Yes, I'm very pleased with the "American Idol" results (see previous blogs), very displeased with the Oprah Winfrey finale.
Those, however, are instantly in the past. As Wednesday ended, the regular TV season was over. It was time for summer TV.
And that means "So You Think You Can Dance," the best of the summer shows. Each year, it has great talent and judges who are both entertaining AND serious about their work. Here's the story that I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
The people at Fox don't spend much time
On Thursday – the night after their
latest flash-and-fuss finale of “American Idol” – they crank up
the next show. A new summer begins for “So You Think You Can
Both are produced by Nigel Lythgoe –
who is also the “Dance” head judge and directs the opener. How's
he feeling about all this? “Panicky,” Lythgoe said Tuesday.
He has reason to panic, Cat Deeley, the
“Dance” host, said earlier. “He is crazy …. I go, 'Oh my
goodness, this man is 60 years old and he's running around. He's
going to be doing a trans-Atlantic flight (for the British version of
'Dance') every week.”
He seems to have fun, even when judge
Mary Murphy – her voice recovering from surgery – screams in his
ear. She sounds “like a small hair-dryer now,” Lythgoe said. “She
used to be like a jet engine.”
Murphy, a former ballroom dancer, was
once skeptical about the show, which makes dancers stray far outside
their genres. “I never thought it would work …. A hip-hop dancer,
She was a choreographer and guest judge
for two seasons, then became a regular judge. Her screeching
enthusiasm contrasted with the British restraint of Deeley and
For last season, however, she suddenly
disappeared from the show. It was a money issue, Lythgoe said; Murphy
and the network were at an impasse, so Mia Michaels took over.
The plan was for Murphy to sometimes
choreograph, or fill in when Michaels choreographed. Then everything
changed last summer. “I started to get more tired,” she said.
In December, thyroid surgery removed a
cancerous tumor. In February, she says, “I was told I was
cancer-free.” Soon, she was in Atlanta, which had a fast string of
outstanding auditions. “It was like a party …. It was
overwhelming and exciting.”
Lythgoe agrees: This year's top
auditions were in Atlanta (being shown as the season-opener) and in
Los Angeles. Quality was high; so was variety.
“Last year, seven of the 10
(finalists) were contemporary dancers,” Murphy said. They were
well-trained and skillful, but something was missing. “There are
more street dancers this season.”
Lythgoe's new plan has 20 finalists,
not 10. Once they get to the final 10, they'll link with “all-stars”
(past contestants), losing one person a week.
And this year, he said, there's the
full range of contestants – from ballet to ballroom, from
contemporary to a surge of hip-hop and street dancers. “Those kids
– many of whom aren't trained – are terrific,” Lythgoe said.
“And they're picking up the Viennese waltz.”
When they succeed, Murphy will roar.
“Mary has this enthusiasm,” Deeley said. “This is completely
infectious …. We kind of missed her a little bit on the panel.”
– “So You Think You Can Dance,” 8
p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fox
– Audition episodes: Atlanta and San
Francisco, May 26; New York and Salt Lake City, June 1; Los Angeles,
– Callbacks in Las Vegas on June 8-9,
choosing the top 20 on June 9
– Pattern begins June 15-16, with two
people eliminated weekly; once the field is at 10, contestants will
pair with a different “all-star” each week