Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

With Norman Gentle, will comedy upend singing on “Idol”?


gentleIt was a pretty humdrum night on “American Idol” until Norman Gentle took the stage.

Until this season, every contestant to make it this far on the ultimate talent show has been unfailingly serious about their quest for fame (though, admittedly, the seriousness of Sanjaya Malakar’s 2007 turn is open to debate). They may tug at viewers’ heartstrings by saying they only want fame for the sake of family members who depend on them, and they may smile and joke, but none of them make a joke of the often humiliating process of laying it all out there on the “Idol” stage.

That has now changed with Nick Mitchell, who goes by the stage name Norman Gentle. Mitchell strutted onto the stage on Wednesday night wearing a 1980s headband, silver shirt, white tuxedo jacket with tails, and khaki shorts, writhing his way across the stage and all but prostrating himself in front of the “Idol” logo at the base of the judges’ table in an exaggerated parody of what contestants do every week on the show. Whereas other contestants sing their hearts out and then wait until afterward to ask America to vote for them, Mitchell just included a plea for votes right into his lyrics. He sang “And I Am Telling You” from the musical “Dreamgirls.” With lyrics like, ”I’m stayin’/ and you, and you/ you’re going to love me,” Mitchell was able to use the song to beg for his spot on the show.

Former ”Idol” contestant Jennifer Hudson sang the song in the movie version of “Dreamgirls” to wild critical acclaim, so the song is somewhat tied to the show. Even when Hudson sang it in the movie it had a story, because she was open about how her elimination from “Idol,” which came before her “Dreamgirls” role, was a crushing blow.

“American Idol” nixes nine


The Fox television show “American Idol” eliminated nine contestants on Wednesday night, allowing single mother Alexis Grace, widower Danny Gokey and oil rig worker Michael Sarver to advance.paula-abdul

A lot of contestants went home unhappy in the show’s first voter-driven elimination round. In past seasons, 24 contestants competed for votes. But the cast was expanded to 36 this season with nine contestants eliminated in each of three opening rounds of 12 contestants. Then, another three contestants will be brought back to the show as wildcards. Aside from some complicated math, the show’s new format also means numerous contestants are eliminated early on, just as viewers are starting to get to know them. 

Who will survive “Idol’s” opening round?


The judges on ”American Idol” broke down many of the first 12 competitors to take the cowellstage Tuesday night, saving their praise for a widower and a 21-year-old mom. Who will survive and who will go down on Wednesday night’s results show?

If “Idol” voters take their cue from the judges, the three competitors who will make it through will be Alexis Grace, Danny Gokey and either Anoop Desai, Rick Braddy, Michael Sarver or Tatiana Del Toro. The judges had very little good to say about the rest of the contestants.

Simon finally gets real about Idol’s Bikini Girl


Simon Cowell finally saw the light. America’s next Idol is NOT to be Bikini Girl Katrina Darell.ai8_hw-week_08332

But did she have to take hippy blonde Rose Flack down with her? And why did it take so long for Cowell (and the “American Idol” producers) to give Bikini Girl her marching orders?

The hair is back! Idol’s Sanjaya returns with EP, autobiog


TELEVISION-IDOL/“American Idol” finalist Sanjaya Malakar was one of the most talked about contestants in the sixth season of the hit TV singing contest due his various different hairstyles and pitchy singing. Now he is making a bid to build his 15 minutes of fame into a lifetime.

Sanjaya was just 17 when he made the top 12 in “American Idol” in 2007, winning the hearts of many of the youngsters in the audience who were dubbed “fanjayas,” although he failed to really impress the judges, particularly Simon Cowell. But now he’s back, releasing a five-track EP called “Dancing to the Music in My Head” and an autobiography of the same name. The story of his life dates back, oh at least two years, to give readers a “behind-the-scenes look at his unlikely rise to fame,” said a press release. 

“Bikini Girl,” new judge heat up “Idol” season premiere


idol_cast1The eighth season of “American Idol” kicked off on Tuesday night, bringing back all the hijinks viewers have come to expect from the world’s most popular reality talent show.

The huddled masses of singers yearning to be the next Kelly Clarkson or Chris Daughtry came out to a sweltering Phoenix, Arizona, where the now four celebrity judges either cooed over or mocked them as only “Idol” judges can.

New “Idol” judge brings girl power challenge “bully brother” Simon


Simon Cowell may have the casting vote in early audition rounds of “American Idol” but it sounds like new judge Kara DioGuardi and Paula Abdul bring some girl power of their own to the tart-tongued British judge they call a ‘”bully”FASHION/LEISURE.

“He’s the bully brother!. Sometimes we love each other, and sometimes I try to change seats. He’s annoying sometimes. I have to reel him in.  Kara finally sees what it’s like for me –  my own private hell,” Abdul told reporters of her love-hate relationship with Cowell.

New “Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi brings feisty opinion to show


LEISURESongwriter and producer Kara DioGuardi joins the “American Idol” judging line-up when the talent show returns for an 8th season this coming Tuesday, adding a fascinating twist to the Paula-Randy-Simon dynamic that has been as much a part of the TV’ show’s attraction as the contestants themselves.

But how will she fit in?  DioGuardi, who has worked with former Idol Kelly Clarkson and written songs for Carrie Underwood,  described her own persona on the panel as  “pretty feisty and opinionated but  also coming from a good place and who is trying to help the contestants.”

“American Idol” — time to stop the laughter?


USA/“American Idol” returns in January with a few tweaks but broadly the same mix of  tone-deaf singers and potential gems among the thousands trying out in the early audition rounds.

Snarky comments, and sometime helpless laughter from the judges, about the hopeless singers have always been a big part of the show’s appeal.

Can “Idol” finally win the top Emmy?


They did great things for “American Idol” by thrilling fans in one of the closest contests on that TV talent show in years, but can David Cook and David Archuleta turn the tide for “Idol” at the Emmy awards this year?

“Idol” might be the most watched show on U.S. television but it has struggled to get some love from Emmy voters over the last six years. The show with a huge fan base has won only one of the U.S. television industry’s top honors –  for technical direction for the 2007 charity special “Idol Gives Back.” But it has lost out for five years to “Amazing Race” in the contest for the top honor in its genre, best competitive reality show.