September 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Danielle Bradbery took top honors on “The Voice” last season, becoming, at age 16, the youngest singer in the show’s four-season-long history to do so. The Texas teen’s first single, “The Heart of Dixie,” released in July, a week before her 17th birthday, showed off her pipes and her country-music-star potential, hitting No. 16 on the Billboard country songs chart. Her debut album, due out in November, is already generating buzz among fans of her silky vocals and sweet stage presence.
Will this season of “The Voice” — in which the show’s original four coach/mentors will reunite, as Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green return to their stately, spinning red chairs – find as worthy a winner? I’ll again be in my (alas, stationary and far less majestic) TV chair, tracking the competition for the Los Angeles Times. The show has just snagged an Emmy, proving its high ratings are not for nothing. Why not watch with me?
‘The Voice’ recap: Night 4 of blinds shows value of second chances (Los Angeles Times)
‘The Voice’ recap: Coaches play nice as blind auditions continue (Los Angeles Times)
‘The Voice’ recap: Talents impress in second night of blinds (Los Angeles Times)
‘The Voice’ recap: The old gang’s back for Season 5 (Los Angeles Times)
January 11, 2013 § Leave a comment
If the anonymous author of “Elimination Night,” a fictional confection set behind the scenes of a singing-competition TV show very much — perhaps exactly — like “American Idol,” is difficult to identify, the same cannot be said of most of the satirical novel’s characters.
There’s “erect-nippled” British judge Nigel Crowther, avuncular session musician JD Coolz, workaholic “HostBot” Wayne Shoreline, glamorous Bibi Vasquez (her big hit: “Bibi From the Hood”), aging recovering-addict rock star Joey Lovecraft.
If these characters don’t sound familiar, you’re clearly not an “American Idol” watcher, and “Elimination Night” probably isn’t a book for you. If, however, you’re ticking off the names Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler in your head, you may find yourself tempted to troll this send-up for “Idol” secrets spilled by the author, purportedly a show insider …
‘Elimination Night’ — What would the ‘Idol’ judges say? (Los Angeles Times)
February 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m blogging about “American Idol” for the Los Angeles Times again this season. It’s my third time around on Showtracker “Idol” duty, and I’m looking forward to a great Season 11. If the auditions, which just wrapped up in St. Louis, are any indication, we’ll see a lot of talent crowding the stage in Hollywood. (Hooray for that!) “Idol” judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler will have their work cut out for them when it comes to winnowing down the masses to a handful of finalists. Of course, there are always a few contestants who start out strong, only to take a heartbreaking tumble when the going gets tough in Tinseltown. Who will it be? Stay tuned …
Showtracker: “American Idol” recaps (Los Angeles Times)
January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Glee” has rounded the corner to the second half of its third season. As Rachel, Finn, Kurt and other New Directions members contemplate life after McKinley High, I continue to chart their high school heartaches and hard choices in the Los Angeles Times’ TV blog, Showtracker. Will Finn and Rachel marry? Will New Directions thwart that villain Sebastian and beat Dalton’s Warblers at Regionals? I, for one, can’t wait to find out.
Showtracker: “Glee” recaps (Los Angeles Times)
May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
During a recent episode of “American Idol,” the popular TV talent show in which the famously foul-mouthed and flamboyant Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler has reinvented himself as a family-friendly judge, host Ryan Seacrest good-naturedly stopped by the judging table to rib Tyler about his new book, “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?”
“This book is not for the faint of heart,” Seacrest noted, adding, “You’ve really exposed yourself here. Is there any area you haven’t touched?”
Tyler dodged the question, but the answer may well be “no.” …
April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
No Biking in the House Without a Helmet, Melissa Fay Greene’s new book about life with her nine children—four biological, five adopted—is a more revealing, richer book than its cutesy-parenting title might lead you to expect. In it, Greene, a two-time National Book Award finalist, recounts with warmth and humor how she and her criminal defense attorney husband, Donny, came to adopt first a 4-year-old Romani boy from an orphanage in Bulgaria, and then a daughter and three sons from Ethiopia, absorbing each into their upper-middle-class, Jewish, Atlanta home. “This book is the story of the creation of a family,” she writes. “It began in the usual way: a woman, a man, some babies. But then it took off in a modern direction, roping in a few older children from distant countries.” …
Review: “No Biking in the House Without a Helmet” (The Barnes and Noble Review)
April 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Every once in a while, you encounter a character in a work of fiction who feels like such a real person, such a friend, that once you finish the book, you miss having him around. Karim Issar, the protagonist of Teddy Wayne’s captivating debut novel, “Kapitoil,” is such a character. When we first meet Karim, a gifted computer programmer from Doha, Qatar, he is en route to New York City, flying in to help the financial services firm he works for, Schrub Equities, survive the Y2K bug. The year is 1999, and “Kapitoil” reminds us that pre-9/11 New York was not quite as innocent as we may remember it …
March 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
On December 8, 2007, Roger Rosenblatt’s 38-year-old daughter, Amy, collapsed while running on her treadmill in her Bethesda, Maryland, home. The two eldest of her three children, ages 6, 4 and 1, were playing nearby and ran for help. Amy’s husband, a hand surgeon, rushed to her and performed CPR, but it was too late. Amy — mother, daughter, sister, friend, doctor — had died instantly of a heart defect she hadn’t known she had. What happened in the months following this unimaginable event, how a family reassembles itself after a devastating loss and moves on, is the subject of Rosenblatt’s spare, moving book Making Toast …
Review: “Making Toast” by Roger Rosenblatt (The Barnes & Noble Review)
January 4, 2010 § Leave a comment
Anyone who has read Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, probably feels they know the author pretty well by now. In that book, Gilbert swept the reader into her world, her travels, her very thoughts as she launched herself out of a miserable marriage and brutal love affair and onto a redemptive quest to find pleasure, God and, ultimately, a sense of balance. Like happy travel companions, Gilbert’s readers tagged along as she devoured the sensuous dishes, sights, and cadences of Rome; experienced a spiritual awakening at an ashram in India; and at last found contentment in Bali, in the gauzily mosquito-netted bed of her kind, handsome, older Brazilian lover, “Felipe.” Through it all, Gilbert entertained us with her keen humor and keener self-awareness, turning what could have been a maddening ego trip into a pleasurable journey. Having been so open with her confidences, Gilbert now seems, to many readers, like a dear friend. When you’ve written a book like that — a book embraced by Oprah and squajillions of adoring women, a book that sat atop the New York Times paperback nonfiction bestseller list for 57 weeks, has been translated into 30 languages, and is currently being made into a movie starring Julia Roberts — what do you do for an encore? …
Review: “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert (The Barnes & Noble Review)
December 14, 2009 § Leave a comment
As anyone who has ever devoured an episode of Top Chef knows, even if you can’t taste the food, cooking competitions can be a sensual feast to watch: the thrilling mix of colors and textures; the urgent rhythm of knife work and quiet fluidity of kitchen choreography; the mounting tension as empty plates and persnickety palates await; the pleasure of presentation — the imagined tastes and aromas — followed by the painfully attenuated moment of judgment. And then there are all of those riveting chef personalities …
In Brief: “Knives at Dawn” by Andrew Friedman (The Barnes & Noble Review)