Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ellen lightens up American Idol

     Anyone that Simon Cowell calls a sadist deserves attention, and that's exactly how he described Ellen DeGeneres during a recent episode of American Idol.  Although the attention is supposed be on the contestants, the judge shakeup has caused more headlines about Ellen for the Fox show than anything else.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.  As ratings begin slipping for the nine year old show, though it does consistently remain the most watched series on television, an injection of fresh blood is needed.  Last year's addition of fourth judge Kara DioGuardi certainly didn't do it, and so, with the departure of the unintentionally funny Paula Abdul, the show turned to a woman from whom funnies is not an accident, but a lifestyle.

     And Ellen succeeded brilliantly her first two night on the air, joining the team during Hollywood Week.  She was hilarious, clearly had her own opinion, and actually seemed to add something to the discussion.  This is a very good thing for Idol, as up until now, Simon Cowell has been the only judge worth listening to, and while the show has been renewed for three more seasons, this will be Cowell's last.  There are still many weeks over which Ellen will have to prove herself if viewers are to tune in next season, but she was off to a good start.

     Looking at the contestants, Big Mike surely has the most moving story, with his child being born the morning of Group Day.  Thank goodness he passed on through the first two Hollywood rounds, as surely every viewer was rooting for him, attending the birth of his first offspring only by phone in order to pursue a dream.  It was a tough decision, and I'm sure glad I didn't have to make it.  He definitely has an understanding wife.  Other front runners include Andrew Garcia, who did an amazing rendition of "Straight Up", Lilly Scott, who channeled Ella Fitzgerald, and Didi Benami, who sang "Terrified".  But they all have a long way to go, as there were 71 contestants left after Group Day, and they will be cut down to 24 next week.

     American Idol airs on Fox, currently Tuesday and Wednesday nights, though keep an eye out on listings, as episode times and days often move around a little bit with each successive round.

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