Justice in 30 seconds?


Did Asuka Kondoh realize she might need to do a solo tonight?

It didn't seem like it, and that's the key to "So You Think You Can Dance." First, the show chooses the bottom three duos, by viewer vote; then those six people each get 30 seconds to impress the judges, who oust one man and one woman.

Most people try very hard. They run, leap, throw a lifetime of dance moves into that half-minute. Nigel Lythgoe then criticizes them for seeming "a little desperate"; instead, he should simply consider expanding their time a little.

Asuka, however, did none of that. She wore heels -- not your best solo-dance choice -- and sort of moved around appealingly, without really doing anything.

We weren't surprised when she was ousted. We were, however, surprised when Johathan Platero went, too. He mixed dance and acrobatics vibrantly; he may have been desperate, but he was also entertaining. And he was out.

We had expected Jonathan and Karla Garcia to be in the bottom three, along with Asuka and Vitolio Jeune. The surprise was that Jason Glover and Caitlin Kinney were the other duo ; it had seemed like their dynamic, "Carmina Burana" routine would draw votes. It didn't, but they both danced their way to survival.

And yes, it was nice to see the show give a nod to Michael Jackson, who died today. This was the guy who reminded us that rock-pop-r&b music can merge wonderfully with dance. He transformed MTV from a mostly white channel to an exciting place ... until, alas, it kind of forgot what the "M" was for. It once stood for music and magic and Michael; it had some great moments.

 

Reality: Good guy wins; great dancers soar


Good guys really do win reality shows sometimes.

Tonight, Lou Diamond Phillips -- strong, sturdy, dependable -- won "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here." Two other good people (Torrie Wilson and John Salley) finished second and third. By then, the seedy sort -- Janice Dickinson and Spencer Pratt and such -- were gone.

For interviews with some "Celebrity" people, catch the blogs leading up to this one. Meanwhile, some comments on tonight's "So You Think You Can Dance":

1) Dancing with furniture can be precarious. Last week, a couch number sent a couple to the bottom three. Tonight, Brandon Bryant and Janette Manrara had an easy chair, Phillip Cabeeb had to leap lengthwise over a sofa. If I were them, I'd at least try to bargain it down to a folding chair.

2) Evan Kasprzak, the Bloomfield Hills dancer, is vibrant whenever he's given a zesty number. Tonight's admire-her-butt piece with Randi Evans was a delight.

3) Nigel Lythgoe was reasonably restrained with his "butt" puns. He had already topped himself, however, when pointing to the great support Ade (pronounced a-day) Obayomi provided. Quoting the old Vicki Carr song, he said, "What a difference Ade makes."

4) Ade does, indeed, make a big difference. Paired with ballet dancer Melissa Sandvig, he works wonders.

5) I'm not so sure about Nigel's claim that hip-hop dancers must incite fear. That sounds way too white-English-guy to me.

6) Tonight, we heard what fields these contestants would be in if they couldn't dance. It probably doesn't surprise anyone that the choices include model, actress and dance teacher. Caitlin Kinney chose broadcast journalist; Karla Garcia chose print journalist ... which was, if memory serves, once an actual profession.

7) There were, however, some happy surprises in there. Evan fixes cars; Randi, to her immense credit, is close to a degree in teaching special ed to elementary-age kids.

8) Then there was Janette, who didn't exactly capture the mood of the nation with her desire to be a bank loan officer. She did grant that it's "not the funnest thing in the world."

9) The music can make a huge differennce. Jason Glover and Caitlin had music from "Carmina Burana," which has done wonders for figure skaters, movies, ads and more; it added magnificence to their piece. And Ade and Melissa were helped by the lush beauty of "Emotion," sung by Destiny's Child.

10) OK, I've been kind of avoiding making a prediction on who will be in the bottom three. (This is a strong field, hard to separate.) I'll guess three of the early duos -- Janette and Brandon, Karla and Johnathan, Asuka Kondoh and Vitolio Jeune; I could, of course, be extremely wrong.

 

 

Sanjaya's jungle dads




At 19, Sanjaya Malakar is still moving up. He finished seventh in "American Idol," reached the top five in "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here."

Now comes the "Celebrity" finale tonight (Wednesday, June 24). Here's a quick phone interview with him:

For Sanjaya Malakar, tonight's reality
finale is sort of a battle of father figures.

There will be John Salley and Lou
Diamond Phillips, alongside Torrie Wilson, in “I'm a Celebrity …
Get Me Out of Here” (8 p.m., NBC). Both the men, Malakar said, have
had a paternal impact.

“I have an incredible father,” he
said today by phone, “but he grew up without a dad and he didn't
know how to do many things, like taking you fishing.”

His own dad had lived in a boarding
school in India since he was 5, learning to be a Hindu holy man. He
would later marry an Italian-American, have two kids and divorce when
Sanjaya was 3.

“It was a really comfortable
divorce,” Malakar said, recalling one time when his parents lived
in the same house in Hawaii, while his dad was working on bringing
his new wife from India.

Still, it wasn't an everyday-dad kind
of thing. He felt some of that when bonding with Phillips (an actor)
and Salley (a former basketball player). “I'm very proud of both of
them.”

Patti Blagojevich, the other person
ousted Tuesday, also praised Salley and Phillips, but said she'll be
rooting for Wilson (a wrestler). She talked fondly today of her
colleagues and even the setting. “I'll miss the jungle … I'll
miss the beauty of the place I was in.”

Neither one had been expected to
prosper in that Costa Rican setting. Malakar – just 19 years old
and 135 pounds – prospered, winning most of the challenges. “Nine
out of 12 trials ain't bad,” he said. “And I know exactly why I
didn't win the other three. So in my mind, I won nine out of nine.”

He was filled with excess energy –
especially after producers told him he had to stop singing, because
they would then have to buy song rights. Often, he would slip off to
sing to himself. “It was like it was a drug and I was trying to hid
it from everyone.”

Still awake after the others went to
sleep, he would simply stare at the stars or start a project. At one
point, he was using jungle material to make a wedding dress for Heidi
Montag and Spencer Pratt; “they were going to renew their vows on
the show.”

They left after Montag became sick, but
her sister Holly soon arrived and befriended him. Now Malakar said he
and Holly hope to take a vacation in Hawaii. “It would be really
exciting to be in a jungle, but also have the luxury of a hotel.”

He had been working on his music in New
York, but now he's switching directions. Malakar plans to move back
home to Seattle and work with other independent musicians, including
his sister. “She's been a writer for a long time … Now I have a
lot of new songs I've written.”

"Celebrity" nears its big (well, sort of) finale


We're down to the final two nights of "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here."

On Monday, Stephen Baldwin left and the five survivors had a choice of re-admitting Janice Dickinson or Holly Montag (Heidi's sister). In the most one-sided victory since Nikita Kruschev beat no one, Holly won. Alas, she soon lost a food challenge and was gone.

Tonight (8-9 p.m. Tuesday on NBC), the field is trimmed from five to three. On Wednesday, there will be a champion.

First, however, let's meet the recently departed. Here's an interview with Baldwin; the previous blog catches Janice and Holly:


As Stephen Baldwin sees it, the
surprise isn't that he left a reality show just five days from the
finish.

The surprise is that he lasted almost
19 days in the Costa Rican jungle. “By the eighth day, I had
already had 125 pretty-serious insect bites,” Baldwin said by phone
today.

Those combined with an allergy, he
said. He stayed 11 more days, then departed Friday; since the show
doesn't air on weekends, viewers learned about it Monday – just two
days from the finale.

Insecticides don't help in the jungle,
Baldwin said. “Anything you spray on, you sweat off in 10 minutes.”

Other celebrities had the fierce bites,
but not the allergies. They included:

– Lou Diamond Phillips was heavily
bitten, but remained strong. Baldwin sees Torrie Wilson or Phillips
as the top prospects to win.

– Sanjaya Malakar also survived
extreme bites. Baldwin – who had once predicted the slender
teen-ager would leave early – emerged with newfound respect. “He
has this whole kind of hidden Mowgli vibe,” he said, referring to
the “Jungle Book” boy raised by wolves.

Indeed, Baldwin emerged with a
favorable view of his colleagues – more favorable than his brother
Daniel, who was ousted a week ago.

Daniel was extremely critical of Janice
Dickinson, but Stephen was moderatge. “She can be a bit
overbearing, but I don't think that's such a bad thing. (Under all
that,) I really feel there's a wonderful person.”

And Daniel was skeptical of Holly
Montag's religious fervor, saying that just before Stephen (a
born-again Christian) baptized her, she asked to be turned around so
the camera could see her better.

“That could be misconstrued,”
Stephen said. “Heidi Montag's faith is completely authentic … She
was so into the moment, she just wanted everyone to share it.”

He enjoyed the friendships (and the
loss of 22 pounds), he said, but was surprised “to find out how
much I wanted a cup of coffee.” Meanwhile, his health crumbled.

Baldwin said he threw up for the first
three days after leaving the jungle. Doctors tended to him, removing
two larvae that were in his skin. His kids, he said, were surprised
to learn that “one of Daddy's new titles is 'parasite host.'”

– When: Final episodes are 8 p.m.
today and Wednesday, NBC

– Who's left: Patti Blagojevich
(politician's wife), Sanjaya Malakar (singer), Lou Diamond Phillips
(actor), John Salley (sports-talk host, former basketball player),
Torrie Wilson (wrestler).

 

 

 

Reality shows: Good "Giveaway"; silly "Celebrity"


Sometimes, reality shows really do deliver joy and justice. Sometimes, they're just silly.

The latter is typified by "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here," now down to its final three days. I'll have an interview with the latest evictees in a minute; first, however, the joyous finish (Sunday, June 21) to "HGTV $250,000 Giveway."

We liked the runners-up, the Marquezes; they remained calm, quiet and careful. But we couldn't help rooting for the Duvernays. Hard-hit by the recession, they needed the win. They tried hard, scrambled, always seemed on the verge of crumbling ... and always pulled it out in the end. They clearly had the bigger and better approach; it was great to see them win.

And what about "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here"? On Thursday, viewers ousted Janice Dickinson and Holly Montag. Tonight (8-10 p.m. Monday, June 22, on NBC), one more person goes. The finale will be 8-9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; first, here's an interview with the latest two to go:





On her first day out of “I'm a
Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here,” Janice Dickinson was in denial
mode.

No, she said by phone, she wasn't
mocking Holly Montag in the comments she made in private to the
camera, after apologizing to her in person. “Holly Montag has got a
wonderful future,” she said.

Then again, Dickinson previously denied
swiping a granola bar and urinating in the middle of the camp site,
in the Costa Rican jungle. A camera recorded the latter.

“I'm menopausal and … it's hard to
hold it in,” Dickinson said Friday. “I have night blindness and
the bathroom area was 250 feet away.”

So yes, she did it. And yes, she took
the granola bar. “I felt it was my duty,” she said.

On the day after she and Montag were
evicted (via viewer vote), both were upbeat. Dickinson called this
“the greatest TV show in the world” four times; Montag said she
didn't feel mocked. “We're all loving,” she said.

Viewers logically cast the Montag
sisters – Heidi and Holly – as rich, blonde beauties from Beverly
Hills. In truth, Holly said, “we grew up in very hard times” in
Colorado.

Her sister was the outdoors type, she
said, and started a charity when she was 11. “Heidi has the best
heart of anyone I've ever know. She is so sweet and giving.”

Heidi also was fascinated by glamor,
Holly said, and quickly became part of it. After college, Holly
joined her for the most recent season of the MTV reality show “The
Hills.”
Then Heidi and her husband, Spencer Pratt, were on
“Celebrity,” creating confrontations. They left after a week,
with Holly promptly added to the show.

Dickinson insisted she has no grudge
against Heidi or Spencer. Holly said that one description of her
sister becoming “the next Mother Teresa” is sort of reasonable –
within limits. “I don't think she'll go celibate any time soon.”

Dickinson grumbled about John Salley
and Torrie Wilson, but had high praise for Lou Diamond Phillips.
“He's 100-percent a gentleman. He's a marvelous father and a
courteous man.”

Holly Montag agreed and both praised
Sanjaya Malakar. He is a warm and likable friend, they said …
albeit an exhausting one.

“We'd all be going to bed and he'd
start singing and talking. He'd be over there shaking my hammock and
wanting to talk. It was endearing, but I wanted to sleep.”