Wake Up Call" to see if he and the gang continue to agree with the 21Q assessment of "Idol."


January 18, 2008
Don't play games with hair

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One of my biggest concerns about the impending sports-filled weekend is that sports "widows," who have no interest in basketball, football or any ball for that matter, will wander into their favorite supermarket or drugstore and start perusing the hair-care aisle, possibly for something to do while their significant others are glued to the tube and a tub of wings.

OK, I'm all for hair color - no one loves it more than me. That said - unless you're a home hair-color pro, or you have "virgin" hair, i.e., you've never had any color applied to your hair - picking up a box and locking yourself in the bathroom to avoid the gridiron is not generally a good idea.

What can happen? Well, the color on the box might not end up being the color on your head. In other words, you might have a color disaster on your hands, er, hair.

Most local salons are closed Monday (it's also a holiday), so you could be stuck with a bad dye job and no recourse until Tuesday. That's when you could end up floating a loan to pay for a color correction - some salons charge as much as $100 or more an hour!

For all that trouble, you could pick up two or three fashion magazines at the store instead and sift through them for hair-color ideas. All the spring looks are starting to appear, and this way, you won't have any hair regrets Sunday night.

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Fox

Day 2 of the Season 7 "American Idol" auditions landed us - and the contestants - deep in the heart of Texas, specifically Dallas, Wednesday night. And it didn't take long to grow weary of the phrase, "Everything's bigger in Texas!"

Of course, there were also the incessant references (both in dialogue and song choice, particularly the annoying "Never Again") to Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson, who hails from Burleson, Texas, but made it through from Big D.

And, unless I heard it wrong, only 13,000 showed up for this cattle call, including a former meth addict, Jessica Brown, 24, of Longview, Texas, who is now a cleaned-up mother of two. She did well enough to make it through to Hollywood, even though we might have heard our first "pitchy" critique from judge Randy Jackson.

At least Jessica's past won't come back to bite her when they do the background checks. There's nothing left to tell.

Meanwhile, from Sweetwater to Grand Prairie to Killeen, contestants tried to snag a yellow ticket, many of them warbling so badly I was losing my sense of humor. There were some high notes, particularly from (natch) the country music stylings.

Anyway, for those of you who want to re-live the auditions - or happened to miss the show - here's my recap:

* Most likely to like herself: Alaina Whitaker of Tulsa, Okla., was quick to make the comparison between herself and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood. "I look like her, sound like her, but with a wider range," she announced. The judges let her through, but Simon Cowell was quick to quip, "I don't think you're as good as you think you are."

* Most sheltered contestant: Yikes, that would have to be Bruce Dickson, 19, who showed up with his father - both of them wearing necklaces that made reference to young Bruce's confession that he had never been kissed. (Think back to Tuesday and Brooke White, who had never seen an R-rated movie.) Bruce says he has the "key" part of the necklace, which fits into the "heart" part his dad wears. When he meets his future wife, then he'll give her the heart - and seal the deal with a kiss. OK ....

But, I digress. We'll probably never know if Bruce ever locks lips with anyone. He can't sing (and was advised by the judges to kiss some girls).

* Most enthusiastic "Ks": That would be Kayla Hatfield, 24, of Campbell, Texas, who was just happy to be there, given a bad car accident that almost killed her. And there was Kady Malloy, 18, of Houston, whose Britney Spears impersonation was dead-on. She also can sing on her own. Both got through.

* Most gross. Period: Hands down, Brandon Green, 21, from somewhere in Mississippi. He revealed to the world that he saves his peeled fingernails, even showing a Ziploc bag to host Ryan Seacrest, who reeled at the collection. Somehow, it came down to judge Paula Abdul, who thought Brandon's "Rich Girl" rendition merited a trip to Hollywood.

* Most worthy of our votes: The very Bill Gates -esque Kyle Ensley, 21, a student at Oklahoma State University, who wants to be governor and, oh, by the way, the next "American Idol." His version of "Somebody To Love" (the Queen cover) reminded Randy of a glee club or some frat boys' choir, but Simon and Paula found Kyle endearing. Me, too.

* Most likely to succeed: Nina Shaw, 24, of Burleson (Kelly's hometown) and Pia Easley, also 24, of Chicago. You might be looking at two Top 24 candidates.

* Most disturbing. Seriously: Douglas Davidson, 27, of Austin, demonstrated an odd warm-up ritual a la Christina Aguillera, and then proceeded to sweat profusely and wander aimlessly in circles. His "Livin' on a Prayer" left Simon wondering, "What the bloody hell was that?" Indeed.

* Most endearing contestant: He didn't make it to Hollywood, but Reynaldo Lapuz (pictured) of Reno showed up in a Sir Walter Raleigh get-up (silver lame cape, white hat and suit) and performed an original song, "We're Brothers Forever," which he sang to Simon. Eventually, the chorus, infectious as it was, took over with Randy and Ryan joining Reynaldo, and Paula "signing" the lyrics for the hearing impaired. Remember, you heard it here - maybe first. Someone, somewhere will turn this guy into the next William Hung.

All in all, 24 tickets to Hollywood were handed out Wednesday night. "Idol" returns Tuesday (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), where the gang lands in Sea World, er, San Diego.

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Fox

Opening night of "American Idol", Season 7, had the usual bag of tricks: freaks, geeks, overly confident bad singers and, hey, even a few melodic voices thrown in for good measure.

What I couldn't believe? That more than 100,000 hopefuls showed up in Philadelphia for a shot at the crown! Now, only a smattering of those got through to the three judges over the course of two days. But still, 100,000?

Despite the turnout, viewers didn't quite turn out as anticipated. According to the Associated Press, an estimated 33.2 million tuned in to Tuesday night's debut - 4 million less than last season. Nevertheless, juggernaut that it is, "American Idol" was still the most-watched show of the TV season -
excluding sports, of course.

The show played out pretty much like it always does, opening with a success story - Joey Catalano - who lost a ton of weight but gained a yellow ticket to Hollywood with a pretty good Maroon 5 cover.

After him, things got a little hairy, literally, and a little uncomfortable. For those who missed it - or just want to re-live it - here's my recap:

* Most embarrassing: Tour guide James Lewis, whose "Go Down Moses" was laughed off by judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. Simon Cowell managed to chew on a pen most of the time.

* Most sincere flop: Temptress Browne, 16, who auditioned while her sick mother waited outside the audition room with the rest of the family. Temptress couldn't handle her Jennifer Hudson song and was reduced to tears. In what seemed like a genuine act of kindness, the three judges dried her tears, gave her a group hug and walked her out to her family, telling them "what a beautiful daughter they had raised."

* Most wacky: Easy. Dubbed "Philly's scariest woman," Alexis Cohen, 23, was glittery and reeked of incense (according to host Ryan Seacrest). Other than being a lot left of center, Alexis got through her rendition of "Somebody To Love" and left with the suggestion that she join a '60s cover band. OK. But, somewhere between getting the boot and being shown the door, Alexis lost it - dropping F-bombs, flipping fingers, attempting an illegal mooning, and vowing to "go for actressing" after her failed attempt at singing.

* Most hair-raising: Hands - and hair - down, it was Ben Haar (pictured), who showed up in a fur cape with some sort of Princess Leia, sultan-like get-up underneath. Instead of just having him go home with some dignity, Paula suggested Ben leave, have his chest hair waxed and come back. So, of course, viewers had to see the hair removal (ouch!) and Ben's return, hairless, but with a body that was – shall we say? - a tad over-exposed to the American public.

* Most likely to win: There were several. I liked Kristy Lee Cook (horse trainer, martial arts guru) from Selma, Ore., and Chris Watson, 20, of Dover, Del. He sang "Follow Me" and easily could have been just as successful on that other reality show, "Make Me a Supermodel."

Out of the whole lot, only 29 contestants made it through to Hollywood, not including any of the "Star Wars" types. Next up? Tonight, "Idol" takes the audition bus to Dallas. I'm sure there will be plenty of bull to go around. Maybe even some more talent. Tune in at 8 on Channel 40.

Your thoughts? Send them to 21Q!

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Bravo

I sure am! Can you believe it's been almost eight months since "American Idol" dropped the curtain on Season 6? And, I must say, I agree with most of the stuff I've been reading from various media sources: This had better be a much-improved version over last year.

I don't want to be sitting here in March or April with another Sanjaya Malakar on my hands, uh, ears. But, according to judge Simon Cowell, whom I spoke with last week on a conference call, viewers can expect a more talented cast of characters.

At least by the Top 12.

Simon, of course, didn't say that the audition shows - which start tonight with the round from Philadelphia (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40) and then continues Tuesday from the one in Dallas - wouldn't have the usual weirdos, including one Pauley Nipple (pictured, and I couldn't make up that name) from New Hope, Pa., who apparently auditions - complete with chest hair showing! - with a love song written just for judge Paula Abdul.

Now, that's always a bad idea, no matter the season.

And, even though he doesn't really appreciate crying jags, Simon says that "tears on 'American Idol' don't do contestants any harm." Hey, just like with political candidates.

I'm hoping enough fans will dive in from the get-go, so we can keep some "Idol Chatter" going here at 21Q. I'll be posting as the show progresses with my thoughts on the talent level, the silliest moments, who Ryan Seacrest hits on, etc. Join the fracas - early and often!

January 14, 2008
An affair from afar

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Associated Press

Her sister basically refers to Carla Bruni as a "man masher." If you haven't caught up with this l'affaire du jour, the brouhaha focuses on French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his girlfriend - supermodel-turned-singer (right!) Carla, whom he's been spotted squiring around the world to exotic destinations while his country's economy supposedly is in the bidet.

From a modeling perspective, Bruni was always a force to be reckoned with on the catwalk. Let's face it, she's a handful no matter who's handling her!

This morning, on the "Today" show, the romance between Bruni and Sarkozy was good breakfast tabloid fodder. There's the two of them, arm in arm, near the pyramids in Egypt, walking through the ruins in Jordan, etc. Word on the street is that he's been invited to Buckingham Palace in March. And you know what that means: separate boudoirs while the queen is watching.

So, will Sarkozy make an honest woman of Bruni? Or will she eat him up and spit him out a la Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger?

Now, I ask you: Why can't we get good stuff like this on the Sacramento political scene? Budget smudget, it'd put us on the global love map!

January 10, 2008
Catwalk contest

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Bravo

Are we ready for yet another reality show about models?

You bet!

The latest comes to us from Bravo: "Make Me a Supermodel" (at 10 p.m. Thursdays.) The hosts are super-duper models themselves, Niki Taylor and Tyson Beckford (pictured), who showed up this morning on "Today" to promote their show.

Hey, I picked up on a trend. Camel hair - big!

But, I digress.

Anyway, the reality show will have 14 wannabe models competing - seven men and seven women. Bravo viewers can help by voting on their favs - a la "American Idol" - during "Supermodel's" 12-week run.

On Bravo's Web site, the term "naked ambition" pops up in a description of the show. Also, as has been my expierence with models, they're quick-change artists, so don't be surprised if you see a little skin. Not much, just a little.

Host Taylor says the show won't be about catfights ("They won't be arguing over Red Bulls"), but will be about catwalk challenges. And, of course, what would a reality show be if it didn't include an exploration of friendships and romance, as the Web site says?

The 14 will compete for $100,000 and a modeling contract with New York Model Management (Think: Elle Macpherson.)

Buckle up - sounds like a wild ride!

January 9, 2008
Best of Blackwell

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I'm baaack! After a hiatus from my 21Q buds, your fashion/beauty/reality show correspondent has returned. And, after spending Tuesday with the erstwhile Mr. Blackwell's worst-dressed list of 2007,
I thought it only fair to let everyone know he didn't think all of Hollywood is a fashion disaster.

So, in fairness to the women of Tinseltown - and beyond - who had their fashion act together in the year past, here are Blackwell's picks for "Fabulous Fashion Independents":

* Reese Witherspoon, Jemima Khan, Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren (pictured), Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes, Kate Middleton, Katherine Heigl and Cate Blanchett.

I can't argue with any of these picks, though I found it interesting that Blackwell had placed Katie's new right arm, Victoria Beckham, at the top of the worst-dressed list. Since the two became BFFs, it sure seemed like Katie was copying many of Posh's looks, including her bob and the gigantic sunglasses.

As for Middleton, Prince William's on-again, off-again girlfriend, seems a bit of a stretch since she loathes the paparazzi and is seldom photographed these days. Guess that tweedy, Welly boot look does it for Blackwell.

Personally, I loved that Mirren made the list. In addition to sweeping last season's major Hollywood awards, she looked every bit the "queen" at all of the events. After all, good style isn't relegated to the Olsen twins. Oh, I forgot, Mary Kate made the worst-dressed list!

Here's to better accessorizing in 2008.


December 13, 2007
Tangles tangles with Aveda

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Have you ever been to an Aveda salon? There's always that lovely smell!

If you've still got shopping to do, especially if you live in Davis, check out Tangles Salon Spa's (630 Second St.) holiday open house tonight from 6 to 8 p.m.

Owner/stylist John Hausler is setting up the shop with all sorts of goodies: free chair massages and, of course, music and refreshments.

Here's my shopping tip: Aveda products will be 15 percent off, and those of you who sign up as Pure Privilege customers (for $10) will receive waterproof makeup bags made from environmentally friendly EVA resin (not PVC).

What's inside? All sorts of good stuff, including Shampure shampoo and conditioner and both Hand Relief and Foot Relief.

Retail manager Marne McGinness also has been busy putting together gift packs, which will be available for $22.

The free chair massage alone - and the Aveda whiff - are worth the walk (or drive).

December 11, 2007
My least favorite word: Old!

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On Monday, I opened a package with a new book titled "How Not To Look Old." The minute I saw it, I felt, duh, old!

That, in spite of the subtitle: "Fast and Effortless Ways To Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better."

The book's author, Charla Krupp, says "Aging sucks!" on the inside jacket. But if looking hip (on a daily basis) is "critical to every woman's personal and financial survival," I'm doomed.

Charla has the cred to write such a tome. She's a veteran beauty and style expert, having done stints on the "Today" show, and she's worked at several fashion magazines, including Glamour and InStyle.

She currently pens a fashion column for More magazine - the publication devoted to women 40 and over. So, I'm definitely her target audience.

However, I'll have to peruse the book some more before I'm sold on it, especially the section titled "10 things you can do in the next 10 minutes to take off 10 years." Does that mean I can leave my desk?!

Charla also wants me to shorten my skirts. But if I do that, I'll have to restock the self-tanner.

"How Not To Look Old" doesn't hit bookstores until Jan. 2, just in time for those obnoxious New Year's resolutions. I vow to eat more black-eyed peas and collard greens in 2008. That's about it.

Anyway, if you're up for it, the book is from Springboard Press, costs $25.99 and contains 232 pages of information.

Looking younger? Priceless!

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Cole Garcia photograph

A standing-room-only crowd of fashion-hungry folks were treated to what can best be described as a "Wow!" show Friday night at Faces nightclub in midtown.

That's when the work of five local designers took to an elevated catwalk at the "Paparazzi & Pumps" show. (I was told more than 700 tickets had been snapped up for the event, which was sold-out.)

If you didn't snag a seat, you were either standing around the stage or watching from overhead - or headed home.

And, yes, there was plenty of "paparazzi" to go around. Photogs and videographers took in every model's step. The show, co-hosted by recording artist T.C. Ellis and an exhuberant, scantily glad Golden, a poet, was fast-paced, even though it took past the 7 p.m. start time to get all the attendees checked in.

The five holiday/winter collections were each unique and, very much like the season-ending finales of "Project Runway," the designers - Tomicko Abella, Dee Aguilar, Monte Christo, Richard Hallmarq and Steven Willey - told stories through their fashions.

For example, Willey's "interpretation" of the colors and whimsy of "Alice in Wonderland" was perfect, opening with a sweet blue and white dress (albeit shorter than what Alice might have worn!). His green, "caterpillar" ensemble was stunning. My personal favorite was the "Queen of Hearts" black leather swing skirt with a red heart on front. Willey turned traditional winter white into something both elegant and holiday-appropriate.

Aguilar's promise of darling dresses for New Year's proved one of the show's highlights. Her attention to detail turned neutral tones, including black and white, into fashions that are sure to sell - and quickly. Perfectly embellished and well-accessorized, Aguilar knows how to finish an outfit from head to toe. Not sure you could wear her dress as modeled? Try them with a pair of jeans.

I haven't seen Christo's work in a few years, so it was a treat to see what he's been up to. I can say that one of the first outfits he debuted - a short sequin ensemble with the back dropped out - was a show-stopper. Christo has a knack for creating the perfect chemise, a silhouette prone to looking sack-like if you're not innovative. Much of what he offered could move comfortably into spring 2008.

Abella stuck to her fashion game plan, and with success. She opted for sexy, flirty fashions for the holidays, including fanciful bustiers and numerous pieces that could easily translate from daytime to nighttime. In particular, her use of embroidery demonstrates a hand-sewn touch that requires time and discipline. Like Aguilar, Tomicko also does the cocktail dress in styles you won't see on anyone else at the office soiree.

The show ended with designer Hallmarq's myriad take on red and black houndstooth. He had given us a sneak preview of one the dresses last week but, on Friday night, he continued the theme with a beautiful mix of styles - using the same fabric. The models get kudos for interpreting the looks in different ways. Only Hallmarq could come up with enough patterns - and ideas - to use up a bolt of material.

(And kudos to the five local salons that particpated. The models' hair and makeup were stunning.)

I spoke with Hallmarq on Saturday, and he was pleased with the show - especially the efforts of all the designers.

"It speaks to their individual strengths and also to how much Sacramento has grown in terms of wanting shows like this and the fashions that result from all the hard work," he says.

As for the collections, he says each designer will decide which pieces will be sold at DV8 Boutique (1050 20th St.) in the Marrs Building.

"I think everything will be ready for customers by Tuesday," he says.

Stay tuned to 21Q: I'll give you updates from the store, as well as hours when the designers' fashions will be available.

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Florence Low/flow@sacbee.com

Well, one thing's for sure. Some of the models for tonight's "Paparazzi & Pumps" fashion show are getting pompadours and ponytails (I couldn't make that up) even as I blog.

Checking in earlier this afternoon with the various local participating salons working on the show's makeup and hair, the hairspray was flying all over town!

And, some good news: As of right now, there still are a smattering of tickets available for the holiday show at midtown's Faces nightclub, 2000 K St. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the show starts at 7.The cost at the door is $15.

A tip: If you can make it to either Prevues Peekaboo Fashions (2417 K St.) or Phoenix Framing & Gallery (enter on 18th Street between L and K streets) before 6, any tickets left will be sold at those two spots for $12.

The show will feature the designs of five local designers - Tomicko Abella, Dee Aguilar, Monte Christo, Richard Hallmarq and Steven Willey (shown above) - plus a bonus show from Prevues. Check out my story about them, which ran Wednesday in Scene.

On Monday, see my review of the show - and how the fashions fared in it - right here at 21Q.

December 7, 2007
Seconds to shop!

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Tomorrow is Second Saturday in Sacramento. And you know what that means: Shopping, shopping, shopping! From downtown to midtown, there will be plenty of hustling and bustling, from art galleries to boutiques, in this monthly artwalk/cool-stuff-to-do event.

For example, Serendipity (5362 H St.) is hosting a trunk show featuring jewelry designer Donna Asch (above) and her PUR_0001.JPGMagnetix magnetic collection (necklace shown). The show is from noon to 4 p.m. at the store, which is next to Selland's Market.

You can then hop on over to Pavilions shopping center, where both Franco Ferrini and Pavilion Salon Shoes have their semi-annual sale underway - just in time to pick up some fancy, schmancy Stuart Weitzman sandals or comfy UGGS for the holidays.

If after that you're not exhausted, head back to midtown for a holiday open house at Le Petit Paris, that fanciful French boutique that sells, well, all things Parisian - handbags, accessories, designer children's apparel, even Paris flea market finds! Owner Tassina Placencia's event will feature a trunk show by another jewelry designer, Carolyn Cozad of Studio Work in Sacramento. Carolyn specializes in one-of-a-kind wearable art using a combination of Thai silver and precious and semi-precious stones.

After all that, you'll be famished, so Tassina will also have French teas and Parisian macaroons for feasting. And music, too, from local musician Eli Ray. The open house is from 6 to 9 p.m. at the boutique, 1221 19th St.

* Meanwhile, if you don't have plans for tonight, the Student Fashion Association at Sacramento State will present their Midwinter Nights fashion show at 7 p.m. in the University Ballroom.

More than 45 models will participate in the show, which will feature the designs of nine Sac State student designers, who are studying apparel marketing and design.

There's no "extra credit" for the show, except that half the proceeds will benefit a worthy cause, the Sacramento Children's Home. Tickets are $5. For more info: (916) 606-3166.

December 6, 2007
Bitten by 'Project Runway'

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Bravo

It's been two weeks since "Project Runway" designer Victorya Hong (shown above) had her triumph in the design-something-for-Sarah-Jessica-Parker's-Bitten-clothing-line challenge.

Despite Wednesday night's fiasco (more on that below), things continue to look up for Victorya. I just got word that her winning outfit for SJP's well-priced collection (nothing is supposed to be over $20) is now available at the Steve & Barry's store in San Francisco.

Bitten1.jpgPictured, the trapeze dress (in burgundy and black) sells for $19.98 and the shrunken vest is $14.98.

This isn't the first time an outfit from a "PR" challenge has made it to store shelves while the competition's still ongoing. In Season 3, the designers worked in teams of three to come up with an outfit for Macy's INC collection in select stores. Angela Keslar won with her three-piece pant, top and cropped jacket ensemble. That outfit made it to the Macy's in Roseville's Galleria. Alas, overall sales were, well, threadbare.

But you can't beat the pricepoint on the Bitten ensemble.

Here's what Sarah Jessica told Bravo after seeing Victorya's dress: "I loved the design immediately when I saw it during my appearance (on the show). And I'm excited Bitten shopers will have the opportunity to add our interpretation of the dress to their closets."

So, get yourself to S.F. Just in case you're wondering, I've been keeping my fashion ear to the ground when it comes to the progression of Steve & Barry's stores. They're opening two this month in San Jose and Hayward, so hopefully, Sacramento isn't far behind.

Oh, and would it to be toooo much to ask for an H&M store as well?

But, we digress.

Back to Wednesday night's show: The remaining 12 contestants were split into groups of three to interpret 12 outdated, horrific fashion blasts from the past (think: shoulder pads, pleather and underwear as outerwear).

It was beginning to look like Victorya was gonna top out. But, despite waaay too much drama between her and teammate/team leader Ricky, both survived to sew another week.


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Bravo/Vivian Zink

Remember the Bravo reality show "Blow Out"?

It first aired during the summer of 2004 (and ran for three seasons). The show centered on Jonathan Antin, a big-time Southern California hairstylist juggling two salons - in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills - while trying to launch his own hair-care product line.

OK, let me jog your memories a bit more. Jonathan liked to handpick his style team and, on the show, one of his real-life stylists was a guy named Brandon Martinez (shown above in a scene from the show).

I always liked Brandon because he was sort of the "rebel" on the show. He rode a motorcycle, had multiple tattoos, loved the night life and could really, really cut hair.

(A quote from Brandon's Bravo bio reads: "I picked the life, man. I got into hair and I hit the jackpot. What do I get to do? I get to dress up, ride my bike, flirt with girls and do their hair.")

Alas, Jonathan and Brandon just didn't click and, ultimately, Brandon was shown the back door.

Well, fast forward to 2007 and Brandon is doing just fine, thank you very much. He's still in the clip business, cutting high-powered coifs from Beverly Hills to the Bahamas. He's worked fashion week in New York and, get this, he's developed his own line of hair-care products, B. The Product.

More importantly, he's coming to Sacramento on Monday!

Brandon will spend the day, from 9 a.m. to about 6 p.m., at Total Beauty Experience (2929 Arden Way). He'll be doing complimentary haircuts - by appointment, of course. That's probably about $200 worth of free scissoring apiece!

"Anyone interested should know ahead of time that Brandon cuts hair dry," store co-owner Debbie McCain tells me. "And his styles can best be described as progressive, contemporary and cutting edge." No pun intended.

If you're not looking to lop off your locks, it might be fun for you to just swing by anyway. Brandon is very entertaining. And you can check out his product line, which Total Beauty Experience is carrying.

Debbie says that the way the event likely will work is that Brandon will line up five "clients" at a time, cut their hair and then have a team of assistants follow up.

For more information or to make an appointment, call the store at (916) 481-7994.

I'll definitely be there because I'm all about the hair!

December 4, 2007
A 'Secret' worth sharing

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Associated Press

You might want to encourage an early bedtime for your tweeners tonight. That's because the annual "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" airs at 9 p.m. on Channel 13.

(That's an hour earlier than in other CBS markets because our local affialiate has an early prime time.)

Anyway, it's an hour of tops and bottoms - and legs. And, from a perusal of some of the pics from the show (which was taped last month), it also looks to be a mix of both bras and Broadway.

There are elaborate sets and musical performances, including singer Seal, who performs with his wife, VS model Heidi Klum (shown above in an AP photo).

And, hold on to your horses: The elaborate production will be marking the TV debut of ... the Spice Girls!

Two things: Here's hoping Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice, can muster up a smile. And here's hoping that Melanie Brown, a.k.a. Scary Spice, has recovered from her runner-up status on "Dancing With the Stars."

BLOG_VICTORIASECRET.jpgCBS executive Jack Sussman told the Associated Press that "this is really an event that's anchored in a fashion show."

"The notion that we pander to men ... is ludicrous," he says. "Maybe 2 percent of our customers are men. Women shop us every day...Guys come in twice a year: Dec. 24 and Feb. 14."

You keep thinking that, Jack. In any case, I have a feeling that some parents' feathers (and there are always feathers on the show) will be ruffled if their little darlings catch a sneak peek of the peek-a-boo fashions.

This year's $10 million show will feature - count 'em - 61 Victoria's Secret outfits worn by more than 20 models. It was staged at the Kodak Theater in L.A., home base for the finale of one of the most family-friendly shows on TV, "American Idol."

Truth be told, I've got a little of the green monster lurking in me. Hey, I'm jealous of those taut tummies and mile-long legs.

But I should knock it off because, after all, it's just underwear. Right?


November 30, 2007
Katie up and down with dos

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Associated Press

OK, before everyone starts with the who-gives-a-flying-fig comments, as a frequent follower of beauty and fashion trends here at 21Q, I just have to ask the question:

Is Katie Holmes under some sort of weird hair spell?

At first, I thought she was trying to channel her inner Victoria Beckham. Now, based on the photo above, where she's shown on the red carpet Thursday in Duesseldorf, Germany, with husband Tom Cruise, I think she's trying to channel her toddler, little Suri.

What do you think?

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Actually, Katie has hair-morphed quite a bit since her engagement to Tom. At that happy event, back in 2005 in Paris, she still had that "Dawson's Creek" look to her. But then, the Cruises and the Beckhams became celeb pals and, next thing you know, Katie was wearing cropped hair much like the signature Victoria "bob."

Hey, I'm all for changing one's hairstyle. I myself do it on a regular basis. There are some people at work who don't recognize me because I keep messing with it.

Anyway, props to Katie for at least smiling through her photo ops. Photos of Victoria B., a.k.a. "Posh Spice," show a woman who never cracks a smile.

November 29, 2007
Lancome lights it up in Sac

IMG_4867-bw.jpgIf you're out and about Friday (in particular, at the Downtown Plaza), the Lancome counter at Macy's will be abuzz. That's because national makeup artist Darias (just Darias, pictured) will be in the store for a huge holiday makeup event.

He and his makeup gurus will be doing makeovers, featuring colors from Lancome's holiday collection, Precious Light.

Now, to get up close and personal with Darius - or a member of his makeup team - you'll need an appointment. I spoke with a Lancome sales associate today, and there are still spots available, especially after lunch. Just call (916) 444-3333, ext. 2358 to set it up.

The Precious Light collection is very, very pretty. And, of course, it features one of the hottest shades of the season, red, as in lipstick. (In fact, I just wrote about red lipstick in Wednesday's Scene section. To check out some buying and applying tips, click here.)

Anyway, Lancome, like many cosmetics lines, also has beaucoup gift sets for the season, featuring everything from skin care to fragrance. This year, for the first time, Lancome is offering something called the "Beauty Box," which is filled with a variety of makeup goodies. It sells for $48.50.

November 28, 2007
Helio races to victory

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My guess is Helio Castroneves was drinking champagne instead of a gallon of milk Tuesday night after winning Season 5 of "Dancing With the Stars" along with partner Julianne Hough (shown in an Associated Press photo). The IndyCar champ hoisted the impressive - albeit cheesy - mirror ball trophy and admitted he was "shocked" he had won.

A couple of weeks ago, I chatted over the phone with Helio, who was ever the gentleman. And he was upbeat even then: "I never thought it would be this much fun. I'm becoming good friends with the other celebrities. The staff is nice. But it's a lot of hard work. However, I've made a commitment to the show for as long as it takes."

(To read the entire interview, click here.)

It was clear that Spice Girl Mel. B. had made a commitment to learning the dances, too. "Me and Maks have come so far. We are not prepared to throw it all away," she said Tuesday night. "We have to win it for all those people that have been voting for us."

But alas, she and her professional partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, came in second. Hunky Maks has been on most of the "Dancing" competitions, and can't seem to get a break. This was as close to winning as he's come.

The talent was definitely there. Mel B. and Maksim narrowly won on judges' points, but apparently lost out on audience votes after their two dances Monday night. (No word from "Dancing" on how the viewer voting broke down.)

One thing's for sure: Marie Osmond's run on the 10-week competition ended quickly Tuesday after she and partner Jonathan Roberts were eliminated at the start of the two-hour show.

No shock there. Even Marie's huge fan base - including her doll collectors - probably couldn't get past that creepy, "Dolly Dearest," "Bride of Chucky"-type performance on Monday. I know I had nightmares about it.

However, Marie was grateful for the experience, saying, "I'm so pleased to be here at my age. It's been like a Cinderella story, with all the hair and makeup and the stepsisters over there (pointing to Mel B. and Julianne).

"I don't care what you say, I am a dancer!"

Then she and Jonathan peformed their last tango in L.A.

I can't remember if the Season 4 finale was a full-blown two hours, but somehow, ABC managed to fill the time Tuesday night with trips down memory lane: We saw fainting, food poisoning, personal tragedies, shocking departures and lots of Kodak smiles.

The nine dancing pairs who were previously eliminated returned for a final twirl on the dance floor. Two of the "stars" - Wayne Newton and Floyd Mayweather - opted out of performing; Wayne because of a medical condition and Floyd because he's worn out from training for an upcoming boxing match. (I just don't think Floyd enjoys dancing.)

And guest singer Celine Dion just had to perform that sappy "My Heart Will Go On." Sorry, not one of my favorites, but the professional dancers did a lovely job "interpreting" it.

Soap star Cameron Mathison did his Superman dance and, as a final gesture, completely took off his shirt. Real-life lovebirds/dancers Sabrina Bryan and Mark Ballas demonstrated chemistry can take on a whole new meaning when you samba.

But, in the end, at about 10:55 p.m., it was just the diva vs. the driver.

Helio's charm and personality appeared to win over the audience. It also helped that partner Julianne won last season's competition with speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno. And she's one incredible choreographer.

Now, I can be honest: Helio was my pick to win, even though it seemed from the start that it was a female star's season to come out on top.

Certainly, Mel B. has nothing to grouse about. "Dancing With the Stars" has brought her and her Spice gal pals a ton of attention.

So too for the entire Osmond family. In fact, I think brother Donny should consider tripping the light fantastic on Season 6.

Because, with the ratings Season 5 pulled in (the show was consistently in the Nielsen top 10), the dancing can't help but go on - complete with spray tans and flimsy costumes!

November 27, 2007
Cinderella's Closet open

Closet.jpgThere are five fairy godmothers running amok over at Sac State - doing good deeds, of course.

The students are participating in a formal dress drive to benefit Cinderella's Closet, an organization that provides free dresses, shoes and accessories to high school girls who otherwise might not be able to afford a fancy frock for a prom or school dance.

According to Sac State, the project originated from an assignment in professor Nick Trujillo's communication studies class. Nick felt it was important that the students do something that will help others.

"I'm very impressed with the students who are working on the dress drive," he says in a statement. "They will make a difference in the lives of many girls who will remember their high school formals fondly."

The drive started Monday and will continue through Saturday. Designated dress collection bins can be found in the Sac State University Union, near Java City, the library circulation desk and the River Front Center. Students also will be collecting gowns in the library breezeway from 4 to 6 p.m. this week and 10 a.m. to noon Thursday.

If you can't make it over to Sac State, but have gowns to give, Second Hand Rose Resale Boutique will accept drop-offs. The store is at 1120 Fulton Ave.

One of the Sac State students, DiAnne Armstrong, says once all the dresses are collected, Second Hand Rose will be the pick-up destination for the girls.

"Gift certificates are given to girls who qualify for financial aid and have at least a 2.5 GPA from 16 area high schools," she says. The dresses, shoes and accessories will be displayed in what's known as the Glass Slipper room.

So don't let midnight strike Saturday without your making a donation. For more info, contact Cinderella's Closet at (916) 487-4500.

November 23, 2007
Gap gets a local cutie

Dylan 4.jpgNow I ask you: Is this the cutest little boy you've ever seen? Yes, I know. All parents think their babies are darling, but Dylan Barnhart is contest cute.

At only 14 months, Dylan, who lives with his family in El Dorado Hills, is one of five little boys selected as finalists in Gap's search for four new faces for its babyGap and GapKids ad campaigns. The casting call elicited more than 800,000 entries, and Dylan made the judges' cut.

His mother, Nicole Barnhart, chatted with me after receiving the good news. "I’m very excited. It's been pretty crazy, so I really haven’t grasped it yet."

The family received a call the week of Nov. 5 to notify them that Dylan was a finalist in the category of babies ages 4 and under. Last Friday, the Barnharts headed to San Francisco for the Gap photo shoot. That's Dylan (left) in one of the outfits selected for his pictures.

Nicole says he was a little overwhelmed by all the attention.

"There were a lot of people fussing over him," she says. "And there were fans blowing and flashbulbs flashing. But he didn’t cry or fuss. He was looking from person to person. He didn't even mind changing outfits a couple of times. Dylan was a trooper."

Gap's description of Dylan, which obviously came from his mom, reads:

"He's a magician in training. He can turn his face and hair red if you give him a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce."

Says Nicole: "He manages to get all the pasta in his mouth, but there's red sauce in every crevice of his face and head!"

Of course, when asked to describe her youngest child, Nicole says he's the cutest thing in the world.

"I love his bald head and his little cinnamon-roll cowlick. He's got a round face and bright blue eyes, which he got from my husband. He's the happiest baby -as long you feed him."

Nicole was prompted to enter the contest after voting in it last year. When she saw the casting call this year, she entered Dylan.

"It's so easy to submit a photo and the prizes are great. Though I never thought I would get a phone call!"

The Barnharts have another child, Kaitlyn, who is 3. The entire family, plus relatives who live in the Bay Area, went to the photo shoot.

The 20 finalists are pictured on the Gap's Web site. Voting continues until Dec. 15. The four winners will be announced Jan. 28 on the "Rachael Ray Show."

What do they get?

A year's supply of babyGap or GapKids clothing and a Kodak digital camera prize pack. You'll also see their cute faces plastered in store windows nationwide early next year.

Nicole is already getting the word out. "I've gotta tell everyone we know. That's why e-mail is a wonderful thing!"

If you'd like to vote for our local toddler, just
click here.

November 21, 2007
Oprah's faves are my faves

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"The Oprah Show"

Oh to be from Macon, Ga., when Oprah Winfrey decides to bestow some of her favorite things on some of its luckiest, happiest citizens!

I caught Oprah's annual "My Favorite Things" show Tuesday. And, as usual, she tricked her audience into thinking she was in Macon as part of a "tour." As she put it, "I was lying my tail off!"

Macon was selected because the city has had the highest viewer ratings since the show went national in 1986. According to Oprah, about 45 percent of the city's populace is glued to her show every day! It also helps that Macon is the birthplace of the kazoo.

Anyway, the lucky Macon fans attending the show were honored with no less than 20 of the most incredible gifts - ranging in price from less than $30 to $4,000! I couldn't help but take note that Oprah always manages to include some great beauty and fashion gifts. But, then again, that's why I'm paid to watch.

Here were some of my favorite things:

* The super-warm, super-cute UGG sweater boots for all the gals in the audience. Love those! And Oprah told them not to wear socks with their UGGs.

* The ToyWatch, which Oprah says both Al Gore and Madonna strap on their wrists.

* And it's not fashion, not beauty, but, oh, how I would have loved to bite into one of chef Sam Godfrey's Perfect Endings cupcakes from Williams-Sonoma, especially the red velvet with white icing, a traditional Southern favorite.

gifts_oft_kai_350x263.jpg*Next: As Oprah puts it, "Bathing is an art form and nobody enjoys it more than I do." So bring on the incredibly scented Kai body butter and body buffer (pictured). I've smelled the Kai fragrance oil and it's to die for, so I know the butter is worth slathering on.

* And what a treat: Oprah handed out the outrageously expensive Clarisonic Skin Care System, valued at almost $200.

* If you can't get to Portugal from Macon, don't worry. Oprah gave everyone a hefty supply of Claus Porto giant soaps, handmade for 117 years abroad.

* And finally, OK, I admit I hadn't heard of designer Rachel Pally, but when Oprah changed outfits and she and her staff modeled these uber-comfy, stretchy tops and bottoms (pictured above) in great colors I had to look them up on the Internet. And hey - guess what? - Nordstrom carries the line!

The show featured FedEx "elves" delivering the goodies to audience members and, yes, a lot of appreciative tears.

But the audience was also treated to something that didn't come in a box: a special holiday performance by Josh Groban, who has a new holiday CD out, "Noel."

Macon, Ga., is one happy city today. Now, if we can only get Oprah to fall in love with Sactown. It's gotta be one of her favorite things!

November 20, 2007
'Dancing' and disaster

DANCE.jpgFor two of the remaining four couples on "Dancing With the Stars," last night was a perfect night out on the dance floor.

Of course, I'm speaking of Spice Girl Mel B. and her professional partner, the devilish Maksim Chmerkovskiy (pictured left in an ABC photo), and the always-smiling Helio Castroneves and his bubbly partner (and the show's best choreographer) Julianne Hough.

Both couples earned 30 points for each of their two dances and would appear destined for next week's "Dancing" finale.

But hold your quicksteps: Reality TV has been anything but predictable this fall. (I'll get to "The Bachelor" in a moment.)

Marie Osmond pretty much had most of the Osmond brothers she could manage to get front-row seats for sitting in the front row for her mambo with partner Jonathan Roberts. Marie pulled out all the stops on this dance, paring down her overly ruffled skirt to pretty much fringe at the end and concluding the dance in her brothers' laps!

At night's end, Marie and Jonathan are only four points (56) from the two couples with perfect scores! Jennie Garth and partner Derek Hough wound up in the middle with a combined 58 points.

So, who goes home on tonight's results show (9 p.m. on Channel 10)? Well, like many "Dancing" bloggers, I'm tired of predicting. Honestly, I think Jennie's lack of self-confidence will be her undoing. (Even partnering with Mickey Mouse last week at Disneyland wasn't much help.) And I'm not sure of her fan base.

But hey, the costumes are getting smaller as the finale approaches!

110716_0193.jpgAnd, speaking of finales, what the heck was up with Brad Womack (pictured right) on "The Bachelor" last stand last night?

Here's one bar owner who probably needed a stiff one after stiffing both of the women he hand-picked as potential brides. Jenni and DeAnna arrived at the oceanside throne hoping for that Chopard diamond Brad snagged earlier that day. Alas, both left in limos - one in tears (Jenni) and one, well, really p.o.ed!

DeAnna had every reason to think she was the chosen one. After all, Brad told her he had already said adios to Jenni. So, that only leaves her, right?

Wrong!

Brad ends up deciding neither woman is right for him. "I'm just not in love with you" - or you. Yikes!

Anyway, he's left sitting on the big hunk of rock, ring in hand. But hey, the show's not over yet. Brad has to return next Monday to face the music, er, wrath of the two rejects. If I were him, I'd let twin brother Chad take the heat.

This all points to the horrific rate of marital success on this show, and its companion reality series, "The Bachelorette." I read on MSNBC.com that, as of last night's finale, there's been only one marriage in 14 - that's 14 - seasons of the two shows.

Can you remember that far back?

It was December 2003, when "Bachelorette" Trista Rehn wed her firefighter Ryan Sutter.

So, all you single girls in Austin, Texas, heads up: Brad Womack is back!


November 19, 2007
Jennie meets Mickey

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AP Photo/Disneyland, Paul Hiffmeyer

If her gig on "Dancing With the Stars" doesn't pan out (read: she gets the heave-ho), actress Jennie Garth might push Minnie Mouse out of the house and take up with Mickey.

Last week in Anaheim, Jennie performed with the big mouse for Disneyland guests in front of Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle (pictured). The taped segment is likely to air on tonight's competition show at 8 p.m. on Channel 10.

The dancing fest is down to four couples: three female stars (Jennie, Mel B. and Marie Osmond) and our favorite speed racer on the dance floor, Helio Castroneves.

Now, is it just me, or has the Osmond family resurfaced and reinvented themselves via Marie's success on the show. The loss of the brothers' and sister's father was indeed painful. But, even before that, Marie and Co. started showing up on everything from "Access Hollywood" to "Extra!"

And then, there was the somewhat uncomfortable moment on a recent Larry King interview in which Larry brought up Marie's son's stint in rehab.

"How did you know about that?" she asked, completely befuddled.

Well, you guys (and gal) are back in the limelight again, and things have changed in medialand since the days of "One Bad Apple" and "I'm a Little Bit Country, I'm a Little Bit Rock 'n' Roll." Now, there's TMZ, YouTube and photographers with really impressive lenses.

Hey, just ask Brit and Paris!

But, back to "Dancing." I think Marie has a really good shot at winning because of her ever-widening fan base. Do I think she's the best competitor? Not really, though I probably couldn't have done the rhumba in that ensemble.

Tonight, the four remaining couples get to perform two dances of their own choosing: one Latin, one ballroom. Remember: keep the heels on the floor when they're supposed to be on the floor! Judge Carrie Ann will be watching!

The results show is Tuesday night at 9 p.m. May the best waltz win!

November 16, 2007
A harvest of goodies

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The Sacramento Harvest Festival is the place to be this weekend if you're looking for gifts or just to experience a one-of-a-kind shopping venture.

And there's good food, too!

The festival has been going on for 35 years. New to the event this year is an organic skin-care line called Isabella's Dream (pictured).

Lisa Dedmore, a Bay Area mom, was eager to find all-natural products for her newborn daughter, Isabella. So, two years ago, fed up with what she found on store shelves, she opted to create her own line, named, appropriately, after her child.

Isabella's Dream contains no harsh chemicals, no synthetics, no parabens (preservatives) and no sulfates. And, because she's always in a giving mood, Lisa donates 5 percent of her overall profits to organizations in the Bay Area that support young folks, including DoSomething.org.

Be sure to stop by Lisa's booth at Cal Expo and sample her "Dream" products.

The Harvest Festival runs today until 7 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors 62 and up, $4 for teens 13 to 17 and kids 12 and under get in free. For more info: click here.

Also, L Wine Lounge & Urban Kitchen, 1801 L St. in midtown, will be the setting for tonight's Red Cross Fashion Rescue, a runway and trunk show plus a silent auction to benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

The show will feature apparel from many of my favorite local boutiques.

Check out the list: Britt Steele Designs, Felicia Strati, Wildflower Boutique, Fuffy J Couture and Four Paws Boutique & Artchestra. And hey, you can even buy right off the racks after the show!

The event is from 7 to 10 p.m. Advance tickets can be purchased up until show time for $10 at any of the participating retailers or at www.brittsteele.com. Can't get them sooner? Tickets will be $15 at the door.

Channel 3's Adrienne Bankert will serve as emcee. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and a no-host wine bar round out the amenities.

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Bravo

Well, I made it to 10 p.m. last night for the debut of "Project Runway Season 4" and, as usual, I wasn't disappointed. Though I didn't see much difference between the 15 designer's old digs (the Atlas) and their new living arrangements at the New Gotham.

It still looks like a dorm to me.

Anyway, personalities abound with both the guys and the girls producing quirky, egotistical, manic behavior. Yeah!!!

From the get go, however, it was Elisa Jimenez, maker of marionettes and a "I'll-do-yoga-in-the-corner" kind of gal, that tells me she will easily becoming either a punching bag for the more self-centered designers - or she'll just return to Jupiter.

The show's first challenge, "Sew Me What You Got," had the 15 contestants racing across Bryant Park in New York toward three tents filled with $50,000 worth of fabric. Host Heidi Klum told them they were to create a frock that demonstrates their personal creativity.

Now, based on my conversation with Heidi and mentor Tim Gunn, I was expecting great things because they called the Season 4 bunch the most talented ever. And, interestingly, they got to work with fabric - expensive, beautiful fabric - not garbage or plastic lawn chairs.

Needless to say, I expected more. There were some winners, including episode winner Rami Kashou, who is truly an experienced designer. (He's worked with Jessica Alba.)

Dress.jpgBut, it was clear from the get go that Simone LeBlanc (shown above), 32, was not connecting with her fabric. Even Tim thought she was headed for a runway crash and burn.

But it was kooky Elisa's turqoise gown with the train wreck train that I thought would have her packing her yoga mat and granola bars and heading home.

However, when a judge utters the words "dull and poorly constructed" - in Simone's case - I knew it would be her one day in, one day out. Judge Michael Kors described the mismatched mess (shown right) as "dressing in the dark." Yikes!

I liked winner Rami's gray silk georgette gown, but agreed with Michael (Kors) that the budding flower was a little too mother-of-the-bride.

And, because TV ratings are so, so important, Bravo announced today that the fourth season premiere of "Project Runway" was the highest rated premiere in the network's history in the 18 to 49 demographic and among total viewers. More than 2.8 million fashion fanatics tuned in.

That said, I'll keep you posted as the show progresses. If you have your own "Project Runway" comments, post them below!


November 14, 2007
Heidi Klum is 'Lucky'

lucky.jpgLucky magazine is, indeed, lucky.

The shopping publication snagged supermodel Heidi Klum for its December cover (shown left). The story is about what she's learned from "Project Runway," which debuts at 10 tonight on Bravo. I spoke to Heidi (and mentor Tim Gunn) about the new season for a story that appears today in The Bee. Click here to read the interview.

In the magazine, Heidi says: “Doing the show ('Project Runway') has given me such a sincere respect for the process of fashion and design. Being a designer is a really hard gig.”

The December cover was shot in L.A., where the 34-year-old model and mother of three perused an assortment of bright, feminine clothes:

“I can sometimes be a little quiet in my personal style. If I’m doing a job, I want to look the part no matter what, but when I’m just dressing for me, I want to feel comfortable and like myself,” she says in a magazine blurb about selecting her outfit for the photo shoot.

She ended up wearing a gold satin crepe "Casida" dress from Dior by John Galliano. And there was the requisite golden, delicious jewelry for ears, neck and arms. The makeup? From Heidi's new beauty collection, now sold at Victoria's Secret.

And, speaking of Victoria's Secret, while it's not holiday viewing for tots, Heidi will appear in the store's lingerie show, set for Dec. 4 on CBS.

I don't about you, but I wasn't going ape over Helio Castroneves' canary yellow suit Monday night.

However, I do feel safe in predicting that he will be looking good after tonight's results show of "Dancing With the Stars."

On Monday's show, his second of two dances with partner Julianne Hough was the quickstep, and he was anything but heavy on the pedals. The IndyCar Series driver drove around the dance floor like he had just hit the fourth turn at Indianapolis - light on his feet, good technique, plenty of teeth.

The fancy footwork earned Helio and Julianne a perfect 30 points from the trio of judges. One of them, Bruno Tonioli, had this comment: "That's what I like to see! The boy from Brazil is going bananas!"

This morning, I got a chance to get in on a conference call with Helio, who has spent the entire two months of "Dancing" in Los Angeles.

Q: How would you sum up your experiences so far on the show?
A: I never thought it would be this much fun. I'm becoming good friends with the other celebrities. The staff is nice. But it's a lot of hard work. However, I've made a commitment to the show for as long as it takes.

Q: What's it like partnering with last season's professional winner, Julianne? How tough is her choreography?
A: I took it as good news that I drew Julianne. She knows everything that it takes to win. I'm not trying to be a professional dancer, just have fun. Her choreography is amazing. Step by step, hopefully we can go all the way.

Q: What's the difference between preparing for dancing vs. preparing for racing?
A: I'm not using my upper body as much for dancing. It's my legs! Unlike some of the other competitors, I haven't lost much weight. Actually, I've gained in terms of muscle. It will help me with the pedals (during racing). I hope I don't have trouble breaking them!

Q: What about those 10s! Do you feel safer now?
A: The 10s blew my mind away. But it's about consistency, not being up and down. The judges push us. And it's certainly not just about the dancing. Sabrina (Bryan) was voted off, and she's a great dancer. The fan base is really, really important, too.

Q: Is it getting easier to learn the dances or more difficult with two a week?
A: I rehearse as long as my feet hold up! I just want to keep going. After I learn the routine, I focus on the details. I think my brain is finally working faster to learn the dances now.

Q: Are you getting ribbing or support, or both, from your racing buddies?
A: The drivers are being very, very nice. They're sending messages and support. Most importantly, they're voting! They're saying, "Man, you're really good." It's great when you hear from Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson (both NASCAR drivers), too.

* My prediction for tonight's results show: Well, Marie Osmond received the lowest number of judges' votes, but she's definitely got a huge fan base. Don't get mad, but I think it might be Jennie Garth's going-away soiree.

The guest performer tonight is Gloria Estefan. The show airs at 9 p.m. on Channel 10.

November 12, 2007
Fashion markswomen

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Olivia Coelho (pictured) is definitely doing her part to keep the Sacramento fashion scene alive and thriving. This fashion maven never slows down!

In addition to owning midtown's Olipom boutique (1115 21st St.), she's now partnered with local designer Trisha Rhomberg to open another boutique, Bows and Arrows, which is about four blocks away from Olipom, at 1712 L St.

(By the way, Olivia is also the founder of Sellout/Buyout, a local fashion market and trade show.)

Bows and Arrows opened its stylish doors Nov. 1 in what can only be described as a cavernous space.

It's huge!

Plenty of room for everything from couches to couture (vintage, that is.)

"The new store is a little more upscale (than Olipom)," Olivia says. "We offer fine vintage clothing - and furniture!"

Both men and women will find an eclectic mix of fashions.

Trisha, who has her own fashion line - Pretty Trashy - and Olivia have big plans for Bows and Arrows.

"We are going to start a buy, sell, trade program," Olivia says, "because we want to stockpile good vintage clothing. Sellers won't have to drive all the way to San Francisco to sell their stuff. They can come here."

A walk through the boutique (the word sounds "small" in comparison to the size of the store) yields darling knitted ponchos, a rack of must-have little black dresses and, if you're searching for boots with a real kick, Bows and Arrows puts feet first.

The high, high hot pink boots that we saw in the window (if they're still there) have that "Wow!" factor.

IMG_2966_3.jpgAnd as I said, Olivia and Trisha are now in the furniture business, too (pictured right). "We're carrying a furniture line by Andrew McGeary and Mark Fahey," Olivia says. "Mark used to own a store called Time Bandits. The line is quite beautiful - sort of mid-century modern with a Hotel Regency style from the '60s and '70s."

Oliva certainly has turned things around since a devastating fire in August 2006 destroyed her original Olipom store in midtown. The new store opened a couple of months later, next door to husband Mike Rafter's skateboard shop.

In fact, for those of you who travel on two wheels, Mike and some of his buddies will be putting in a moped shop in the back of Bows and Arrows. There also will be an art gallery in one of the rooms.

I told you it was big!

Bows and Arrows is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Check it out!


November 9, 2007
It's in the bag

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We all know Parisian women have a keen eye for fashion, so if they're wearing it or - in this case - carrying it, it's worth a mention.

Here in Sacramento, the easiest way to go French with your fashion (without buying a plane ticket) is probably a trip to Le Petit Paris boutique in midtown. Owner Tassina Placencia is constantly going back and forth from Sactown to Paris to bring back the latest trends.

Her latest find? The handmade Un Jour Un Sac (translated: one day, one bag) handbag line (shown above), which has been popular in France for almost 10 years. Un Jour Un Sac was created by designer Francois Renier. The concept is: bags made of paper, fabric or leather that come with interchangeable straps in a mix of colors. So, depending on your fashion mood on a given day, your bag can coordinate with your ensemble.

Tassina says she visited the Un Jour Un Sac boutiques on her last shopping tour to Paris.

"I met with Monsieur Renier at his showroom, where he explained his unique concept to me," she says. "He explained that it's really about playing a game - the game of having fun (while selecting) your personalized bag. With each change of the handle ... you can completely change the look."

Now, your game plan should be to attend Tassina's trunk show at 6 p.m. Saturday to see if Un Jour Un Sac is Sacramento's hottest handbag! (And how could something called "Sac" not be a hit in Sacramento?)

Check it out at 1221 19th St.

Also on Saturday, if you're headed to the Galleria in Roseville, Macy's will unveil several of its newly expanded departments, including the women's INC fashion area and the housewares area. And what better way to mark the occasion than an INC fashion show?

General seating for the free show will start at 1:30 p.m., with the show starting at 2. So, if you're in the store and seats are available, grab one! And here's the bonus for shoppers: All INC apparel will be 20 percent off the entire day.

November 8, 2007
Dressing up, dressing down

APTOPIX-CMA-Awards-Press-Ro.jpgDon't know if you caught Wednesday night's Country Music Association Awards show (all three hours of it!) but, aside from an overwhelming number of performances, including the Eagles (one of my favorites), there must have been two sets of invitations sent out with two different dress codes:

Guys: Wear jeans (holes optional), a cowboy hat (if possible) and a two-day beard (unless your significant other objects), and

Gals: Wear designer gowns (best bet) or something tight.

CMA-Awards-Press-Room.jpgFor example, double winners Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley (shown in AP photos) were a startling contrast in attire. She wore a vintage-inspired, blush-colored tulle Badgley Mischka gown with gold beading and embroidery. He had on, well, jeans and a cowboy hat.

I know it's a little bit country, but the women looked like they were headed to the Oscars and the men to a honky-tonk, though I'm sure those ripped jeans weren't cheap.

Just a thought.

Oh, and I found out via the wires this morning that it's been six years - that's right, six - since a woman or female group has been nominated for the prestigious entertainer of the year award. (Kenny Chesney won it for the second consecutive year.) You gotta go back to 2001, when the Dixie Chicks were nominated to find any women on the list.

Talk about your dude ranch!

I think my "American Idol" winner Carrie should have at least been nominated this year. Oh, and by the way, she once again thanked the show that got her all this country fame and fortune.

Way to go, Carrie!


November 7, 2007
Pre-'Project' show

Project-Runway-tv.jpgI like to keep the lines of communication wide open between me and the folks at Bravo. That's because some of my favorite shows (read: on fashion) are on the cable network.

Anyway, as I mentioned Tuesday in a Scene story, the four-disc DVD of "Project Runway Season 3" is out, with the fourth season set to launch next Wednesday. (I'll have an interview with the show's Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum that day, also in Scene.)

But, enough of that. Check this out: The Bravo folks tell me that, for the first time since the show's been on the air, the designers (of Season 4) held a pre-show fashion show Tuesday at Lincoln Center. It was a show for fans of "Project Runway."

It was also a chance for me to catch a glimpse of what some of the designers might have up their creative sleeves. I saw some photos of their work and thought 21Q fans would like to see them, too.

Pictured above is contestant Jack's take on black-and-white prints. Jack, 38, is a Cal grad who went on to the Parsons School for Design in New York. For the past four years, Jack has been the design director at Weatherproof Active Wear.

Project-Runway.jpgAnother designer is Kit, 26, who is from Los Angeles and has spent time soaking up the culture of Florence, Italy. She now designs mostly for private clients. Several of her designs are pictured right.

So, what do you think?

By the way, among the attendees at Tuesday's show was "Project Runway" judge Nina Garcia, along with Tim and Heidi, and the cast of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," which launched its new season Tuesday night on Bravo. (OK, enough about Bravo.)

Except for this: If you want to see a video of the Lincoln Center show, click here.

And, if you just happen to make it over to Bravo's Web site, there's an actual clock ticking down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the Season 4 debut.

Hey, with this whole Hollywood writers strike going on, a fashion competition might just be the TV ticket!


November 7, 2007
Take that!

logofinalsm2il1.jpgSometimes, revenge is a dress best served hot on a catwalk.

That's certainly the attitude of local fashion designer Cyndi Rose.

Cyndi, 24, will debut The Sweetest Revenge clothing line at the stroke of midnight Friday at the Empire Club, 1417 R St. I chatted with her the other day about the inspiration for her collection, and it has everything to do with her desire to make it as a fashion designer - and to send a message to a guy who once did her wrong.

"My company is called The Sweetest Revenge because it was all about finding inspiration from a broken heart," she says. "My boyfriend and I were friends through high school and then we developed a relationship - until he left me in 2004. It was a rocky, rocky breakup."

To top it off, the guy left Cyndi with this parting shot: "You'll never be successful."

So, Cyndi enrolled in the design program at UC Davis. She took a break this year to do her collection, which she's been contemplating and sketching for about three years.

"This particular line is a fusion of club wear with vintage fashion," Cyndi says. "The first part of the collection features the bright pinks, then it progresses until you get to the wines, berries and, eventually, black."

Fifteen models will show the line. And, get this, Cyndi auditioned them by asking if they've ever had their hearts broken or experienced a huge disappointment.

"I was encouraging them to express that, to take something painful and turn it into something beautiful," she says.

Cyndi has big plans for the future: a Valentine's Day collection, for example. And she hopes to start a Sweetest Revenge blog soon.

She says she chose the Empire for her big night because it's a hot party venue and, well, this show is all about celebrating a now-mended heart.

Want to go? Doors open at 9 p.m. Friday. The cover charge is $15 for folks 18 to 20, $10 for those 21 and over.

As for the ex-beau? Cyndi says he now lives in San Diego.

She admits that at one point after their breakup, she headed to SoCal and spent three weeks looking for an outfit, just in case she might run into him!

"I didn't," she says, "but that's when I decided, heck, I've always wanted to be a designer. From that point forward, you can see my ex in my clothes - your exes would want you back if they saw you in them!"


MAJ DERMALOGICA.JPGDuFault's Beauty Boutique in El Dorado Hills isn't waiting for "Black Friday" - you know, that manic shopping day that comes the day after Thanksgiving? - to bust out its holiday goodies.

The boutique, in the El Dorado Hills Town Center (2356 Town Center Blvd., Suite 114), is hosting a holiday reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. What you'll see? A preview of great gift ideas and beauty items.

And hey, there will be co-hosts, including Franco Ferrini Shoes and Mon Bijou Jewelers. 'Tis the season to be charitable, so there will be raffle drawings, too, to benefit the El Dorado Women's Center.

As with most of these open house-type events, food and beverages are a must.

Owner Jeffrey DuFault sent an e-mail saying, "We're kicking off the holiday season in grand style with fun gift items, great food and wine. Most importantly, guests will enjoy the good company of neighbors, friends and local merchants."

See, I told you there would be refreshments!

Some of the featured beauty items, which the boutique carries, will include Jan Marini Skin Research, Dermologica (pictured) and bareMinerals makeup.

While you're there, you just might be enticed to make a beauty appointment. Always pays to think ahead during the holidays. For more info: (916) 933-2233.

I cut out early on Friday to catch “Oprah” because a) I’m probably the only living soul in Sacramento without a TiVo, and b) local stylist Keinya Beasley appeared on the show, which airs at 4 p.m. weekdays on Channel 3.

Keinya, who owns Modern Hair & Day Spa in Rocklin (5961 W. Oaks Blvd.), called earlier in the week to fill me in on the details.

She was asked to accompany celebrity hairstylist and friend Kimberly Kimble,, one of five nationally known stylists asked by the show to come and do 100 makeovers in 48 hours on women (and one guy) in various stages of their lives. The show’s title was “The Great American Haircut.” And, I have to admit, it was pretty great.

The show opened with Oprah whacking off actress Hilary Swank’s hair to donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths campaign for women going through cancer treatments. Then, the celebrity stylists took over. Besides Kimberly, there was Ted Gibson, Rita Hazan, Harry Josh and Ken Paves.

They – and their teams – had their own studio “salons,” where they were met with a host of hair challenges. For example:

* A woman who hadn’t cut her hair since 1974.
* A woman who went prematurely gray in her 20s but wanted a change in her 40s.
* An award-winning teacher whose students were on hand to see her transformation.
* Eric, a.k.a. “The Caveman,” who hadn’t cut his hair or shaved since, well, living in a cave.

There were tons of smiles after the makeovers, mixed with tears. As Oprah put it: “Hair is emotional.”

Some women had their hair cut; some got extensions. But, more than any makeover procedure, the majority of them got new color.

On Saturday, I happened to be at the Laura DuPriest Salon & Day Spa in Roseville. Some of the women getting their hair done had seen the show on Friday and were eager for a possible new look. Yours truly included.

To read more about Keinya's experiences, check out my previous posting. Just
click here.

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When you get a salon exclusive in Sacramento, you simply must brag about it on 21Q. And that's what I found at Mosaic Salon in midtown (2700 J St.)

Owner J.C. Allen stopped by to show off the newest hair-care line that debuts today at her salon. It's the Shu Uemura Art of Hair collection from Japan, and her salon has an exclusive on the 10-piece line, which includes a hair foundation, a shape paste, a silk oil and a micro-fine finishing spray. These are styling and treatment products for both sculpting and holding a look.

So, how did J.C. pull off such a coup?

Well, Mosaic also carries the Kerastase line of hair-care products. In fact, her salon was the No. 1. Kerastase seller back in May, nudging out the salon at Caesars Palace in Vegas!

Kerastase recommended Mosasic to Shu Uemura, and the deal was done.

"Actually, the two product lines pair nicely," J.C. says.

Each product is $30. And, of course, you don't have to be a Mosaic client to test drive the Shu Uemura line. Give them a call at (916) 558-2700.

November 2, 2007
T.J. Maxx bound for Lincoln

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The city of Lincoln doesn't have a T.J. Maxx store. But it will on Sunday. The Framington, Mass.-based company, which touts itself as the nation's largest off-price retailer, will open for business in Lincoln Crossing.

(It will be the 11th store in what's considered the Sacramento market.)

At a whopping 30,000 square feet, the new T.J. Maxx will open its doors at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on opening day. Regular store hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

I didn't realize it, but T.J. Maxx opened its first store 30 years ago! And, with the Lincoln opening, there will something called a "Maxx Moment." In a release from T.J. Maxx, spokeswoman Sonya Cosentini writes: "It's that minute of euphoria when a shopper finds that amazing piece of merchandise at an amazing price!"

Well, heck, bring on the bargains. And get this: Each week, the store will rake in more than 10,000 new items. So no stale merchandise.

* Also this weekend, Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa will be the setting for something called the Dockers Style Sessions, from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. It's an opportunity to check out the new Dockers collection for women, receive mini-makeovers from a Sephora team of makeup artists, and get your fill of hors d'oeuvres.

Style expert Katie Rice Jones, who has appeared on the Style network and the TV Guide Channel, will be at the event, as well as experts from Glamour and Lucky magazines. There are one-on-one style appointments available, esspecially between 3 and 4 p.m.

To RSVP, e-mail dockersrsvp@condenast.com.

The event is free, so if you're up for a fashion-filled Saturday afternoon, check it out! The club is at 1220 Arden Hills Lane.

kbeasley-web.jpgOK, I'm going to see to it that I'm home by 4 p.m. on Friday. Why? Could be that I'm probably the only living soul in Sacramento without a TiVo!

And I simply must catch "Oprah." That's because local stylist Keinya Beasley (shown left in a picture courtesy of Vivian Brassell) will be appearing on the show, which airs on Channel 3.

Keinya, who owns Modern Hair & Day Spa in Rocklin (5961 W. Oaks Blvd.), called to fill me in on the details.

She was asked to accompany celebrity hairstylist and friend Kimberly Kimble, one of five nationally known stylists asked by the show to come and do makeovers on women (and one guy) in various stages of their lives.

(Kimberly's clientele includes Mary J. Blige and Beyonce, and Keinya carries Kimberly's hair-care products and extensions in her salon.)

"At first, I asked Kimberly how long it would take," Keinya says. "And she said, 'Hey, it's Oprah!' So, we hopped on a plane for Chicago on Oct. 14 and started shooting the next day."

Keinya was - to put it mildly - overwhelmed by what the Oprah team had assembled. Each of the stylists - and their teams - had been told to bring everything they had in their hair arsenals.

"We did about 35 of the makeovers, and we had our own salon built right in the show's studio," Keinya says. "These weren't just average women. Some of them were cancer survivors who wanted to look and feel like themselves again.

"In fact, one woman we did was crying after she saw her new look," Keinya says. "She survived ovarian cancer. She told us, 'God saved my life, you saved my hair.' I've never experienced anything like it. I expected it to be great, but it was over the top. We actually changed lives."

Of course, Keinya got to meet Oprah. "She was in the hallway, barefoot and carrying her shoes in her hand. She greeted everyone and said, 'Let's get to work.' "

Oprah herself wielded some cutting shears, I'm told. While checking in on the stylists, Oprah apparently whacked off actress Hilary Swank's locks to donate to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths campaign for women who have lost their hair because of cancer treatments.

"We taped two shows," Keinya says. "In December, Oprah will bring the celebrity stylists back ... to talk about the makeovers, which also included audience members."

Check back here at 21Q for more on that.

In the meantime, because of her experience on "Oprah," Keinya says she now plans to do makeovers in her Rocklin salon at least once a month. For more information, call (916) 663-6255.

November 1, 2007
Change of fashion venue

I just got a call from Cyndie French, whose Magnum Opus Fashion Show - scheduled for Saturday night - now has a change of venue.

"It's now going to be held at the Clarion Hotel (2600 Auburn Blvd.) instead of the Hard Rock Cafe," she says. "Everything is still the same - start time, designers, etc."

If you've already purchased tickets, they'll be honored at the new venue.

The fashion show is an opportunity to raise funds for Derek's Wish Foundation, which Cyndie organized after the death last year of her son, Derek Madsen, from a rare form of cancer.

If you missed my earlier blog on the show, here are the details.

* Doors open at 7, with a buffet dinner to follow.

* There will be at least 10 local designers participating, including RJ Designs, AY Clothing, Nicole Zambolla, Venus Creations and Allen Tram.

* And there will be dancing till 1 a.m.

Tickets are $40; VIP tickets go for $55. They're available at IKON Boutique in Downtown Plaza or at the Magnum Opus Web site. Just click here.

For more information about Derek's Wish Foundation, click here.

BOOTS_UGG.jpg

I don't care what anyone thinks (and you know who you are in The Bee's newsroom): The UGG in UGG boots doesn't stand for ugly. And if you've ever owned a pair, you know it's darn near impossible to go back to stilettos after wearing any of the numerous UGG styles.

If you haven't, here's your chance to check out the latest trends in UGG boots at Franco Ferrini in the Pavilions shopping center, from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday. (The showroom also will be hosting UGG Australia rep Miles Olson, who will be available to answer questions.)

I admit this is a draw, too: In addition to the cute boots, wine and cheese will be served!

So, what are some of the newest UGG styles? Store manager Erica Kazinec lists the Sunburst (shearling on the sides) as a favorite. Another is the Sundance II, which comes in black and can be rolled down. There are wedge UGGs and even versions with prints, such as mosaics. Erica says her store also has an exclusive on the UGG classic short boot in rum raisin.

For more information: (916) 927-3336.

* Also on Thursday, Five Figs Couture in Davis will serve up an evening of fun and fashion, featuring four of the store's most devoted clients modeling the latest fall and holiday apparel.

The event is to benefit Sonrisa Vida Sana, an outreach program that promotes health education for low-income Latino communities, including migrant farmworkers. The program focuses on Yolo and Solano counties; a portion of the evening's clothing sales will go to the grassroots program.

The shoppers-turned-models: Kelly Calhoun, Bonnie Krupp, Ginger Joyce and Lois Sherman.

The event is from 6 to 8 p.m. at the store, 231 E St., Suite 3. Call Ann Kormos, who heads the benefit, for more information: (530) 756-3500.


October 30, 2007
Here come the fashion shows!

I'm kind of blown away by the number of fashion shows that are being put on this fall by local colleges.

To those naysayers who think Sacramento has no style, I say, "Go to a show and check it out!"

I'll be writing about Sacramento City College's upcoming show in Wednesday's Looking Good section in Scene.

In the meantime, here at 21Q, I want to keep you posted on another show, this one set for Saturday and presented by the Sierra College Patrons. It's called "Step Into Fall," and it will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at the Whitney Oaks Golf Club, 2305 Clubhouse Drive in Rocklin. Catherine's Sun River Clothing Co. and Simply Striking will provide the women's clothing; Patrick James will be handling the men.

The group Sierra College Patrons promotes arts and humanities programs at the junior college, in the form of scholarships and grants.

Tickets for the fashion show (and luncheon) are $30 and are available by calling (916) 652-4840. They also can be purchased in the president's office at Sierra College.

October 26, 2007
Fashion - and Cyndie French

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I've been e-mailing and speaking with Cyndie French this week about the upcoming Magnum Opus Fashion Show, which will take place Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Hard Rock Cafe in the Downtown Plaza.

As many of you will remember, Cyndie was part of an incredible series - "A Mother's Journey - that The Bee published last year about her son, Derek Madsen, who was battling a rare form of cancer. Derek lost his battle and now Cyndie, a single mom, is doing great things with a foundation in his honor, Derek's Wish.

"This fashion show means everything to me because it will raise funds to help other families who are struggling with the same thing I went through," Cyndie says. "Plus, it will truly be an exciting evening."

From the looks of the show's schedule, it should, indeed, be a fashionable, fabulous evening.

Here's what's on tap:

* Doors open at 7, with a buffet dinner to follow.

* There will be at least 10 local designers participating, including RJ Designs, AY Clothing, Nicole Zambolla, Venus Creations and Allen Tram.

* And hey, how about dancing and mingling afterward till 1 a.m.?!

Tickets for the show are $40; VIP tickets go for $55. They're available at IKON Boutique in Downtown Plaza or at the Magnum Opus Web site. Just click here.

For more information about Derek's Wish Foundation, click here.

October 23, 2007
Fleet of feet - and safe

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Sacramento Bee/Renee Bonnafon

Now I'll be the first to admit I'm not the "outdoors" type. A brisk walk around the neighborhood is about the extent of my endeavors. But, I'm not oblivious to all the folks who run, jog, bike and hike the streets and trails in our area.

I see them all the time!

That said, you'll be excited to know that, even though it's out of my comfort zone, I'll be writing about how to be safe in what you wear and the equipment you use for nighttime exercising for The Bee's Outbound section on Nov. 1. Lucky for me, there are plenty of experts who know how to do it right.

In the meantime, we've got another week or so of daylight saving time before reverting back to standard time, when the days get really short. To help you get ready: Fleet Feet in midtown (2311 J St.) will be hosting an event at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the store for customers who want to check out reflective clothing and other gear.

It's called the Brooks Nightlife Run & Safety Seminar. The Nightlife clothing collection (pictured above) will be available for perusal. There also will be a raffle, a three-mile run/walk and a safety seminar. If you're interested, give them a call so you can get your name on the list. Call (916) 442-3338.
(If you just show up, you can still get in on the fun.)

By the way, I definitely am into comfort clothing (and comfort food). On Monday, I stopped by Fleet Feet Outdoor for Women (next door to Fleet Feet), and they've got a lot of great sweaters and cute shoes for more casual activities. My favorite items, however, were the Horny Toad label's Cashmoore vest and matching pants.

Maybe I will take up an outdoor sport, after all!

October 19, 2007
Extreme makeover in Davis

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The Purebeauty store in Davis is set to unveil a total makeover of its Oakshade Plaza location, 2191 Cowell Road, on Saturday. And, according to folks in the know, the transformation is phenomenal.

Now, who among us doesn't need a little pampering these days? (I know I do!) And this revamped store is supposed to be the utmost in indulgence.

The refurbishing includes salon stations for hair coloring, cutting and styling as well as a skin-care room. And the retail area will offer new product lines for both skin and hair.

Purebeauty is most proud of something called Beauty Metrix, a computer-based, personalized skin-and-hair analysis system. Want a consultation? Well, you'll find out your skin-oil levels and whether your skin is properly hydrated, which is soooo important in our local environment.

The computer will spit out an "unbiased" recommendation for either skin-care or hair-care products. Pick what you think you need.

Saturday's grand opening is an all-day affair with the following amenities:

* Hot-tool styling techniques (flat irons, blow dryers)
* Skin and hair consultations
* Hair-extension demos
* Color consultations

Customers will receive 20 percent off the price of all purchases Saturday only. Some of the Purebeauty lines include: Pureology, Murad, Bliss, Matrix, TIGI, OPI, Dermalogica and Paula Dorf. For more info: (530) 753-9123.

If you go, post a comment about it. I've got basketball!

October 18, 2007
Dresses to share

AOC_Fashion_BLOG.jpgAfter reading my profile of local designer Steven Willey (pictured left with model Kylie Deen in a photo by The Bee's Autumn Cruz) in The Bee on Wednesday, I received a very nice phone call from Jean Evans of Sacramento.

Jean, who is 81, chatted with me about how she liked the part of the story where Steven and his high school friend had "theme-day" attire when they were in high school at Rio Americano. She found his abundance of creativity quite charming.

She went on to say that her husband, who was a high school drama coach, was always on the lookout for unique apparel to use in his shows, so Jean did a lot of the shopping for him.

Today, she still has quite a few of those show dresses - some more than 40 years old.

"One is a very delicate blue velvet dress with buttons," she says. "I even have a long orange taffeta gown that I've always wanted to wear for Halloween. I wanted to be a witch, but I never got a black cape to go with it!"

Anyway, Jean was hoping that maybe Steven would like to take a look at these vintage dresses, perhaps even retool them for creations of his own. Personally, I wouldn't mind taking a crack at that orange gown myself. Witches are pretty popular this time of year!

To read the Scene story on Steven, click here.


October 17, 2007
Putting new faces on the Gap

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babyGap

Now, who doesn't think their little darling (or darlings, as the case may be) is the cutest kid on the planet?

Well, the search is on! GapKids and babyGap are inviting parents to enter their kids, ages 5 to 12, and babies/toddlers ages 4 and under in the company's second annual casting call. It's a hunt for the 2008 "faces" for the two children's lines.

The contest is on through next Wednesday (Oct. 24). Parents can enter by visiting the Gap's Web site - click here - and access the link to the Kodak Gallery Contest Site. Just upload a cute pic of your cute kid.

Judges will narrow the contest to 20 finalists - 10 babies (five girls, five boys) for babyGap and 10 kids (five girls, five boys) for GapKids. They - along with their parents, of course - will be flown to San Francisco for a photo shoot.

Next month, on Nov. 20 to be exact, America gets a crack at the vote as the pictures are splashed online.

Four winners will be picked. The four (see Jon and Sarah, above, from this year) will be featured in store windows nationwide and make an appearance on Rachael Ray's show. Oh, and there's that added bonus of a year's worth of free duds for the kids.

Fire up the digital camera. Here's for some Sacramento winners!

October 15, 2007
Look ahead to winter

DONCASTER_HANDBAG.JPGLast month, I strolled down the street from The Bee to peruse the fall collection of Doncaster women's apparel.

Beautiful, beautiful clothing! Especially if you appreciate quality fabrics and great design.

Doncaster representatives Marilyn Park and Cathy Taylor showed me everything from jackets to skirts to trousers - and plenty of accessories (like the handbag shown above).

Well, the winter collection is now ready for viewing. So today through Saturday, you can check out what's in store for the months ahead, including must-haves for the holidays.

The trends include: jewel tones to pair with grays and blacks; "statement" coats; high-heel pumps (you can walk in them!); sexy blouses (read: ruffles and bows), and mega-watt metallics.

The Doncaster collection is shown by appointment only at 2015 Q St. Here are the numbers to call to set up a time:

* Marilyn Park: (916) 217-6444
* Cathy Taylor: (916) 529-3038
* Marilyn Parish: (916) 806-9620

furry.jpgDon't let a few raindrops prevent you from making plans for Second Saturday. The Bee's forecast calls for the inclement weather to move out, and that means a good day - and evening - for shopping.

Here's what I see as the best bets:

* Beauty and the Furry Fashion Show: Felicia Strati Boutique and 4 Paws Pet Boutique team for this event, which will feature models of both the two-legged and four-legged variety.

As you can probably guess, this is a popular show (the last one is shown, left, in a photo by John Phillips) that highlights fashions for women and pets. And all for a good cause - Shriners Hospitals for Children.

For a $10 donation, attendees can see the show, visit the VIP tent (wine and hors d'ourves) and enjoy music by DJ Supa C Munky. The models' hair will be done by a new salon, Apartment 19. Other sponsors include Bali Wine Bar and Grill, China Cafe, Revolution Wines, Tirzah's desserts, L Street Lofts, Urban Hound Properties, L Wine Lounge and Urban Kitchen, Zocalo and Restaurant 55 Degrees.

Sounds like eating will be just as big a deal as the fashions. Check it out at 1901 Capitol Ave., starting at 6:30 p.m.

* Happy anniversary: Just down the street from the fashion show, the boutique Le Petit Paris (1221 19th St.), which brings a touch of the City of Lights to the City of Trees, will mark its second anniversary. Owner Tassina Placencia says she's always been inspired by Paris and has "dreamed of bringing a bit of it home."

Tassina now visits Paris several times a year to shop for her store and to lead shopping tours for customers. So what will you find in her shop? Women's and children's designer clothing, designer accessories and toys, and really wonderful-smelling home accents.

The celebration is from 6 to 9 p.m.

* Trunk show: I've been eagerly awaiting this event, a C&C California trunk show. This one will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Serendipity Boutique, 5362 H St.

I checked with the store earlier this week, and they say the plan is to have items we Sacramentans can't easily get our hands on, i.e., cashmere tops and plenty of those comfy layering tees. Don't miss it!

* Tempting offer: Lush Salon & Spa will host a Tempt Me Tease Me fashion show from 6 to 9 p.m. at the salon, 2000 I St. Designer Adrienne Cheng will present her Reject clothing line. The featured artist will be Sol Collective Gallery.

Of course, Lush will be doing hair and makeup for the models with an assist from Spanish Fly Hair Garage. The event is free; the fashion show starts at 8 p.m.

October 10, 2007
What would Holly do?

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Target

When a new ensemble (read: dress and coat) isn't in the budget, what's a gal to do for an instant wardrobe update?

Buy shoes and a purse, of course!

And, starting this Sunday and running through Dec. 16 (just in time for the holidays), Target is teaming with designer Holly Dunlap to launch her Hollywould label of accessories.

This will be the third partnership in a series of limited-time-only accessories introduced by the mass-market retailer. And I predict that you're going to love this one.

There are "day" and "evening" collections, both featuring shoes and handbags. Daytime looks include totes and pouches in shades of tan and denim. Night-time looks include peep-toes, slides and round-toe pumps in punchy colors like red, pink - even black lace! Each are embellished with Holly's signature Hollywould bow. And there are coordinating evening clutches, too.

Each item in the evening grouping is named after a famous actress. The satin peep-toe pump (above) is called "Grace," and the matching ruffle clutch is called "Mansfield."

All the shoes - that's right, all of them - are $29.99 each. Handbags range in price from $19.99 to $49.99.

Got a little black dress? Then these are your must-have accessories!


October 9, 2007
Baubles from Barcelona

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There is soooo much going on during this weekend's Second Saturday that I figured it was my duty to start spreading the word early - and often.

To begin: Carole Koblik, owner of Arareity Jewelry & Art Glass Gallery, will be hosting one of the highlight events. It's a special showing of the Masriera line of artistic jewelry (pictured). The work has been shown internationally, and Carole is super excited to to have the line here in Sactown at her gallery, 1021 R St.

There will actually be a special two-day showing of the Masriera line at Arareity, beginning with private appointments from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday. And then, on Saturday, there will be an open showing from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Carole sent me some background info on Masriera, which is considered an 18-karat gold- and- enamel line reminiscent of the exquisite Lalique collection. The line has been in production since 1839 in Barcelona, Spain. She says Masriera recently was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

And now, it'll be here!

For more information or to schedule a viewing: (916) 446-1535.

October 8, 2007
Get fit!

BRA.jpgAs Breast Cancer Awareness Month rolls along, the delicate subject of getting the right fit (as in bras) is something to think about - along with monthly self-exams.

All this week (through Friday), the Wacoal company is sponsoring Fit for the Cure events at local Macy's stores.

(Research shows that an amazing eight out of 10 women are still wearing the wrong-sized bra. That said, it's not a bad idea to be professionally measured once a year to ensure bra size has not changed. After all, whose bod is the same as it was 12 months ago?)

Here's what you'd get: a complimentary fitting in either a Wacoal, DKNY Underwear or Donna Karan Intimates bra. You'll also receive a monthly e-mail reminder to do a self-exam. Plus, for every woman who participates, Wacoal will donate $2 to Susan G. Komen For the Cure, with an additional $2 for every bra purchased.

Here are times and dates for the events:

* 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at Macy's Arden Fair.
* 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at Macy's at the Roseville Galleria.
* 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at Macy's Sunrise Birdcage.
* 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at Macy's Downtown Plaza.

More news: A store called At Last ... Bra & Lingerie in Town & Country Village (Fulton and Marconi avenues) was recently profiled in Body magazine, which focuses on trends in the intimate-apparel industry. The boutique specializes in high-quality European bras and, of course, the perfect fit.

At Last is also teaming with the Komen foundation with its Buy a Bra for Breast Cancer event this month. For more info: (916) 480-9501.

October 5, 2007
A wedding 'Today' style

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NBC

Weddings - even the ones on TV (real or on soaps) - make me cry. So, as expected, I shed a few tears this morning as NBC's "Today" show threw another of its celebrated outdoor weddings (the eighth) at Rockefeller Plaza in New York.

The couple? Well, they're just about the cutest twosome ever. Cody and Jessica from Mesa, Ariz., (pictured) tied the knot in front of about 100 friends and family members - and probably millions of us watching from home with a cup of coffee in our pjs!

The twist this time around is that the show teamed up with none other than wedding diva Martha Stewart, who helped select all the essentials that America voted on for the big day, i.e., wedding rings, wedding gown, wedding party attire and wedding cake.

Her staff even decorated the reception venue - Tiffany & Co. - for a "Breakfast at Tiffany's"-style gathering after the ceremony. Mini bloody marys and Tiffany's signature pale blue-rimmed glasses filled to the brim with champagne were on the menu.

It was the first time ever the famed Fifth Avenue jewelry store was the site for a reception.

The only thing Martha didn't have a hand in were the honeymoon destinations we voted for. FYI: The lucky couple is headed to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean. Guess they don't need a chaperone, huh?

Jessica and Cody are likely the youngest couple to wed on the morning show. She's 23; he's 22, but it was love at first sight when they met schlepping meat and potatoes at a steakhouse in Arizona.

And, from a fashion standpoint, Jessica was certainly one of the loveliest brides ever. And, because she's young, America picked a Cinderella-worthy strapless ball gown designed by Reem Acra that featured a ton of hand beading and embroidery (you could see it on TV) and a chapel-length train. Heck, Jessica could be the next Cinderella!

The bridesmaids' dresses were in an appropriately fall-like shade of ginger (knee-length) and designed by Watters & Watters. Cody and his stable of groomsmen looked dapper in two-button suits in heather gray cashmere flannel with a white cotton broadcloth shirt and point collar designed by none other than "Project Runway" judge Michael Kors

If you forgot to TiVo or just want more details about the wedding, it will be featured in the winter issue of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, which hits newsstands on Dec. 24.

October 4, 2007
Ushering in new scents

USHER-FRAGRANCE-UNVEILING.jpgGrammy winner Usher (Raymond, pictured) is making the rounds (read: New York hot spots) to promote his new fragrances, appropriately named Usher - for both men and women.

The fragrances will officially launch Friday at all Macy's locations - yes, including those in the Sacramento/Roseville area. And, as if you need extra incentive to take a sniff, introductory gifts will be handed out with a purchase: a black handbag for women and a black duffle for men (while supplies last, of course).

UsherBottleShot.jpgPrices? Usher for women is an eau de parfum spray, which comes in two sizes (pictured) - 1.7 ounces ($52) and 3.4 ounces ($68). For men, there's an eau de toilette spray, also in two sizes - 1.7 ounces ($50) and 3.4 ounces ($65).

Oh, and there's also body lotion ($38) and body wash ($35) to complement the Usher women's fragrance. For men, additional items include an after-shave tonic ($45), after-shave smoother ($40) and a deodorant stick ($16).

The entire Usher line is also available online. Click here.

October 3, 2007
Handbags that help

39015_LBFA07_02_v1.JPGRaise your hands if you need a new handbag for fall.

Aha. That's a lot of you. So make some time on Saturday for an event sponsored by the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary. It's the third annual Helping Handbags Luncheon, which combines style with a heaping helping of heart!

The event features handbags donated from various local - and even international - celebs, including a Prada bag from Joyce Raley Teel and a bag from reknowned photographer Anne Geddes.

KFBK's Kitty O'Neal will serve as the event's emcee as well as auctioneer.

Chairwoman Krista Noonan called to say there would be at least 250 handbags available via both live and silent auctions. At least 95 percent of the handbags are new; the rest are in excellent condition. Also, there will be a wide range of prices.

All of the funds raised will benefit underprivileged women and children in the Sacramento community, so it's definitely worth opening your old pocketbooks to get a new one.

The benefit is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Radisson Hotel, 500 Leisure Lane. Tickets are $40 ($22 of that is tax-deductible) and are available by calling Debi Llata at (916) 397-8350.

Audrey_2.jpgTres, tres, tres chic!

That's what comes to mind when I think of the movie "Funny Face," starring Audrey Hepburn - and a guy named Fred Astaire. Today, the 50th anniversary of the film is marked by the release of a special-edition DVD ($14.99).

From a fashion standpoint, the movie still is relevant. Audrey's character, who works in a bookstore in Greenwich Village, opens in a timeless look: black turtleneck and skinny black pants (which the Gap reinterpreted last fall, by the way.)

But, there are other ensembles Audrey wears that will take your breath away. And, there's a wedding dress, which, if re-created today, would likely cost a fortune.

According to Bee staff writer Bruce Dancis, who reviews DVD releases for the paper, this anniversary version also includes new documentaries on Paris, the fashion industry and "Paramount in the '50s."

To read his complete review, go here.


October 2, 2007
More from Jai

2QEYhiC05.jpgI hope you've set your TiVos (if you hit the sack early) or, if you're a night owl, plan to watch at 10 tonight the first show of the last season of "Queer Eye" on Bravo.

I chatted recently with one of the show's Fab Five (pictured), Jai Rodriguez, who is known as the "culture vulture." That interview appeared today in Scene.

Jai says that being on "Queer Eye" was a life-changing experience that has opened many other career doors. For example, he's doing a lot of other TV/music gigs.

"I've been on a couple of soaps, competed on 'Celebrity Duets' (last September), was a guest star on 'Nip/Tuck,' and I got a record deal (the album comes out Friday)," he says.

Oh, and for you fashionistas out there, Jai is set to work alongside Daisy Fuentes on a program called "The Ultimate Style Show," set to debut next month on, natch, the Style Network.

If that wasn't enough, Jai, who is now 28 and living in L.A. ("I can't believe I'm saying that because I'm a diehard New Yorker"), has grown up, even though he's still considered the "baby" among the Fab Five.

"I saw Carson (Kressley, the fashion guru) out here and he said I was so 'sturdy.' Heck, I've even grown a beard!"

And all that etiquette stuff the Fab Five has been teaching the straight guys since 2003 has rubbed off.

For example:

* On fine dining: "I know what works and doesn't work when it comes to food and wine, but I still have trouble making it."

* On getting into a cab: "The man should enter first so the woman doesn't have to slide across the seat, unless he gets in on the other side."

* On going through a revolving door: "The man goes first so he can push the door open for the woman."

* On bringing a hostess gift: "Don't be offended if you bring a bottle of wine to dinner and it's not served. It might not complement the meal. That's unless you call ahead and ask what's on the menu. Still, the wine might already have been selected. Also, flowers aren't a good idea unless they're already in a vase. You don't want the host to have to stop and cut stems."

* On watching TV: "I love 'Grey's Anatomy' (he has a friend on the show), 'Brothers & Sisters,' 'Heroes' and, of course, 'Project Runway.' "

Jai says he's dying to do a reunion show with his "Queer Eye" teammates, but for now, he'll have to settle for singing the opening theme song for tonight's "Straight Guy Pageant," which airs at 9 on Bravo, preceding the season premiere.

October 1, 2007
Heidi-ho, jewelry lovers!

TSVOpenOct07.jpgI caught quite a bit of fashion maven Joan Rivers' jewelry collection show on QVC over the weekend. (I even bought a leather and gold bracelet!) Loved her other accessories, too, including a croc-embossed handbag and oversized sunglasses.

All this, between taking in a ton of college football games and doing laundry, of course.

Anyway, at 8 tonight, there's yet another chance to shop for baubles. That's because QVC is bringing back supermodel and "Project Runway" host/judge Heidi Klum to unveil the additions to her jewelry line, The Heidi Klum Collection (natch), which is an exclusive for the shopping network (Comcast Channel 9).

The fall must-have? The Love Locket (pictured), for $60. It was inspired by the choker Heidi wore to last winter's Golden Globes.

And attention "PR" fans (and you know who you are), Season 4 mercifully, finally, will launch at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, on Bravo. It's been more than a year since Season 3 debuted, so we're greatly in need of a fashion fix.

Make it work!

October 1, 2007
A runway success!

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Paris in the Fall Photography

Sunday's Foster Youth Education Fund fashion show was a whopping success. Renee Wessels, who was in charge of getting the word out about the event, called Monday to deliver the good news: the show, which drew about 350 fashion-forward attendees, raised more than $40,000 - an all-time record!

"It was such a great show, and we even had 45 kids from Sacramento County participate," Renee says (some of them shown above). "That's also a record number of youth, all wanting to continue their higher education - and have fun at the same time."

This was the sixth annual event for the nonprofit FYEF, which raises funds for foster youth and former foster kids as they pursue higher learning. Funds go directly to the kids and to a program at Sac State called Guardian Scholars. It provides support once the students get to campus. That includes mentoring, tuition, housing, etc.

The fun, fashionable clothes for this year's show at the CSUS University Ballroom were provided by Macy's Sunrise Mall.

Those in attendance included quite a few luminaries: state and county officials, foster-youth backers - even foster families.

If you weren't one of the attendees but would still like to contribute to FYEF, they're still accepting donations at 3323 Watt Ave., Suite 253, Sacramento, CA, 95821.


September 28, 2007
Fall fashion roundup

WORTH.jpgSacramento is becoming quite the fashion scene during the weekends - especially this fall. New collections are being shown, shows are taking place - and people are shopping, shopping, shopping!

Here's a roundup of activities to put on your fashion calendar:

* It's worth it: The Worth Collection, which is a leading luxury fashion company for women, has its winter wardrobe available for previewing in our area. Rep Sonya Wilson is taking appointments for clients to check out the collection at her Sacramento home. The season's must-haves? Wide-leg pants, bowed blouses and, of course, a great black dress like the open-back version shown at left.

And the Worth Collection piles on the accessories, too. Handbags, belts, scarves, shawls, wraps. Sizes are 0 to 20 for misses and 0 to 18 for petites. To schedule an appointment, call (916) 832-3900 or e-mail swilson@worthcollection.com. The winter looks are on preview through Oct. 9.

* On consignment: Placer County is divulging one of its best-kept fashion secrets - Dressing Up Diva, a women's clothing consignment event coming to the county fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday. If you're recycling and rejuvenating your closet, you can sell clothing and accessories and earn 70 percent of the selling price, then turn around and shop for other people's stuff!

Many items will be donated to PEACE for Families, a nonprofit that aids victims of domestic abuse. Divas should head to Jones Hall on the fairgrounds. The event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free!

* You should be dancing: The Foster Youth Education Fund is gearing up for its sixth annual fashion show, "Dancin' in the Streets," at 2 p.m. Sunday in Sac State's University Union Ballroom.

The show will feature foster youth as the runway models. Last year, FYEF (a nonprofit that provides grants for college-bound kids from foster care) donated $20,000 to the Guardian Scholars Program. Tickets for the show are $25 for adults, $15 for students and children 5 and older. Call (916) 335-5485.

September 26, 2007
Happy anniversary!

BROWNHOUSE_2.jpg

Thirty years of fashion (and now fame) is being marked Thursday at Brown House clothing store in Loehmann's Plaza.

Owner Doris Pittell (pictured) is planning a big celebration. I asked her to send me a little history lesson about her boutique. Here's what she says in an e-mail:

"It's grown from humble beginnings in a 'brown house' in South Land Park, selling silk blouses and tennis outfits out of a small den, to a full-service store on Fair Oaks Boulevard selling the latest that fashion in America has to offer."

Doris began buying samples from showrooms in Los Angeles, piling them
in a car and driving back to Sacramento. Now she's such a fashion diva, she jets to New York to check out the latest trends on the runway.

Her store's mantra? "When you want something a little nicer."

I've been in Brown House numerous times and know that Doris has one of the most loyal clienteles in the area. The fashions cover everything from sportswear, daytime (playtime!) to after five.

If you have a chance to stop by Thursday, put your name in a hat for a drawing to win a holiday jacket from Canvasbacks.

And be sure to give Doris a big hug. She deserves it!

September 25, 2007
'Dancing' with style

111108b.jpgI said to myself Monday that I didn't know if I could commit to another season of "Dancing With the Stars."

Would I actually have the time? Could I watch, knowing new mom Samantha Harris would be on maternity leave, leaving her co-hosting job up in the air? Do I really want to see Wayne Newton, er, dance?

Well, at 8 p.m. on the dot, there I was, perched on the couch, wishing I looked good in sequins as the six women contestants competed in either the fox trot or the cha cha. The six men perform tonight.

(Season 2 winner Drew Lachay had stepped in as co-host in Samantha's absence and appeared stiff, which is soooo unlike him.)

Anyway, as usual, the early competition is often painful because the stars are figuring out that this is not exactly the twist. Sometimes they don't click with their professional partners, sometimes they whine (a lot!) and, well, sometimes they simply can't put one foot in front of the other without tripping.

But I was pleasantly surprised by the hoofing capabilities - and the grace - of two of the female stars, Jane Seymour, who at 56 is the oldest female competitor, and a woman they called the "Pride of Provo," Marie Osmond, who turns 48 next month.

Jane and her dance partner, Tony Dovolani (in the ABC photo above) glided in their fox trot - she in a lovely pink chiffon dress with flowing curls, he in a classic tuxedo.

And, while Jane and Tony didn't earn quite as many judges' points as former Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan and her partner, newcomer Mark Ballas, they held their own and I'm rooting for Jane to steal the competition.

That way, there will be more fancy outfits for me to drool over, especially after I found out from former "Stars" competitor Lisa Rinna during an interview before the Emmys that Lisa had pretty much total say in what she wore.

Of course, tonight I'll be watching two-time professional winner Cheryl Burke attempt to lead Vegas superstar Wayne Newton across the floor. At age 65, he'll probably be the sentimental favorite. (Think George Hamilton several seasons ago.)

Nevertheless, let's keep Jane on her feet!

September 25, 2007
They've got a date!

I just got word this morning that the local R.A.W. Design charity fashion show that I've been blogging about not only has a new date - Friday, Oct. 5 - but a new venue.

The event, which had been scheduled for this past Saturday in Cesar Chavez Park in downtown Sacramento, was postponed because of bad weather. Wet fashions are anything but fashionable.

So show organizer Alexis Weber e-mailed me today to say the show will be held at the Sacramento State Alumni Center, 6000 J St. The time remains the same, from 7 to 10 p.m. And Alexis says that if you have already purchased tickets, just hold on to them because they will be honored.

"Thanks for everyone's patience," she writes. "I can assure you that this is a show you don't want to miss out on."

Showcased will be the fashions of five local designers - Shenita Barnes (HyhKlas), Jennifer Schmidt (JennyAngel Co.), Katrina Jones (KJ Diamonds), Kristina York (Berkeley BrownE) and Alicia Brogle (Vanity).

Tickets can be purchased online for $12 here. Or, they'll be $18 the day of the show. A portion of the proceeds will go to Oakland's Children's Hospital.

September 21, 2007
Fashion show shift

Cesar Chavez Park in downtown Sacramento will NOT be the setting for Saturday's R.A.W. Design charity fashion show featuring five local up-and-coming designers. (If this rings a bell, I blogged about this show earlier this week.)

Anyway, show organizer Alexis Weber called me today to say the threat of rain forced a date change - and a change of venue.

The five designers, who I know put a lot of work into their creations, certainly don't want raindrops falling on their heads - or their fashions. And Alexis didn't want to cancel completely and disappoint the folks at Oakland's Children's Hospital, with part of the proceeds from the show to go to them.

The new date is Saturday, Oct. 5. Alexis, who also owns R.A.W. Modeling, says she'll share more as soon as other details are worked out.
Stay tuned to 21Q for updates.

The five designers and their lines: Shenita Barnes (HyhKlas), Jennifer Schmidt (JennyAngel Co.), Katrina Jones (KJ Diamonds), Kristina York (Berkeley BrownE) and Alicia Brogle (Vanity).

September 21, 2007
Happy birthday, Serendipity!

MAJ-FASHION.jpgIt's five candles to blow out on the giant cupcake at Sacramento's own Serendipity Boutique. That's right. Five years open, five years of fab fashions!

But they're not resting on their laurels over there. Even as I post this blog, owner Barbara Lym is walking the walk in New York City, no doubt looking for the hottest fashion trends for next spring. What will she return with?

Anyway, I love a birthday party (as long as it's not my own). And the cherry on top of this cake: 10 percent off everything in Serendipity today and Saturday. Great way to get a jumpstart on your fall wardrobe.

More details: Serendipity is at 5362 H St. (next to Selland's Market). The store is open until 6 tonight, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

* On a hair-raising note: Saturday night is the second semi-final round of something called Hair Games 2007, which features 12 of Sacramento's top salons in a competitive fundraiser to coif the best style - and to raise funds for the Active 20-30 Club, which, in turn, will turn the proceeds over to the Sacramento Children's Fund.

This round of the styling competition kicks off at 9:30 p.m. at the Empire Events Center, 1417 R St. It's being coordinated by Jo Ann Baumert, owner of Bella Toscana Salon. Each participating salon plunked down $300 to enter, plus they're selling 20 event tickets and ponying up a prize basket at their individual salons.

Tickets are $10 (admits two people) and can be purchased at any of the 12 salons: Frumoasa Salon & Spa, GS Hair, Jerry Lee Beauty College, Salon 360, Enchante Grand Salon, Pearl Salon, Beauty Secrets Salon & Spa, Hair Phases International, Space 07, Hair Gone Wild, Chet TJ and Andrea Avilla and Erin Marquez from Carmichael.

The final two rounds will be at the same time, same place next Saturday (Sept. 29) and Oct. 6, with the grand finale on Oct. 20.

What will the winning salon receive? A prize valued at $2,500, five tickets to the 2008 Matrix Destination Event in Viva Las Vegas. And, of course, bragging rights to the best style in town!

September 20, 2007
Shopping for a cause

Retail Sales.jpgMacy's is gearing up for its annual Community Shopping Day, on Friday, Sept. 28. If you've never been, then plan to take the day off because you'll drop after you shop!

This year's theme is "Fashion and Compassion," with more than 65 local nonprofit organizations benefiting from the event, including the Sacramento Philharmonic League. The groups will receive proceeds from sales of the $10 shopping-day tickets, which can be purchased at Macy's.

And, of course, buying a ticket is tax-deductible.

So what else is in it for you, the shoppers? Well, you'll get 10 percent to 20 percent off regular, sale and clearance-priced merchandise. And, hey, that includes designer fashions!

Plus, there will be live entertainment, food sampling, cooking demos and mini makeovers.

I'm getting this info out early because if you buy your $10 shopping ticket by Sept. 27, you can pre-select the items you can't live without. You can then pick up your goodies from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. the day of the event or up to 10 days afterward.

Just FYI: The Sacramento Philharmonic's opening concert of the season, "Michael's 50th With Mahler's 5," debuts Saturday, Oct. 13.

September 19, 2007
Fashion show on Saturday

Cesar Chavez Park in downtown Sacramento will be the setting for Saturday's R.A.W. Design charity fashion show featuring five - count 'em - five local up-and-coming designers.

Their names and their lines: Shenita Barnes (HyhKlas), Jennifer Schmidt (JennyAngel Co.), Katrina Jones (KJ Diamonds), Kristina York (Berkeley BrownE) and Alicia Brogle (Vanity).

The event starts at 7 p.m. (with the actual show at 8), but if I were you, I'd get there earlier because you'll have a chance to mix and mingle with the designers. A refreshment bar will be set up, hosted by Smart Water, Vitamin Water and Go Girl energy drink.

And, in true fashion-show fashion, the first 250 attendees will receive gift bags. Tucked inside? Something special from each of the designers, gift certificates from local boutiques, and salon coupons and samples.

What will you see on the runway? Well, according to organizer Alexis Weber, who also owns R.A.W. Modeling (which is new to us and is sponsoring the show), it's an opportunity "to showcase that Sacramento has mainstream fashion that we can all embrace."

"We don't have to go to the big cities (read: San Francisco) to get high-end tastes in clothing," Alexis says.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at the "red carpet" entrance, which will be set up in the park. And, if you're looking for yet another reason to attend, get this: Part of the proceeds from the fashion show will go to Oakland's Children's Hospital.

To find out more about the show and the R.A.W. Modeling agency, click here.


September 18, 2007
WEAVE wants you

COMPLEMENTX3.JPGIf you're a local stylist or salon owner who's got an itch to give back, WEAVE has an opportunity for you.

The organization, which assists victims of domestic violence, is inviting local salons to get involved in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is October. WEAVE seeks donations of gift certificates for haircuts and colors, waxing, facials, pedicures, manicures, massage and makeup consultations.

If it's a beauty service, they'll take it!

The donations, which will be accepted through Friday, can be dropped off or mailed to WEAVE at 1900 K St. (Sacramento, 95811; attention Angela D'Arcy). The gift certificates will be passed out to survivors throughout October.

Also, salons and spas have the chance to partner long-term with WEAVE in education and outreach programs designed to spot signs of abuse and assist victims in their recovery process. For more information: (916) 448-2321.

* An unrelated fashion note: The Saints Peter & Paul Ladies Guild in Rocklin is selling tickets for its annual luncheon and fashion show, which will be held at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 13 in the church social hall, 4450 Granite Drive. The tickets are $25 each and are available by calling (916) 408-5085.


September 17, 2007
The 'Inside' scoop

photo_deborah.jpgDeborah Norville isn't letting any red carpet fibers stick to her stilettos after the Emmy Awards, which she covered in L.A. Sunday night for "Inside Edition."

She was in Sacramento today promoting "Inside," which she's anchored for almost 12 years and which airs at 7:30 weeknights on Channel 10. Tonight's show? Her Emmy wrap-up.

I caught up with Deborah by phone before she headed back east. (She lives in New York City). We exchanged red carpet verbage. You know, likes and dislikes. Who wowed. Who didn't. Of course, because I wasn't actually in Hollywood, her take on the scene was different from mine. (See my blogs from Sunday night, below.)

"It’s interesting to see everything from the perspective of being on the sidelines," she says. "What you see at home is very structured and polished. You don’t see the chaos in between. And I think sometimes we’re (networks) remiss in not showing that."

"Inside Edition" had two cameras on the carpet, so the stars were usually within reach of at least one interviewer. Deborah says she also keeps her eyes on the stars' publicists, who might be pushing two celebs at you at once - someone viewers recognize and someone they might not.

"We try to be as accommodating as possible, but we only have a finite amount of time to tape," Deborah says. "Cable TV, however, with two hours can end up talking to everyone, including the limo driver."

We also compared fashion notes, and we both agreed that "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria was, well, hot!

"She looked spectacular, and she's no bigger than a pencil," Deborah says. "Eva is also very kind and sweet."

Deborah added that she didn't think "Project Runway" host and supermodel Heidi Klum looked like, er, Heidi Klum.

"There's a softness about her that makes her so appealing across the board. She's both sexy and sweet," she says. "But last night, her makeup artist didn’t do her a favor with the red lips and heavily drawn eyes."

Another trend neither of us liked was long hair that was coifed to look short. Think Heidi and Ellen Pompeo. Waaay too much of a time commitment.

Of course, Deborah got to see the scads of jewelry up close and personal, too, and declared it all to be "unbelieveable." And, yes, it was pretty toasty on the carpet, with a number of publicists looking for tissues to wipe their clients' brows.

Interesting programming note: On Tuesday night's "Inside Edition," the show will profile Estelle Rees-Arroyo who, at age 90, is attending Sacramento State. Bee staff writer Cynthia Hubert 's story appeared in The Bee last week. To read it, click here.

Next up for Deborah? She'll be interviewing presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C.

September 16, 2007
Emmy Fashions: Postscript

EvaLongoria.jpgOK, now that the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards show is almost history, what are my final fashion thoughts?

Well, I thought Katherine Heigl was a winner all around. In a flowing white Zac Posen gown, she radiated - much like Grace Kelly. I loved the red lips, which are a major beauty trend for fall.

Oh, and did I mention she also won best supporting actress for “Grey’s Anatomy?"

Clearly, though, my favorite fashionista was "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria (pictured here in an Associated Press photograph). I don't know if she was glowing because of her sparkly gold cocktail dress - with an open back - or because she's still basking in the glow of being a newlywed.

Smart choice, too. The low-cut back made for a more comfortable evening in the heat.

Lastly, I couldn't be happier to see a no-plastic-surgery-allowed star like Sally Field being "loved" again by audiences. Her strapless Valentino gown was simple yet elegant.

And, hey, isn't it really cool that she's being honored for great acting, too, on "Brothers & Sisters?"

Well, we won't have this chat again until early next year, when the awards season gets nutsy with the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and, of course, the Oscars.

Until then, I'm sticking with my sweat pants. Maybe pink ones!

As the red carpet rolls up and the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast gets started, I want to remind fashion fans that, of course, I'll have plenty of pics from tonight's red carpet in Monday's Scene section.

So, what's the overall feeling?

It was strapless, strapless, strapless!

Many stars turned their fashion sights on the recently wrapped New York Fashion Week to find their ensembles.

Emmys-Arrivals(2).jpg Loved that actress Glenn Close (pictured left, in an Associated Press photo) said she hated the dreaded, "Who are you wearing?" question. "It always sounds like someone's clinging to me!"

My favorite Regis Philbin fill-in-host Neil Patrick Harris quipped about his black-on-black-on-black Prada suit: "Who doesn't want to be a human sauna?"

And, this advice from "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman (also pretty in pink), who mentioned some tips from her book (written with a best friend) about keeping romance going: "If you want to get lucky, fix something!"