Whatever doesn't deafen you makes you stronger: Grantland's Jay Caspian Kang, Mark Lisanti, and Emily Yoshida have returned, bowed but not broken, to tackle another season of American Idol. They don't think they can make it, and with the judging panel in crisis, they may never have that recipe again.
Is there any way Angie doesn't win this? She got not one but two "In It to Win It"s from Randy Jackson last night.
Yoshida: Hey, Mark. While I won’t say that getting an “In It to Win It” from Randy is NOT a meaningful thing, I’d like to also point out that Randy whipped out a new catchphrase last night, and Angie was not at the receiving end of it. “Ten out of 10 out of 10.” Think about that for a second. No, really. Try to picture it in your mind.
In what is easily the most exciting development in an otherwise buzz-bereft cycle of American Idol since intergalactic chauffeur Nicki Minaj somehow managed to yawn a rainbow of magical butterflies during an underwhelming rendition of Adele's "Someone Like You," the Hollywood Reporter last night dropped a 10-megaton karaoke bombshell: The show's producers had concocted a bold but aborted plan to discard soporific diva Mariah Carey, in-season, and restore shiny judging goddess Jennifer Lopez to her rightful place on the panel. The shake-up scheme was quickly abandoned when Carey's lawyers threatened to rain hellfire down upon all who would dare threaten Mariah's contractual right to babble something positive toward the stage when awakened by a mild electrical shock from her Coca Cola cup, but THR's sources maintain that the search is already on for her eventual replacement, and, possibly, for the entire judging roster.
Angelina Jolie is "Surprise! Boring in bed." Whaaaaaa? This alleged information comes from shade thrown by her ex, Billy Bob Thornton, who has said, "sometimes, with the model, the actress, the 'sexiest person in the world,' it may be literally like fucking the couch." FUCK YO COUCH, BILLY BOB!
Justin Bieber Cheated on Selena Gomez a Lot: "HIGH ON DRUGS, TEEN STAR JUSTIN BIEBER CHEATED ON SELENA GOMEZ WITH A SEXY STRANGER." Just before the holidays, Bieb had a "drug-fueled hookup with another girl." The drug was mostly weed, and the girl was voluptuous 22-year-old L.A. nursing student Mimi Jenson. They were introduced by Lil' Twist, and went to a weed store in Hollywood, a McDonald's, and then back to the hotel. There they "did a lot more than eat." I bet they got a hundred-piece McNuggets. They also "smoked pot and used a baby bottle to measure out the ingredients for sizzurp, the street cocktail made famous by Three 6 Mafia and Ke$ha." Mull that sentence, please.
Kate Winslet & Ned Rocknroll: Kate Winslet married Ned Rocknroll, a.k.a. Richard Branson's nephew with the incredibly dumb (self-chosen) name. "Call her Mrs. Rocknroll!" I will but I won't like it! The couple of a year wed before "a small group of friends and family." Perennial bachelor Leonardo DiCaprio "walked the bride down the aisle" and shattered/stoked the dreams of a trillion Titanic fangirls. Ned is "really attracted to her mind. She's mature, and he feels he can learn so much from her. It's sexy!" Is it just me or does that sound a little bit like shade? Oh, well, wishing all the best to the Rocknrolls.
Kirstie Alley's Juicy Memoir Is All About Men: She dated Tim 'Otter' Matheson in the early '80s "until one fateful night when his secret fiancée's unexpected visit forced Kirstie to escape out the window." It was then that she learned, "don't trust actors, no matter how many éclairs they offer you." She and Patrick Swayze had an emotional affair during '85 miniseries North and South while they were both married to other people. "Patrick told Kirstie that he was falling in love with her and she, in turn, begged him, unsuccessfully, to have sex." As in she begged him unsuccessfully or the sex was unsuccessful in some way? "This man and I never had sex or did sexual things, but I consider what we did more dangerous and a betrayal to our spouses." Does they mean they played, like, really steamy games of Connect Four?
Alley fantasized about Ted Danson and his "big dick" during her time on Cheers, although she never got to sample the merchandise. The cast once conspired to photograph Danson in the shower, but "things didn't go according to plan." Kirstie says, "George Wendt kicked the door open. I snapped the photo of the naked Ted. I swear to God he was well endowed. I would show you the picture, but my hands were shaky." She calls handsome Dancing With the Stars Maksim Chmerkovskiy pro "mysterious" as well as "capricious, rude, thoughtless, and bossy. He is also gentle, childlike, fragile, and sensitive." Be sure to take Alley's revelations with a lot of salt. She also claims she and John Travolta fell in love during Look Who's Talking, although they never hooked up. It's possible some of these passionate love affairs may have taken place mainly in her imagination. I wanna see the receipts.
US Justin Timberlake's Bachelor Party: "Bros, brews and bow ties!" Timberlake celebrated "his final days of singledom" with all his closest dudes. "Clad in ties and fedoras, his crew of 25 pals (and his dad!) hit Las Vegas, where they tossed back drinks poolside." Justin probably brought his dad so that we'd all know this was a clean-cut bachelor party where no hookers would end up buried in the desert by the end. "It was like Boardwalk Empire." So it was kind of boring but looked really nice and probably cost a ton of money? "It was mellow. Intentionally so." They jetted from Vegas to Mexico where they played beach volleyball in T-shirts that said "CASTRATION CELEBRATION!" Sigh … "He didn't want to get in any trouble. Jessica's brother was with them!" Could this be a decoy bachelor party meant to distract from the real bachelor party that will take place soon in a sex dungeon in Amsterdam?
Mitt Romney on Snooki: "I'm kind of a Snooki fan. Look how tiny she's gotten. She's lost weight. She's energetic. Just her spark-plug personality is kind of fun." She's voting for Obama.
Prince Harry Is Out of Control: En route to Las Vegas the ginger prince "had two things in his sights: vodka and women." And I'm all out of bubble gum. "The trip was like The Hangover, only without the monkey." That's The Hangover II; The Hangover had a tiger. "He was naked for a long time at the party. He kept spilling his drinks and dancing. He didn't seem to care what he did." But after photos leaked online, the British monarchy expressed their extreme disapproval. "Harry was pressured to delete his secret Facebook account, on which 'Spike Wells' could post ginger jokes on himself and interact with pals." Spike Wells LOLs. The party binge started on Necker Island for Richard Branson's son Sam's 27th birthday. "The plan was just to sunbathe, swim and get drunk. With the booze flowing, Harry lived up to his wild kid-brother rep, doling out kisses and sloppy hugs." A friend says, "Harry's a funny drunk, but he always seems a bit vulnerable." Perhaps he's been thinking about his mother Princess Diana, as it comes up on her death's 15th anniversary. "Dirty Harry" has had a trail of scandals, including brawls with photographers, reports of using racist epithets, and his famous 2005 Nazi Halloween costume. Harry may have been trying to "force the queen's hand all along" with his recent nude billiards antics. "Harry has been making a case for a redeployment to Afghanistan, which he worried the palace would deem too dangerous. He's definitely going now. The royal family will want to redeem his image. This sort of move is very clever. Clever like a ginger fox."
Taylor Swift's Fatal Attraction: Her relationship with rising high school junior Conor Kennedy continues at warp speed. "Swift is certainly taking her one-and-a-half-month romance rather, well, swiftly. Since meeting the 18-year-old Kennedy in July, the six-time Grammy winner, 22, has rearranged her schedule to spend as much time with him as possible." Although the rumor that she bought a house across the street from the Kennedy compound has been debunked, she is still giving off some serious Stage 5 Clinger vibes. "Swift loves that her new guy (son of Robert Kennedy Jr. and the late Mary) gives her entrée to the storied political family. She says it's a fantasy come true. She's very smitten." Isn't she always, though? "Pals are concerned she's repeating a troubling relationship pattern," citing the insanely fast pace of her monthlong fling with Jake Gyllenhaal, which ended when he dumped her unceremoniously. "She's always rushing into love. We all wonder why she can't take it slow." Because she thinks fairy-tale, love-at-first-sight romances are real, and always decides that whomever she is dating at the moment is The One (regardless of what the dude might think). "For years, Swift has harbored a not-so-secret infatuation with Conor's iconic family. One insider says Conor's cousin Ted Kennedy Jr. even calls the crooner a Kennedy groupie!" Well maybe Conor Kennedy is a Taylor Swift groupie! And they're not groupies, they're Band-Aids! She started collecting Kennedy memorabilia last year, after reading The Kennedy Women. She met Rory Kennedy at a screening of a doc about Ethel Kennedy, and was invited to spend her Fourth of July at the compound in Hyannis Port. She and Conor Kennedy have been inseparable ever since, although that may change in the fall when he goes back to, uh, high school.
At about the the two-minute mark in this video that uses 295 movie clips to reconstruct "Baby Got Back," there's a moment of delicious tension right before the "anaconda" lyric. "Ohhhhh, here comes Jennifer Lopez screaming "Anaconda!"* from Anaconda! I bet they're going to use Anaconda right now, that would be so perfect and obvious! I can't wait!!!" Then they don't use Anaconda, and you realize that you are dealing with some higher-level supercut thinking. Also, your wallet is gone. This video is good. Just watch it.
[*No idea if Jennifer Lopez actually screams "Anaconda!" in Anaconda, but it seems like she must have; it's definitely the kind of movie in which someone's going to scream the name of the titular monster at some point. Maybe it was Ice Cube.]
John Mayer & Katy Perry: At a party in the Hollywood Hills a "bikini-clad Katy Perry" chilled out, "grabbed a beer and clung tightly to John Mayer in the swimming pool. They hugged each other and splashed around. They were all over each other, making out! Neither of them is exactly shy." The pair are not only hooking up, they are "officially dating," hence the lack of trying to hide it, or maybe they just realized they wouldn't be able to avoid being outed by paparazzi right quick. Whatever. Katy girl, get your roots-rock divorce rebound hump on. Just do us a big favor and tell John Mayer to stop wearing that Rolling Thunder Revue hat everywhere. We get the whole hipster Americana thing already. While Mayer has a reputation as a manipulatively romantic womanizer incapable of keeping his mouth shut or his pants on, the 34-year-old guitarist claims he has changed his evil ways and is ready to grow up. He recently told Rolling Stone, "I haven't had a girlfriend in a long time. Now I feel like I'm extremely open to love." I'm sure Taylor Swift is thrilled to hear that.
Kristen Stewart & Rob Pattinson: Pattinson is sequestered at Reese Witherspoon's ranch in Ojai while he sorts out his feelings. Reese understands Pattinson's situation, as she weathered her own cheating scandals with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe. Damn you, Tracy Flick. Always meddling!
Pattinson has been running a lot to work off some of his anger, "huffing past a lavender-scented meadow, a pool, and a horse paddock" as he jogs his way around the compound. "Yet no matter how peaceful the scenery, the actor, 26, could not escape the hell his days had become." The news that Kristen Stewart had cheated on him with Rupert Sanders "blindsided" Pattinson. "He's questioning everything and wants nothing to do with her." Stewart's public apology made him even more furious. An "inconsolable" Stewart is camped out at her parents' home in the San Fernando Valley. Pattinson is "not using electronic cigarettes anymore. He's been smoking real ones since this news came out." He had noticed that Kristen "was being really weird lately but she reassured him nothing was going on." Rob is "disgusted because he had a feeling about this director." Nobody but Rupert and Kristen knows exactly when the affair started. Stewart realizes "how totally self-destructive this was. She just can't believe she fucked all this up and ruined everything." Even her parents are embarrassed for her. Now they must brave the Breaking Dawn: Part 2 press tour together, during which their every mumble will be parsed for clues.
At this time last week, things were very dark in the American Idol universe — after sending this year's crop of Idols on their summer tour, waving and smiling as if everything was just fine, the parents (and creepy Uncle Steven) went back in the house and promptly had a meltdown. Now, with judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez out (well, "99 percent out" in Lopez's case; more on that in a minute), Lone Dawg Randy Jackson was left to rule the roost, and even that was up in the air.
But hope is on the horizon — thanks to a well-timed call to Mariah Carey's manager (himself), Randy got the multi-platinum recording artist/former mermaid in talks to join the family, and today at the Fox presentation at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, network executive Kevin Reilly began his session by sitting down, taking out his phone, and dialing the Glitter star. After his first attempt went to voice mail, Carey finally picked up and officially confirmed that the deal was official.
Back in mid-March, when the two-month-old American Idol season had started to devolve from "semi-fun way to waste a couple of hours on a Wednesday night" to "unbearable death-slog during which a crow that looks like Phillip Phillips pecked out your eyes and cawed the melody to 'Ants Marching' in your ear," we took some time to suggest four entirely new slates of talent to reinvigorate the obviously declining franchise. As it happens, the show seems to be in immediate need of some new judges! The decks have been cleared, with J.Lo off to make some great new movies about the eventual triumph of true love over the romance-impeding demands of a successful interior-decorating career, Steven Tyler departing to restore Aerosmith to its place as the third-most-coked-out band of 1978, and Randy Jackson to reportedly dawg it up as a mentor. Will Mariah Carey be joining as a judge? Some say that's "very likely" in the works. Is Aretha Franklin willing to throw a giant hat with a fun bow on it into the judging ring? She e-mailed CNN to indicate she'd be happy to do so, she's just waiting for someone to call. Will a suddenly budget-minded Idol be able to afford the all-star roster they probably need to make anyone care about what should might be the final season before Rupert Murdoch finally drags the badly wounded Nielsen thoroughbred behind the barn to put it out of its misery? That's not our concern. We're only here to helpfully provide an embarrassment of viable candidates to fill those empty chairs behind the judges' table. Take our free advice or don't, Fox. But you can't say we didn't dedicate an entire podcast to trying to save your show.
Below are our judging teams (presented in order of reader voting). Feel free to mix and match, Rupert! Whatever you need to get this thing back on its feet.
Randy Jackson, whom you'd assume would step away from the judges' table only if prompted by a swarm of SWAT team laser-sights dancing across his forehead at the end of a 36-hour standoff involving a Comme des Garçons dynamite vest, a Patek Philippe watch trigger, and a diamond IN IT TO WIN IT pin anchoring a suicide manifesto to his lapel, might be stepping away from the judge's table.