Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

“X Factor” hits wrong note

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Cheryl1Britain’s “The X Factor” has struck a bum chord, even before the main knock-out phase of the hugely popular TV show begins. Judge Cheryl Cole has incensed thousands of viewers with her selection of three finalists from a shortlist of eight contestants. Hopeful Gamu Nhengu, 18, was rejected by Cole, despite impressing with her audition and being among the early favourites to win the show.

One reason for the strength of the reaction — nearly 90,000 people have already leant their support to a Facebook page supporting Zimbabwe-born Nhengu — is that Cher Lloyd went through to the finals, despite being able to sing barely a note due to a sore throat. Katie Waissel also succeeded, despite failing to impress many who watched the show at the weekend. Only Cole’s choice of the accomplished Rebecca Ferguson was universally popular.

One fan summed up the mood with a blog post on the ITV show’s official website: “Oh well, no more X-factor for me then! My husband agrees. To put through Katie and Cher, and send Gamu home was confirmation that the show is rigged. What a complete farce. Did Cheryl take instructions from Simon Cowell on who she should pick so that none of the girls would win? Gamu was far and away the best of all the girls. I will never watch the x-factor again.”

Of course, the controversy and headlines it generates are likely to boost ratings when the competition proper gets underway, so suspicions of a set-up are rife. Bookmakers are already offering odds on Gamu being allowed back on to the show as a “surprise” wild card, and she is among the favourites to win. If that does come to pass, doubts about the show’s integrity are bound to grow.

Lily Allen blasts the BRITs

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Lily1Lily Allen has been quoted in the media as blasting the BRIT awards – the UK’s high-profile equivalent to the Grammys (think BAFTAs to the main prize the Oscars). The singer won best British solo female artist at the prize ceremony in February at which she also performed. Her website was not coy about the triumph, trumpeting the star on her official website and calling the award “coveted”.

Either Allen’s memory is short or her PR team is not on message, because in an interview that has just been aired as part of Sky Arts’ “In Confidence” series, she is quoted by the Mirror tabloid and Telegraph broadsheet as calling the prize a “non-award” that “means nothing”. ”The Brit Awards is a TV show, and a record company executive makes deals with ITV and the producers about who wins what award in exchange for performance time,” she said. “I got one last week and it just meant absolutely nothing to me, to be honest. It just became a non award.”

Simon Cowell FiXing it for X Factor’s Joe?

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Yes, that word “fix” has come back to haunt the X Factor in Britain, where Lloyd Daniels, the teenager who appeared to struggle with the basic skill of singing in tune, got booted off at the weekend.

Attention has now switched to who will win this year’s competition, with four contestants still in with a shout — Olly Murs, Danyl Johnson, Stacey Solomon acherylnd Joe McElderry. The smart money is on Joe, with Simon Cowell, the dominant figure on the judging panel and powerhouse in televised singing shows, naming him as the act to beat.

McCartney “in contact” with Lennon, Linda

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Paul McCartney says he is “kind of imccartneyn contact” with his late collaborator John Lennon and late wife Linda when he sings.

The 67-year-old spoke of what he felt when he performed at a Q and A session in London late on Wednesday. “If I’m doing something like ‘Something’ — the song — obviously I’m thinking of George (Harrison),” he said in comments quoted in the British press. He was promoting his new live CD and DVD “Good Evening New York City”.

Sting calls X Factor “appalling”

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stingBritish singer Sting has waded into the X Factor debate. In a week where the show’s most famous judge Simon Cowell came in for some fierce criticism for what British viewers saw as a cynical ploy to fix the results, Sting has called the popular television show “preposterous” and “appalling”.

In an interview with London’s Evening Standard, ostensibly to promote his new CD “If On a Winter’s Night”, the Police frontman-turned-solo star launched into the music talent contest which regularly attracts peak audiences of more than 15 million in the UK.

Live blog of MTV Europe Music Awards

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USA/Welcome to the Reuters live blog of the MTV Europe Music Awards in Berlin – hosted by U.S. pop singer Katy Perry (photo). 

A dozen Reuters reporters, photographers and television crew will be covering the event, one of the pop world’s biggest nights. From the news conference on Wednesday to the after-show party on Thursday we’ll bring you the highlights and low-lights. We’re using the #mtv as the hashtag if you want to follow us on Twitter:

Brit awards get U2 boost

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Irish rockers U2 will play the single “Get On Your Boots” from their upcoming album live during the BRIT awards, the UK’s answer to the Grammys. It will be interesting to see whether the high-profile performance will help boost the TV audience of the annual event, which is being broadcast live on ITV on Wednesday, Feb. 18th.

Organisers are certainly not shy about talking up the show and the band. “Their addition to the line-up for this year’s show makes it possibly the best we have ever had,” says Ged Doherty, chairman of the BRITs. “This cements the BRITs as one of the biggest TV events in  the world.u22

UK’s Alexandra Burke a million-single seller

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cowellBritish “X Factor” winner Alexandra Burke has just become a singles millionaire. Her version of “Hallelujah”, originally by Leonard Cohen, became the 10th single to reach the landmark this decade, according to the Official Charts Company, which compiles UK record sales.The feat, putting Burke in the company of the likes of Kylie Minogue (“Can’t Get You Out of My Head”) and Bob the Builder (“Can You Fix It”), underlines the strength of the UK singles market which has been boosted by digital downloads. Singles sales last year rose by a third, a rare piece of good news for the struggling music industry which has been hit hard by Internet piracy and the rapid rise of video gaming.It’s a safe bet that her debut album, whenever that may be, will enjoy similar chart domination, aided by the considerable marketing muscle of X Factor judge and producer Simon Cowell.

Lily Allen does NOT condone drug abuse

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British popster Lily Allen has issued a statement addressing remarks she made in a magazine interview about illegal drugs which caused a bit of a brouhaha in the media over the last 24 hours.

Speaking to “The Word” ahead of the launch of her nlily1ew album “It’s Not Me, It’s You”, on the EMI label, she said: “The only story is that drugs are bad and they will kill you. You will become a prostitute or a rapist or a dealer. But that’s not true. I know lots of people that take cocaine three nights a week and get up and go to work every day, no problem at all.”

Now you see it, now you don’t: Sting’s beard

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sting-with-beard.jpgNEW YORK – It seemed a strange time for a shave. After the main set and before the encore at The Police’s last ever concert, Sting sat down in a barber’s chair backstage and relaxed as two women shaved his face, first with electric razors then with a blade. The moment was filmed and beamed to a giant screen above the stage. 

Why, you might ask? Media commentators in the past week have been less than kind about his salt-and-pepper beard that was showing serious signs of grey — and age. Sting was quoted on Monday as saying “The ladies love it,” but perhaps something changed his mind.

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