No Ju'Not? No way!

Maybe I should never again complain  about the lack of "American Idol" surprises. The one surprise tonight was nasty: Ju'Not Joyner -- a terrific singer -- isn't even getting a slot in Thursday's second-chance night.

Until now, surprises have been sparse. So far, I've predicted eight of the nine finalists; the only miss was a close one -- Michael Sarver edging Anoop Desai by less than one per cent.

Tonight's choices were kid of easy: Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds and Jorge Nunez all are strong, emotional singers. They also happen to be, respectively, blind, a mother of three and a cute guy who jumbles his English in the most charming of ways.

I had feared that Nunez would slip past Joyner for that third spot. What I didn't guess was that Joyner would be snubbed when the judges chose the eight people competing for the final three spots.

The people they did choose are solid: Desai made it, plus three other guys -- Von Smith, Ricky Braddy and Matt Geraud; the women are Jesse Langseth, Megan Joy Corkrey, Jasmine Murray and -- seemingly teetering in and out of sanity -- Tatiana Del Toro.

Even if Murray pulls an upset, there will only be two blacks in the final 12; if she doesn't, there will be only one. Joyner would have added to the total. He shouldn't have been cut.

I'll try some predictions. Please add yours, plus other comments:

1) So far, there are six men and three women. Judges will address that by picking two women and one man.

2) Jasmine will be one of the women. That will also address (a little) the racial imbalance.

3) "Idol" does best when there are some really attractive people, too. So Corkrey will get the other female spot; Desai will get the male one. It will be a good line-up, a good year. And when she's rejected anew, Tatiana will keep wobblig in and out of sanity.  





Can Jillian bring sanity to "Bachelor"?

So now Jillian Harris will try to bring sanity to the "Bachelor" process.

She brings two key advantages: She's Canadian and she's female.

(Please throw in your comments on this and on the "American Idol" blogs that follow.)

The last few guys have been absurd. One went through the whole process with 25 bright and beautiful women and chose no one; viewers wondered why they had bothered. Then Jason Mesnick kept choosing and unchoosing.

He went with Melissa Rycroft and they said they were going to be happy forever. Then -- in an hour that was taped six weeks later -- he said he really wanted Molly Malaney of Grand Rapids instead. In the next hour, taped six weeks after that, Molly said she was OK with it and was moving to his home town in Seattle.

This is a strange way to conduct romance, life or television. We're reminded again that the "Bachelor" version has never produced a marriage; one "Bachelorette" has.

Now the show returns to "Bachelorette" turf. In a show that will start in May and heads into the summer, Jillian will be choosing from 25 guys. She finished third this time. People liked her. She's now an interior designer in Vancouver, but she may be the first TV star to come from Peace River in Alberta, Canada. That is, one hopes, where sane people are raised. 

"Idol" adds the missing element

After its first two rounds, "American Idol" was still missing a key element -- a great, black singer. Now it has at least one, maybe two.

Lil Rounds sang beautifully to close the show; she should easily zoom into the final 12. Ju'Not Joyner also did a great job, but was sandwiched in the middle; some other guys followed strongly.

Powerhouse black singers have been part of this show from the beginning. Ten the 28 people to reach the show's final four have been black; from Ruben Studdard to Fantasia to Jordin Sparks, they have enriched "Idol" enormously.

But this year? In the first two rounds, the show added five whites and a Latina; something was missing.

Not tonight. Joyner has a great voice; Rounds has that plus a vibrant personality and three kids. Here are my thoughts; please add yours:

1) Sympathy can be a powerful factor and now there's an overload. Danny Gokey is a widower and Scott MacIntyre is blind; both happen to be strong singers and likable guys.

2) On an ordinary night, Felicia Barton would also be a strong contender. She's the one who didn't make the final 36, then was brought back when someone else was dropped. She sang well and is the best-looking person in the running.

3) And on an ordinary night, Kendall Beard would be dynamite. She's a Kellie Pickler type -- blonde and buoyant and country. But she picked a song ("This One's For the Girls") with limited potential. Whenever possible in a contest, sing a Martina McBride song; just don't sing THAT one.

4) Then there were the people lost in the shuffle, particularly Von Swift, who started the show so well. Maybe they'll be back on Thursday, when the judges add the final three people to the top 12.

5) Now for my should-advance and will-advance; it's much tougher than in previous weeks.

6) Should advance? I'll go with Lil Rounds as the best female, Ju'Not Joyner as the best male and Von Swift in the third spot.

7) Will advance? Definitely Scott MacIntyre and Lil Rounds, but the third spot could go in any of several directions. I'll guess Jorge Nunez, a likable guy who sang near the end, sang well and got lots of attention. We'll know soon.




Sorry, Jimmy; it was a bad start

We really were rooting for Jimmy Fallon on the opening of his latenight talk show (12:35 a.m. weekdays on NBC). This is an immensely likable guy, doing what he's always wanted to do.

Still, it's tough to deny: This was an awful start.

Sure, there were a few good things -- The Roots as the house band, Van Morrison as musical guest, an occasional sharp one-liner. Discussing some new computer stores, Fallon said they are sort of like regular stores, "except that when you ask the clerks a question, they freeze up."

Mostly, though, nothing went right. Fallon's done some stand-up comedy, but he still has little experience talking to an audience. The opening monolog had some decent lines, but it was stiff and faltering.

The next bit -- a game called "Lick It For Ten" -- was much worse. Audience members were brought onstage, to see if they would lick things for $10. Hint: People will lick anything on camera, even with zero dollars involved; these things -- a new lawnmower, etc. -- weren't even terribly unlickable. There was little fun to be found here and Fallon found none. Given a half-year to think of something, that was the best they could do?

Robert De Niro was pleasantly uncommunicative, Justin Timberlake tried to helpfully do some musical imitations. Mostly, Fallon was lost.

Things will be better tonight (technically, 12:35 a.m. Wednesday) for his second show, with Tina Fey as a guest. She's not as good an actor as Robert De Niro (few people are), but she's more of a talker than he is (almost everyone is).

Meanwhile, please drop in some comments about Fallon and (see previous blogs) about the "Bachelor" finale and "American Idol." We'll hope Fallon's show gets better quickly; it has to. 


A botched "Bachelor"

"I don't get it at all," Melissa Rycroft said on the post-"Bachelor" show Monday (March 2). "None of it makes sense."

And that provides a concise review of this round of "The Bachelor."

Jason Mesnick had told viewers he was really fond of one finalist (Molly Malaney of Grand Rapids), but the other one (Melissa Rycroft of Dallas, Texas) is open and easy to love. He proposed, she accepted, they said they were the happiest people on the planet.

The follow-up show was taped six weeks later. Mesnick said he had changed his mind and wanted Molly after all. Melissa raged, Molly hugged, Jason said he'd go slowly this time and we didn't get it at all; none of it made sense.

Another follow-up show is set for 10 p.m. today (Tuesday, March 3), to see how Jason and Molly are doing. Meanwhile, a summary:

1) One recent bachelor ended up choosing no one. He left the show without an ending.

2) Now Jason has done this. In the show's history, there have been zero marriages from the bachelor, one from the bachelorette.

3) The only logical conclusion is that guys should never be in charge of any decision.