A quick prediction

"American Idol" is getting tougher now, simply because there are no bad people to vote out.

My own view? Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina and Paul McDonald were the closest to merely being pretty good. McDonald, however, had the advantage of going lost; the final three will be Abrams, Alaina and Haley Reinhart, with Abrams heading home, just two weeks after the judges savied him.

Thia and Naima can't win in a guys' year of "Idol"

In some ways, Thia Megia and Naima Adedapo are exact opposites.

One is barely 16; the other has five children and step-children. One is the daughter of Filipino immigrants; the other, many generations American, is deeply schooled in African culture.

What they have in common, however, is that both were blitzed Thursday by this male-dominated year of "American Idol." Here's the story I sent to papers today:


In an “American Idol” year of male
domination, the departing females can only shrug.

“More than 50 percent of the audience
is teen girls,” Naima Adeldapo said. “And when they get a crush,
we are done.”

On Thursday, she and Thia Megia were
sent home. That makes four females ousted so far; the only time a guy
(Casey Abrams) was voted out, the judges used their only save to keep

This time, voters ousted opposites in
one way: Megia – less than three months past her 16th
birthday – was the show's youngest finalist ever. Adedapo is 26;
“I've been the mother figure,” she said.

She has ample experience at that.
Adedapo, married to a reggae singer, has two young children and three
older step-children; she's also spent decades singing, dancing and
watching her mom perform.

Still, don't assume the opposite about
Megia. She's only 16, but she's been performing – big-time, big
crowds – for a decade.

By 13, she had sung the National Anthem
for the San Francisco 49ers, the Giants and Stanford University. By
now? “I've lost count,” she said.

For her, “Idol” was just the
everyday scary. “I usually go from extremely nervous to show mode.”

All of this started at a party when she
was 5, she said. “I got up on an old coffee table in my little pink
dress and started singing for my relatives. That's when I realized
that I wanted to perform.”

Within a year, she had a voice teacher
and she was singing two Britney Spears songs at the start of a
concert by Filipino star Rey Valera. Much more has followed,
including TV – “Showtime at the Apollo” and reaching the top 40
of “America's Got Talent.”

Megia is an old pro, someone who has
been on her own (studying at home via California Virtual Academy) for
her teens. On “Idol,” however, the school-age contestants have to
spend three hours a day in a classroom. “We didn't really get
enough rehearsal time, (but) it was like an escape for us, being away
from the stress.”

Adedapo, by comparison, had plenty of
time for her favorite activity. “Shopping!” she said. “You get
to go out and do the accessorizing …. and that's fun.”

She comes up with the basic ideas for
her African-style clothes and has them made by a dressmaker from
Chicago, where her performing roots are.

In Chicago, her great-grandmother had a
theater group, her father became a theater professor and her mother
was a storyteller. “She would bring me along and have me be part of

They moved to Milwaukee, where her mom
is a jazz singer and Adedapo is – well, everything. She sings in
her husband's reggae group and in her own bands; she has a dance
degree and performs in African-style troupes and more. “I know all
forms of dance; I could have added some ballet.”

The judges liked her style and zest,
but that wasn't enough in this guy-dominated year. The female total
has gone from seven to three; the males stay at six.

There was one other factor for Adedapo,
whose jazzy style may have appealed to older voters.

“My audience is not necessarily
tech-savvy,” she said. “They would go, 'I voted for you three
times.' I'm thinking, 'You could have done 500.'”




"Idol" women fade fast; "Grey's Anatomy" triumphs

Remember when this year's "American Idol" had six men and seven women? Well, it now has six men and three women.

It's been that kind of year. Only one guy (Casey Abrams) has been voted out -- and he promptly got the one-per-year judges' save. Here are a few of my comments about "Idol" and more.

1) OK, this time I almost nailed it. I predicted, correctly, that Thia Megia, Naima Adedapo and Paul McDonald would be in the bottom three. (Well, I thought there would be four and reluctantly tossed in Stefano Langone, but who's counting?)

2) What I got wrong, of course, was my perpetual prediction that McDonald would go home. Instead, it was Megia and Adedapo; I still don't understand McDonald, but others seem to.

3) First, this season started doing better group numbers. Then it tossed them out this week and broke people into two duets, a trio and a quartet. All four were OK; one -- the country duet with Scotty McCreery and Laure Alaina -- was great.

4) Did you catch that number that had Jamie Foxx and Will.I.Am somewhere inside a horde of dancers and fighters and singers and more? Now we know what would have happened if Busby Berkeley had been a teen in the hip-hop era.

5) The trio was OK, but I'm glad it didn't focus on Megia. I don't need to see someone who recently turned 16 sing "put your hand on my skintight jeans" and "let's go all the way tonight."

6) I don't care how many promos they run, there's no way that I would ever see Howie Mandel's "Mobbed." Ever.

7) Especially when "Mobbed" was going against the musical episode of "Grey's Anatomy."

8) Let's be clear about this: That "Grey's Anatomy" might well be the best hour of TV all season, maybe in several seasons. It took rich advantage of the stunning singing talent of Tony Award-winner Sara Ramirez and found clever ways to mix and match the other voices. And even if you stripped away all the music -- PLEASE don't -- it had deep layers of heartfelt emotion.

9) And somewhere, there might be someone who actually watched "Mobbed" instead. This grieves me deeply.

10) More tomorrow, after the conference-call interviews with Megia and Adedapo. They are talented females who had the misfortune of being in a year of super-talented men.






Elton night on "Idol"? It's always tough

This is a lesson we learned long ago: Elton John night is a tough one on "American Idol."

That was true in 2004 and it was true again tonight. One singer (James Durbin) had a great night; the others were split about evenly between fairly good and so-so.

John's songs aren't the kind -- simple, straightforward -- that show off a singer. Seven years ago, several people sounded bad on his night ... then sounded great just two weeks later, on Barry Manilow night. Back then, the only triumph was from Jennifer Hudson, who wisely chose John's cartoon-movie ballad, "Circle of Life."

And this time? A few of my comments:

1) Durbin was sensational, with high-octane blasts. That may have been the show's best rock performance since Bo Bice.

2) Others who tried up-tempo songs were so-so. I agreed with the judges that Theda Adedapo's song was force and bland; but I thought the same was true of Haley Reinhart's song, which they loved.

3) The ballads tended to do better. As always, Pia Toscano and Jacob Lusk are at the top of my list; this time, I also liked the gentler approach of Theia Megia and Casey Abrams.

4) Please, never again invite Howie Mandell to do a promo in the middle of a show. And in case you're wondering, there is zero chance I'll watch his "Mobbed" Thursday night.

5) Actually, the chances were already zero, because that goes against the musical episode of "Grey's Anatomy," at 9 p.m. Thursday. (The clips I saw indicate this could be a great hour.) After Mandel's promo, the chances are now sub-zero.

6) Let's assume there's a bottom four on Thursday, because two people are going home. I'll predict those spots go to Paul McDonald, Naima Adedapo, Stefano Langone and Thia Megia; then McDonald and Adedapo will go home.

7) Also, I'm still searching for the clause that lets me send Howie Mandell home.




More good news: "Nova," "Justified," cable excess

The world seems to have an unlimited amount of television and a too-limited amount of really good television. So let's celebrate three bursts of good news -- two relating to shows tonight (Wednesday):

1) "Justified" has been renewed for a third season. This show (10 p.m. Wednesdays on FX) crackles with great characters and sharp dialog. Tonight's hour is a pretty good one, as two strong women -- a coal executive and a crime matriarch -- battle over mining rights.

2) "Nova" is rushing a terrific hour, "Japan's Killer Quakes," to the air, at 9 p.m. today on most PBS stations. This one arrived at the last minute, so the addition didn't get to all the papers in time. Here's the section I added to tonight's TV column:

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Nova,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings).

This science show usually spends months
on a report. Now it has rushed “Japan's Killer Quake.”

On one hand, we see the usual powerful
scenes, during and after the March 11 disaster. Alongside that,
however, scientists explain what happened and what steps could have been taken.

We learn why a 30-foot sea wall failed:
The tsunami waves were also 30 feet high – but the earthquake had
caused the wall to sink by at least three feet.

And we see startling sights, including
a saltwater lake, created on a mountain. It's a powerful hour.

3) And there's more coming up, especially on cable. Coming are three hugely ambitious series, each with a two-hour opener -- "Camelot" at 10 p.m. Friday on Starz, then both "The Killing" (AMC) and "The Borgias" (Showtime) at 9 p.m. Sunday. It should be a good weekend.