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It's Not What You Know, It's Who THEY Know - April 14

This was originally supposed to be a column about my review of I’ve Got a Secret, but since IGAS is going to be around for awhile, and Celebrity Cooking Showdown has just been flambéed with a nice white wine sauce, it’s time to focus on that for this week’s column.

Now my good friend Chico, in his column this week, spoke about the sampling that P. Diddy (or in this case, Didn’t) had done. I’m not going to deny that, nor do I think that it’s not all entirely wrong. However, I think there are two other issues that are also major factors. For example, on this past week’s Idol recap, Grandma Pepper (who consistently delivers insight after insight) noted that she didn’t know any of the celebrities on the show, and that was as good of a reason as any to not bother watching. Then I started to look at the show. Who do we have here…

Show #1: Alison Sweeney, Tony Gonzalez, Cindy Margolis

Margolis is known for being an uber-model. Sweeney, who has been in other celebrity competitions (including Fear Factor) comes from Days of Our Lives, but if you don’t watch that show, you don’t know who she is. Gonzalez is a football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, but he’s not a well-known one, and if you don’t follow football that much, you aren’t going to know who he is.

Recognizability: 1/3

Show #2: Ashley Parker Angel, Gabrielle Reese, Patti LaBelle

People knew who Patti was…20 years ago. Gabrielle does a lot of sportsmodel cover work, but unless you’ve seen her infomercial, you’re not going to know who she is. Ashley is from the band…O-Town. Wha?

Recognizability: 0.5/3 (The 0.5 goes to LaBelle)

Show #3: Tom Arnold, Chelsea Cooley, Big Kenny

Chelsea…who? Miss America…oh. Big Kenny is part of the band Big & Rich, who created the World Series of Poker Theme…which is not the audience that you would think would be attracted to this show. Tom Arnold is a media ho to the nth degree who people would AVOID watching (like Grandma Pepper) if they were on a show.

Recognizability: -1/3 (Tom Arnold gets a -1 for people who avoid the show because he’s on it)

Total = 0.5/9

Not good.  Let’s compare it to other shows in the genre. For example, the FIRST Celebrity Millionaire…

Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Lee Gifford, Ray Romano, David Duchovny, Drew Carey, Queen Latifah, Lance Bass, Emeril Lagasse, Dana Carvey,  Vanessa Williams

You would know any of those people instantly. Some of the whippersnappers may not remember Gifford or Williams now, but most of you should. Let’s look at something more recent, like Dancing With the Stars 2 (Thanks to recapper Pierre Kelly)–

Kenny Mayne (ESPN sportscaster)
Drew Lachey (98 Degrees Singer and Nick Lachey's brother)
Master P (Rap mogul)
Lisa Rinna (soap actress; host of "Soap Talk")
Stacey Keibler (WWE Diva)
Tia Carerre (Star of "Relic Hunter" and ‘Wayne’s World’)
Jerry Rice (former San Francisco 49er)
Giselle Fernandez (formerly of "Access Hollywood")
George Hamilton (Actor, best known for his tan, his Dracula movies, and his short-lived talk show)
Tatum O'Neal ("The Bad News Bears")

You would know at least half of them off the bat. If you are going to make a CELEBRITY edition of anything, then use REAL CELEBRITIES, please. That’s one reason why ‘Celebrity’ Cooking Showdown didn’t work.

But wait, there’s more…

Here’s the other main reason. We have, as a main dish….wait for it…

Hamburger with Gorgonzola Cheese!

That’s right, folks. You tuned in to watch a celebrity prepare for us a hamburger. This comes to us from Tom Arnold, which adds yet another reason for people to scratch their heads when he appears on a show. It’s not just Tom though – we had main dishes that included vegetarian pizza, 3 orders of beef, a plain sole with a little puree, some salmon, and a roll of tuna sushi and asparagus. Booooorrrrriiiing. I can make that stuff in my house. Give me something I can’t make so I can learn how to make it. I want to see exotic recipes. My smoked pollock with a garlic honey sauce and my white pancake with honey cream cheese sauce dessert sounds more interesting than these recipes. I want to be stirred into a cooking frenzy, not lulled to sleep. 

We wanted celebrities. We wanted exciting recipes. We wanted some sort of new and out of the box game play. We got none of it. That’s why the audience, as a whole, sent the order back and didn’t bother to pick up the check.

This is when American Idol gets fun…but at the same time, this is when American Idol gets painful. For the first time in its history, we have 6 excellent singers remaining, and any loss now is going to hurt. Any singer could win American Idol, but it’s not about predicting who wins – it’s about predicting who loses. It’s almost crucial that a good performance is mandatory on Tuesday, because a mediocre one will probably lead to your departure on Wednesday.

This is probably also going to be the toughest time ever to select who’s going to be leaving – especially because we don’t get privy to said Tuesday performances. So once again, we delve into the realm of Idol singing…

And once again, we delve into why the person is leaving. I knew if Elliott didn’t go, you would be going, and it’s simple to explain why. Too many pop singers, and you have been hanging on a thread for a very long time. There are no more bland singers left, which leaves you as the blandest, and you as the person who is leaving.

So who does this help?

It doesn’t necessarily help you, but it does cement you as the person to beat for right now. With Kellie faltering and Chris making his first appearance in the bottom three, the Soul Patrol has been serving you well. Keep on trucking and keep using common sense on the song selection.

What were you doing down there? VERY bad song selection and uninspired singing on Tuesday. Let that serve to be your wakeup call. You NEED to sing songs that people know and sing them with the fervor that you had at the beginning of the competition. You should be safe this week, regardless, because your fan base will come out firing, but should you continue the path where you are going, you can join Mandisa interviewing people on the red carpet instead of being inside the theater on the night of the finals.

That South vote is very nice to have, isn’t it? That being said, you can’t mangle a song like that again. Even when Carrie bungled up a few lyrics on her way to winning it last year, she didn’t bungle it THAT badly. You did, and should you do that again for a second straight week, you will be making your first visit to the bottom three – or worse.

But I don’t see her doing that, which means that I see you in the Bottom Three. This could be very interesting, because this may not be in stone should you outperform Kellie. Unfortunately for you, Kellie still has a ton of fan base and Chris is going to get a huge swing, so this could be a fight for survival for you. You better have your A game on.

A lot of people think that you should have gone home last week (myself included). Why did you break the curse of sticking around despite being in the bottom three for 2 straight weeks? Well, Ryan never did say who was in third and who was in second, so you may have been in third after all, which meant that Ace would have had to outsing you, instead of the other way around – and your fans realizing that you were in major danger from last week didn’t hurt, either. A lot of people think that you will go home this week. I am NOT included in that, if only because you will get most of the Ace vote as being the sole male pop singer left. You better sing well, though, because you and Katharine will be competing for that vote.

Elliott and Katharine will be getting a boost from Ace’s vote, Chris will get a boost from being in the Bottom from last week, Taylor, barring coming out and pulling a Constantine (also in the Top 6 last year) is untouchable right now, and Kellie has the South all wrapped up for at least the next few weeks…which leaves you. Not only do you not get a boost, but you sang lights out last week – and still wound up in the Bottom Three. That spells massive trouble for you, and we could have a nasty little upset in the making should none of the other Idols falter.

So last week, I got a sushi dinner by predicting the safeness of Kellie. We’ll see if I can snare anything else this week by predicting Paris’s ouster.

If Gordon Pepper can cook, so can you. E-mail him at


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