American Idol: take that, judges

Last week I wrote that I thought the judges on “American Idol” were making a big mistake by making Ashton Jones a wild card, and not sending Robbie Rosen through. Was my point made loud and clear? Yes. More on that in a minute.

Last night’s results show was thankfully only an hour, unlike last week’s two-hour marathon. They showed footage of the contestants living in their Hollywood mansion, and then showed their awful group number, a Michael Jackson medley. Blech.

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American Idol: how serious are you?

To the contestants on “American Idol,” if you’ve made it to this week’s Final Four, you’re either on the verge of winning it all, or of being a pretender and fading into the show’s collective oblivion soon. Mentor Jamie Foxx signified as much when he had t-shirts made up that said “contestant” and “artist,” and told each one of them that they had to earn their artist shirt this week to prove they are ready. Corny, yes, but effective and correct. The theme this week was songs from movies, which is about as vast a catalog as there is.

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American Idol: competing with the Olympics

As Fox tries desperately to compete with NBC’s Winter Olympic coverage, they keep unveiling “first time in American Idol history” type stuff, which really is just a small break in format during Hollywood week.
But I’ll give them this…they are getting down to the final 24 quickly. Almost too quickly.

Last night’s two-hour episode began with the final 71 contestants being broken into three rooms. Two rooms would hold those advancing to the next round, and one room full of those heading home. This, after one final shot to impress the judges with a solo performance.

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A busy Monday in movieland…

…And not a whole lot of time to talk about it.

* Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” tested as the most memorable film commercial during last night’s hugely rated Superbowl and understandably so, it’s genuinely beautiful stuff. Past versions of the classic, however, have been somewhat hampered by the episodic — you might even say pre-Pythonesque — structure of Lewis Carrol/Charles Dodgson’s freewheeling children’s literary classic. (The first work of art to ever really blow my mind, I think.) The idea this time is to get around that problem by turning the film into something like a sequel to the original as concocted by writer Linda Woolverton. Storylines, or the lack thereof, have been Burton’s Achilles heel in the past, so this should be interesting.

johnny_depp_helena_bonham_carter_alice_in_wonderland_tim_burton

* The late Michael Jackson’s doctor has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

* We’ve had movies based on toys and board games, so why not a new movie based on this blog?

* In the seventies and eighties, horror films were often named after holidays. Now it’s ensemble romantic comedies, apparently.

* “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” meet “Mr. and Mrs. Jones.” (I guess “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Episode 1” didn’t do well in focus groups.)

* I’ve always loved Robert Wise’s great film of “The Andromeda Strain” and there are few movies I’ve detested more than Wolfgang Peterson’s “Outbreak.” (A virus is threatening all of humanity and I’m supposed to be distracted by an adorable monkey on loan from an overrated sitcom and helicopter chases???) I’m sure Steve Soderbergh’s “Contagion” will at least try to be closer to the Wise approach. Soderbergh may be uneven because he’s so unafraid to take huge chances, but when he pulls a movie together, few are better.

* Yet another item from Deadline|Hollywood’s ace, non-venomous reporter, reporter, Mike Fleming. Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of Michael Mann, is directing her first big feature (but not her first feature). It’s an intriguing sounding fact-inspired thriller about a series of unsolved Texas murders tied with the drug trade.

  

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Mid-holiday week movie news report (updated)

Somewhat to my surprise, given how slow Monday and Tuesday was, we have some movie news to report. Sadly, the first item is a bummer.

* Our very sincere condolences to the friends, family, and avid readers of writer and horror/gore maven Chas Balun, who died of cancer on December 18th. Probably mostly because of my phobia of the kind of movies he championed, Balun’s name wasn’t immediately familiar to me before this, but clearly the author and longtime contributor to Fangoria and Gorezone was a writer whose work meant a great deal to genre fans as well as a very sincere film geek/cinephile, and for that he has my respect. The Fangoria blog has a very good obituary.

* Sony has not been including a screener DVD for Duncan Jones’ highly regarded science fiction film, “Moon,” in its pre-Oscar promotional package. The result: “Twitter storm“!

Moon

* It’s now Sir Peter Jackson to you.  Considering the positive impact his LOTR tour de force must have had on the New Zealand economy, they might have considered making him king. Okay, New Zealand doesn’t have one. Also, I gather it’s more of a British Commonwealthy kind of a thing.

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