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American Idol: no save this time

I think with that title, you already know the outcome, but I’m going to recap last night’s “American Idol” results show anyway. Heck, at this stage, every elimination will be sort of shocking, because anyone left can win the whole thing.

The show began a Carole King medley that, well, I forwarded through. Then last season’s runner-up, Crystal Bowersox, sang her new single and it was decent but, to be honest, she would have no business being among this season’s Top 6.

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American Idol: hail to the (Carole) king

Last night’s episode of “American Idol” was a special one, because they were celebrating the songs of the great Carole King, one of the greatest American songwriters of all-time, and easily among the top five living songwriters. Couple that with the fact that Jimmy Iovine brought in Kenneth Babyface Edmunds to mentor the contestants this week, and you have the recipe for some amazing performances.

But then, the awesome has become the status quo this season and anything south of awesome is fodder for elimination. And last night most of the performances were really good, including the duets the remaining six did. Let’s recap, shall we?

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The Biggest Loser: shocking? Not really

Don’t you just love it when reality TV hosts, judges and contestants are “shocked” at something obvious? I am exaggerating, sure, but not a whole lot when you think about how things went down on “The Biggest Loser” last night.

First of all, thanks to the show NBC is pimping hard, “The Voice,” which premiered last night, they chopped “The Biggest Loser” down to an hour, a way more reasonable amount of time to expect us to devote, DVR or not.

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Easter with Tevye

I grew up in the kind of Jewish home where Santa Claus came on December 25 and a certain pagan rodent arrived on a seemingly random Sunday in the Spring, often accompanied by matzoh brie for breakfast if it was Passover.  Over the years, my inevitably confused interest in my Hebraic roots increased, and I quickly understood that the three holiest texts in Jewish scripture were the Torah, the Talmud, and Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof.

With a book by Joseph Stein, music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and drawn from stories by pseudonymous Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem, often called “the Jewish Mark Twain,” no Jewish wedding or bar/bat mitvah was complete without half the score. A particular must for even a lot of the non-Jewish weddings I’ve attended remains “Sunrise, Sunset.” The song, a succinct expression of the bittersweet feelings involved with watching beloved children turn into adults, remains the most effective technology for extracting tears from parents known prior to the release of “Toy Story 3.”

The tale of a goodnatured, deeply religious milkman trying to marry off his three daughters in the face of pogroms and the onslaught of history in early 20th century Tsarist Russia did roughly what “The Godfather” did for Italian-Americans (ethnic controversy notwithstanding) and “Roots” did for African-Americans, create a sense of history during a time when present day changes often seemed overwhelming. If you hadn’t seen “Fiddler,” as my mother’s friends inevitably called it, on the stage, you were suspect. If you missed the movie, you might as well get baptized.

All of which is just a longwinded way of saying that, when we the 40th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition of director Norman Jewison’s 1971 film of “Fiddler on the Roof,” genetics pretty much forced me to raise my hand for it, though it hasn’t been a favorite since the day I got my cinephile magic decoder ring. The slightly grainy and slightly gauzy film — director of photography Oswald Morris shot it entirely through a woman’s stocking and won one of the film’s three Oscars — looks as good as you can probably hope for on Blu-Ray, naturally, and John William’s solid but occasionally too-pretty adaptation of Jerry Bock’s score sounds nice, too, but the movie remains problematic for this viewer.

It’s not so different from a lot of other awkward stage-to-film musical translations of its time. Chiefly, Canadian director Jewison tries to adopt a realist approach to try to sell the highly theatrical material in the unforgiving medium of film, which might have been next to impossible regardless. Though Jewison retained much of the choreography by the legendary Jerome Robbins (“West Side Story”), setting it in real or real-looking locations is a doomed strategy. The best strictly musical scenes, like the famous “bottle dance” wedding sequence and the rousing “L’Chaim,” were shot on a London soundstage.

A solid cast led by Israeli actor Topol as Tevye, the milkman, and featuring Yiddish theater legend Molly Picon and future “Starsky and Hutch” star Michael Glaser (he’d add “Paul” to his name later) among many others, helps. Chaim Topol, who played the part on stage in London and Tel Aviv, is a better choice than the brash and notoriously difficult to control original Broadway Tevye, Zero Mostel, would have been. Among other issues, Woody Allen in “Annie Hall” was not the first movie Jew to break the forth wall and address the camera directly. No one would accuse Topol of underacting, but if it had been Mostel talking and singing at us about the importance of “Tradition,” the audience would have been forced into a defensive crouch.

Of course, there’s much more to than issues like cinematic style and acting to the ongoing appeal of “Fiddler on the Roof.” It remains popular not only in the U.S. but is still performed even in Japan, where the story of the breakdown of ancient traditions has had an oddly logical resonance. No amount of quibbling is going to kill the film version of “Fiddler,” nor should it.

Oh, and happy Easter if that’s your thing. Have a chocolate bunny for me.

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American Idol: a jinx no more

Last night’s “American Idol” featured what may have been a surprise, or maybe not, depending on your allegiance. The episode began with host Ryan Seacrest announcing the first of two group performances–Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” by Jacob, Stefano, Haley and Lauren. That was really pretty bad. Then Scotty, Casey and James sang Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” and just killed it–including some truly stunning harmonies.

On to the results…..Casey, safe….Jacob, Bottom 3. I had thought Jacob could be in danger, but then again, we’re getting down to the wire. Then David Cook sang his new single….was it really three years ago that Cooki was competing on the Idol stage? Wowl. Anyway, the song was good but not great. After that, they showed the Idols having fun–at a Dogers’ game, bowling and then getting spa treatments.

More results…..Lauren, safe; James, safe; Steafano Bottom 3. One spot left between Haley and Scotty. I thought for sure it was finally time for Scotty to be at risk, but alas, I was wrong. Haley, Bottom 3, again. Scotty, safe, again. So with automatic bids to continue, you had James, Scotty, Casey and Lauren. Then Seacrest apparently felt bad for making Haley suffer again and sent her back to safety.

So then we were down to Jacob and Stefano. But first, a weird performance from Katy Perry, “ET.” Weird, right down to the rap banter with Kanye West. Finally it was time for the result.

Stefano has been in the bottom serveral times now but he keeps fighting throgh it. And Jacob was not great on Wednesday. But in the end, it was indeed Stefano. I really thought Stefano did a nice job the other night, but in the end he went home, maybe a good month after we thought he would.

So we’re down to six..Lauren, Haley, Jacob, Casey, James and Scoty. Who do you like? Thanks for reading folks, see you next week…..

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A Chat with Arthur Darvill (“Doctor Who”)

Doctor Who” returns to BBC America on Saturday, April 23, but for the first time in the exceedingly long history of the franchise, the emphasis will be on the “America.” Not only does a portion of the season take place in the US of A, but, indeed, some of it was actually filmed here in the States. Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat with Arthur Darvill – he plays Rory, in case you didn’t know – about the new season, but since the thought of accidentally revealing anything of importance about the goings-on in the new season clearly petrified him, the majority of our conversation actually ended up being about last season. Still, he was willing to offer up a few teasing comments here and there, as you’ll see.

Stay tuned for…

Bullz-Eye: Well, I’m a big “Doctor Who” fan, so I followed your exploits all last season, and I’m sure you’re as excited as I am for these new episodes to hit the air, since you worked on them awhile back now.

Arthur Darvill: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we’re really excited about it coming out. The scale of it has gone up, and it’s bigger and better and more exciting. Yeah, I just can’t wait for people to see it, really.

Plus, of course, you’re in the States, which really ups the ante.

Absolutely.

Now, obviously, we’re excited about you guys having filmed here, but do you have a sense for how folks back home feel about you making your American debut?

I mean, it’s quite cool, I think, because “Doctor Who” is such a British institution, and it will always be quintessentially English, but to do an episode in America…? You know, we have so many… (Hesitates) All my old favorite films are American movies, and I think our cultures are very much linked, so to have an episode in America, yeah, I think everyone’s really excited about it.

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American Idol: this could be interesting

Hey, America….who did you vote for? Last night’s performances on “American Idol” proved that this season’s talent is incredible, but also that it gets harder to predict a frontrunner and/or a person that we think might be headed home.

The show began with host Ryan Seacrest introducing the so-far eliminated finalists, who performed Pink’s “So What.” Those folks would be Thia, Naima, Karen, Pia, Ashton, and Paul. Wow, Paul probably didn’t even have a chance to actually go home. It was sort of a “don’t forget about me” moment, but did we really need to see or hear Ashton or Karen again? Blech.

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The Biggest Loser: skinny girls unite

One thing I noticed about this season of “The Biggest Loser” is that there are quite a few people, mostly the ladies, who have lost a ton of weight and look like athletes now. And fatter folks like Arthur, Jay (even though he’s back), Arthur and Q get voted off. Last night that happened again.

The episode began as the two teams were still in New Zealand, and this time they were in Queenstown, and also host Alison Sweeney announced that the contestants would be going to singles again. No more teams, not nearly as much gameplay. And since they were doing that, Brett the trainer was brought back. But he was brought back in a parachute. That was cool. But it was just a sign of things to come, as this episode featured a lot of extreme sporting challenges and workouts.

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Forget about your favorite scary movie. Ghostface wants to know: What’s the worst horror sequel?

With “Scream 4” arriving in theaters this weekend, there’s been a lot of discussion over the Web about which “Scream” movie is the worst. Though reaction to the fourth installment has been pretty mixed, the general consensus seems to be that it’s a lot better than most people expected. Even our own David Medsker gave the film an enthusiastic 3 1/2 stars, suggesting that while it may not top the 1996 original, it should still satisfy fans of the series.

That’s not bad for a horror franchise whose last film (the terrible “Scream 3″) played a big role in why it’s taken 10 years to get another installment in theaters, especially because most horror franchises only seem to get worse with each successive sequel. The guys over at ScreenCrave recently put together a list of the five worst horror sequels ever made, and it’s hard to find any fault with their choices, even if there are plenty of candidates that could have easily been substituted. Check out the full list at ScreenCrave, along with breakdowns as to why they selected each film.

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American Idol: not a huge shock this week

Last week the collective viewership gasped when Pia Toscano was cut from “American Idol,” but it wasn’t quite that way this time. The results show began last night with Scotty and Lauren doing a duet of Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey.” It was really pretty good. Then there was the behind the scenes of the zombie themed Ford video, and then the video, which was mildly amusing. After that, Haley and Casey growled through a jazz tune called “Moanin’.” That wasn’t bad either.

Finally, some results. Lauren, Scotty, Casey and Haley–the first three all safe, Haley in the Bottom 3. Then they showed Rob Reiner coaching them all this past week. Really? Rob Reiner? After that Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean did their new single, “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” and that was really good too! Hey, not a bad results show.

Then Paul, Stefano, James and Jacob did a medley of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson.” Talk about a group of four that don’t belong together. Yikes. Not a great performance either. Time for results. James and Jacob, safe. Stefano and Paul, both in the Bottom 3. Then Rihanna sang her new single, “California King Bed.” Man, that was good too! A catchy song, with NO auto-tune. Imagine that. It was actually a really good pop/rock tune.

Then it was time for the results. Haley, safe. So down to Stefano and Paul. Going home…Paul McDonald. He went first on Wednesday and gave a lukewarm performance, while Stefano had one of his best yet. So that’s it. We’re now down to seven, and Paul was the first guy eliminated in the finals, which was quite interesting.

We’re getting closer and closer, and the talent pool is still very thick this season. Let’s see what happens next week, but I think Haley and Stefano should definitely be next to go. See you all next week…

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