Archive for January, 2007

“Idol” judges circle the wagons

After nearly an hour of waiting for the fab three to arrive on stage, critics gathered in Pasadena for the winter press tour finally got a chance to grill Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson about all their recent sins.

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First up was Paula, who has been accused of acting like she was under the influence of more than just the sponsor’s Coca-Colas. And on a satellite interview with the Seattle and Oakland’s KTVU-Channel, she looked as if she’d just ingested more drugs than the Grateful Dead during the entire ’60s.

“I had two different cities in my ear,” Paula says, talking about the way the interviews are done. “I was answering questions to one and didn’t know the other one was on as well. ”

Then Simon took the big step, and told everyone it was his fault that Paula started babbling about moths and melons last year.

“The truth behind that was on the show, Paula said to me, `I genuinely don’t know what I should say.’ So I said – I did make it up – Use the Chinese proverb I use: The moth who finds the melon will eat the cornflake,” Simon says rather unconvincingly.

Even Randy chimed in to say, “He said that to both of us.”

And Ryan Seacrest added, “And I was kind of playing along.”

“I publicly apologize,” Simon says.

And that, my friends, is what people will do to protect a TV show that keeps breaking records.

And about the cola served on stage, Randy wants you all to know it’s just Diet Coke.

Meanwhile, the judges, especially Simon, has been accused of being mean to auditioners who may be mentally challenged.

“I take your point, which is it’s a singing competition and why should I call someone a bush baby,” Simon says. “Truthfully, on auditions or anything you do like this, bad things do happen, and I think that’s why the audience trusts us, that we will show the good things as well as the bad things.”

Actually, most people watch those ghastly audition shows because it makes them feel oh-so-much-better about themselves knowing there’s someone on a lower social and intellectual rung.

After the session, Simon told critics he did reget saying hurtful things, but that people show up for the competition knowing this is all part of it.

As for Jennifer Hudson, the former contestant that Simon helped push out the door, he says he’d love for her to come on the show this season.

“Look, she’s an Oscar contender now. She should come back and gloat,” Simon says.

So, how would Mr. Toxic like to be remembered on his tombstone.

“I think it will say, `Thank God he’s gone,’ ” Simon quips.

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Everybody Loves Chris Rock

Just what in the world does it take to get people to tune into the CW’s hilarious, family-friendly comedy show “Everybody Hates Chris”

During a session during the winter press tour in Pasadena, creator Chris Rock offered up a typical Rock response to that question posed by TV critics.

“Well,” Rock says, “in about a week, I’m going to have Terry run through a club screaming “(the n-word). Gonna generate some buzz.”

Even a Web site like this can print some of the funnier responses Rock had to his questions, including one refering to offering a job to Michael Richards, the actor who hit the headlines for his on stage rant about black in response to hecklers.

“Would I offer a job to Michael Richards? Wow, I don’t know. Probably. I don’t know. I mean, I’d have to make sure all the other non-(n-word)-screaming people didn’t need jobs first. Once they were all working I guess I would have to give him a job.”

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The Divine Miss J

Nothing quite prepares you for the fabulousness of the divine Miss J Alexander who looked like he just stepped off the pages of Men’s Vogue than Glamour.

The elegant J Alexander wore a very traditional tailored black suit with a pink sweater vest and tie when he came out in support of “America’s Next Top Model” Friday at the CW party.

The former model, who towered over the crowd, now teaches models how to walk gracefully in Paris, where he resides when he’s not on “ANTM.”

The Queen of the Catwalk says he understands why viewers didn’t think last cycle’s twin teens Amanda and Michelle should have gotten as far as they did.

“People here want their models beautiful, and they weren’t beautiful, they were interesting, which is more in the European style,” Miss J explains. “Here, people are used to beautiful models like Rebecca Romijn.”

Miss J says she often sees Romijn and her financee Jerry O’Connell and the first time he met the Berkeley native he was shocked to hear her speak Dutch.

“My parents are Dutch, so I speak the language, but I was surprised to find out that she also speaks fluently because she was taught by her father,” Miss J says. “She’s one of the people who are beautiful on the outside and the inside.”

Miss J stuck around the party for quite a while before finally departing a little before 11. He was on his way to see “Dreamgirls.”

“Can you believe it? I haven’t seen it yet,” Miss J says. “And here I was on the runway talking to (the cast) and I felt so bad that I hadn’t seen it yet.”

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“Heroes” learns from “Lost”

Tall, lean “Heroes” creator Tim Kring looks like a tousled haired college professor who has somehow found himself thrust into the spotlight — and not quite knowing what all the fuss is about.

His series about a band of people with various super powers out to save the world — or destroy it — has tapped into the post-911, war-conflicted American zeitgeist. The series returns at 9 p.m. Monday on NBC-Channel 11 with all new episodes and is the standout hit on the struggling network. The series will air 23 episodes this season, and has a full season pickup for the 2007-08 season.

Kring says he was just a dreamy, spacey kind of kid growing up in the working class town of Pittsburg.

“I was a late bloomer, just trying to figure out the meaning of my own life,” Kring says. “I graduated from the only unaccredited high school in California. So I guess I didn’t really graduate, at least officially.”

He says he didn’t do much in high school that would have attracted much attention, and because he couldn’t qualify to go directly into a four-year university, he had to first attend a junior college.

At Allan Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, the closest thing he came to a theater experience was being the photographer for the college’s Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts.

“I once had to walk across the stage and everything with black from the time I started the walk until I got to the other side of the stage,” Kring says of his first and only experience treading the boards. “I don’t even remember the name of the production.”

He went on to UC Santa Barbara, and then entered into the prestigious USC Film School.

Despite a somewhat rocky start, Kring certainly made his mark on television, albeit in a slow quiet kind of way. In 1982, he began a stint as a writer on “Knight Rider,” graduating to such series as “Providence” before creating the solid series “Crossing Jordan.”

“The truth is, I thought I was a huge success when I started making a living as a writer instead of waiting tables. There’s not much else I can do besides writing. I can’t even pound a nail,” Kring says. “When I got my own show on the air, ‘Crossing Jordan,’ I thought I had died and hit the lottery already.”

The interesting thing to Kring, he says, is that whether you are working on a hit show, a solid show or an average show, it doesn’t change the job.

“It’s only when you come to various events (like the Golden Globes or the TV critics press tour) or stand in line at the grocery store and see your show on the cover of magazines that you even notice that your show is a hit and you get that blast. (The popularity of `Heroes’) is still all anecdotal to me, and I’m a little skeptical of it,” Kring says. “The job doesn’t change. You still work in a crappy little office and eat the same lousy craft services food every day. ”

And you work with talented people, like a “Crossing Jordan” writer named Damon Lindelof on the staff.

While writing for “Jordan,” Lindelof was helping create a show called “Lost.”

Kring says he had the luxury of dong shows with people who worked on serialized dramas like “Desperate Housewives,” “24” and “Lost.”

“I had people on my (`Crossing Jordan’) staff who worked on those shows and I talked to them about what worked and didn’t work for their shows,” Kring says. “I knew I didn’t want to posit an ending point, like the ultimate goal of getting off an island, because it was too handicapping to the series.”

Kring says he went out to breakfast with Lindelof, and took long walks with him, sorting through the various problems Lindelof had encountered on “Lost.”

“I knew what he was going through with `Lost,’ so he was the first person I called and bounced everything off of him. He told me to stay away from this, or that he had trouble with that,” Kring says. “There was a lot of cross pollinazation.”

So he created a series with no real end point, and used the formula of “24” in which an obstacle must be overcome through the course of the season.

“This is absolutely a direct response to the audience frustration with `Lost.’ At the end of this season, they will have solved the problem of the nuclear blast, but that only leads them to another problem,” Kring says. “I think it will come as no surprise to anyone that we do save the world. The audience gets the payoff, the mystery solved, each season but there’s still an ongoing battle. And we can tell our stories about the ordinary people caught up in all of this.”

Much more interesting to Kring, and for that matter Lindelof and the “Lost” writers, is how to tell the stories of these characters.

By releasing himself from an ongoing mythology like “Lost,” Kring says he thinks his series will have a longer lifespan.

“For me, it’s much more interesting for me as a writer and for the viewers to follow the characters and how these powers affect their personal lives,” Kring says. “It’s as much fun breaking stories about Greg Grunberg’s character’s problems with his wife as the supernatural stuff. And we can go on forever when the stories we are writing are about people who have normal needs.”

Kring says growing up in Pittsburg gave him a view that might be different from other series’ creators.

“I grew up in a varied community, with a large black and Sicilian population, that might have helped me in casting the series,” Kring says. “It seems strange to cast a show in America that doesn’t look like America.”

As NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly says, Kring came in with a specific show and a specific vision for that show.

“The word vision gets thrown around a lot in this town, and when you see it in someone like Tim, you grab it,” Reilly says. “Minute one when he walked into the door with this series, we knew he had the show in his sight.”

And Reilly wasn’t the only one who knew this show was a potential breakout series.

Danville’s Nancy Tellem, who is the president of CBS Paramount Network Television, says she tried desperately to get this series.

“We tried, but in the end he decided to go with NBC because of his ‘Crossing Jordan’ ties there,” Tellem says.

What about those East Bay ties?

“Believe me, if I thought that would work, I would have played that card,” says Tellem with a laugh.

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“One Tree Hill” in Pleasanton?

The CW’s teen angst show may take root in Pleasanton — at least for one episode.

The TV series starring Chad Michael Murray and Patrick Lafferty about the travails of teens held a contest with the winner getting the series to film an episode in their hometown.

At the presentation in front of critics gathered in Pasadena for the winter press tour, only two videos were shown.

And one was from Sarah Hahn, 20, of Pleasanton. The San Diego State University student explained why the series should show up in P-town.

We’ll wait and see if she’s successful in planting a tree in her backyard. Ok, we’ve now gone too far…

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Zach Braff hearts Oakland

Zach Braff, who does a lovely rendition of “Guy Love” on tonight’s musical episode of “Scrubs,” (watch it below) says he’s been spending a lot of time in Oakland lately.

“I love it there, it’s really beautiful,” Braff says. “I especially love the Oakland hills.”

Braff says since his family, including his brother, moved to the East Bay he’s been spending a lot of time up here.

He says he doesn’t go out much while he’s here, although he would like to catch more theater.

“It’s just a quick commute,” Braff says. “I jump on a Southwest flight and I’m there in an hour. It’s probably faster than trying to get from one end of L.A. to the other.”

Doesn’t he get a lot of people wanting to sit next to him in the cattle car seating of the very egalitarian Southwest Airlines and share a complimentary bag of peanuts with him?

After a bit of an eyebrow raise, he says that no one has ever noticed him before on the flight.

I’m thinking he’s taking those crack-of-dawn flights out when fliers can barely manage to open their eyes wide enough to find their seats.

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A Redwood City moment

When “E.R.” star Linda Cardellini was growing up in Redwood City, she used to see her friend pedaling his bike past her house almost every day.

But it’s been a while since she’s seen Steven Rodriguez until she bumped into him at an L.A. store recently.

“I couldn’t believe it. He’s now a make-up artist here, working for Lorac,” Linda says. “He did my make-up for tonight.”

And she couldn’t have looked lovelier.

According to his online bio, Rodiguez grew up in his mother’s salon. These early influences, the bio says, can be seen in his approach to make-up. “Down to earth and a master of a natural make-up style, Steven gives the celebrity and the stay at home mom the same experience. ”

Oh, and Cardellini says she’s happy fans accepted her storyline, in which she murdered her abusive husband.

“I thought they might turn against me when they found out,” Cardellini says. “But apparently they are fine with it.

As for Steven, he started his career as a freelance make-up artist in San Francisco and has over 12 years of experience in the beauty industry working for Calvin Klein, Issey Miyaki, Ralph Lauren, Sue Debit, Boucheron, Jean Paul Gautier, Clarins, Tart, YSL, Lola, and others.

He is currently working for celebrity make-up artist, Carol Shaw, as a National Make-up Artist for LORAC Cosmetics in Los Angeles; traveling throughout the U.S. educating and training make-up artists. Steven is also involved with many fashions shows in Los Angeles creating and executing looks for the runway.

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Vieira monkeys around

Where in the world was Matt Lauer?

Well, on Wednesday morning he and co-anchors Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry and feature reporter Al Roker took the stage during the TV critics press tour in Pasadena.

“I need to apologize at this point,” Vieira said barely before the first press question was uttered. “Because I can’t get over the fact that I kissed a monkey this morning on the `Today’ show. I initiated it, and, quite frankly, I can’t stop thinking about.”

Don’t worry, a reporter told her later during the panel discussion, we’ve all been there.

“I think that’s what makes this show so wonderful and why I enjoy it so much,” Vieira said. “Because it is a true combination of the silly and the serious.”

And you are about to get so much more of both.

An hour more to be exact.

“Today” pushes into yet another hour of programming come this fall.

“We are pleased to announce that we’re going to be doing a fourth hour,” said Steve Capus, president of NBC News. “We will be launching that in September.”

Vieira won’t be part of that hour, however, because of her contract with “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.” Her contract with that show doesn’t allow her to compete against herself. “Millionaire” airs at 10 a.m., which would be the start of the fourth hour.

“We want there to be a partnership with our stations (to provide some local content),” Capus says. “I think you see that mix all throughout the three hours that exists now. And I think that mix is appropriate.”

If this trend of adding new hours continues, Lauer quips, it may come to the point where he’s starting out the morning programs and then handing the mic over to Brian Williams for the network evening news.

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The Donald (once again) disses Rosie

It’s the story that just won’t die.

Yes, Donald Trump is once again being asked about his feud with Rosie O’Donnell during a press conference for “The Apprentice.” Well, his show is tanking and even Trump apologized to NBC for pumping up ABC’s ratings for “The View.”

So the first reporter asked if the pissing match between Trump and Rosie has crossed the line.

“No,” declares Trump, who takes off on the subject like a derby winner dashing for the finish line.

Trump says all he did was give the reigning Miss USA a second chance after discovering she had a drinking problem, the rosie O’Donnell turned it into a personal smear campaign.

“I have no regrets for exposing her for the person she is. She’s a terrible, disgusting human being who is not very smart and has a lot of problems,” says Trump. “And it will blow up on her.”

Trump says he has watched her attack people over the years, including Kelly Ripa, and he thinks she’s a bully. Tough talk from a guy who has a show where he makes people who lose his challenges sleep in a tent city.

“I think (my image) has been helped (by the feud), ” Trump says. “I think people respect that I fought back. Rosie’s a slob.”

No, Donald. Tell us how you really feel. Better yet, maybe I should quit enabling him.

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Wake-Up Call at “Ugly Betty”

9 a.m. Morning after the Golden Globes. Yeah, the cast of “Ugly Betty’’ really want a group of critics showing up on the set when all they want to do is recover from a night of partying after picking up a win for their show and their star, America Ferrera.

At the entrance, there’s a omelet bar set up for the cast and crew, a little thank you for all the hard work they’ve done, compliments of star Vanessa Williams.

“I had that arranged weeks ago,’’ Williams says later, sitting at her oh-so-cool desk at Mode. Well, at least the set. “I wanted to let everyone know that whether we won or not, we all deserved it.’’

Let’s just mention at this point that the Golden Globe award, which is a major award in this town, looks like a participant’s trophy from a soccer tournament. The base is a heavy white-with-brown marble; with an odd little golden orb at the top looks like a deflated game ball.
When Ferrera came off the stage after her best actress in a comedy win, some obnoxious TV reporter first shunned her then slammed her during the telecast by asking her to comment on the fact that she wasn’t the producer’s first choice for the role.

Huh?

“I didn’t know what to say, because it just stunned me,’’ Ferrera says. “I don’t think that was true.’’

Ferrera is known for being able to turn even the most blasé insider to tears with her heartfelt speeches, and the Golden Globe acceptance speech was no exception.

“I knew I wanted to say something about the show and the character and I didn’t want it to sound contrived,’’ Ferrera says in the same endearing voice cadence of her character. “I didn’t write anything down. I knew that if I got a chance to go up there, I would know from my heart what I wanted to say.’’

Also on the ultra chic white set accented with hot orange was Berkeley’s Rebecca Romijn, who has a big part in tonight’s show (8 p.m. on ABC-7).

“It’s a Golden Globe winning show,’’ says Romijn of her new gig. “Now it’s up to me to ruin it.’’
Romijn’s the new regular cast member on the show, and she say she was going to a lot of meetings with a lot of networks, but this show was far and away her favorite.

“The tone of the show, which has that comedy element, was like my (canceled WB series) `Pepper Dennis,’ ‘’ Romijn says. “They pitched this idea to me, the part of which I can’t reveal yet, and I was sold. It’s nice to be on a team. It’s even nicer to be on a team that wins.’’

Romijn plays the mystery woman who has been hidden behind the bandages, plotting with Vanessa Williams’ character.

“I was watching the show just as a fan and thinking, this storyline is going nowhere. Let’s get on with the real stuff,’’ Romijn says. “Then I got the part and said, hmm, this is a very interesting character.’’

Romijn says she just finished a film with Sissy Spacek titled “Lake City,’’ where she plays a cop with no make-up and her famous blonde tresses dyed brown. She says she has no problem doing that, since she grew up in Berkeley in the days of Birkenstocks and baggy sweats.

“It’s not exactly the fashion capitol of the world,’’ Romijn says with her generous laugh. “I was very average in height until I was about 15 and it was so painful. I remember lying in bed and it just hurting so bad. I had scoliosis because my bones couldn’t keep up it. None of my clothes fit. I used to layer my clothes with long johns just to pad myself. I wore them under my jeans, under everything I wore. No one noticed.’’

Romijn gamely listened to various ideas about her character: That she’s actually the dead editor-in-chief Fay, that she’s someone who just had plastic surgery to LOOK like Fay…the ideas went on.

“Hmmm. Interesting theories,’’ she says, stroking her chin with a playful look on her face.

“You’ll just have to wait. My mom knows, my best friend knows. But I have another friend who calls me 10 times a day asking and I won’t tell her. I probably would if she didn’t care so much.’’
There’s going to be a lot of guest stars popping up this season, but everyone who is a “Project Runway’’ fan is excited to hear that fashion guru Tim Gunn will be one of them. Oh, make it work, Tim.

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