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'American Idol' auditioner Andrew Lang

Recap: 'American Idol' Auditions -- Kansas City

Posted Jan 15, 2009 2:19 AM By Monkeys as Critics

With Press Tour two days from being over and Sundance two days from beginning, it's possible I just have too many things on my plate to relish dedicating two hours to the generally forgettable Kansas City singers of "American Idol." 

Maybe I'm not be quite as tolerant of a five-minute ineptitude montage set to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" as I ought to be. It's conceivable that I'm not as desperate for another celebration of the Castro Family as the judges seemed to be.

But as largely unengaged by Wednesday (Jan. 14) night's "Idol" as I may have been, I'm still ready to get in line with the rest of American to declare...

Bring on Noop Dogg!

[More recapping after the bump...]

Anoop Desai was the clear breakout star of Wednesday night's "Idol" audition episode. Not only has the time perhaps come for an Indian American Idol, but I hope we can all agree on the added value we'd get by crowing an American Idol working towards a Masters in Folklore. 

Anoop was, indeed, just a wee bit geeky -- though Simon's comments about how it was all a bit "Silicon Valley" was really code for "You're Indian" -- but his voice was worthy and he doesn't really stand a chance of advancing very far. But I'll root for him as long as the show lets me, because he wrote his senior thesis on BBQ. That's change I can believe in.

If Anoop represented Change, then Clifford the Muppet's brother Michael Castro represented the status quo. Another season featuring a vacant-eyed Castro? Count me out. At least Clifford the Muppet had musical aspirations when he tried out last year. His brother, intellectually identical, but with choppy pink hair as opposed to his brother's dreads, only decided to start singing a couple weeks before auditions. Imagine a less determined Jason Castro. The mind boggles. Actually, Michael's voice seemed stronger than his brothers', but if he hadn't come with the Castro last name (and therefore Paula's guaranteed stamp of approval, he wouldn't have been sent to Hollywood.

This episode was all about the sort of aspirational or inspirational stories the "Idol" producers have been promising us.

So that meant meeting Jamar Rogers, a shout-y bartender with a mohawk who the judges called "overdone," "affected" and "corny." For that, he made it through, not in small part because he was paired with BFF Daniel J. Gokey, a music teacher whose wife died of a heart condition four weeks ago. After three minutes of tinkly piano music and footage of Danny's wife, he couldn't not advance. Fortunately, his voice was fine. He reminds me of several older "Idol" contestants who had long runs, including Elliott Yamin, so who knows? We may see him again.

The scenes from Hollywood week strongly imply we're going to see little India Morrison again. India showed up at the urging of big (or larger) sister Asia McLain, but there was never much question that one sister was all energy and potential and the other was there for spiritual support. India received a golden ticket, mostly based on personality.

We were supposed to be mighty impressed by Von Smith, who dodged inevitable comparisons to Clay Aiken by wearing a white hat. Otherwise, the judges surely would have name-checked Clay when it came to the mamma's boy with the out-of-nowhere massive voice. To my mind, he yelled his way through "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with the type of performance the judges usually dub theatrical before recommending trying out for musicals. Instead, Kara DioGuardi raved about his "really big instrument" and he got an easy pass.

Vocally, Von didn't seem that much better than the ill-fated Andrew Lang, who arrived preceded by two horrid cheerleaders before doing a version of "My Girl" that had Randy giving him a "Yes" vote. Andrew then did 10 seconds of "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" so broad that Randy immediately changed his vote. Probably the cheerleaders were a bad idea, though the pale-n-scrawny Andrew probably would have been cut earlier without the gimmick.

Who seemed to have the chops on Wednesday without any gimmickry? 

Well, I liked the impossibly perky Casey Carlson, who managed to smile and wrinkle her nose midsong, while wearing cowboy boots and a short skirt. It's possible I didn't hear her voice at all, but she was one of those contestants who bring out smiles in all of the judges.

I also liked band director Asa Barnes. He didn't have quite the range for his version of "The Way You Make Me Feel," but he's photogenic and talented and had a good attitude. But is it compelling enough just to be a 28-year-old father when there are welders and oil rig wildcatters trying to pull their families out of poverty?

Heck, Lil Rounds is 23 and she already has three kids. Not only is she fertile, though, but she was inspired to try out by a tornado. You can't beat that, even if the judges over-praised her.

I'd also suggest the judges over-praised Jessica Furney for a Janis Joplin cover that wasn't even close to Amanda Overmyer-esque. Also, if Jessica makes it into the Top 36, who's going to make sure that her 90-something grandma takes her "crazy pills."

Is there any way I can just ignore this episode's freaks and geeks? Who cares about allegedly opera-trained Brian Hadler and his embarrassment of chest hair? Why did we even bother with Jasmine Joseph, with her fushia-and-blue hair, yellow teeth and the fedora with skulls? Why pick on Michael Nicewonder with his bleach-blonde bowl cut, elementary school singing prize and self-composed hymns to his mother and grandmother? And why validate Mia Conely, whose version "Loving You" stank even before she warned the camera that God will make the judges pay?

I'll be glad to get down to hour-long audition episodes next week. 


Select how you want to comment

  • Default-avatar
    One of the things I've always enjoyed about Idol season is reading your recaps. Imagine my disappointed when I visited Zap2it this morning, and you weren't there. I'm so happy I found you here though! :) I'm looking forward to enjoying another season of your witty commentary.
    January 15, 2009 at 4:22AM EST
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  • Default-avatar
    Go Noop Dogg!
    January 30, 2009 at 7:08PM EST
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Miley Cyrus just got really honest about the hellscape that was 'Hannah Montana'

Posted Aug 14, 2015 1:18 PM By  

Miley Cyrus got "some body dysmorphia" from her "Hannah Montana" days. Are we surprised by this? (We aren't.)

"I was told for so long what a girl is supposed to be from being on that show," said Cyrus in a new interview with Marie Claire. "I was made to look like someone that I wasn't, which probably caused some body dysmorphia because I had been made pretty every day for so long, and then when I wasn't on that show, it was like, Who the fuck am I?"

We should all be thankful that those soul-sucking days are over, not only for Miley's sake ("It was like Toddlers & Tiaras'," she went on) but for our own: who knew she was such an off-the-cuff, freewheeling spirit underneath those pounds and pounds of Disney pageant makeup?

A few other choice quotes from the interview:

On the nightmare that was "Hannah Montana," Part 2: "Every morning, I was getting coffee jammed down my throat to wake me up. I just had to keep going, be tough, be strong. Everything happened to me on that set."

On the nightmare that was "Hannah Montana," Part 3: "I would have anxiety attacks. I'd get hot flashes, feel like I was about to pass up or throw up. It would happen a lot before shows, and I'd have to cancel. Then the anxiety started coming from anxiety. I would be with my friends, thinking, I should be having so much fun. You get in this hole that seems like you're never going to be able to get out of."

On wanting to get it on with Joan Jett: "When [I] introduced Joan Jett into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I said, 'The reason I'm here tonight is because I want to fuck Joan,' everyone laughed because they thought it was a joke. It wasn't." (I believe you, Miley.)

On unrealistic beauty standards: "I'm probably never going to be the face of a traditional beauty company unless they want a weed-smoking, liberal-ass freak. But my dream was never to sell lip gloss. My dream is to save the world."

After you're finished pre-ordering your copy of Marie Claire's August issue (out August 18!), be sure to check out their damning expose on "The Coolest New Beauty Products to Have on Your Radar." ("From Louboutin lipsticks to micellar face wipes"). Marie Claire: fighting body dysmorphia one $300 bottle of Olaplex Hair Perfector at a time.

[via The Wrap]

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<p>Hugh Dancy</p>

'Hannibal' creator: 'I wanted to be sure we had an ending for the story'

Posted Aug 29, 2015 11:00 PM By  

Tonight, Bryan Fuller and company gave us the end of "Hannibal" as we know it. Even if the money and logistics can ever be worked out for some kind of movie or miniseries featuring Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, and this creative team, the show's time as an ongoing TV series is done, and it ended in a way that functions as a conclusion to the story, even if it's one that may outrage some fans. (My finale review is here.)

Earlier this week, I spoke with Fuller about that ending, potential ways he could continue the franchise, the challenges of finally doing a direct adaptation of "Red Dragon," and a lot more — including me having a very different interpretation of the post-credits scene than what Fuller intended — coming up just as soon as you take the key from around my neck...

At what point in the season did you realize that this is how you were going to end it?

Bryan Fuller: Probably about halfway through the season. We're always looking for a way to end a season in a way we could end the series. We never knew we were coming back. At the beginning of season 3, NBC was talking to me about new development, and that was a pretty big indicator to me that they weren't planning on picking up a season 4. So I wanted to be sure we had an ending for the story we were telling, but also leave room for a continuation of the tale of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham should we get the option to tell more of it.

So you have an idea in mind in the event of something more where this is not the end of the story?

Bryan Fuller: Right. In my mind, the most interesting chapter of Will Graham's story has yet to be told.

Once NBC made their decision official and you couldn't find a buyer elsewhere for a fourth season, were you at peace with the idea that this is it?

Bryan Fuller: I knew the writing was on the wall. I knew that we had gotten ridiculously preferential treatment on this show by the network. The fact that they allowed us to tell the tales we were telling, and in a manner that was much more suited to a cable audience than a broadcast network audience. They were bending over backwards to accommodate us, and I knew they could only bend so far with ratings as bad as we had! (laughs)

Where do things stand now? What are the options?

Bryan Fuller: Martha De Laurentiis is looking into financing for a feature film. The season 4 that we were going to tell is such a restart and reimagining that I still hope in some way that we get to tell a version of that, if not "Silence of the Lambs" itself, as a miniseries. I would love to return this cast to the big screen from whence they came, and Hannibal Lecter to the big screen, from whence he came. It seems perfectly symmetrical.

Last time we talked, you put the odds on a fourth season at 50-50. What would you say the odds are now for any kind of filmed continuation?

Bryan Fuller: Oh, God. I have no idea. I think they're less than 50/50, and not in our favor. But I'm curious to see how folks respond to the finale, and then also if that satisfies them? If that feels like "We got a conclusion to our story and it's wrapped up in a bow, and we don't need anymore," then the audience will dictate. But if the audience is still there for the show and still wants a continuation of that story, I'll continue looking for ways to give it to them.

Why does Will, to your mind, pull Hannibal off the cliff. Is it what Bedelia said about how he can't live with him or without him, so they have to go down together?

Bryan Fuller: Essentially, the conclusion of the season really started very early in the Italian chapter of the story, where Will is admitting if he doesn't kill Hannibal Lecter, he has the potential to become him. Then he escapes that trajectory with Hannibal being institutionalized, and finding a family, and once being exposed to the heroin needle again, as it were, he's realizing how much of an addict he actually is, but is aware enough to know, and to start making moves toward his previous goal of ending Hannibal. And he's willing to do what it takes. Bedelia says, "Can't live with him, can't live without him." It's not necessary for him to survive this, in order to accomplish what he needs to accomplish. There's something so fated about that final act of Will's. And also, the awareness of this is perhaps the best solution for both of them.

Hannibal looks so happy when Will is embracing him. Does he know what's going to happen next, or is he thrown for a loop when they go over the cliff?

Bryan Fuller: I think Hannibal is thrown for a loop when they go over. In that final scene between them, it was Hugh Dancy and I talking about what those last moments that we see of Hannibal and Will in the series on NBC, how they need to connect, and yet Will can't totally surrender to Hannibal, because he's still Will Graham and still a human being, but he also knows that it's going to be very difficult to go back to his family life, seeing his wife murdered over and over again in his mind every time that he looks at her. Any possibility of a relationship that could save him from Hannibal Lecter seems dimmer and dimmer in his mind, that it is acceptable to him that he not survive.

You've talked about this relationship in romantic terms. Bedelia makes that even more explicit in some of her conversations with both men this season. Was there any thought given to having them do more than embrace at the end, or would that in some way be diminishing the very unique and strange nature of their relationship?

Bryan Fuller: Mads and Hugh, there were a lot of takes where they got very intimate, and lips were hovering over lips. I definitely had the footage to go there, because Mads and Hugh were so game. They called me and warned me: "We really went for it!" And then I saw the dailies, I thought there was a fine line from that #Hannigraham fan fiction motive to give the hardcore audience exactly what they want in terms of this actually being a homosexual relationship between these two men, and what is authentic for the characters in that final moment. I mean, it's not "Brokeback Mountain." Mads isn't gonna be spitting on his hand and getting to work. (laughs) We felt we had to keep it genuine to the tone of the relationship as we've been telling it in the series, and even in that moment when Will asks if Hannibal is in love with him, and Bedelia says, "Of course he is, ya big queen!" Even in that moment, it's not quite dipping into the physical passions that would be the case if they were both homosexual. But I feel one is ominisexual and one is heterosexual and there's a lot of influence going back and forth, who knows with a six pack of beer what would happen.

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Jared Leto's journey to becoming The Joker continues...

Posted Mar 6, 2015 11:10 AM By Brendan O'Brien

UPDATE: August 26th, 2015

And just like that, Jared Leto says goodbye and his Joker journey has come to an end. 



A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

UPDATE: April 24th, 2015

Here he is... no more out of focus teases, or paparazzi shots.

UPDATE: April 20th, 2015

Some tricksy sneaky snooping snapshots are showing more of Jared Leto's Joker.

UPDATE: April 16th, 2015

WHOA! Jared Leto shared this via Snapchat.


UPDATE: April 10th, 2015

Suicide Squad Writer/Director David Ayer Tweeted out a look at Leto as The Joker.

A clear homage to this:

UPDATE: April 7th, 2015

Jared Leto jumped in the makeup chair and teased "Transformation begins." on Instagram


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

UPDATE: April 3rd, 2015 

Is he practicing?


A video posted by @echemarrya on

UPDATE: March 23rd, 2015

This could be Jared Leto giving us a sneak peek at his "Joker Voice"

Or it could just be Jared Leto being a good showman... or both! 

UPDATE: March 18th, 2015

Jared Leto just Snapchatted a video of himself being very Joker-y with a Batman score playing in the background.


He also posted a close up of those eyebrows. I think he is digging his new look.



Jared Leto's Joker journey continues as he colors his hair and takes his eyebrows... 

It was just a short while ago when we were all gazing at Jared Leto's amazing mane


Yes this happened. Me and the incredibly talented @benedictcumberbatch

A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

Then he did this.


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

Which made him look like this.


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

And now he's done this.


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

But wait, what is under those glasses? NOTHING! 


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

While it might look like he is going for his old Fight Club look, he is probably going for this.


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Series finale review: 'Hannibal' - 'The Wrath of the Lamb': Hannibal vs. the Great Red Dragon?

Posted Aug 29, 2015 11:01 PM By  

And so "Hannibal" has come to an end — at least on NBC, and probably in any kind of ongoing TV series form — with a corker of a finale that I had to discuss at length with Bryan Fuller. And I have my own thoughts on the finale coming up just as soon as I drop the mic...

"See? This is all I ever wanted for you, Will — for both of us." -Hannibal

Given that "Hannibal" has existed on the cancellation bubble for its entire run, Fuller says he likes to end every season with an episode that could function as a series finale if need be. But they've also been cliffhangers. Yes, ending the series with Will imprisoned for Hannibal's crimes would have been a sick joke, but there's so much more to see there; ditto ending it on Hannibal escaping the country after butchering Will and all his friends.

"The Wrath of the Lamb," though, wasn't so much a cliffhanger as a literal cliff jumper. There are certainly ways to continue the story from here, with one or both me surviving that terrifying plunge — Fuller, in fact, meant for the coda to suggest that Hannibal still lived and had come to give Bedelia the Abel Gideon treatment(*) — but watching it, knowing that NBC had canceled the show, that Amazon had passed on picking it up, and that the odds were getting longer by the day on this take on the characters continuing in any form, all I could think was, "Yeah, that seems about right."

(*) I initially read it a different way — that Hannibal's madness had infected Bedelia far more deeply than she let on to Hannibal, Will, or anyone else, and had decided to serve up herself to Hannibal once she knew he was on the loose — but a rewatch made Fuller's intentions clear. (In fairness, as with the Dragon's invasion of Molly's home a few weeks ago, the darkness of the screener made it tough to make out some details.)

I came into the series with virtually no interest in another Hannibal Lecter story, curious only to see what Fuller might do with the character. But Fuller, David Slade, Steve Lightfoot, and everyone else working on the show made a new believer out of me. This was yet another Hannibal Lecter story, at times — particularly during this final Red Dragon arc — quoting chapter and verse from both the books and the various film adaptations, but it was ultimately its own thing: imaginative and haunting and literary and utterly exquisite in its take on this monster, his cuisine, his many imitators, and the poor bastard cursed to spend a lifetime hunting him.

This season, though, showed the limits of even this (to borrow one of Fuller's own pet phrases) artsy-fartsy approach to Hannibal the Cannibal. Hannibal's fugitive European adventure contained some of the series' most stunning imagery, but was also the first time the show seemed to be calling attention to the implausibility of its own plotting. There was only so long Hannibal could stay out in the wild once his identity was known, yet it could also be frustrating at times to watch him behind the glass of his cell during the Red Dragon story, still influencing events, but mainly out of boredom and a sense of impotence. When Will put his plan in motion to free Hannibal in order to effect the deaths of both Hannibal and Francis Dolarhyde, I knew no good would come of it, and — even though I knew the show had been canceled and there was a slim chance of even a follow-up movie or miniseries — found myself cringing at the thought of Hannibal on the loose again after such a brief (for us, if not for him) incarceration.

So having Will recognize that this cycle will only keep repeating itself — and that he's spent far too much time around Hannibal to have a shot at any semblance of a normal life — and come up with a simple, elegant and (if the series never continues in some form) definitive end to the madness felt right. Fuller told me that he had a great plan in mind for the fourth season, and in some ways feels like Will's story really would only be beginning there — Maybe as a full-fledged apprentice of Hannibal's? — and if he ever gets the chance to keep going, I'll certainly watch. But right now, three seasons feels like enough, and getting an on-screen death for Hannibal (we can pretend that someone else is having Bedelia for dinner) helps separate the series in another way from the famous and well-explored Lecter canon.

And before we came to that moment, "The Wrath of the Lamb" was a terrific wrap-up to this telling of the Red Dragon's story, mixing in elements from the source material (Dolarhyde using Reba to fake his death) with new ones particular to this warped love story between cop and killer. The final fight on the cliff, with the three men cutting each other to pieces while Siouxsie Sioux's very James Bond-ian new song "Love Crime" played gave me goosebumps, even before Dolarhyde was dead and Will wrapped Hannibal in an embrace that made both men look as happy and content as they have at any point in the series.

You can, as always, question various plot points (could even an accomplished killer like Dolarhyde take out an entire armed convoy by himself?) and usage of other characters (if this is the last we'll see of Laurence Fishburne's Jack, it didn't feel like quite enough), but the beauty and the power and the madness were all there in abundance.

As Fuller noted to me, it is ridiculous and wonderful that NBC indulged him and his merry band for three seasons of stuff that — both for the gore and for the artistic aspirations — had absolutely no business being on a broadcast network. Maybe "Hannibal" could have survived another year or two if it started out on cable. But this feels like a satisfying amount, and there were ways in which being on NBC forced a structure on the show (the procedural investigations of the first two seasons) that Fuller didn't love, but that were better for its overall coherence.

But if they can get a movie of this wackadoodle take on things into theaters? Well, I'll be there on opening night to see how much weirder and more disgusting it gets once NBC's no longer involved.

So go read the Fuller interview, and for the last time — for now, anyway — what did everybody else think of this "Hannibal" episode?

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