July 31st, 2009
07:16 PM ET

A day of contrast at the Television Critics Association

You know it's the home stretch at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, when you have so many interviews that you have to schedule bathroom breaks and ditch lunch.

From my first interview with the ladies of Lifetime's show "Rita Rocks," (Tisha Campbell-Martin and Nicole Sullivan who by the way are FULLY pregnant and just weeks away from their due dates) to my non-stop laughfest with comedienne-actress MoNique, to the intensely serious talk with Edward Norton. I sat in the CNN suite of the Langham Hotel in Pasadena for nine hours through more than 15 interviews on Thursday.

Some of it goes in one ear and right out the other, but some of it really stays with you. Today MoNique and Edward Norton's words stuck with me. MoNique has always had that effect on me because she is REAL whether you like it or not. Real about Hollywood,  real about current news topics, VERY real about race in America and real about her beloved Larry King! Yes, I said Larry King. Before I could ask her a single question, she said she wanted to get a message across to Larry King. So, she looked into the camera and asked Larry to be a guest on her upcoming late night talk show on BET. She even gave out her digits so he could call her back and make it happen. She LOVES Larry King. She talked about her upcoming show, her critically acclaimed film "Precious," and thanked President Barack Obama for talking about racial profiling and having the professor and the cop over a beer. She could have gone on and on about ANY topic.

But the tone in the room changed when actor Edward Norton walked in to promote his new documentary "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama" which his company Classic 5 films produced. He was initially very quiet but once he relaxed a bit he talked, without taking a break at times, about how the directors got access to then presidential candidate Obama's inner circle to shoot hours of private meetings and behind the scenes footage for the documentary while Obama zigazagged the country campaigning. Norton says he doesn't think this is a puff piece like some, on the right side of the political landscape, might think try to label it. He says it's simply a history of one of the most important times in America.

Interesting documentary to say the least.

 

July 31st, 2009
10:52 AM ET

Return of the Atlanta ‘Housewives’

Watch out - the Georgia peaches are back!

The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” returned for season two on Thursday night and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited.

Nobody brings the drama like the ATL crew, so I can’t wait to see what they have served up for us this time around.

The usual cast of characters is back – NeNe Leakes, Sheree Whitfield, Lisa Wu Hartwell, and Kim Zolciak – with a new addition, singer/songwriter Kandi Burruss. (DeShawn Snow is no longer with the show.)

We learn that NeNe and her family have moved into a new home near Lisa and Ed, who are considering having a new baby; Kim has broken up with Big Poppa and wants to start her own line of wigs; and Kandi’s mom is not happy about Kandi marrying a man with six kids.

NeNe, Lisa and Sheree seem headed for a showdown with Kim, who they hear has been talking junk about them around town.

For all this, the real star of Thursday’s show was Sheree.

She and her kids have been evicted from her home, she says, because her ex didn’t pay the mortgage. And she and NeNe appear to have buried the hatchet.

But the moment that had me going “Oh no he didn’t!” was when Sheree’s party planner, Anthony, got all up in her face and served her a big old fat helping of cuss out with a side order of attitude!

Sheree was planning a party to celebrate her divorce being finalized (minus her seven figures it appears) and she was less than pleased with the customer service Anthony was offering.

He didn’t come through with a promised helicopter for her entrance, or the planned meeting with the poet who was to memorialize Sheree in print. What he did do was go off on her, inform her that her name was “burnt in the industry” and get into a screaming match that almost came to blows.

The moment Anthony let loose with “Your mama’s a b--” I thought for sure that Sheree, who got in his face as well, was going to punch him out.

You do NOT mess with a girl from Cleveland.

What did you think of the premiere?

July 31st, 2009
09:20 AM ET

'Dance' gives enjoyable results show

Last week's results show, featuring Emmy-winning dance routines, must have been very well-received, because the producers of "So You Think You Can Dance" decided to bring back several contestants again this week to perform the Emmy-nominated dances from last season. So once again, it was a very enjoyable results show that offered much more than just a 50-minute wait for the eliminations.

After a Tyce Diorio-choreographed group dance based on "Send in the Clowns" (the "saddest" routine ever, according to host Cat Deeley), it was time to get down to business, as Deeley announced the first dancer who would go to next week's finale. She noted that this person did not necessarily get the most votes. ... So it was rather anticlimactic, but a pleasant surprise to see Jeanine announced as the first dancer to be safe.

Season four's Jessica and Will came out next to perform Diorio's Emmy-nominated "Adam and Eve" routine, one of the most beautiful ever performed on the show, and a chance for the pair to do the encore performance they never had a chance to do in last season's finale due to Jessica's injury.

The guys came out next to learn which dancer would be the second person to be in the final four, and after last night's spectacular solo, there was no doubt that Brandon would be safe. (Since the safe dancer was not necessarily the one with the most votes, the producers could have made him wait to find out, just so the audience could see that solo again... but then again, where would be the suspense in that?) Judge Mary Murphy took the opportunity to mention that she believed in Brandon from the start unlike fellow judge Lil' C and choreographer/occasional judge Mia Michaels. Michaels might never live that down, though she does have that Emmy as consolation.

Mark and Chelsie did an encore of the final Emmy-nominated routine, "Bleeding Love" by Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo, a hip-hop number which always brings the house down, and this time was no exception.

Sean Paul came out to perform his latest hit, followed by the exciting announcement by Deeley that next week's season finale would take place in Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, on the same stage where the Academy Awards are presented.

Then, without further ado, Deeley brought out Kayla and Melissa to tell them the news: Kayla would be going to the final four. Melissa appeared to be expecting this, but was quite grateful for the opportunity and had words of encouragement for other ballerinas out there, "naughty" and otherwise.

As for Kayla, it was clear that she had been a judge's favorite, but it has definitely been an uphill battle for her, having been in the bottom two and three so many times this season. At the same time, she clearly shined on Wednesday night, so there was little doubt that the audience would pick up the phone for her.

With five left in the competition, it was time to say goodbye to a guy as well, and Deeley delivered the bad news to Ade.

What do you think? Did America make the right choices for the final four? Whom do you want to see win it all next week?

July 30th, 2009
12:04 PM ET

Hey, Jude: ready for more diaper duty?

Jude Law is prepping for new roles on stage, screen... and in the nursery.  Yep, the 36-year-old actor, who's divorced from the mother of his three children, will become a daddy again this fall - and he's no longer in a relationship with the mother-to-be.   In a statement, Law's spokesperson confirmed the actor's paternity, saying "Mr. Law is no longer in a relationship with the individual concerned but he intends to be a fully supportive part of the child's life.

Just to recap: Law and actress Sadie Frost divorced in 2003, after three kids and six years of marriage.  The next year, People magazine named him its Sexiest Man Alive; he starred as an unfaithful lover in "Closer" and as a womanizer in "Alfie;" and he became engaged to his "Alfie" co-star, Sienna Miller.  In 2005, he reteamed with Miller in "Casanova," but their engagement ended after Law admitted to an affair with his children's nanny, Daisy Wright.  As they say, you need a scorecard.

Law will open in "Hamlet" on Broadway in October, and star opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in the movie "Sherlock Holmes" this December.  Are you more interested in his performances on stage, on screen, or in real life?

July 30th, 2009
10:41 AM ET

Memorable and not so memorable dances

With six dancers remaining and just over a week left until the season finale, the pressure was on, on "So You Think You Can Dance" on Wednesday night. As the night went on, it became more difficult to tell who might stay and who might go. After last week's extraordinary, touching performance it seemed as though Melissa and Ade had the wind at their backs, but as onetime frontrunner Janette proved last week, one sub-par dance could make all the difference.

so you think you can dance

The show began with the three remaining guys, Ade, Brandon and Evan performing a Willy Wonka-inspired jazz routine by Sonya Tayeh. The judges seemed surprised by how much Evan stood out here against the other two guys, who were more in their comfort zone.

Jeanine and Ade took on a sizzling samba by "Dancing with the Stars'" Louis van Amstel, which nevertheless seemed to leave the judges cold. Judge Mary Murphy enjoyed the first 15 seconds, then thought it fell apart afterwards. Lil' C critiqued it in a way all his own, saying that he saw no "explosion of excellence." Nigel was especially critical of Ade wanting to see him excel more outside of his own style.

The pair came back later in the night with a hip-hop routine from Tabitha and Napoleon, and that was more to the judges' liking. Mary even made a point to mention how wonderful she thought Jeanine was in the samba before calling this performance "tremendous." Lil' C liked how Ade's "dirty kind of groove" came out, giving it his "bucc" seal of approval. So maybe the pair weren't in so much trouble after all.

Melissa was first paired with Evan for a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine using "Get Me to the Church on Time." Evan was loving this routine which suited him to a tee, so the judges had high expectations. Lil' C gave them an A, but expected an A+. Nigel and Mary, however, were pleased overall.

Van Amstel returned to choreograph the dreaded quickstep with Melissa and Evan which they performed later on, a routine which didn't exactly wow Mary. Lil' C felt that Evan danced "bigger" than he ever had before, and Nigel took the time to reassure Melissa after her mention of being the oldest dancer in the show's history at 29 (though it might not have been the best idea to compare her to Cloris Leachman). Evan has a big following, so don't count him out, but Melissa could be in trouble based on this.

The final couple, Brandon and Kayla, took on a contemporary routine by Stacey Tookey. Lil' C called it "beyond amazing," especially since he considers Brandon the first partner she was matched with equally. Mary and Nigel praised the pair's technique.

When it comes to disco, "So You Think You Can Dance" has a very mixed record, and this was Brandon's second time performing in this style. The result was a performance (choreographed by Doriana Sanchez) filled with lifts and other tricks, which seemed to exhaust them towards the end, though they did a great job not showing how tired they were. Lil' C said that this performance showed that they had learned to "see with their ears." Mary paid special attention to the "double death drop" in ther routine as well. Nigel had a very "professional" critique of the dance which consisted of him screaming at the top of his lungs like Mary.

The show ended with the three girls performing a very fun routine choreographed by Tayeh, in which they portrayed superheroes. Lil' C thought that the trio really didn't "go for the gusto," he got amazing but needed "more than amazing." Mary disagreed, saying that amazing was, well, amazing. She felt that Kayla stood out among the three, but Nigel found them all equally good.

As for the solos, Brandon's was by far the most memorable because it got the crowd and the judges on their feet, Nigel calling it one of the best in the show's history.

Indeed, it appeared that Brandon, and for that matter, Kayla (whose solo didn't disappoint either) could do no wrong this week.

So, if America concurs with the judges' comments, it seems like Ade could be facing elimination, and it's anyone's guess whether Melissa or Jeanine will be joining him. Whom do you think is going home, and which dancer has the best shot at the title of America's favorite?

July 30th, 2009
02:50 AM ET

Harry Connick Jr. takes on Elvis and the Beatles

A lot of people know Harry Connick Jr. better as an actor now, but he's going back to his roots as a recording artist. 

His p.r. firm announced the singer/musician will release a new album on vinyl on August 25th, called "Your Songs".    It comes out on CD format the following month.

The vinyl-first, CD-second approach is not the only thing novel about the record.  It also marks the first time Connick has worked so closely with a music industry exec.  The legendary Clive Davis picked most of the songs for him to sing, according to the p.r. firm.

And it's an interesting track list.  Connick sings Elvis' hit "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" and the Beatles' "And I Love Her", backed by a full jazz band and string orchestra.

Not content to take on those giants, he's also got a version of Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa", Frank Sinatra's "All The Way", and Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are".

Harry's top-selling disc remains his 1993 album "When My Heart Finds Christmas", which the Recording Industry Association of America has certified as triple platinum (sales of over 3 million units).

Do you think he has the vocal chops to cover Elvis and the Beatles?

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