Idol Worship: Catching Up With David Archuleta

Archie David Archuleta within driving distance? We're there! Since Archie was back in Hollywood last weekend to shoot a performance for the Nickeleodeon hit show iCarly, we decided to pop by the set and catch up with last season's American Idol runner-up. We arrived to to find David and iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove knee-deep in taping promos for his guest-starring role (airing Feb. 7), which can only be described as moments of acute awkwardness. But he got the hang of it soon enough, and even hinted later that there could be more acting gigs in his future. After performing two songs for the network's "Crush Night" (his first hit, "Crush," and second single, "A Little Too Not Over You"), David sat down to talk to us about this new phase in his life, and what may come next (a duet with Miranda?!). Read on for our exclusive (and classic Archie) Q&A... 

First off, how were your holidays?
It was so nice to be home because I haven't hung out with my brothers and sisters for so long. They've changed a lot over the year, and I didn't even notice. My 12-year-old sister has really matured. And my 9-year-old sister, well, she's kind of the same, but my brother's even taller. It was great to catch up with them and see what they're into because I didn't realize how out of the loop I was. It's like, you don't appreciate how busy you are until you come back and realize, "Woah, I missed a lot of my family life!" So I've been spending time with the family. My birthday is between Christmas and New Year's, so we all went to Las Vegas together, saw "Blue Man Group," you know...

And you were at the inauguration in D.C.?

I sang the National Anthem at the Latino gala, which was fun. Obama didn't come by, but there were a lot of cool people there. I got to meet Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony and they were super nice. They're some of the most well-known Latino people and were just so warm, welcoming and embracing to everyone. I was shocked that they knew who I was, but they watched the show! Marc was saying, "She calls you her other man and normally, if she did that, I would kick their... But you're OK." I was, like, "Awesome!"

So here we are on an entirely different kind of stage. How did you like your guest-starring experience on iCarly? Did Miranda give you pointers?
I didn't really ask for any. It's kind of like, the more you do it, the more you get the hang of it and find your own way of acting. I hope to do more acting — nothing too fancy or serious, more fun like this. But it's amazing to see how Miranda is in person, because she plays pretty nasty characters sometimes, like on Drake and Josh and in School of Rock. But we had a great time and I love hanging out with her. It's nice to work with someone who's in a similar situation, because Miranda has a record deal, too.

She's hoping to have an album out this summer, and told us she'd love to do a song with you.
Like a duet? That would be way cool.

Speaking of duets, you had your younger brother Daniel play with you at Sundance. Can we expect to see a repeat on your upcoming tour?
I don't know. That was kind of an experiment to see how it would go, and my brother still has some work to do. But it would be cool to have him come out on tour and play with me. It's more special that way, when you have someone who means a lot to you up there on that stage. And the thing about Sundance was, he got to experience a little bit of what I went through.

Any plans to pull a Jason/Michael Castro move on a future season of Idol?
Idol is not his thing, really. He just likes to play guitar and stuff, he doesn't have that big American Idol voice. Plus, he already has his own fans. A video he put up on YouTube got over 100,000 views, which is crazy.

How are you liking the more positive Idol so far this season?
I like it a lot. I still feel bad for people who do bad, but I'm so happy about the new setup and that Kara Dioguardi is there, because she has a lot of knowledge, experience and spunk. And she knows what she's looking for.

You've called her tough before. Was she like that working with you in the studio?
She just told it like it was. She's that kind of person — really forward, but easy to talk to and work with.

She and Simon do seem to clash a lot. When it comes time to voting, who do you think viewers will listen to?
Simon. People still put their trust in Simon, where they've kind of built their foundation on what Simon says. Like even if they like something, they'll change their mind if Simon says it's terrible. Or vice versa. He has a strong influence on people. But I think will Kara will shake that up a little because she's new and has really caught people's interest. Plus, she has a lot more experience with writing. But we'll have to see whether they agree with each other. I'm sure they'll try to have some tension there to liven things up. No matter what, it'll be good for the show.

This year, they're also having the Top 12 live in one house. How do you think that would have played out on your season?

A house together with, like, guys and girls? That's kind of risky. I think it would've been tough. We had roommates, but I like my privacy. Especially with performing; you're out there in front of everyone and meeting  so many people and smiling for so many pictures, it's nice to have a moment where it's no one but yourself. The we-all-live-here-it's-all-fair-game kind of thing? I don't know.

Any plans for you to perform on the show this season?
I haven't been approached yet, but I'd like to, even though it will be kind of weird to be back on that stage.

-- Shirley Halperin

January 29, 2009 in American Idol, Television | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack

Idol Worship: Week 2 News Recap

Sanjaya Elliott Yamin readying new album... Season 5 finalist Elliott Yamin has more than 35 songs in the can for his second album, due out May 5 on SONY/ATV Publishing's Hickory Records. The as-yet-untitled effort boasts heavy-hitters in the production world (among them: Jermaine Dupri, JR Rotem, Stargate and Harvey Mason, Jr.) and promises "numerous guest appearances." No doubt he's dreading having to decide which tracks to axe. [USA Today]

Justin Guarini tries country living... Season 1 runner-up Justin Guarini joins The Monkees' Mickey Dolenz, George Clinton, Sheila E., Taylor Dayne, 21 Jump Street alum Richard Grieco and scandalicious former Miss USA Tara Conner for the third installment of CMT's hit show, Gone Country (premiering January 24), and he knows exactly what to expect. "I’ve grown up in the south, so I don’t mind shoveling dung," Justin writes in his first blog post. [CMT]

Joanna Pacitti: Let the backlash begin... It turns out Louisville auditioner Joanna Pacitti has a sordid showbiz past. Well, nothing that horrific, just the same old nontroversy, as so aptly put by the folks over at Idolator. She had a record deal with Geffen/A&M, a single that went nowhere, a long-running starring role in the stage production of Annie (cut short just shy of the 20th Anniversary) and one of her songs was covered by Britney Spears. So that makes her undeserving of a second (or third) chance? Some think so. [MTV News, votefortheworst]

Taylor Hicks goes The Distance... The season 6 winner's sophomore effort will see a March 10 release via his own Modern Whomp Records. The album features several Eric Clapton cohorts in various roles, but no cover of "Layla," to fans' dismay. [Billboard]

Media's fascination with Sanjaya continues... His hair is longer than ever, and so is Sanjaya's staying power. The season 6 finalist was all over TV this week, promoting his memoir, Dancing To The Music In My Head, and accompanying EP. You had your predictable interviews (Good Morning America) and your awkward ones (Bill O'Reilly), but leave it to Howard Stern to bring out the best in his guests. A highlight: when Sanjaya opines, "penises are weird looking." Priceless. []

Mikalah Gordon can now do Vegas right... A handful of former Idol finalists converged on Hollywood hot spot Mood last weekend to celebrate Mikalah Gordon's 21st birthday. Original bikini girl, season 6's Antonella Barba, played host, while last season's Chikezi took the lead for the Happy Birthday song. On the pre-party red carpet, the Las Vegas native and season 4 Top 12-er declared, "I'm ready to take on Hollywood!" [MaximoTV]

Idols made the inauguration rounds... Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta, Chris Daughtry and Fantasia  performed at various inaugural balls on Tuesday night, but the Season 8 San Francisco auditions still trumped them all in the ratings. [LA Times]

-- Shirley Halperin

January 23, 2009 in American Idol, Television | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Idol Worship: Barberie To Host 'American Idol Extra?'

Jillian We haven't even gotten to Hollywood week yet, but Fox Reality Channel is already prepping for the final 10. We hear American Idol Extra will premiere on March 25 (a Wednesday!), continuing its tradition of being "the show that picks up right where American Idol leaves off." And like its big brother lead-in, it will feature a few changes of its own; Namely, a new host: Jillian Barberie.

The Good Day L.A. co-anchor has a long history with reality television (she was a contestant on the short-lived Fox series Skating With Celebrities and the former host of Ex-treme Dating) and with the network, going back to 2000 when she was hired as a correspondent for Fox NFL Sunday.

Since American Idol Extra premiered in March 2006, the show has had a revolving door of hosts, and like other Idol recap programs, it features former Idol finalists as co-hosts, most recently 2008's rocker duo Constantine Maroulis and Gina Glocksen.

This year, a source tells Billboard, season 5's Ace Young got the gig. He will assist in interviewing eliminated contestants and their families, and serve as the show's man-on-the-street correspondent (hey, he's certainly easier on the eyes than Matt Rogers). We also hear the show will introduce a live post-elimination element. As it was, Idol Extra always got first dibs on the week's ousted contestant, interviewing that person immediately after the credits rolled.

A rep for American Idol Extra would not confirm any of these details, but said to expect an announcement about the show's host and co-host next week. Barberie's publicist did not respond to our request for comment. -- Shirley Halperin

January 22, 2009 in American Idol, Television | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Idol Worship: 'Idol' 8.2 Redux

Joanna Welcome to an Obama-fied American Idol, brimming with stories of hope, struggle and unbridled optimism in this new era. Week two of the season 8 auditions brought dozens of contenders chanting "Yes we can" to Hollywood, but alas, San Francisco and Louisville's finest numbered relatively few. So instead, Kara and Simon's spats served as filler, along with some painfully awkward Paula moments, first courtesy of a clearly delusional Akilah Askew-Gholston and later with one Todd Plavsic, the straw-mooching tone-deaf nerd. We'd like to permanently erase them both from our memory, but there were a few auditions worth reliving. Here's our take on week two's most memorable moments:

1. Leneshe Young (Louisville)
Season 8's answer to Fantasia is the lovely Lenesha, whose tug-at-your-heartstrings back-story of homelessness and poverty was an obvious choice for the week's close-out segment. Only one thing made her audition just a tad more special than, say, San Fran's Kay Kalama (see No. 3): she sang an original song, and a decent one at that. Simon's already professed his love -- it's just a matter of time before the rest of America does, too.

2. Brent Keith Smith (Louisville)
The judges didn't let this looker talk very much, but we couldn't help noticing how chatty Kara and Paula suddenly got in his presence. Tongued tied, in fact, and bothered enough to duck under the table. Is the voice worthy of a one-way ticket to Hollywood? So far, we've only seen good enough in his Badfinger, but have some faith. 

3. Kai Kalama (San Francisco)
Looking for this year's Elliott Yamin narrative? Meet Kai, who spends every day caring for his ailing mother, the "only woman" in his life (yes, that means he's single, ladies). You knew this guy was going through, what with the build-up all episode long. But to our delight, Kai is not only easy on the eyes, but on the ears, too. The Top 12 is in his future, no doubt. We'd put money on it.

4. Joanna Pacitti (Louisville)
Carly Smithson, the sequel? Joanna Pacitti had a deal with A&M Records that went nowhere, but somewhere along the line, she managed to make an impression on Kara, which turned out to be a valuable, almost built-in endorsement. Having already paid her dues in L.A., the judges made it easy for the stunning Joanna and welcomed her back to Hollywood.

5. Matt Giraud (Louisville)
What Matt lacks in the confidence department, he more than makes up for with his Justin Timberlake looks. The girls were instant cheerleaders, while Simon had some criticisms, but in the end compared Matt's unexpectedly old school singing style to that of Elliott Yamin. We just like that he's a professional dueling piano player!

6. John Twiford (San Francisco)
As one of three successive contestants from L.A. to get a yellow ticket, they barely showed his San Francisco audition, but every season needs a long-hair and we like the look of John Twiford. First impression? He seems more Jason Castro than Bo Bice, but time will tell. And if he doesn't make it through Hollywood Week, at least home is but a few miles away.

7. Alexis Grace (Louisville)
We were expecting country flavor from this Memphis native and single mom, but cute-as-a-button Alexis Grace surprised us by braving Aretha and pulling it off (unlike the hot mess that was Tatiana Del Toro, No. 9). Simon made it very clear that she has a commercial, Idol-friendly look, but needs to "dirty up" a bit. We're not sure what that means, but here's to finding out.

8. Adam Lambert (San Francisco)
There's already been a good amount of buzz on Adam Lambert, the David Cook look-alike with an impressive theater background. Sure, he starred in the L.A. production of Wicked, but Broadway and Idol don't always mix, so we have our reservations. Still, Kara took an instant liking to him and even Simon fell in line. A little Idol makeover with less scruff and more shine could go a long way.   

9. Tatiana Del Toro (San Francisco)
With her Evanescence gown-gone-tragically bad and a full press kit in tow, trainwreck-in-the-making Tatiana broke one of Idol's cardinal rules: Don't try Aretha unless you are Aretha. But her all-drama vibe — hands clenched to heart — was apparently enough to get her through to Hollywood, to our astonishment. What were the judges smoking?

10. Jesus Valenzuela (San Francisco)
Ah, there's nothing quite like using children as Idol bait. Sure, Simon cut off this Aaron Neville wannabe four lines in, but somehow, Jesus managed to get through. Granted, his kids were cute, but his vocal abilities? Meh. We think Jesus might be better suited for Dr. Phil — after he gets the boot. And hey, it's never too early to teach your kids that life is full of disappointments, right?

Are we being excessively harsh on Jesus and Tatiana? What did you think of week 2 and who are your early picks for the Top 36? We wanna know! -- Shirley Halperin

January 22, 2009 in American Idol, Music, Television | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Idol Worship: 'Idol' 8.1 Redux

We're off and running, Idol fans, with two cities down on the Season 8 audition tour and six more to go. Perhaps you noticed some subtle changes during premiere week's first two episodes? Fewer freaks, faster turnaround, and a fourth judge who's not afraid to speak her mind. Judging by Kara Dioguardi's screen time, it's obvious the new girl's there to shake things up, and we welcome it wholeheartedly.

As far as the contestants go, for every diamond in the rough, there's the just plain rough, and Season 8 looks to have plenty of both. But so far, we've been pleasantly surprised by the talent turnout, or what the producers chose to show of it. Of course, well before Tuesday night's premiere, we'd already heard about bikini girl and the blind guy -- both of whom did not disappoint -- but we weren't expecting the Winehouse-ian display put on by so many of the female singers. With music sales (and ratings) down, at least we can still count on good taste.

We'll leave the live-blogging and endless pontificating about people whose names we won't remember five minutes from now to other Idol obsessives throughout the Web, and save our thoughts for the Top 36. But in the meantime, here are our picks for Week One's most memorable moments, ranging from the good to the great. As for the bad and, inevitably, tragic, let us know: who made your list?    

Emily Hughes (Phoenix)
Not only can she belt Heart's "Barracuda" and look like she's not even trying, this singer of an all-girl band did her Idol homework: She's ready to go the Daughtry route! And with her ridiculously adorable look (think: Drew Barrymore with tats), it's no wonder they put her through to Hollywood first.

Ariana Afsar (Phoenix)
At 16, Ariana's expressive, soulful vocal style is way beyond her years and she knows it. She nailed her audition with the Corinne Bailey Rae hit, "Put Your Records On," which should put some of the older contestants on immediate guard. Ariana's a no-brainer.

Casey Carlson (Kansas City)
Talk about the whole package, little Casey Carlton, who could easily double for Paramore's Hayley Williams, is not only a great singer, but fully understands the art of emoting for the Idol cameras. Even Simon was swooning, and her cuteness sealed the deal.

Lil Rounds (Kansas City)
A tug-at-your-heartstrings story, killer vocal chops and a great name, Lil is poised to be this year's Melinda Doolittle and is off to a great start. Weeks away from the Hollywood round, Randy has already compared her to Fantasia and Mary J. Blige!

Alex Wagner-Trugman (Phoenix)
Consider the geeky Alex Arizona's dark horse, with that Joe Cocker vibe and the confidence to call Simon out on one of his trademark nonsensical quips. He may end up outsmarting them all.

Michael Sarver (Phoenix)
He's got the backstory and the soulful voice, but also has the odds stacked against him. Still, the burly roughneck with the gentle touch makes for the perfect makeover candidate. Bring it on!

Scott Macintyre  (Phoenix)
A blind piano prodigy reaches for the sky and we think, "What is this, Dancing with the Stars?!" Cynicism aside, it was fairly obvious Scott would go through, considering they saved his extended at-home segment for last. His rendition of "And So It Goes" felt a little Phantom of the Opera to us, but there's potential there.

Von Smith (Kansas City)
With a voice that needs no amplification, Von could learn a thing or two about volume control, but like the judges, he won us over too. Of course, going a little less Broadway -- like losing the hat -- wouldn't be a bad idea.

Michael Castro (Kansas City)
Jason Castro's younger brother was one of the most anticipated contenders rumored to be trying out this season. He picked a great song (Gavin Degraw's "In Love With a Girl"), had an, um, interesting look (somewhere along the line, Michael opted for the punk rock route rather than the hippie train) and claimed he'd only started singing 20 days prior. And guess what? It showed. He was kind of meh. So now a slew of contestants are undoubtedly cursing the Castro clan's good luck. But we'll give him another chance.

Asa Barnes (Kansas City)
We love a snuggly velvet teddy bear as much as the next guy (or girl), but wouldn't necessarily object to a bit more of a Chris Brown vibe and a little less Luther Vandross. Could Asa be our answer? His take on "The Way You Make Me Feel" certainly showed promise. -- Shirley Halperin

January 15, 2009 in American Idol, Music, Television | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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