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Top Chef All-Stars: epic battle to conclude season

We all knew this was going to be a heavyweight fight between Richard Blais and Mike Isabella on “Top Chef All-Stars.” But I think these two guys exceeded their own expectations as well as those of the viewers and judges and also their fellow chef-testants. The episode began with Richard and Mike chilling in their hotel suite–and with host Padma Lakshmi telling the eliminated chef-testants that they would be making a small bite (they call it an amuse-bouche) which would determine who the two finalists would be having as sous chefs on their respective teams. Mike wound up with Jamie (ha!), Carla and Tiffani; while Richard had Spike, Angelo and Antonia. Nicely done for Richard.

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American Idol: back down to earth

Last week, the performances on “American Idol” were among some of the best the show has ever seen. So where would they go this week, singing the songs of Elton John? They had to at least, to some degree, stumble back to earth. Right? Well some did, but some stayed on the same level they were on or even climbed higher. This is just a remarkable group of singers. Anyway, here is the recap as I saw it…….

THE AWESOME
I’m going to put one singer in this category today, and that was pimp spot lady, Haley Reinhart. Haley has been in the Bottom 3 multiple times, trying to find herself. But this time, she flew away, literally, singing a lounge version of “Bennie and the Jets.” I’m not keen on the Amy Winehouse impersonation thing, but Haley nailed the song, showing incredibly dynamics, and then just nailing the “Ben-Nay! Ben-Nay!” parts. J-Lo said “that was IT!” and that it all came together for Haley; Randy said it was the best performance of the night; and Steven said it was a well-placed chorus and added, “You sing sexy!” All of them were correct, and it was great to see Haley hit a home run in honor of baseball season starting today.

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The Biggest Loser: pampering should wait

Last night’s episode of “The Biggest Loser” was an interesting one with a lot going on. It began with Kaylee talking about how she felt bad about thinking she was ready to go home last week and throwing the weigh-in. Some of her fellow contestants, and especially her trainer Cara, were pissed. Kaylee’s dad Moses pointed out that he knew Kaylee was tired of the show’s gameplay, and that’s why she was ready to go home. Interesting.

Then they all walked into the gym and host Alison Sweeney was waiting for them. As Hannah said, that is never a good thing for them! Alison showed them all video from when they first were told they made it to the show. It was similar to “American Idol” where the contestants who made it were in a holding room in a hotel conference area, and Ali walked in to let them know if they were in or out. But while 11 teams made it, Alison spoke about the 12th team that did not—mother and son Leanne and Vance. And she showed footage where she had told the “white team” that they could earn their way onto campus in midseason. So here they were, but they had to have surpassed the person with the lowest percentage of weight loss currently on the show, who was Kaylee with 25.32% Vance weighed in first, and he had begun at 379 pounds, which meant he had to lose about 90 pounds to grab a spot on campus. He lost 30 pounds, so was way off. Leanne began at 315 and lost 45 pounds, which was great but not nearly good enough. Okay, so that was that. But both were told they were still eligible to win the “at-home” prize of $100K.

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“Mad Men” won’t be back until 2012

AMC has announced that “Mad Men” won’t return until 2012 for its fifth season. As you might expect, the delay is all about money.

In the meantime, the season 4 DVD of “Mad Men” has just been released, so you can get your fix by reliving the exploits of Don Draper, Joan and the gang from the past season.

Throughout Season Four, the center of the “Mad Men” universe continued to be Don, as we watched him variously win, temporarily alienate, and sometimes lose clients. After spending the first three seasons of the show as an enigma not only to others but to himself as well, Season Four was a voyage of exploration for Don, both in his personal life and in his career, and it was one which ended with his steadfast belief that he had finally found his future. But anyone who’s been watching this show since the beginning knows damned well that Don’s going to screw things up somehow. The excitement is in finding out how.

The biggest storyline for season 5 will likely revolve around Don’s surprise engagement to his hot young secretary, Megan (Jessica Paré), which surprised everyone in the final episode of season 4.

If you haven’t been watching this series, the season 5 delay gives you an opportunity to start at the beginning and get caught up. It’s one of the best shows on television so we highly recommend it.

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“The Lincoln Lawyer” is a pleasant surprise

matthew-mcconaughey-marisa-tomei-the-lincoln-lawyer

When I heard that Matthew McConaughey had the lead role, it was hard to get excited about this flick. McConaughey hasn’t exactly been challenging himself lately with the roles he chooses. Yet the rest of the cast is spectacular, with the beautiful and talented Marisa Tomei cast as the ex-wife and William H. Macy in a major role as well. Even Bryan Cranston shows up in a minor role and sexy Katherine Moennig makes an appearance and a cool prostitute.

I gave the film a shot, and I was pleasantly surprised. This legal thriller will keep you engaged throughout the film, and the chemistry between McConaughey and Tomei make this an excellent date movie as well. Their characters are divorced, but they’re still attracted to one another even if their jobs get in the way. A legal thriller might not be your first choice for a date movie, but you can do much worse. If you’re stuck at home and don’t have anyone to take to the movies, check out some free dating sites and recharge your personal life. The nice thing about a movie like “The Lincoln Lawyer” for a date flick is that there’s just enough romance and sexual tension to intrigue your date, but there plenty of excitement in the plot so that the romance and sex don’t dominate the film. Enjoy!

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