Haley: A sultry old soul, ready to rock


Here we are, encased in reality-competition finales.

The block right before this one looks at Sunday's "Celebrity Apprentice" finalists; the ones before that have my ranting about "American Idol." Now let's hear from Haley Reinhart, who was ousted (unfairly) from "Idol" Thursday; here's the story I sent to papers:

 By MIKE HUGHES

Standing on the “American Idol”
stage this week were two kids and (musically speaking) an old soul.

“I've grown up around adult crowds,”
Haley Reinhart told reporters Friday. Now “Idol” has given her a
chance to rock onstage and be “a goofball” offstage.

Sure, Reinhart – ousted Thursday –
was only a few years older than Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina,
who will sing in the finals. But she's already done it all –
including silencing tattoo artists.

“It was my 9th birthday
and I got to sing at an international tattoo festival,” she
recalled. “They turned off the tattoo machines when I came on.”
Then she sang “Blue,” complete with yodeling.

That was almost a dozen years ago and
Reinhart has performed often since. She's sung in the Chicago area
with her parents' band (Midnight) and at the Montreux and Umbria
festivals in Europe with a high school jazz band.

She reached final-13 of “Idol”
alongside another jazz buff, Casey Abrams. “We could confide in
each other and have a different kind of connection,” Reinhart said.

What she couldn't do – at first –
was connect with the young audience. For each of the first two weeks
of viewer-voting, she was plunked into the bottom three.

That changed, Reinhart feels, when she
did “Bennie and the Jets” during Elton John week. “I started to
get into my own niche – the rock-blues-funk.”

She skipped the bottom three twice, was
back down there twice, then breezed through the next three weeks. On
Wednesday, Reinhart seemed at her best – especially when her dad
joined her, offering some guitar licks for one song. “He was on
Cloud Nine,” she said.

The next night, however, that ended.
Lauren Alaina, 16, and Scotty McCreery, 17, are going to the finals;
Reinhart, 20, is out.

Viewers seemed to see shock and despair
on her face, with none of the quick smiles and hugs offered by
others. Reinhart doesn't recall it that way. “I took a second and
thought, 'All right, all right – and guess what, I have to sing in
about five seconds.'”

Then she blasted “Benny” again.
Next comes the “Idol” tour and recording. “I would love to do
an album that is sultry, bluesy rock; I'd love to slip in some jazz.”

Hey, once you've yodeled for tattoo
guys, the rest is easy.

– “American Idol,” Fox

– Final performances by Scotty
McCreery and Lauren Alaina are 8-9 p.m. Tuesday

– Results show is 8-10 p.m.
Wednesday; shows are one night earlier than usual, to catch the
official end of the Nielsen ratings season

 

"Celebrity Apprentice": Nice folks finish first (and second)


In one furious, four-day stretch, the four biggest reality shows will pick their winners.

On Sunday is "Celebrity Apprentice," with John Rich and Marlee Matlin -- interviewed here -- as the finalists. Then come "Dancing With the Stars" (Monday and Tuesday), "The Biggest Loser" (Tuesday) and "American Idol" (Tuesday and Wednesday).

My "Idol" blogs precede this one, with more coming. First, here's the story I sent to papers, interviewing Rich and Matlin:

By MIKE HUGHES

Chances are, most people didn't expect
this “Celebrity Apprentice” finale.

They didn't expect John Rich and Marlee
Matlin. Both are used to being underestimated.

As a country-music guy competing in
Manhattan, Rich seemed out of place. “I'm wearing a cowboy hat in
New York City,” he said. “You think I don't hear 'Yee Haw' every
time I walk around the corner?”

And Matlin? She's used to people who
aren't sure how to deal with the hearing-impaired. In this case, she
said (through her translator, Jack Jason), that was true of singer
Dionne Warwick. “I was surprised … she wasn't familiar with
people like me, who happen to be deaf. And yet, I took it in stride.”

Both took a lot in stride, including
the battles of their teammates.

For Rich, it was a fierce explosion
between Gary Busey and Meat Loaf. “We call it the meltdown,” he
said. “That was the toughest thing that I dealt with.”

For Matlin, it was the constant wars
between Star Jones and NeNe Leakes. “I know a lot of (people)
probably enjoyed it,” she said. It's “interesting to them to see
two women go at it. But that's not how I've ever approached life.”

Both finalists emerged with
friendships, including each other. “There was an instant and
immediate sense of respect,” Matlin said.

In a country-music field that can lean
toward sameness, Rich has pushed diversity. His “Musik Mafia”
shows have included Cowboy Troy, a rapper. As a “Nashville Star”
judge he boosted Gabe Garcia, saying country needed Hispanic stars.
And on “Celebrity Apprentice,” he renewed a friendship.

“Lil Jon and I are really great
friends,” Rich said. It's “an example to our two audiences that,
you know, cowboys and rappers basically can get along.”

Lil Jon even does a cut on Rich's new
album. “I was supposed to be a backup singer,” Matlin joked, “but
my schedule wouldn't allow it.”

That would have been a case of true
music diversity.

– “Celebrity Apprentice” finale

– 9-11 p.m. Sunday; Marlee Matlin and
John Rich compete for the championship

 

 

Two-teen "Idol"? That's one too many


1) OK, I'm really bummed about this: On tonight's "American Idol," I just heard Nicole Scherzinger sing (quite often), "Dance with your body." What, exactly, is the alternative? Dance with your luggage?

2) OK, that's not really what I'm the most bummed about. Lauren Alaina, a likable person with terribly average talent, gets to be this year's "American Idol" runner-up.

3) But really, once you've told people to dance, why would you feel you had to specify "with your body"?  Wouldn't that be assumed?

4) I like teen-agers, really. I don't mind if there are a lot of them in one place, such as a high school or a Justin Bieber concert. But there should NOT be two in this year's "Idol" finale.

5) I mean, is the alternative "dance with your mind?" I checked with Stephen Hawking and he said that's really not much fun.

6) Two teens would be fine if both were extra-talented. David Archuleta was; Scotty McCreery, who will be this year's champion, is. (McCreery could step into country stardom right now.) Alaina is not.

7) I know, some people have told me they were dancing without their bodies, which they had inadvertantly left at home. However, I believe those statements were influenced by chemicals or alcohol.

8) In an almost-cruel gesture, Jimmy Iovine had assigned Alaina the extremely difficult song "If I Die Young." She did it terribly, with no sense of phrasing. The judges, however, are no longer being judgmental; they said nothing and she's moving on. Haley Reinhart -- a strong singer with impressive range of styles -- is out.

9) On a much more positive note, tonight's "The Office" season-finale was hilarious. It was disappointing that the show didn't pick its new manager, but it was great fun along the way.

10) I think I should be commended for staying positive. For not grumbling something about "dance with your toothbrush." Or "dance with half your body." Or "dance with your id." Or ... well, never mind. 

 

 

Two-teen "Idol"? That's one too many


1) OK, I'm really bummed about this: On tonight's "American Idol," I just heard Nicole Scherzinger sing (quite often), "Dance with your body." What, exactly, is the alternative? Dance with your luggage?

2) OK, that's not really what I'm the most bummed about. Lauren Alaina, a likable person with terribly average talent, gets to be this year's "American Idol" runner-up.

3) But really, once you've told people to dance, why would you feel you had to specify "with your body"?  Wouldn't that be assumed?

4) I like teen-agers, really. I don't mind if there are a lot of them in one place, such as a high school or a Justin Bieber concert. But there should NOT be two in this year's "Idol" finale.

5) I mean, is the alternative "dance with your mind?" I checked with Stephen Hawking and he said that's really not much fun.

6) Two teens would be fine if both were extra-talented. David Archuleta was; Scotty McCreery, who will be this year's champion, is. (McCreery could step into country stardom right now.) Alaina is not.

7) I know, some people have told me they were dancing without their bodies, which they had inadvertantly left at home. However, I believe those statements were influenced by chemicals or alcohol.

8) In an almost-cruel gesture, Jimmy Iovine had assigned Alaina the extremely difficult song "If I Die Young." She did it terribly, with no sense of phrasing. The judges, however, are no longer being judgmental; they said nothing and she's moving on. Haley Reinhart -- a strong singer with impressive range of styles -- is out.

9) On a much more positive note, tonight's "The Office" season-finale was hilarious. It was disappointing that the show didn't pick its new manager, but it was great fun along the way.

10) I think I should be commended for staying positive. For not grumbling something about "dance with your toothbrush." Or "dance with half your body." Or "dance with your id." Or ... well, never mind. 

 

 

CW schedule has hints of the WB glory days


Television lost a lot of flash and fun, when the energetic WB network merged with the blander UPN. The result -- CW -- has had its good moments, but not enough of them.Meanwhile, bits of the old days linger at www.thewb.com.

Now I was glad to see hints of the WB legacy on CW's new schedule for this fall. Here's the story I sent to papers this morning:

By MIKE HUGHES

Five years after the death of the WB
network, there will still be shadows of it this fall.

The new CW schedule, announced
Thursday, includes:

– Sarah Michelle Gellar, former star
of WB's “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” in a new show. She “has
incredible appeal to our core audience,” said Mark Pedowitz, the
new CW president.

– Kevin Williamson, former producer
of WB's “Dawson's Creek.” He'll have an entire Thursday of teen
angst, with “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Secret Circle.”

– And “One Tree Hill,” surviving
into its ninth season. This time, it waits until mid-season.

At its peak, the WB was a pop-culture
sensation with “Felicity,” “Buffy,” “Angel,” “Gilmore
Girls” and more. But the mini-networks (WB and UPN) merged into CW,
led by former UPN chief Dawn Ostroff.

“In just five years, we've built an
instantly recognizable brand,” she claimed in prepared remarks.

Ostroff (who is stepping down) and
Pedowitz were to speak to advertisers and station executives
Thursday, in the last of the five broadcast-network “upfront”
presentations.

The last hints of WB faded when
“Smallville” ended its 10-year run and “One Tree Hill”
wobbled.

One big step came, however, when CBS
developed “Ringer” for this fall. “We were really excited about
Sarah Michelle Gellar,” said CBS' Nina Tassler – but CW (owned by
the same company) wanted her more. When CBS didn't put the show on
its fall schedule, CW did.

“Ringer” has Gellar as someone
recovering from drug addiction, when she witnesses a murder and goes
on the run. When her identical sister disappears, she assumes her
identity – including her wealth, her husband (Ioan Gruffudd) and –
it turns out – her deep problems.

Meanwhile, “One Tree Hill” survives
with a few of its original stars – James Lafferty as Nathan, Sophia
Bush as Brooke and Bethany Joy Galeotti as Haley.

And Williamson – who had some lean
years after “Dawson's Creek” – has an entire night. His
“Vampire Diaries” will lead into “The Secret Circle,” in
which a teen orphan learns she's descended from witches and holds a
key role in the battle between good and evil.

“Secret Circle” stars Britt
Robertson, who drew praise in “Life Unexpected.” CW canceled
“Life Unexpected” and “Hellcats” and retired “Smallville.”
Its new line-up:

– Mondays: “Gossip Girl,” 8 p.m.;
“Hart of Dixie,” 9. “Hart,” from the “Gossip Girls”
producers, has Rachel Bilson as a big-city doctor, moving to the
small-town South.

– Tuesdays: “90210,” 8 p.m.;
“Ringer,” 9.

– Wednesdays: “H8R,” 8 p.m.;
“America's Next Top Model,” 9. “H8R,” hosted by Mario Lopez,
links celebrities with people who hate them.

– Thursdays: “The Vampire Diaries,”
8 p.m.; “The Secret Circle,” 9.

– Fridays: “Nikita,” 8 p.m.;
“Supernatural,” 9.