New “American Idol” Judge Kara Speaks

Maybe Kara DioGuardi’s keeping her game a secret until she pops on the judges’ panel tomorrow during the New York auditions.

But the press conference just now was a real yawner. “I have no idea” is her favorite phrase. Followed by “I really can’t comment on that.”

I knew it was downhill when she use the term “authentic” when describing singers she likes and she admitted to using “pitchy” when describing a singer. Not good.

“For me what makes a great artist, or what makes an artist, is someone who is unique. Just because you can sing runs doesn’t mean your voice (will make you a star). It’s not about vocal acrobatics, it’s about being unique and being identifiable to you,” Kara said in one of her rare moments of expanding on her answers.

As to what she’s going to bring to “American Idol,” Kara says simply that “I have my own kind of style and people will have to watch.”

Well, of course we’ll watch. It looks like there might be a train wreck coming down the tracks.

But you can’t deny Kara knows what she’s doing in the song department with Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Walkaway,” Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl” and other hits. Check out these YouTube offerings:

Faith Hill’s Greatest Hits single “Lost” performed by co-writers Kara DioGuardi, the newest judge on Fox’s “American Idol” and Mitch Allan, with Dave Hodges on piano.

“Taking Chances” is the title track for Celine’s new album on which Celine sings an official solo version. Fox’s new “American Idol” judge Kara’s solo version is done by her band, Platinum Weird.

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Here comes the new American Idol Judge

Wacky Paula Abdul may be getting some competition on “American Idol.”

Never the most stable of people, Paula has reigned as the queen of “American Idol” until now. Fox announced there will be new judge in the house: songwriter Kara DioGuardi.

Never heard of her? Well how many people knew who Simon Cowell was before he sat down on the judges’ panel? We’ll have to see if Kara’s got the charisma. Or, more importantly, can talk in coherent sentences.

New “American Idol” judge is songwriter Kara DioGuardi.

Grammy-nominated songwriter Kara now sits alongside Paula, Simon and Randy Jackson at the judges’ table and will use her background as an award-winning songwriter and producer to praise or critique the wannabe hopefuls throughout the competition. The eighth season of AMERICAN IDOL premieres January, 2009, on FOX.

“We are turning the heat up on ‘Idol’ this year and are thrilled to welcome Kara to the judges’ table,” said creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. “She is a smart, sassy lady, and one of America’s most successful songwriters. We know she will bring a new level of energy and excitement to the show.”

Not that the producers are trying to usurp Paula.

“We had originally intended for AMERICAN IDOL to have four judges,” said executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz. “We’ve seen from our international series that having a fourth judge creates a dynamic that benefits both the contestants and the viewers.”

Mike Darnell, President, Alternative Programming of Fox calls Paula “an island of consideration and gentle criticism between Randy and Simon, offering her invaluable expertise as a performer…with Kara by her side, Paula finally has some back-up and now there is going to be a lot more ‘girl power’ on the show.”

Umm. Maybe.

The press release says that Kara has worked with award-winning artists including Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Santana, and Pink. Scores of major recording artists including Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Pussycat Dolls, Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Natasha Bedingfield, Jewel, Ashley Tisdale, Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Clay Aiken, Ashlee Simpson, Hilary Duff, Jessica Simpson, Kylie Minogue, Enrique Iglesias, Nick Lachey and Marc Anthony have also released DioGuardi’s songs.

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Dancing with the Stars announces new celeb dancers

ABC announced the 13 new dancers – and yeah, yeah, I know it was leaked online last week, but I’m all about the official announcement.

When “Dancing with the Stars” returns on Sept. 22 with a three-night event, ABC wants you to know that it marks the largest cast ever, the oldest (the bawdy Cloris Leachman), two Olympic Gold medalists, a Grammy winner, an Oscar winner (again, Cloris) and a Super Bowl champ.

But they are forgetting the biggest hook of all: They’ve got Brooke Shields’ high school prom date. Yep. Ted McGinley not only rocked on “Revenge of the Nerds,” but he also escorted Ms. Shields to her high school prom. You heard it here first folks. Well, maybe not first…

Ted McGinley with his wife Gigi Rice. McGinley
will be trying to boost his career with a turn on
ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Any way, all four professional dancers who’ve previously tasted the thrill of victory return to compete against one another for bragging rights.

For the first time ever, all 13 teams must prepare two routines for the first week of competition, one of which they’ll perform on Monday night. The judges will score the performances on Monday while viewers cast their votes for their favorites. Only 12 will have the chance to showcase their second dance on Sept. 23.

On Tuesday’s show, one couple will be eliminated as the remaining contestants perform their second dance of the season. The judges will score the dances on Tuesday and viewers will once again cast their votes before a second duo is dismissed on Sept. 24.

Talk about a quick step.

As announced today on “Good Morning America,” in alphabetical order, the 13 stars making their ballroom dancing debut are:

LANCE BASS — Lance Bass has sold over 50 million records as a member of the phenomenally successful pop group *NSYNC. Lance has released his memoir, Out of Sync, for Simon Spotlight Entertainment. 2006 U.S. Youth Latin Champ and 2007 World Swing Dance Champ Lacey Schwimmer teams with Lance to make her series debut.

TONI BRAXTON – The winner of six Grammy Awards, Toni Braxton is a Billboard chart-topping singer and actress, selling over 40 million records worldwide. “Dancing with the Stars” marks her return to the spotlight after a six-month health hiatus. She teams up with Season One champion Alec Mazo, who returns for his fourth season.

BROOKE BURKE — A host, actress, entrepreneur and celebrity mom, Brooke Burke has truly done it all. She has graced numerous magazine covers, has her own top-selling swimsuit calendars and is regularly ranked in men’s magazines as one of the sexiest women in the world. Recognized worldwide as host of the travel series “Wild On!” Brooke teams with Derek Hough, who returns for his third season.

ROCCO DISPIRITO – The James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef and author Rocco DiSpirito opened the three-star Union Pacific in New York City in 1997. In 2003 he launched Rocco’s for the reality series “The Restaurant.” Rocco will next appear on the A&E series “Rocco Gets Real,” beginning in October, along with its companion cookbook, Rocco Gets Real: Cook at Home Every Day. He teams with Karina Smirnoff, who returns for her fifth season. Karina teamed with R&B singer Mario last season.

MAURICE GREENE – The winner of two gold medals in the 100m sprint and the 4x100m relay at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, track star Maurice Greene was dubbed the “World’s Fastest Man” during his career. In addition to being the former world record holder in the 100m sprint and winning multiple world championships, he also won silver and bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. He is the current Indoor World Record holder in the 60m at 6.39 seconds. He teams up with two-time champion Cheryl Burke. Cheryl returns for her sixth season.

KIM KARDASHIAN — Actress, model and reality television star Kim Kardashian shot to the top of the tabloids with her E! reality series, “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” The series follows the exploits of Kim, her siblings, her mother, Kris, and her stepfather, Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner. Kardashian recently completed her first feature film, “Disaster Movie,” and will also be seen on The N’s series “Beyond the Break.” She teams up with defending champ Mark Ballas, who returns for his third season.

CLORIS LEACHMAN – Actress Cloris Leachman’s storied career has been recognized with nine Emmys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. Cloris has starred in a wide range of theater, television and motion picture projects, creating such indelible characters as Phyllis in the TV series “Phyllis” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Frau Blucher in “Young Frankenstein,” Nurse Diesel in “High Anxiety” and Ruth Popper in “The Last Picture Show” (for which she won an Oscar). In 2008 she has already completed three new films, “The Women,” “American Cowslip” and “New York I Love You.” She teams with World Latin Champion and Mark’s father, Corky Ballas, who makes his series debut.

CODY LINLEY — Cody Linley will be the youngest contestant ever to compete on “Dancing with the Stars.” He is best known for his role as Jake Ryan on “Hannah Montana.” He teams with two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champ Julianne Hough, who returns for her fourth season.

SUSAN LUCCI — As the most famous face in daytime television history, Susan Lucci plays “woman you love to hate,” Erica Kane, on ABC’s “All My Children.” She celebrates her 10,000th episode this November. She teams with Tony Dovolani, who returns for his sixth season.

MISTY MAY-TREANOR — Beach Volleyball champion Misty May-Treanor and partner Kerri Walsh captured their second Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and became the first team ever to repeat as back-to-back champs. She now joins a new teammate, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who returns for his fifth season.

TED MCGINLEY — Actor Ted McGinley’s extensive television credits include “Married…with Children,” “Hope & Faith,” “Happy Days.” Newcomer Inna Brayer will be paired with Ted. Inna is the current U.S. Amateur 10 Dance Champion.

JEFFREY ROSS — Comedian Jeffrey Ross, a.k.a. the “Roastmaster General,” was crowned by New York Magazine as “The Meanest Man in Comedy.” He teams with Edyta Sliwinska, who is the only pro to compete in all seven seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.”

WARREN SAPP – Recently retired defensive tackle and Superbowl Champion Warren Sapp played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders during his 13-year career. Warren is teamed with Kym Johnson, who returns for her fifth season.

Hosted by Tom Bergeron (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”) and Samantha Harris (“E! Entertainment”), the celebrities will perform choreographed dance routines which will be judged by renowned Ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.

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Beverly Hills 90210-No Show

The CW sent out a message saying that the network wouldn’t be screening the “Beverly Hills 90210” spin-off “90210” for critics.

Oh, hurt me again.

“90210” Pictured: AnnaLynne McCord as Naomi, Dustin Milligan as Ethan, Shenae Grimes as Annie, Tristan Wilds as Dixon, Jessica Stroup as Silver, Michael Steger as Navid Photo Credit: Art Streiber/ The CW ©2008 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Here’s the statement from the CW:

“The CW and our studio partner CBS Paramount Network Television have made the strategic marketing decision not to screen “90210” for any media in advance of its premiere. We’re not hiding anything . . . simply keeping a lid on 90210 until 9.02, riding the curiosity and anticipation into premiere night, and letting all our constituents see it at the same time.”

Well, the curious would be anyone old enough to remember “Beverly Hills 90210” and I’m not quite sure who is out there waiting with great anticipation. And I think that the least they could do if The CW insists on the cutesy opening date of 9.02 is to wait until 9.02.10.

No matter which way you try to slice this one, it all adds up to clunker. Not that we’re surprised, given the track record of the CW in recent years. Back when it was the WB, this network was the place To Be. Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Ah, those were the days.

And you can still catch those shows on the new WB website. Just sign up.

But back to the problem at hand. Networks don’t usually pass on the free publicity they get from sending their shows out for review. Even bad reviews get people interested. But The CW thinks everyone can find this baby on their own, and fall in love with it.

Frankly, I’m dubious.

C’mon. Don’t you think that if this show has a snowball’s chance in Hades to work, Fox would have picked up on it?

Well, check out this promo.

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NBC’s Opening Ceremony Olympics Coverage starting sooner

NBC has decided that the opening ceremonies for the Olympics in Beijing are just so good, you’ve gotta see more.

NBC Beijing Olympic Pin — NBC Universal Photo: Glenn Gracia

Now, the ceremony’s going to air at a new early start time at 7:30 p.m. Friday on NBC, which means you get to watch for a whopping 4.5 hours. And, really, with the viewing choices on Friday hovering around slim and none, why the heck not watch?

Still, NBC feels the need to tart it all up for you to prove that they are doing it because a preview just looked so gosh darned good.

“After seeing two dress rehearsals in the last week, it’s clear that this Opening Ceremony is simply spectacular and we’re thrilled to be able to add an extra half hour to begin Friday at a special early start time,” says NBC Sports honcho David Neal. “Zhang Yimou and his creative team have conceived a program that will captivate viewers in the U.S. and around the world.”

Well, maybe we’ve chosen to be too cynical too soon. Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou (“Raise the Red Lantern,” “House of Flying Daggers”) has taken the creative helm as the chief director of both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

While the Opening Ceremony officially marks the start of the Beijing Olympic Games, Olympic competition actually begins with live opening round soccer matches on MSNBC. The USA women’s team faces Norway live Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. ET and the USA men take on Japan live Thursday at 4:30 a.m. ET.

NBC Universal, broadcasting its record 11th Olympics, will present an unprecedented 3,600 hours of Beijing Olympic Games coverage, the most ambitious single media project in history featuring the most live coverage (nearly 2,900 live hours in total), across the most platforms, of any Summer Olympics in history.

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“Fringe” : J.J. Abrams talks recasts, imagery

OK. The only recast on J.J. Abrams fall Fox show “Fringe” was the cow. Which makes no sense unless you’ve seen the pilot.

Generally, the only outsiders watching that pilot would have been TV critics, but the pilot was leaked online and who knows how many people picked it up before Fox started the killing trail to get it off the Internet.

Good luck with that. (By the way, if you’re in San Diego next week, check out “Fringe” at Comic Con)

In any case, the We-Are-Not-The-X-Files series about conspiracies, FBI agents and crazy scientific series. The pilot proved entertaining, especially the scenes with “Dawson Creek” alum Joshua Jackson, who’s back in fine form, as the brilliant rebellious son of a fringe scientist; Aussie actress Anna Tory as the spunky FBI agent Olivia and John Noble as the fringy scientist. Think scary flick with a sense of humor.

2008 FOX SUMMER TCA: Executive producer and co-creator J.J. Abrams during the FRINGE session of FOX’s 2008 summer press tour Monday, July 14 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.

But “Lost” producer J.J. promises it won’t get too complicated. He says he learned his lesson from his previous series “Alias.”

“I was at my friend Greg Grunberg’s house. and alias was on, watched a few minutes and I was so confused, it was impenetrable,” J.J. says as he watched a scene play out. “I should know this, but who the fuck is that guy?”

Like “Lost,” J.J. says “Fringe” has an overall story and an end game. Good to know. Better still, he promises each episode will be self-contained for people who don’t want to get into the mythology.

“My point is that you can do a show that has week-to-week stories, but over the course of seasons, there are bigger arcs,” J.J. says. “I’m diligently trying to do a show that doesn’t require insane dedication.”

Yet, for many people that’s exactly the point of watching a series like this. So there are plenty of Easter eggs for the fanatics. Pay attention to the details, like the frogs and leaves shown at the breaks, they will become important down the line says J.J.

“The frogs and leaves work simply as weird imagery, but it is not disconnected to the series,” J.J. says. “It is part of the code of the series.”

As for the cow, when production moved from Toronto to New York City, they couldn’t take the Jersey cow used in the lab scenes with them. So they had to recast.

2008 FOX SUMMER TCA: (L-R) Executive producer Brian Burk, Jeff Pinkner, co-creators and executive producers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and J.J. Abrams during the FRINGE session of FOX’s 2008 summer press tour Monday, July 14 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.

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“So You Think You Can Dance” steps up, Comfort gets another shot

Nigel says he cannot discuss Jessica King’s injury. No, really. Just can’t do it. Legal issues and all that.

Her injury was Comfort Feoke’s gain. Although Comfort was eliminated last week, she won’t miss a step as she returns to the show on Wednesday. Judge Nigel Lythgoe says it’s brave of Comfort to return, knowing she could get booted off a second time.

So why Comfort?

“She’s had some surprisingly beautiful moments, and every dancer can have some bad weeks,” Mary Murphy says. “So maybe this one more shot she’ll be able to knock our socks off.”

But more importantly Mary, how did Hot Tamale Train come about?

“It just flew out of my mouth one day,” says Mary, who also says she’s called hot Latin dancers hot tamales for a long time. “But now Fox owns it.”

As for show quitter Robert Muraine, who couldn’t handle the choreography, the judges were critical of the guy.

“No dancer should quit, ever,” says Nigel Lythgoe. “It’s a really tought life. Have a sprained ankle. strap it up and get on with it.”

There’s no crying in baseball, or dancing.

“You can’t be a victim. You have to be a warrior, ” says Mia Michaels, who talked about breaking two toes and then went back on stage. “Really, quitting? You can be at the top of your game?”

2008 FOX SUMMER TCA: (L-R) finalists Matt Dorame of Glendale, AZ and Kourtni Lind of Forest Lake, MN perform during the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE session of FOX’s 2008 summer press tour Monday, July 14 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.

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“Star Wars: Clone Wars” The Force is with it

George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Clone Wars” is a visual feast, using mesmerizing computer graphics that make the trite “state-of-the-art” cliche sing. From the color palette to the enticing characters, this is a gotta-see pleasure.

“Star Wars:Clone Wars” coming to Cartoon Network this fall

Cartoon Network screened an episode for TV writers gathered at the annual Television Critics Association Press tour in Beverly Hills. The weekly half-hour animated series, which airs this fall, looks every inch the “mini-movie” the press kit claims it to be.

The series picks up from where the summer movie leaves off, telling the stories of the Clone Wars, the time period between “Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.”

“The series follows the movie,” says David Filoni, 34, the supervising director. “Computer animation is constantly changing. Working with George, look at computers as an advanced pencil.”

So how long can the Clone Wars last?

“The good thing about not just telling a story where we are stuck in one single arc. It’s a three year history in the Star Wars universe, but so many stories we can explore,” David said. “Longer it goes, more stories we can tell.”

Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi join newheroes like Anakin’s padawan learner, Ahsoka and when Storm Troopers weren’t the enemy.

“Begs the question about the Storm Troopers’ betrayal,” David says. “Ventress is a bit more sensuous, (which goes against) the Jedi.”

Ventress, David said, is being prepared to delve into the Dark Side.

The first season will be 22 episodes beginning this fall, but the network hasn’t yet releasedthe exact date.

“Because I wanted it to look like a painting, I did a textured hand-painted style on each charcter,” David said. “If you don’t have HD, then looks more like a painting, I’ve texturized them right down to their eyeballs.”

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Tommy Lee and Ludacris Off the Grid

Earth warriors Tommy Lee and Ludacris?

“Battleground Earth” is a Planet Green network (like Animal Planet, it’s part of Discovery Network) 10-part series that pits rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges against rocker Tommy Lee as each of them tour the country in nine locations taking on green challenges, and each episode themed in a green way to deliver key messages about greeness.

Ok, all that green talk comes courtesy of the press release, but basically these two guys are just trying to reduce the carbon footprint.

Ludacris says he’s put in solar panels and bought a Tahoe hybrid and the challenged Tommy Lee about what he’s done.

“Hey, man. I’ve talked to the solar panel company andI’ve also been talking to the fake grass company,” Tommy Lee says. “And of course recycling with my kids and stuff around the house.”

Tommy Lee shouldn’t feel shamed. After all, turns out Ludacris just got his hybrid yesterday. But he’s looking forward to using it a lot.

Tommy Lee’s teammate on the show was Train bandmember Johnny Colt.

“I thought I knew a little bit about being green. I married a woman from San Francisco, and I knew what compost was, so I thought I was in,” Johnny says. “Then I get out there and realized I was overwhelmed by the amount of information that we received…(but) I got a real sense of hope, and I really felt empowered by the end of the show that I could go out into my personal life, and the fact that some of the smallest things that you do have the biggest impact.”

Tommy Lee says it was great working with Ludacris, a person he didn’t really know before the show began.

“I met him one time, a brief meeting,” Tommy Lee says. “The guy’s a sweetheart.”

“Don’t print that,” warns Ludacris.
Tommy Lee and Ludacris star in “Battleground Earth” which premieres next month on Green Planet

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“Mad Men” meltdown

In a chat with “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, he told me that his oldest son Martin Weiner, 11, played the strange boy Glen Bishop.

If you remember, in the season finale Betty (January Jones) sees Glen sitting in a car when she pulls into the bank parking lot. On her way in to the bank, she walks over to talk to him.
January Jones as Betty Draper on AMC’s “Mad Men,” which premieres July 27

“I’m not supposed to talk to you,” Glen says, shyly. She says she doesn’t care. “I can’t talk to anyone. I’m so sad,” she says. “Please tell me I’ll be okay.” He reaches his mitten-covered hand up to her and tells her that he wishes he were older

“When we shot that last scene, it was so hot and it was supposed to snowing and we had everyone in these heavy winter clothes. I was so afraid that January was getting overheated, so I kept making sure she was getting plenty of water and ice,” Matthew says. “We thought she might get heat stroke.”

Then all of a sudden, Matthew realized that his own son was sitting in the car with a coat and wool hat and mittens.

“I ran over and kept assuring him that daddy really does love him more than he loves one of the stars of his show,” says Matthew laughing. “I can’t believe I left my own son in the car. But he said he was fine.”

And where was Matthew’s wife and Marten’s mom?

“You know how long and boring these shoots are,” Matthew says. “She was under a tree reading a book.

But don’t worry, no child or animal was injured during the filming of this scene.

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