Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment


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In the 1980s and '90s, you could try for cool points by telling people you preferred "The Kids in the Hall" to "Saturday Night Live."

The "Kids" show starred a five-man Canadian sketch troupe and aired on HBO and CBS. Funnier and weirder than "SNL," "Kids" also was better acted. The Kids went deep into character, whether the character was male or female.

The Kids' Dave Foley later starred on "NewsRadio." Scott Thompson , an out gay comedian when there were few others, appeared in loads of television shows after "Kids," as did Kevin McDonald, the troupe member who looks a bit like Horshack from "Welcome Back, Kotter." McDonald also played a worse-for-wear Harry Potter in "Epic Movie."

Thompson and McDonald have taken to the road together to do stand-up. They will perform, solo and together, Oct. 13-16 at Sacramento's Punch Line Comedy Club (2100 Arden Way, suite 225, Sacramento).

Tickets to the "Two Kids, One Hall" shows are $29-$32.50. For tickets, see Live Nation's site or call the Punch Line at (916) 925-5500.


PHOTO: LIVE NATION

By Dante Geoffrey

dgeoffrey@sacbee.com

The fifth season of "The Twilight Zone" is available for the first time on Blu-ray today.

The new release contains all 36 episodes in high definition, previously unreleased bonus features and a plethora of guest stars, including Martin Landau, Jack Klugman and William Shatner.

The bonus features offer fans a behind-the-scenes look at the classic TV show. They include audio commentaries, video interviews and conversations with show creator Rod Serling.

MILLANCESAR_300x300.jpgBy Max Ehrenfreund

mehrenfreund@sacbee.com

Tickets will be available Friday for dog psychologist and pop culture idol Cesar Millan's visit to Sacramento this September.

Millan is the star of "Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan" on National Geographic WILD, now in its seventh season. He is also the author of several books, including two bestsellers. He has appeared on "Oprah" and on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and has been parodied by "South Park."

He will speak at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 11. There's no word yet on how many members of his pack will be traveling with him.

Photo of Cesar Millan, courtesy of Mills Entertainment

Five local dancers from a Roseville dance studio have made it to the callback round of auditions for the Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance."

Keith Turk, 29, Emily Tsunekawa, 19, Josh Williams, 22, Rashad Best, 19, and Conrad De Chabert, 23, all of whom train at KAST Performing Arts, will soon be heading to Las Vegas, where they'll vie for a spot on the show, said Summer Turk, co-owner and co-artistic director of the studio.

Seven of the studio's dancers originally auditioned for the show. Having five dancers from one studio make it this far is noteworthy, Turk said.

By C.M. Anderson

canderson@sacbee.com

Television producers are casting an outdoor adventure show based in Wyoming and are seeking young people who are up to the challenges of fishing, hunting and outdoor survival.

They are selecting 13 youths from across the country, and they will be at the Sportsman's Warehouse, 6640 Lonetree Blvd., in Rocklin from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday to screen applicants. A parent or guardian must fill out a brief questionnaire, and producers will interview the youth on camera for about 10 minutes. The parent or guardian may also be interviewed.

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By Leigh Grogan
lgrogan@sacbee.com

My absolutely most favorite "American Idol" winner - Season 7's David Cook (pictured) - will have a major role on this year's show. "Idol" announced today that Cook's cover of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" will be the farewell song as contestants are eliminated. The song was chosen by "Idol" creator and exec producer Simon Fuller.

You know the tune: The original is the Simple Minds' 1985 hit that also was featured on the popular brat pack flick "The Breakfast Club."

The song will air starting next Tuesday when the finalists perform for the first time live. Want to listen to Cook's version? Just click here to visit Cook's website and see the link to preview the song. While you're there, you also can pre-order his upcoming sophomore album, which is due out later this year, and get a free download. The song also will be available via iTunes next Tuesday.

Tonight's results show is at 8 on FOX40.

By Kathy Morrison
kmorrison@sacbee.com

Wednesday night's "American Idol," showcasing the top 12 women, included a lot of good performances, but fewer great ones than the guys delivered Tuesday. Consequently, it's tougher to guess how the voting will go for the five finalist spots.

Lauren Turner, who's been likened to a young Bette Midler, delivered an impressively bluesy version of Etta James' "Seven Day Fool," while Ashton Jones -- who judge Jennifer Lopez says has "all the makings of a diva" -- was sultry and confident with "I've Got Love All Over Me." And Pia Toscano certainly put herself in the running with a blowout "I'll Stand By You" that drew a standing ovation from the judges.

But the others? Hard to say -- I'd take Lauren Alaina and Kendra Chantelle, to make a good mix, and wish the rest a nice trip home. Tonight's results show also will feature the judges' wild card choices.

By Kathy Morrison
kmorrison@sacbee.com

If the 12 female "American Idol" semi-finalists were paying attention Tuesday night, when their male counterparts performed, they surely picked up a valuable tip: Sing your hearts out tonight or you'll be going home Thursday.

The dozen guys were competing for just five finalist spots, and the five could easily be the night's best performers: Brett Loewenstern, Scotty McCreery, Jacob Lusk, James Durbin and Casey Abrams.

You others, even cute Stefano Langone, well, thanks for playing. And anyone who picked a ballad, too bad. That's not going to stick in voters' minds when James is channeling Judas Priest and Casey is blasting "I Put a Spell On You."

Tonight you gotta bring it, ladies.

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By Leigh Grogan
lgrogan@sacbee.com

So my "American Idol" cohort Kathy is taking the day off but e-mails, "Are we done with the overplayed drama? Please!"

It took an eternity (some estimates at 19 hours) for the judges to settle on the Top 24 who will compete live next week for America's votes. The results were delivered in an airplane hangar no less, the knocked-over chair (actually caused by Casey Abrams' exuberance) and JLo's "meltdown" -- which took five makeup people to repair -- are history. And cutting one contestant on her 25th birthday was a squirmy moment.

Hollywood Week was painfully long and, at times, painful to the ears. I don't think this group was groomed enough to tackle Beatles songs, though some were not soooo bad.

Now that all the crying and histrionics are over, maybe we get to enjoy the singing. After all, as Randy Jackson is want to emote: "This is a singing competition."

Of the Top 24 (pictured), Kathy likes Paul McDonald, Scotty McCreery, Jacob Lusk and Casey for the guys and Ashton Jones, Naima Adedapo and Julie Zorrilla among the girls. I agree that James Durbin is a wild card -- amazing voice, but too easily out of control. And it's certainly too soon in the competition to compare yourself to Adam Lambert!

A few of the judges' choices are talented but will have a tough time connecting with the viewers, Think: Rachel Zevita, Clint Jun Gamboa and Thia Megia, while a few of the others could just blend into the background: Stefano Langone, Lauren Turner, Pia Toscano and Kendra Chantelle.

There were rumors on some of the entertainment shows that bass-playing Casey has been suffering some sort of stomach ailment and may not be able to perform come Tuesday when the Top 12 guys sing live. That might (a BIG might) open the door for Chris Medina to return.

And, in yet another technological twist, "Idol" will accept online votes. Electronic ballots will be cast on AmericanIdol.com with an assist from the folks at Facebook. They'll be doing the security checks. You can log in through Facebook and vote 50 times during the voting window. Of course, viewers can still vote via toll-free numbers and AT&T texting.

And, next week, I assume we get our first look at the new "American Idol" band after Rickey Minor departed last year to play for Jay Leno's show.

PHOTO CREDIT: FOX

AbbyRike.jpgBy Niesha Lofing
nlofing@sacbee.com

A competitor from "The Biggest Loser" will be the guest of honor at a meet-and-greet and rally Thursday in Ione.

Abby Rike, a competitor on Season 8 of the NBC reality show, will be at Clark's Corner for the meet-and-greet at 6 p.m., then will be sharing her personal story and experience on "The Biggest Loser" during a 7 p.m. rally at Ione Junior High School, according to a news release.

Rike participated in the show in 2009 when she weighed 247 pounds. She had lost her family in a fatal car crash three years prior. While on the show, she lost 46 pounds, then went on to lose an additional 54 pounds.

By Dixie Reid
dreid@sacbee.com

Hundreds of Hollywood hopefuls are gathering in downtown Sacramento to record audition tapes for the NBC show "America's Got Talent."

Singers, dancers and musicians are showing off - and recording - their talents at the Hyundai Store in the Westfield Downtown Plaza. The tapes will be sent directly to the casting director of NBC's "America's Got Talent."

The recording continues Saturday, and registration is required.

There's lots going on out there this three-day Presidents Day weekend, and we've got some suggestions.

Make it an Oscar weekend
The Crest Theater is playing 2011 Oscar-nominated short films on Saturday. Live action films play at 4:30 p.m., animation films at 7:30 p.m. The Crest is at 1013 K Street.
The Crest is also playing Biutiful , which is nominated for best foreign film and best actor (Javier Bardem ), and The Illusionist , nominated for best animated film.
For a full list of Oscar-nominated movies playing in the region - and more Oscar trivia - check out Ticket in Friday's edition of The Bee.

Check out more than books at the Sacramento Public Library
Fenix Drum and Dance Company presents African music, dance, and storytelling for children ages 5-12. 3 p.m. Sacramento Central Library, 828 I St., Sacramento. It's free. For more informatin, call (916) 264-2920.

Get all presidential at the Crocker
The Crocker Art Museum will be open Monday, and in honor of Presidents Day is offering "Patriotic Tours" of artwork that celebrates U.S. history.They're at 10:15 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Kids can work on patriotic art projects from noon-3 p.m. And, the Sacramento Youth Symphony performs at 2 p.m.
The Crocker, at 216 O St., will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Admission is $10 general, $8 ages 65 and older and college students, and $5 ages 7-17. Members and kids 6 and younger get in free. For more information, call: (916) 808-7000

Read more: http://blogs.sacbee.com/ticket/archives/2011/02/c.html#ixzz1EFlotxTT

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By Kathy Morrison
kmorrison@sacbee.com

Whoa -- 327 gold ticket-holders, all told as Hollywood Week began last night on "American Idol." It was a cattle call, after all, just to cut that number to 168!

Thank goodness teen queen Victoria Huggins, 17, gets to take her sweeter-than-honey Southern belle act back home to Lumberton, N.C., (along with her 11 pieces of luggage)but how on earth did Tiffany Rios, 21, make the cut? And crazy Ashley Sullivan, the Britney Spears fan?

I did feel sorry for Nick Fink, whose girlfriend, Jacqueline Dunford, got through but he didn't -- until he started singing/pleading as he went up the aisle out of the theater. Not classy, Nick. And judge Randy Jackson played the past role of Simon Cowell telling him, "One and you're done dude."

Good stories developing with James Durbin, the spike-haired Santa Cruz guy; Chris Medina, with the recovering fiancee; Julie Zorrilla, whose parents fled Colombia; and raspy-voiced Brett Loewenstern, 16, of Florida.

Emily Anne Reed, with the old-timey voice reminiscent of Sactown's Ricky Berger, also got through, though how she's going to go over in the group sing is anyone's guess. That phase, which starts next Wednesday, is always fearsome, and this year should be even more so. Figure four singers per group, that's 42 groups the judges will have to endure. Yikes -- that's a lot of drama.

Your thoughts? Post a comment on how you think Season 10 is rolling out and your faves so far.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Becker/Fox

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By Leigh Grogan
lgrogan@sacbee.com


AHHH! What in the heck was last night's "American Idol" audition junk-et in L.A.? Judge
Jennifer Lopez said it best: "OK, L.A.'s just crazy."

My "Idol" cohort Kathy M. quipped: "Didn't anyone take this seriously?"

From Tynisha Roches, 25, with the wireless mike, chasing Randy Jackson around the room - and scaring the Dawg no less, to Matt "Big Stats" Frankel, the free-lance music producer with "ties" to Chaka Khan, to Cooper "the Human Tornado" Robinson from "somewhere deep" in Arkansas, the auditions melted into a freak show.

And I heard some lingo I haven't been privy to: From "lubricate up" to "They be beefin!" Huh?

Thank goodness for the Gutierrez brothers (pictured), Mark, 28, and Aaron, 27, from Redlands. Their "Lean On Me" was the one example of real talent the whole night, though I'm not sure I'm down with Steven Tyler's assessment that it was "godlike."

The L.A. auditions also were the first to bring in the online contestants who made it through. None particularly impressive. Again, no word on how many golden tickets were handed out. Next Wednesday is - mercifully - the last night of auditions and it's close to home, in San Francisco.

Then, next Thursday Hollywood Week begins. At this point, well over 200 contestants will be involved. It's definitely going to be a cattle call. A one-and-you're-probably-done thing. The previews promise a lot of heartache and tears. And jeers to the judging threesome for putting through sooo many mediocre singers. They'll be regretting that.

Photo credit: MICHAEL BECKER/FOX

By Casey Mar
Special to The Bee

Growing up, Super Bowl Sunday always meant one thing: big ol' party. Friends, some of whom we hadn't seen since the Super Bowl the year before, would converge on the designated host's house with snacks, drinks and families in tow. It never mattered much who was playing. For me, the day was meant for reunions, for eating too much and for yelling at the television for no good reason.

As an adult, I still find the game perplexing - it's not a sport I was reared watching, unlike so many Americans are - but the camaraderie and joviality surrounding the game is something I definitely embrace.

Of the 100 or so bars I've checked out in my two years of Night Life wandering, these are the ones I've found that provide the ideal atmosphere to kick back for the Big Kickoff.

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By Kathy Morrison
kmorrison@sacbee.com

After last night's show, did anyone get the impression that the "American Idol" producers are bored with these auditions? I did. Fifty gold tickets given out in Austin, Texas, yet there were few compelling stories, and even fewer compelling voices.

My favorite was Casey Abrams, 19, from Idylwild, Ca., with his Ray Charles song, "I Don't Need No Doctor." That cute cowboy, John Wayne Schulz, 23, will be one to watch, and the adorable choir couple from Arizona, Jacqueline Dunford, 22, and Nick Fink, 19 (pictured), were fun, but there wasn't much else.

Another crier, Holly Hardin, got through after singing a second song -- she won't last. And, Zap2it.com is reporting Holly also was a previous contestant on "America's Got Talent." Go figure.

And Courtney Penry, 17, who dissolved in a puddle on meeting her dreamboat, Ryan Seacrest, definitely shouldn't have gotten a ticket to Hollywood (on a 2-1 vote, no less).

Tonight, it's on to Los Angeles for more auditions. Hollywood week can't come too soon. By our count here, more than 200 contestants are already booking plane tickets.

Photo credit: MICHAEL BECKER/FOX

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By Leigh Grogan
lgrogan@sacbee.com
My "American Idol" cohort here at The Bee, Kathy Morrison, and I agree that last night's show only devoted an hour to the Nashville auditions, but it was an hour of memorable performances:

We like the singing exes, Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin, who sing well together - and apart. And judge Steven Tyler offered sage wisdom to the duo: "Sometimes the deepest passion comes from friction." Words to love by.

Randy Jackson thought Nashville produced "a lot of highs and lows," including the "Mystery Auditioner" dressed in a blue body stocking and identified only as "?"

Among the highs was Adrienne Beasley, the 22-year-old farm girl, and Jackie Wilson, 28, who went old school with Aretha's "Until You Come Back To Me." Matt Dillard, 27, (pictured) represented the "elder statesman" in a Season 10 that's pushing the youth movement - code for 15somethings.

Dressed in overalls and a straw hat, he also had a touching story about his family's lifetime commitment to foster kids. He also schmoozed the judges, calling Jennifer Lopez "my favorite actress," Randy "my favorite judge" and Steven "my favorite rocker."

Tyler definitely has an eye for a pretty girl: Would Stormi Henley, the former Miss Teen USA, have earned a golden ticket in previous years? JLo chastised Tyler for voting her through: "That might be the smallest voice we've heard in five cities."

Kathy M. shared with me that Lopez is fast becoming her favorite judge for her quips. There, in Nashville's famous Ryman Auditorium, just after the horrible screechy performance by Kameela, she cracked, "You know, the acoustics work, no matter what ..."

The show's now-familiar closing story (you'll laugh or cry or both) was 15-year-old Lauren Alaina from Georgia, who had the judges doing handsprings over her "real, natural, God-given talent." (She didn't seem that extraordinary to Kathy M., but that's what the next level is for, after all.)

After getting her ticket to Hollywood, Lauren brought her family into the audition room and rocked it - with Tyler in tow - to one of her parents' favorite songs, "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." Said Steven outside afterward, "If you've got it, you've got it." Some "Idol" sources say producer Nigel Lythgoe has Lauren already pegged for big things as the season progresses. We'll see.

One omission neither Kathy nor myself caught last night was how many golden tickets were handed out. Does anyone know? Just curious.

Next Wednesday: Auditions in Austin, Texas.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Becker/Fox

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By Leigh Grogan
lgrogan@sacbee.com

On a lunch break, Steven Tyler opened a call today with "American Idol" reporters by forgetting that he was actually on the line and asking, "Should I give a limerick? There once was a man from ..." (I can't print the rest!)

The conference call operator quickly told him he was "live." I love it. Already, before Season 10 of "American Idol" kicks off tomorrow night, Tyler is all about the levity. "Darlings, how are you?" he asked.

Tyler, 62, was a tad bawdy, but takes seriously his chores as one of the show's two new judges. Here's his sneak peek:

Q: OK, so what do you think you can do for "Idol" and vice versa?
Tyler: I'm not going in there to be a overly bearing judge. I'm bringing my Italian, the 40 years of being the front guy of Aerosmith who's judged the hell out of myself and the band. No more, no less. I'm looking for three things: can they sing, are they in pitch and do they have star quality - all folded into one.

Q: The show starts with the audition process. How did that go for you and do you regret any choices?
Tyler: I made some harsh comments the first week (we'll see that the opening nights). Only a couple contestants snapped back, "What do you mean?!" I admit I'm not versed in that type of judging. I couldn't say they were no good without substantiating it.

Q:Has the bad vibe been dialed down between you and Aerosmith? Any regrets there?
Tyler: I show my scars. But I have such an identity with this band. We've been writing. I have songs I've written for solo and Aerosmith. The guys are actually flying in for the show, then we'll be together Saturday. And we've got a tour planned for next November/Decenber that will take us to South America and Japan. he rumors about "Idol" getting in the way are just not true.

Q:Do you think, as a road dog, you can be as sympathetic for the contestant working in a gas station as the guy playing in a roadside tavern?
Tyler: I remember what it was like for me before I was allowed in a club. Those scars gave me character. I want to know where they've sung. In church? Then I know they got a great sense of blues or melody.

Q: One of your songs, "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing," has been performed over and over on "Idol." Do you want a moratorium on it?
Tyler: During auditions at least 15 or 16 contestants sang it. That and a song by Pink. Someone at home must have told them, 'Hey sing that, Tyler will love it!' That song is tough, especially with no accompaniment. But, if any of the Top 20 sing it, it should be good.

Q: How long have you signed up for this gig?
Tyler: I have more than a one-year contract.

One thing's for sure, Tyler isn't a replacement for Simon Cowell, nor should he want to be. He certainly won't be sporting ill-fitting shirts! The show airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday nights on FOX40 (KTLX, Channel 40).

Check back here for audition updates and feel free to comment. Let's get the "Idol" chatter going!

PHOTO CREDIT: Steven Tyler yucks it up with co-judge Jennifer Lopez in L.A. Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

By Chris Macias

Dr. Mehmet Oz ordered, best known as the host of "The Doctor Oz Show," visited Luther Burbank High School today to launch his HealthCorps program in Sacramento.

HealthCorps' mission is to fight childhood obesity at American high schools through health, exercise and nutrition outreach. With help from Mayor Kevin Johnson, HealthCorps is being initiated locally at Luther Burbank High School and Sacramento Charter High School.

The produce from Burbank's garden will ultimately be used in the school's lunch program and donated to homeless shelters.

"HealthCorps is based on two things: good policy and good politics," said Oz. "We were looking for a strong mayor and strong school leadership. Put those things together and you've got the recipe to make Sacramento grow."

Johnson cited Sacramento County as being the state's third most obese county as a reason for recruiting HealthCorps. Luther Burbank and Sacramento Charter High School were chosen for HealthCorps because they were in communities that were among the most in need, said Johnson.

Oz believes that Sacramento has plenty of potential for a successful HealthCorps program, which is being funded locally by the California Walnut Board for $150,000.

"There are very few places around the country that have the access to fruits and vegetables like you do," Oz said in a speech at the school's auditorium. "It's disconcerting to see you so high on the obesity list."

HealthCorps can be found in 41 high schools in 11 states.

teachers.jpgBy Niesha Lofing
nlofing@sacbee.com

English teacher Shannon Maveety might just be the best dressed teacher at Granite Oaks Middle School in Rocklin.

That's because Maveety, 40, was one of seven winners of Jones New York's "Back To School, Back To Style" contest. (Maveety is the second from left shown in the photo. Photo at left by David Russell for The Martha Stewart Show)

The contest winners were unveiled today on the Martha Stewart Show, which airs on the Hallmark Channel.

The annual contest , which was promoted in Martha Stewart Living magazine and garnered thousands of entries, asked readers to nominate deserving teachers for a $1,500 back to school makeover from Macy's and unveiling on the Martha Stewart Show.

Other winners included Heather Silva of Florida, Margaret King of New York, Brigitte Tennis of Washington, Kelly Farrell of Illinois, Kenneth Brown of Missouri and Tavane Moore of Georgia.

Calling all frustrated families: ABC's "Supernanny" wants to help you.

The hit reality show is holding a casting call from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Sky High Sports, 11327 Folsom Blvd., in Rancho Cordova.

Families cast for the show get help from professional nanny Jo Frost, who shows parents alternative ways to discipline their children and regain control of their households -- on camera, of course.

Producers this season are looking for families with "unique interests," a news release from the show states.

Specifically, the show is looking for parents who have extraordinary circumstances, teenage mothers, siblings raising siblings, grandparents parenting, families with multiples, parents with bullying children, culturally diverse parents and blended families.

The release also stipulated that the show also is looking for "ordinary" families.

Interested parents also can apply directly by emailing szeluff@shedmediaus.com or by calling (877) 626-6984.

ABC producers are looking for Sacramento area families to appear on "Super Nanny" and hosting an open casting call Friday.

Families with children, ages toddlers to teenagers, are being sought for the show. The casting call will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at The Children's Place at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville.

The show features Super Nanny Jo Frost, a childcare expert who has helped numerous parents learn how to take control of their children and establish ground rules for the household.

For more information, check out ABC's "Super Nanny" Web site.

Sacramento's Fox40 television was knocked off the air today, the victim of a power outage and blown generator. Power was lost about noon and restored about 3 p.m., but before then, the station's staff posted this video on YouTube.

Fox40 story:Power outage knocks Fox40 off the air


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.



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!

drayton.JPGFox40 (KTXL) anchor Thomas Drayton has confirmed he's leaving the station.

But he can't tell us where. Or exactly when.

OKayyyyyyy,

Seems like Drayton, who currently co-anchors the 10 p.m. news with Donna Cordova, is not at liberty to divulge such pesky details at this time.

Who knew media job switcheroos could be so Secret Spy-like?

Drayton can, however, tell us this The new gig is as the lead anchor in a Top 5 market and he'll be leaving Sacramento the first week of September and, in all likelihood, starting his new job by mid-September.

Although he's excited to take on the new assignment, Drayton said he's sorry to say goodbye to Sacramento and Fox40.

"I had every intention of re-signing (with Fox40)," Drayton said. "But then I was contacted by this station and it was a great opportunity."

Drayton said he'll keep up with Fox40 and its upcoming changes.

"It's an exciting time to be at Fox40 - we're about to launch a new, expanded morning show with a brand new look," he said. "But at some point, you have to decide if you want to continue with what you have or do you want to move on. And now was the time for me to make this transition."

Fox40 news director Brandon Mercer praised Drayton's talents.

"Thomas helped Fox40 get to where we are now and we wish him the best of luck," said Mercer who also confirmed that Fox40 is indeed launching a new morning show in the near future but declined to give the specifics at this time.

Finding a replacement for Drayton will be tough, he added.

"We've got to do an anchor search - to replace him we need to find someone who knows news, someone who's able to ad lib, someone who's authentic and someone who has a voice that (viewers) will respect)."

We'll keep you posted on the details.

June 22, 2006
It's the cheesiest

Well, it's the first week of summer, a time brimming with fresh ideas. But judging by the stories on “Good Day Sacramento,” we've already hit summer's dog days.

So bereft of new ideas - they did the overdone Mentos-in-the-Diet Coke test last week - producers sent reporter Doug Brauner to Lodi fast-food joints to see whether workers would fill his orders right. “It’s really the bane of a lot of our existences,” says Brauner, serious as Sam Shane.

And people say there’s no hard-hitting investigative reporting in the Sac TV market....

Anyway, earlier this week, at 8:45 a.m., Brauner pulls up to the drive-through window at Wendy’s and orders lunch. “I want a classic cheeseburger, no onion, extra pickle.”

Disembodied voice in speaker: “I’m sorry, sir. We’re only serving breakfast.”

Doh!

“This is the problem of working our shift,” Brauner tells anchor Nick Toma back in the studio. “At 4 a.m., I’m looking for filet mignon and scotch.”

Voice in speaker: “Sorry, sir. We have no scotch.”

Brilliant television. I smell an Emmy. No, wait. It’s just the greasy, cheesy odor of fast food.

Later, at a trip to Taco Bell, Brauner orders a quesadilla “with no cheese.” So that would be, what, a tortilla?

-- Sam McManis

Our ethical alarms went off Tuesday when we learned that News10’s Marcey Brightwell was serving as a moderator for an “Ask the Governor” Webcast sponsored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign.

After all, Brightwell is a political reporter, and it’s only natural that the questions on said Webcast would be screened by the guv’s handlers. Is this a blatant conflict, or what?

Absolutely not, says News10 honcho Stacy Owen. “We saw this as an opportunity to tap into what the voters wanted to hear this political season,” Owen writes in an e-mail to 21Q. “Marcey was selecting from numerous questions from constituents, ensuring that the governor was not being handed ‘softballs’ by his staff. She also asked her own follow-up questions, to make sure the voter question was in fact being properly addressed.

“Marcey and News10 agreed to participate in this forum to encourage debate about the issues...Many people will never get the opportunity to ask the governor, or Mr. Angelides, questions directly. Part of our role is to serve as that connector. We have the access, and we want to use it to engage the public."
Owen adds: “We did contact Mr. Angelides’ campaign to give him the opportunity for equal time, and they decided not to respond to this specific event. We also suggested Marcey serve as moderator for a similar voter give- and-take for Mr. Angelides.”

OK then. In any event, the best soundbite was the final question Brightwell asked the Guv:
BRIGHTWELL: I'm sort of hesitant, because it kind of gives me a Barbara Walters flashback to it. But this comes from Mark from Fresno, who says: Governor, if you were a color, what would it be?

GOVERNOR: Probably red, even though this is not my political thinking. When you think of red in Europe, it means communism, socialism and all those things. But I like the color red because it is fire, and I see myself as always being on fire, being charged up, so to speak. So that's my favorite color.

BRIGHTWELL: And by coincidence, the color of News10.

GOVERNOR: There you have it. What a coincidence.

-- Sam McManis

June 21, 2006
Roller skate jams

Fans of the Sacramento Roller Girls - the River City's very own all-girl roller derby league - won't want to miss them on TV tonight. Check 'em at 6:30 on Channel 3.

June 21, 2006
Film at...

This just in: Big changes at News10. Film at ... well, you get the idea.

Gloria Moraga, the managing editor of KXTV’s news operations for the last five years, is leaving the station to become the director for news services at California State University, Sacramento.

Moraga joined News10 in 1995 as a political reporter, and her boss, news director Stacy Owen, says her departure is a blow. “She has a lot of great qualities in a manager we’ll miss, and we’ll be actively looking for someone with similiar qualities to replace her,” Owen says.

So, does that mean News10 will no longer be as “committed and connected” as it claims, ad nauseum, on the air? “Absolutely not,” Owen says. “We’ll be even more so.”

-- Sam McManis



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