February 26th, 2010
06:37 PM ET

Meet the man who downloaded iTunes' 10 billionth song

CNN met up with Louie Sulcer, who won an iTunes contest for downloading the store's 10 billionth song. Watch here:


Filed under: Music
February 26th, 2010
03:59 PM ET

Are you wearing black for Cash?

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash was born February 26, 1932.

Today would have been Johnny Cash's 78th birthday, and as we noted in a previous post, there's been a push by the Cash family, producer Rick Rubin and Cash's record label to get people to wear black in honor of the singer known as the Man in Black.

Yes, there's a promotional side to it - Cash's last Rubin-produced album was just released - but there's nothing wrong with paying tribute to Johnny Cash. As many of you indicated in your comments, he had quite an impact on American culture.

Some of the messages we received were quite moving, about parents who instilled their love of Cash's music in their children, or people who wrote about what songs such as "Man in Black" or "What Is Truth" meant to them.

So, are you wearing black? Let us know - and feel free to send images or videos to iReport.

February 26th, 2010
10:23 AM ET

The late night wars get political

David LettermanDavid Letterman got a lovely boost in ratings during NBC’s late night schedule flub, but as Jay Leno prepares to reclaim his old job as host of "The Tonight Show" on March 1, the former rivals will be battling for viewers once again.

Leno’s guest list for the first week back, you’ll recall, features Jamie Foxx and Olympic Gold Medal skier Lindsey Vonn on Monday and Olympic Gold Medal snowboarder Shaun White and Sarah Palin on Tuesday.

Sounds like pretty tempting television and Letterman isn’t going down without a fight. He has his own actor on Monday with the likes of Bill Murray, and will also have his own GOP card to play on Tuesday night with Mitt Romney.

He’s following that up with Tom Brokaw and Jerry Seinfeld Wednesday, Tom Hanks on Thursday and Matt Damon on Friday.


Filed under: David Letterman • Late Night comedy • television
February 25th, 2010
08:02 PM ET

First batch of 'Idol' contestants learn their fate

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*Spoiler alert: This post will reveal the names of the contestants eliminated from "American Idol." Do not continue to read this if you don't want to know the results.

Color me surprised. Out of the four that went home, I only predicted one correctly. I'm not sure America got it right, but the earlier performances were so subpar that frankly any number of contestants could have gone.

I hope that tonight made the remaining contestants realize that they really have to improve if they want a chance to make it to the top - at all.

How did you do with guessing who was going home?

8:56 p.m. Last one to go home. Casey James, Jermaine Sellers, Lee Dewyze and Andrew Garcia are safe.

That leaves Tyler Grady and Alex Lambert standing looking shocked. Simon predicts that Tyler is going home.

And the Brit is correct. Tyler Grady manages to blame it on the judges and their lack of "constructive criticism" during Hollywood week. Way to spin and deflect Tyler. Nicely done.

8:48 p.m. - Special announcement: "Idol Gives Back" returns on April 21. It was real special to see Ryan make a plea for more corporate sponsors.

Kris Allen is back to talk a bit about his trip to Haiti. He is still just as cute as a button. I had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his "Idol Gives Back" participation during a conference call a few days ago and he is just the nicest guy. Hearing him say "How's it going Lisa" made my heart flutter.

Back to the show, Kris sings "Let It Be" while we watch footage of his work in Haiti. I don't think we needed Seacrest to tell us ahead of time that it would be touching, but whatevs.

Sweet performance though.

8:37 p.m. - Tyler Grady is a special kid. I'll just leave it at that.

In terms of who is leaving us Michael Lynche, John Park, Aaron Kelly and Todrick Hall are all safe.

That leaves Tim Urban and Joe Muñoz ... and Joe is leaving?!?!?

What?!?!?!? Are you kidding me? Tim Urban was beyond wack!!! Joe had him beat by a mile.

I demand a recount!

8:26 p.m. -Back to the eliminations. Paige Miles, Lacey Brown (who really needs to be grateful), Lily Scott and Crystal "Mamasox" Bowersox are all safe.

That leaves Didi Benami and Ashley Rodriguez in the spotlight. Ashley is going home and I hate to say it, but her encore performance reminds us why.

8:22 p.m. - Oh how I have missed the little rocker chick!

Welcome back Allison Iraheta. The style squad has clearly been at work with the weave, the funky dress and combat boots. She's like Pink and Kelly Clarkson's little sister and a year has polished her already sharp performing skills.

She sings her little face off on her new single "Scars." And I am so glad that she has learned how to chat during the interviews.

8:12 p.m. - Ahhhh. The dreaded "hot seat." Siobhan Magnus, Haeley Vaughn, Katelyn Epperly, Michelle Delamor and Katie Stevens are all safe. Cue relieved and giddy family/friends.

Janell Wheeler gets the boot! Wow, I did not at all see that coming. True, her "What About Love" was karaoke, but I thought the viewers would cut her some slack.

Guess not.

8:07 p.m.- There is nothing I loathe more than a group performance. I like Estelle's "American Boy." When Estelle is singing it.

The "Idol version?" Super duper cheesy. Why, oh why do they do this to us?

Kara's husband is a hottie. Why did Casey James look like he forgot the words during the group sing??

8:00 p.m. – The drama is cranked up to high heaven tonight.

"They all are battling for their place in history?" It's not that deep, Ryan.

Here we go with the results.

February 25th, 2010
05:09 PM ET

'Idol' makes the cuts on Thursday night

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Thursday night is the night of reckoning for four “Idol” contestants.

Two men and two women will be sent packing, and while the performances were almost totally underwhelming across the board, I have my theories as to who we may be bidding "adieu" to in the first round of cuts.

Ladies first. Teacher Paige Miles was in the unenviable position of going first Tuesday night during the Top 12 girls’ performances.

The judges claimed to have enjoyed her cover of "All Right Now" by Free. The unwritten rule on “Idol,” however, is that he or she who goes first must blow the viewers away so folks remember to vote for you. She didn’t do that, and I think she might be going home as a result.

Ashley Rodriguez was up next, and her version of Leona Lewis’ “Happy” made the judges anything but.  A show of nerves plus some notes that got away from her could equal a ticket home.

Now on to the fellows. Tim Urban was an alternate who made it on to the show at the last minute after Top 24 contestant Chris Golightly was disqualified.

Urban may not have had much time to enjoy it, however, because he really should “Apologize” to fans for his version of that OneRepublic song. It was wrong on so many levels. (Simon was particularly harsh in his criticism of Urban.)

Jermaine Sellers went into the Top 12 men’s group hamstrung by an incident from Hollywood week where he, as Kara put it, “threw the band under the bus.” That show of possible diva-like behavior (or in this case, divo-like) left a bad taste in some fans mouths, as did his crooning of Oleta Adams’ “Get Here.” It might be buh-bye  for him.

However it shakes out, I hope tonight’s elimination shakes up the remaining contestants and pushes them to step up their performance game. Otherwise, it’s going to be a v-e-r-y long season.

Join CNN throughout the "American Idol" season as Lisa Respers France blogs live during the performance and result shows.

February 25th, 2010
04:00 PM ET

Where are the women?

Kathryn Bigelow could very well make history next month, becoming the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director.  But while that would certainly be a triumph for the talented director of "The Hurt Locker," it wouldn't necessarily signal a sea change in Hollywood gender equality.

Women may be half of the population – slightly more, actually – but according to a new study, actresses had just under 30% of the speaking roles in the 100 top-grossing movies of 2007.  Stacy Smith of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who conducted the study, found things even more unbalanced behind the camera: 83% of the directors, producers, and writers on those films were men.  Rebekah Spicuglia of the Women's Media Center says that last year, just 7% of the top 250 movies had female directors, and only 8% of feature film writing slots went to women.

Naturally, subject matter dictates the casting of some films, whether a war pic like "Hurt Locker", which had almost exclusively men on screen, or a movie like 2008's "The Women," which had an entirely female cast.  But such oddities aside, what's going on here?  If most movies aim to capture a slice of life, why is that life so overwhelmingly male?  Most people expect Hollywood's version to be more glamorous and violent and funny and heartbreaking than everyday life, but skewing it by sex doesn't seem to make sense.
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