The Glee Project: Tenacity

In the teaser, everyone who’s left talks about how intense the competition has gotten.

The homework assignment is Survivor by Destiny’s Child, which the judge Amber Riley will evaluate. She proved her tenacity by showing up despite having stress fractures in both legs. Amber wanted Abraham too be less of a diva and said that Lily didn’t show the feeling that she should. Amber loved Aylin’s voice and was struck by how much Ali went for it, so she was chosen as the winner.

There was no choreography this week was

The song for the video was “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor by Abraham struggled to get the notes, while Michael had problems, again, with lyrics. Nikki said  Shanna was great as was Blake, while Lily was too loud in the group recording. Aylin seemed to savor pointing that out as their rivalry heated up.

When filming the video, they had to do an intricate obstacle course in one take. If a single person screwed up, they had to redo everything. Lily, Aylin, Michael and Abraham had to do double dutch jump roping and they kept screwing up requiring more takes. Abraham sprained his ankle, but kept plugging along showing his tenacity. At the end Ali had to shoot a basket with one hand. She kept missing, which is understandable since she’s shooting from a lower position. In the end, the director had the other contestants lift her chair up closer to the basket. The whole shoot took 34 takes and exhausted the whole crew.

The video was far better than last week’s.

Lily, Abraham and Michael were selected for the bottom 3. Lily still can’t sing well in a group and Michael keeps flubbing the lyrics.

Lily belted out a song from Funny Girl with excellence. Michael was good, but I don’t remember that performance all that well. Abraham sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and also did a good job. In the end Ryan and Co. decided Abraham should go. While he’s not the strongest contestant, I was surprised Michael’s still around since learning the lyrics is pretty basic.

N.B. In my opinion no one has more tenacity than Nellie who put up with a lot of pressure to adopt a fake pin up girl persona. I expected Shanna now to get this pressure, but she escaped that fate.

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The Next Food Network Star

Martie, Yvan, Michele and Justin (clockwise)

Where has the summer gone? Already it’s time to choose the Next Food Network star. I haven’t watched from week one, but I have watched for a lot of the time. I like this “reality” show as the challenges are authentic, the show is testing the contestants ability to perform and cook.

Now we’re down to four contestants and I’ll share my preferences. We’ve got Michele on Bobby Flay‘s team, Yvan on Giada’s team and Justin and Martie on Alton’s team. is too tattooed and her food is too concentrated on seafood for me. I do like Yvan and would be happy to watch him week after week. He’s sweet and I’d make the dish he did on his pilot. I know my nieces and nephews would enjoy the sweet corn macaroni and cheese he made. Justin is interesting and while I’d go to his New York restaurant Do or Dine if I lived in New York, I wouldn’t make his edgy, mad scientist food. Southerner Martie is so down to earth and real. I do think I’d make her dishes and I would watch her. Though the Food Network has Paula Deen and now her son with their shows, I’m tired of the Deen’s. I always thought a week of Paula’s food would make your cholesterol and blood pressure skyrocket, while your midsection exploded. So I’d say Martie offers something new. Yet I think she’s a dark horse.

To sum up, I’m rooting for Yvan and Martie, but my guess is Justin will win. I’ve seen the polls on the website and he ranks highest.

The Glee Project: Theatricality

This week begins with Michael saying something I’ve forgotten. Why is someone so forgettable still around? Then Aylin mentioned how it’s quiet without Charlie. She soon suggests that without Charlie on set, being around Lily would be more of a problem. I expected some sparks to fly between Lily and Aylin as the competition narrows. No big explosion this week, possibly next.

Robert introduced the week’s mentor with a promising, “This is someone I’m sure you all know . . . ” then in walks they guy who plays the Warbler who taunts Kurt and wants Blaine, a character who’s not worth learning his name.

In season one of The Glee Project they didn’t have to dig into the ranks of the characters that don’t matter, why do we get this guy?

The contestants sang “I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line and their performance was okay, much better than the number in the video. Ali won the homework competition and got some bland advice from an actor who isn’t featured that much in the series.

The video this week took place in a grocery store and the contestants played bored employees with overt disdain for their work. (I can think of a lot of jobs that are worse and around me few high school kids get or take those jobs so it was actually implausible.) Then they all start daydreaming about being an iconic rock star dancing around the grocery store. I really don’t imagine that Madonna’s stepped inside a grocery store in 25 – 30 years. She probably would be stunned to see how far they’ve come in the interim.

Anyway, everyone was assigned a different iconic rock star as follows:

Poor Nellie. Britney Spears? For real? Why should a beautiful, intelligent woman which a more interesting sexuality have to play the vapid Spears? Come on. Pick on Shanna or Ali for a while. Or try this – respect the performers and negotiate the sexuality issues more. I know that’s not common in Hollywood, but I know a lot of people don’t watch Glee because it goes too far with sexuality.

How I wish Nellie had just walked out after telling off the judges. Blow them away by showing how authentic and assertive you can be and direct it at them.

She did politely, almost humorously, protest asking “Why do you always do this to me?” She’s on the money. There’s a masochistic desire for the mentors to goad Nellie into getting “sexier.” I wish she had seen how they’re not going to rest till she’s off the show almost. It’s bizarre how they’ve focused on her in this respect. If she had walked off, she could have gotten more air time on her terms.

It could work for her as she’s got a beautiful voice. I think Cameron’s leaving last year was brilliant. People learned who he was and I bet he grew his following when he stood up for what he believed. People do respect that.

Nikki put Abraham on the spot by asking him if he thought he was androgynous. He got very emotional about this and I have no idea why she asked except whether it was to throw him off.

The video shoot went as these things tend to do. I missed Charlie’s antics which spiced things up by riling up the judges.

The video itself wasn’t great because the song wasn’t. These things are hit or miss.

Bottom Three:

  • Lily, didn’t get into the persona of Lauper as she so much prefers her own
  • Abraham, who just didn’t perform as well as the others
  • Nellie, whom the judges enjoy needlessly pushing in a direction that’s stupid.

Michael should have been there since he blows the lyrics in the studio, but he did well as Elvis.

K-Pop Group: Super Junior

Abraham got very weepy when Ryan asked him about the androgynous label and shared how he’d been bullied. Ryan and the others are quite impressed with Abraham as a shape shifter. In reality he looks like any K-pop star I’ve seen. He could fill in for any missing member of Super Junior. Crying works with the judges here. Sad to say.

The judges told Lily that she just didn’t pull off a character at all, while everyone else did. I think she got mad. She started by blaming Zach saying the direction was unclear, but that came to haunt her because he would have nothing of that. Lily’s shrewd enough to figure that crying is the way to go. Boy did she turn on the water works. She begged to stay on the show and claimed that she could act her way out of a paper bag. Hmm if I were a judge, I’d be skeptical since other than the week when she was a bully, which was not a stretch, she hasn’t shown any acting ability.

I watched this on Tuesday and am writing on Thursday and the only performance I remember, the one who’s voice still replays in my head is Nellie. She was sent home. Unbelievable. Then not really. I wish her well and would buy her music. Same with Dani.

Not sure who I want to win now.

I do think Abraham will stay in till the end as Alex did last year. I’d think Michael won’t and soon Blake may be in danger. He’s so bland. Aylin has a good chance to stay. I’m not sure about Lily or Shanna. Now that Nellie’s gone Shanna may be the one who’s pressured to strut her stuff.

The Glee Project: Fearlessness

The theme was fearlessness and Jane Lynch was the mentor this week and she was a breath of fresh air. Not that the other cast members weren’t but Jane has an unique energy level. The contestants had to sing a rap song for their homework. They chose to do choreography involving everyone shaking their rear ends at Robert and Jane. Why didn’t anyone think that might be lame? Now that Mario’s gone there’s no one in the group that objects to the ideas.

Aylin and Charlie pledge to be less affectionate. Yeah, right. I do wonder what Aylin’s family thinks now that they can see this series. Turkey is progressive as far as Muslim countries go so they may not really be as strict as she says. A strict family would have watched Glee and then forbid their child to try out.

Lily won the personal mentoring session with Jane, who felt Lily was a young version of herself.

The video was much better than last week. This mash up of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and Pat Benatar‘s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”  was a slushie fight in a swimming pool.

Nellie, Aylin and Charlie were in the bottom three. I wouldn’t have had Nellie at the bottom this week. Yes, a person has to come out of her shell, but the mentors don’t have to go out of their way to insist that she be more blatantly sexual. I think she would have done fine. I’m not as impressed with Blake or Michael. Aylin was giggling and Charlie didn’t control his autism spectrum stuff so he had to perform.

Charlie went home despite a robust performance of Tom Jone’s “It’s Not Unusual.” I wouldn’t be surprised if next season we saw a character with autism of Ausberger’s, but the actor won’t actually have the condition so he’ll be easier to direct.

I’m glad Nellie and Aylin have another week.

Trivia: Aylin graduated from my sister and brother’s high school Loyola Academy, a Catholic school in Wilmette. It’s a rather progressive school so I’m surprised such strict parents would send her there.

the glee project: adaptability

Mario starts the show by declaring that he’ll rock the challenge as he has to adapt constantly since he’s blind. True. Yet such declarations tempt the gods.

Kevin McHale, a.k.a. Artie, was the mentor and thought Aylin performed Alanis Morissette’s “You Outta Know” best.

As the theme was adaptability, every step of the way — in the studio and with Zach, the choreographer, the contestants were kept in the dark about what they’d have to do. We’re told that this is common practice on the actual show. Both Shanna and Michael did well. Lily was solid, Aylin was hot, Abraham cut his breath off, A felt anxious. They didn’t bother to show Nellie or Mario in the studio. Since Nellie shown in the previous episode and has an interesting depth and good voice, I felt shortchanged.

Kevin coached Aylin to build on confidence, hardly Socrates-level advice. I do wonder how long these sessions last and what got edited out. I’d hope he could offer more and better coaching.

The video centered around a group of highly stereotyped rich and poor kids. The rich kids sat around in lavish furs and such while the poor kids sang happily in white t-shirts. Charlie adopted a persona, sort of a young Thurston Howell, III. The mentors thought this was bizarre. It was a little odd, but it did fit with the theme and they chose Charlie because of his autism-spectrum condition. What do they expect? They don’t get that if you have such a condition, you can’t instantly change. This was probably the poorest video The Glee Project has made to date. It was just too stereotypical and superficial. Nothing the contestants could have done this week could have saved it.

As a further twist there were six in the bottom who had to perform for Ryan. Aylin, Michael, Shanna, and Lily were safe.  Nellie and Blake sang Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl/Boy Like You.” I think Nellie outshone Blake who seems too bland for me.

Ali and Abraham had to sing Katy Perry’sLast Friday Night” and here Ali was the stronger performer. Ryan compared Ali to Dolly Parton, which was a dicey comment. All these contestants have to respond positively to anything the mentors say or they’re out on the street. Remembering that makes me all the more happy that Cameron just left the program of his own accord last you.

Finally Mario and Charlie sang Elton John‘s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”  In the end Mario was not called back. It seemed appropriate as he was just so arrogant, so above the others. That’s an inadvertent plus of The Glee Project. In a scripted show the person who’s blind is saintly. Here that just wasn’t the case. We got a real person and we won’t miss him in the weeks ahead as he was so self-absorbed.

Bill Cunnigham New York

Bill Cunningham (!) Taking Kate's Picture

Bill Cunningham (!) Taking Kate’s Picture (Photo credit: Shawn Hoke)

Although I read the New York  Times online, I had no idea who Bill Cunningham was. Partly, that’s due to the N.Y. Times limit of stories per month. Now it’s 10. Don’t get me started.

Netflix coaxed me into watching the documentary Bill Cunningham New York. What a gem!

Cunningham is a fashion photographer who celebrates how real people dress with style, wit and charm, but there’s more. He lives with such joy because he loves his work. He loves people and he loves simplicity. He is the heart and eyes of “In the Street” and Evening Hours, a column on parties for the beau monde.

The documentary Bill Cunningham New York invites us into Bill’s office and tiny apartment in Carnegie Hall, which is filled with file cabinets holding his prized work of about 5 decades. We get to see him on the street in all kinds of weather as he captures real fashion worn by everyone from socialites to the down and out. One of the great things about Bill is that he doesn’t judge the people, rather he admires and shares great fashion.

I delighted in his quirks. Though Bill goes to all kinds of expensive galas, he scrupulously refuses any food or drink for fear that these freebies might make him beholden. In fact he’s far from a gourmet. He pretty much eats sandwiches, coffee and probably water or other non-trendy beverages. Though he’s enamored with fashion, he pretty much sports the same nondescript slacks, Shetland sweaters and blue workman’s smocks that he found Paris street sweepers wear. Those smocks are durable, have a lot of pockets and cost like $20. When it’s cold, he dons a beret.

Over 80 years old, Bill’s main form of transportation is bicycle. At the time of the film, he’d had 27 bikes stolen and was on bike 28. He rode home at all hours even after his black tie events. At times I wished he’d take a cab fearing that even with his reflective vest some drunk might plow into him.

Everyone who’s anyone in New York seems to know Bill and the film features interviews with the dandies and socialites who seem to dress for him and his paper. The film shows Bill’s neighbors and fellow artists who face eviction as the artists are getting thrown out to make way for telemarketing or other such tenants. (It’s a shame, but the New York Times must pay Bill a decent salary and he’s been in a rent controlled apartment for over 50 years it seems. He’s not spending his money on food, clothes or transportation.)

Even if you’re not a big fashion lover, I think you’ll love watching a man who lives on his own terms with lots of joie de vivre.

the glee project: sexuality

This episode’s theme was sexuality and Naya Rivera (Santana) was the mentor. The gang sang a song I can’t remember and there was a lot of sultry looks and pumping and grinding. How I long for a bit more sophistication in our culture. I don’t blame the contestants they’re just seeing what’s out there and emulating. (Porpoise of Life’s blogger couldn’t remember the song either. Not a good sign. I did just watch the beginning again and the song was “I Wanna Sex You Up.” Ho hum.)

If you’ve seen the show you can pretty much predict how a lot of the contestants responded. Aylin was exuberant, but worried about what her parents thought. Yet she doesn’t really seem to care so it’s something of a non-issue. Tyler reminded us that his transgender transition makes this tough for him, yet when Robert announced the theme he was jubilant. I guess he just got caught up in the mob response.

Charlie won the homework competition and was on cloud 9 knowing that Naya considered him the success in the sexuality challenge. Yet this turned out to be a bit of a curse as it made him cocky the rest of the week.

The Star of the Week

Nellie interested me the most this week. She was honest and admitted this was a stretch since she hadn’t even seen a guy naked. I was glad someone had a different perspective. It’s interesting to watch someone who seems so real live through this fish bowl experiment.

The video for the week’s setting was a high school sex ed class in which a dowdy, non-sexy teacher assigns the class to write an essay on “What Sexuality Means to Me.” The Glee Project did get the banality and triviality that can pervade US classrooms right, but really this is an assignment that would result in parental outcry. Why should a teacher read and evaluate students’ sexuality? Is that their job? No teacher who’s right in the head would assign something that begs parents to call and complain.

Sexiness is in the eye of the beholder

In the studio, Michael stumbled over the lyrics as he sang with Mario. He just couldn’t get them right and in the end Nikki had to ask him to leave. Still over the moon from his homework win, Charlie was flirting with Aylin while recording which just made him look immature. He needs to wake up if he wants to stay.

Then during the video shoot, Charlie let his ADD and attitude get the best of him as he tried to direct Erik the Director, who was remarkably patient.

Tyler just got lost in the crowd. Lily vamped up her performance and shy Nellie got out of her shell and excelled in the shoot.

Tyler, Michael and Charlie had to do last chance performances. Charlie did a fun rendition of “I Get a Kick Out of You,” which got Ryan and Co. to overlook Charlie’s lack of professionalism that week.

Michael sang and forgot the words to “Lucky.” I thought he was a goner. Tyler sang Charlie Chaplin‘s “Smile” which he mentioned he’d never heard although it was featured in Glee‘s first season. If I were going on The Glee Project, I’d watch all the Glee episodes again since they tend to pull TGP songs from the series since those have been cleared for legal rights. I thought Tyler did a poor job and I winced at times as he was off pitch at times.

Michael and Tyler both botched their performances. Tyler’s been in the final three regularly and always reminds his judges that he’s going through a major transition vis-a-vis his gender. It’s true and sincere, but should he constantly get excused and protected? Then blowing the lyrics twice is quite a blunder. In the end the judges decided that Tyler should go. While they liked him and sympathized with his challenges, as Zach told Charlie, “This is a job.”  Tough as it was to do, the judges sent Tyler home.

I think that was the right decision, hard as it may have been. I doubt Tyler could deal — all at once — with the physical, emotional and professional challenges he signed himself up for.