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April 6, 2005

Hold on tight, everybody.  You're about to see me agree with my colleague Gordon Pepper more than you've ever seen before.

In last week's State of Play, Gordon dissected the so-called "Chaos Theory" of "American Idol."  Working in a business where a totally different chaos theory is tossed around at least in jest, I wondered what exactly we were talking about here.

But I must say that Gordon is right on target.  We'll get to this week's Idol rankings shortly.  But consider this:  going into the finals my top three were Jessica Sierra (now out), Bo Bice (slipping rapidly), and Anwar Robinson (who has been consistently inconsistent).  My top three now:  Carrie Underwood, Constantine Maroulis, and Vonzell Solomon.  What do all three of these people have in common?  They've all shown a diverse range of singing and performing talent.  They've crossed genres.  (You can argue that Vonzell hasn't done that quite so much...and I wouldn't argue against you...but she did branch out a bit.)

In addition, Carrie, Constantine and Vonzell all have star qualities; and NONE of them is like either of the others.  

On the other hand, consider the post-Idol situation.  Why were Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken successful with their albums?  Because they sang music that was popular with the same people who liked them on "Idol."  Justin Guarini, Fantasia Barrino, and even to some extent, Ruben Studdard...didn't.  You might consider Tamyra Gray to be the biggest Idol success story...after all, she's singing, acting, and songwriting. you're voting, consider whether the person you're going to be voting for is going to still be singing the kind of music you want to hear AFTER Idol.  If not, maybe it's time to vote for someone else.  

One final note on this for's still VERY early, relatively speaking.  Just three weeks ago, I would've banked on a Bo/Nadia final.  Now a Carrie/Constantine final looks just as likely as that first option.

The Week That Was...


On "American Idol"...
One note:   Let's NEVER do the Musicals week again, okay?  Especially not if we're restricting to Classic Musicals.  Songs that lack popularity -- or even recognition -- from your show's target audience aren't going to go over well, even if they're sung brilliantly or with a new/different twist.

Two weeks ago, the Idol rankings showed almost a dead heat among eight of the finalists.  Last week...we went to a 5/5 split.  This week, there was even more spreading out of the remaining finalists.  

There were no clear "winners" for the week, but Anwar Robinson's strong performance was a pleasant surprise, probably keeping him in the competition a week or two longer than he might've been before.

The weakest performances came from the same people who've been down at the bottom recently -- Scott Savol, Anthony Fedorov, and Nadia Turner (who was much improved but still behind the others; and I thought overperformed her song choice).

So here are the rankings through four weeks.  Note, as always, these rankings are my opinion only and are as subjective as each of our votes.



Point Total This Wk Overall Previous
Constantine Maroulis 13 2 1 3
Carrie Underwood 14 4 2 1
Vonzell Solomon 15 3 3 2
Nikko Smith 19 5 4 4
Anwar Robinson 19 1 5 7
Bo Bice 21 7 6 5
Nadia Turner 24 6 7 8
Scott Savol 27 8 8 10
Anthony Fedorov 28 9 9 9

So I guess we have three groups of three now?

Wednesday night's results were a big shocker.  Scott, Nikko, and Vonzell?  This is ultimate proof of Gordon's assertion -- referenced above -- that multiple singers within one genre cannot succeed.  And I'm willing to bet a large number of Nikko's voters migrate toward Vonzell (or maybe Anwar)...ensuring both of them are safe next week, unless they just really foul up badly.


On "The Apprentice"… 
Yum.  Pizza.  Fattening for most; slimming for Net Worth.  Last week in this space I said that "only Stephanie's really in a decent position."  Of course, then she goes and agrees to be Project Manager; fails on the task, and promptly gets fired.  I'd say other than Angie (who Trump still has apprehension about), the winner of this series is likely going to be a Magna member.


On "Survivor"… 
Previews for Thursday's "Survivor" indicate that there will NOT be a tribal merge.  That would be unfortunate for the lame duck members of Ulong, who are quadruply-outnumbered.  Maybe Mark Burnett won't let his tribes pick themselves again for a while.  

More that one person has told me that with this season, Survivor may have 'jumped the shark.'  I don't know about that...after all, we all still seem to be watching.  But it's true that there really is no competition at this point.  It should get interesting again, however, when we're down to all Koror members left (which probably won't take long) and they are forced to turn on each other after working so long as a tribe.  

The chances of an Ulong winner are now down to probably less than 2%.


On "The Amazing Race"… 
Gretchen and Meredith may be the most lucky unlucky people in the history of this series -- they foul up and miss a clue, with virtually NO possessions, and STILL don't get eliminated?  It seems like no matter what they do, they stay in it.  What happens though if they finish last in another non-elimination leg?  Do they have the possessions they got from other Racers taken away from them?

Odds and Ends...
And finally...a couple remaining thoughts.

* Nashville Star's Jenny Farrell (who made series history by not being able to perform on the season's first episode) was eliminated this week.  Of the remaining contestants, I'd have to say Jason Meadows has the lead.

*  It was reported today that Byron Allen is looking to buy PAXTV and turn it into a broadcast network targeting African-Americans.  Although...the company's founder said just two weeks ago he's not looking to sell his interest in the company.  On the rumors, PAX stock more than doubled on Wednesday to over $1.30 a share.

* Finally, keep the folks in Mississippi in your thoughts and prayers.  On Wednesday, they got absolutely slammed by tornadoes and wind damage.  For more information, check out...


Jason Elliott can be reached at


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