April Showers Bring May
Lots of Idol news to start
the week off. First of all, we have conflicting reports as to the
severity of an injury suffered by Season 6 American Idol Champion Jordin
Sparks. The New York Post was reporting as of Tuesday that she has
suffered a potential career threatening acute vocal-cord hemorrhaging.
And a couple of doctors weighed in on the effect this injury might have.
From the same article on Tuesday--Dr. Gwen Korovin, a voice specialist
to the stars who also teaches at NYU School of Medicine, said Sparks
should not speak or cough until her doctors give her the green light -
or else she may risk permanent damage. "Even a heavy sneeze could have
an adverse effect," Korovin said. Dr. Jeffrey Libin - a Mount Sinai
Medical Center specialist in vocal-cord injuries - said it could be
licked with strict rest.
"It's non-negotiable: You have to cancel [concerts], I don't care if
you're singing the national anthem at Madison Square Garden," Libin
said. "If you have vocal-cord hemorrhaging and it's caught early, the
great majority will resolve completely."
Libin said vocal-cord bleeding can be caused by any of several causes,
including vocal strain, a persistent cough, vomiting or even food
"Sparks has been going nonstop over the past two years, and now she's
going through the normal course of learning how to manage and care for
her voice," said a spokesman for her record label, 19 Recordings/Jive
Records. "Her energy is good, and she is resting, though she was
disappointed at missing the first two weeks of her tour with Alicia
Keys. "Sparks already canceled an appearance last week on Live With
Regis and Kelly Show as well as Monday's Earth Day concert on the
National Mall in Washington D.C. She is expected to join Alicia Keys in
Whatever the injury, we at the Block Party wish her well. Let us hope
that this promising young voice has not been silenced too early.
In a fun "Where Are They
Now" Idol piece of news, The Post reported that William Hung, the man
who made the audition phase of Idol a must watch each season has quietly
enrolled at California State University Northridge to complete his
Bachelors degree in a double major, math and education. He now wants to
be a teacher.
"I think teaching is more exciting," he told his new college's student
newspaper, the Daily Sundial. "I get to learn and teach something new
"I've been performing everywhere around the world, and I've gotten a
record contract with a New York record company," he told the paper.
"I appreciate the fan support, because that is what makes all this
possible," he said. "I don't realize that I have a lot of fans until I
travel around the world.
"It's very surprising. I could go to the most remote place like Iowa and
people still know who I am." So what is Hung's philosophical take on
life? "Whatever you believe in, and if you keep trying, you can
eventually succeed." Good advice, if you ask me.
And finally, this week we
had Andrew Lloyd Webber week on Idol as the Bottom Two were in a shock
to everyone...Carly Smithson and Syesha Mercado (again)...and Carly
Smithson went home in an episode where, in my opinion, Jason Castro and
Brooke White should have gone home. America....what were you
Now, this coming week is Neil Diamond Week...it is going to be very
interesting to see what happens and who it helps and hurts. I think
Jason Castro's time may hopefully and finally be up!
Time to expose my legal
briefs. WPT Enterprises, Inc., operators of the World Poker Tour,
announced the settlement of a lawsuit brought against it by several
big-name poker players. The action, which focused on the player
release form used by the World Poker Tour, was originally filed by seven
players who announced the suit at a press conference at the Rio in Las
Vegas during the 2006 WSOP. The resolution of the suit involves a
modification of the WPT's player release, with no money damages
Five of the seven players -- Chris Ferguson, Andrew Bloch, Annie Duke,
Phil Gordon, and Howard Lederer - were listed as being party to the
final settlement of
the suit; two others, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem, were originally
parties to the action but dropped their involvement before the
settlement. The lawsuit also saw a 2007 motion for summary judgment by
the players, which was denied.
In their original lawsuit, the players claimed that the terms of the
WPTE player release would force them to violate other endorsement
agreements and rights to
images that the players and their sponsors had otherwise contracted for,
and as a result, the players were forced to forego participating in WPT
events. The action was framed in antitrust terms, alleging that WPTE and
its partner casinos unlawfully conspired to eliminate competition and
violated the intellectual
property rights of these players. WPTE strictly denied that its standard
player release was in any way "in violation of antitrust or other laws."
player release, while not detailed by WPTE, likely addresses related
As the WPTE release on the settlement noted, "WPTE continues to deny any
liability or wrongdoing, but wants to settle its differences with the
players so that the tour can focus on its continued growth rather than
litigation." WPTE founder and CEO Steve Lipscomb said, "We are glad to
put this dispute behind us, and
we look forward to working with all players to grow the sport of poker."
Chris Ferguson, one of the five remaining players in the action, said,
"We are happy to have come to an agreement that is fair to all players,
and to have put in place a new release that clears up ambiguities in how
players' images may be used. We are especially happy that this new
release will apply to all poker
players who wish to participate in WPT tournaments and events. WPTE has
created some of the best poker events in the world, and we are excited
to participate in them once again.
And the second case on the
docket is this one. You guys remember I told you about the Georgia
couple suing Deal or No Deal for "illegal gambling" in the "Lucky Case"
game? Well, the verdict is in, and as I predicted, the case was thrown
out by the Georgia Supreme Court. According to the AP, Georgia's highest
court on Monday threw out a lawsuit contending that NBC's "Deal or No
Deal" violated state anti-gambling laws when it invited viewers to take
part in a game via text message.
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Michael and Michele
Hardin, who wanted NBC to repay them and other state residents for the
cost of sending 99-cent text messages in hopes of winning a prize on the
hit show's "Lucky Case Game."
The game challenged at-home viewers to guess which of six on-screen gold
briefcases was the lucky case. The couple's lawyer, Jerry Buchanan,
called the game an illegal gambling operation and said state law allowed
residents to retrieve money because "gambling contracts are void." NBC
attorneys, however, said the game was a promotional tool and not a
In its ruling Monday, the court said the text messages cannot be
classified as a bet or a wager, and the state law "offers no avenue of
recovery to plaintiffs."
NBC halted the at-home segment of the game - which typically offered a
$10,000 top prize - since the lawsuit, which was also the target of at
least one court challenge in California. It is described on the show's
Web site as "taking a short break."
To state a claim under the Georgia gambling civil recovery statute,
wrote Justice Hugh Thompson, the plaintiffs needed to allege there was a
"gambling contract" supported by "gambling consideration." There was no
gambling consideration here, he wrote. A gambling contract is one which
the parties agree they will gain or lose depending upon the occurrence
of an event in which they otherwise have no interest, Thompson
explained. Here, said Thompson, quoting an order by Senior U.S. District
Judge William O' Kelley, the 99 cent consideration of the contract
between the parties "never hangs in the balance." He also cited
decisions from other jurisdictions to the effect that there's not a
wagering contract where the offer or of the prize has no chance of
winning the prize.
Thompson wrote in a footnote that the court wasn't deciding whether the
Lucky Case Game constituted an illegal lottery under Georgia's criminal
code. But even if it were, he said, it wouldn't be a gambling contract
under the civil recovery statute.
He cited prior Georgia appellate decisions to the effect that lotteries
are excluded from the civil recovery statute. Lawyers for the plaintiffs
in the Lucky Case Game case had argued that a change in the language of
the civil recovery statute from "gaming consideration" to "gambling
consideration" undermined prior case law's authority, but Thompson said
the change was too "minor" to matter.
Buchanan expressed disappointment. "But we have full respect for the
court," he said. "We will abide by that decision and move on." He
suspected the ruling places the federal lawsuit "dead in the water."
Speaking of Deal, we have
some NBC Sweeps news to report. According to the Futon Critic, NBC heads
into sweeps with all new "Around the World" episodes and a special
"winner takes all" Star Wars-themed episode of its hit game show "Deal
or No Deal," and the summer season premiere of the successful "American
A special two-hour "winner takes all" Star Wars-themed episode of "Deal
or No Deal" will shift NBC's sweep month into hyperdrive on Monday,
April 28 with guest supporters Carrie Fisher, Chewbacca, R2D2 and Darth
Vader as the villainous banker. Then the series takes an international
twist as Howie Mandel hosts three, two-hour "Around the World" episodes
broadcast on May 5, 7 and 14 where U.S. contestants travel abroad to
play the game according to the international country's rules. Estonia is
the first stop on Monday, May 5 (8-10 p.m. ET). The contestants
hit the Philippines Wednesday, May 7 (8-10 p.m. ET) and then it's on to
South Africa on Wednesday, May 14 (8-10 p.m. ET) where two contestants
play the South African version of "Deal or No Deal" and hopefully walk
away with the top prize of $1 million.
The high-octane hit "American Gladiators" returns bigger and "badder"
than before with an all-new gladiator arena, new challenges and new
gladiators. It all starts with its two-hour summer season premiere on
Monday, May 12 on NBC (8-10 p.m. ET) followed by its regular day and
time on Mondays (8-9:30 p.m. ET)
beginning May 19.
This next story makes me
laugh in a good way. VH1 is readying "I Love Money," a spinoff of
"Flavor of Love" that dispenses with the fiction that anyone involved
with the show is looking for romance.
The show features past contestants from "Flavor of Love," "Rock of Love"
and "I Love New York" squaring off against one another in a series of
reality show competitions. While "Flavor" and its past offspring were
constructed to help celebrities such as Bret Michaels and Flavor Flav
find "love," the new show will focus on the pursuit of cash prizes.
A VH1 spokesman confirmed the series was quietly shot a few weeks ago.
It's currently slated to premiere July 13, with a casting special airing
July 6. Former host of "30 Minutes to Fame" Craig J. Jackson will host.
Speaking of shows with the
pretense of romance, I unfortunately had the displeasure of watching the
season premiere of "A Shot of Love II" with Tila Tequila on MTV. In the
first episode, we had 15 men and lesbians vying for the affection of
Tila by a) dancing in a cage to turn her on - with the requisite
stripping by both the men and the women, b) unbridled drunkenness, c) a
"talent" show which was an excuse for more nakedness and sexual
innuendo, d) girl on girl kissing and e) violence between two guys. And
that was all in just episode 1.
Now, I understand MTV is a very liberal network when it comes to all of
this sort of stuff...but this was just too much. I needed a shower after
watching this. It was the first season cranked up to 11. And that is
just horrible. I get the same effect after drinking cheap
Tequila...nausea, a headache and vowing never to do it again....until
the next time I do it.
Now, last week, I took Wheel
of Fortune to task for promoting environmental awareness and I said that
all politics should be kept out of entertainment.
This week we had President Bush appearing on Deal or No Deal in a taped
message to help Capt. Joseph Kobes, a U.S. Army transportation officer
who served three tours of duty in Iraq. Kobes won a Purple Heart and
Bronze Star and volunteered for his second and third deployments. "Deal"
host Howie Mandel dubbed him "the ultimate American." He joked with
Howie about the budget. He also appeared on "American Idol" this week to
congratulate America for donating $65 Million dollars to charity.
Was this promoting a political agenda? No. So I have no problem with the
President appearing on these shows. He wasn't asking for votes or
anything like that.
This next story is very cool
news. This year an Emmy will given out in a new award category,
outstanding host for a reality or reality competition program, officials
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Board of Governors has voted
to create the new Emmy award category. The award will be presented at
the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, broadcast live Sept. 21 on ABC. "Reality
television has become such an integral part of television and our
culture, so it only made sense for us to create this new highly
competitive category," Television Academy chairman and CEO John Shaffner
said in a prepared statement.
According to the rules and regulation of the Television Academy,
"Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program"
(category 66) is for the proactive "master of ceremony" host and does
not include reactive participants or judges. Eligibility is open to the
host(s) of programs entered in the following categories: Reality Program
(category 77) and Reality-Competition Program.
Before I get into the Random
Newsbits, a quick correction to make. I had stated that the April Fool's
Showcase on The Price is Right was the first one in over 25 years.
Fellow WLTI member Chico Alexander emailed me to point out that the last
April Fool's Showcase was in 1999. I stand corrected, and thank you.
Random Newsbits time:
- Celebrity Circus debuts June 11, on NBC.
- The Philippines gets it's own version of "The Singing Bee."
- Stephanie Schlund of Georgia becomes the newest TPIR model.
- David Hasselhoff of America's Got Talent is recovering from facial
surgery to remove something above his eye.
- Michael Symon replaces Robert Irvine as the host of "Dinner:
- Red Lobster gets a sponsorship tie-in for an episode of "The
Next Food Network Star 4"
- Bruce Forsyth gets a BAFTA "Academy Fellowship Award."
- Merv Griffin gets inducted in to the TV Hall of Fame
- Mario Lopez will return to Dancing with the Stars for its 100th
- And congratulations to Kristy Lee Cook on her recent engagement. Mazel
That's all for this time...remember...don't just play fair...play to
Jason Block changes his
legal briefs regularly. E-mail him at