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.
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.
All season long, Grantland Idol experts Mark Lisanti and Jay Caspian Kang will answer five very important questions after each performance episode. Wait, this can't actually be ending, can it? They're going to tack on 17 more weeks, right? Right?
Let’s start off with an easy one: Who do you think was better last night?
Kang: If I had put money on Jessica Sanchez and if I were some sort of head of state or governor, I would be filing all sorts of paperwork right now to start a point-shaving investigation. Nothing about Jessica’s performances made any sense — why start with a predictable Whitney song, follow it up with another song that nobody’s ever heard, then end the night with a born-again-y anthem that’s so soft and bland that it makes "A Moment Like This" sound like The Coup? On a night when she was supposed to form into a monster robot and avenge the deaths of Etta, Whitney, and Donna Summer by hacking at Phillip Phillips with that giant electric sword, Diva Voltron just kind of flounced around, looked real constipated, and arguably put out her worst three performances of the season.
All season long, Grantland Idol experts Mark Lisanti and Jay Caspian Kang will answer five very important questions after each performance episode. Soon they shall toss a ring into a magic volcano and their journey will be complete.
What did you think of last night's "One for the judges, one for themselves, and one for Jimmy" format, mixed in with the hometown concerts? Did it momentarily breathe life into the show, or was it just a different kind of two-hour trudge through the karaoke killing fields?
Lisanti: Do I dare say I enjoyed it overall? If you're going to make us sit through two hours of this thing — and they've never taken the two-hour boot off our throats all season — it was nice to get three actual performances in there. Even the hometown concerts seemed to have a little more energy than those of recent years. Maybe that had something to do with the high quality of two of the three finalists, or maybe Chula Vista doesn't usually see that much action, or maybe the Idol producers gave every kid in attendance a Four Loko the size of an oil barrel on the way into the arena while whispering, "Phillip just broke up with his girlfriend and he says he likes you the most" in their ears.
John Travolta's Secret Life Surprises Kelly Preston: "Kelly was suddenly besieged by the reports of John's secret sex life." After their 11-year-old daughter asked what was up, Kelly "fell to the floor in a flood of tears. Suddenly, Kelly feels like she's been living a lie for two decades, and it's like a knife to the heart." The rumors about Travolta "have swarmed around Hollywood since at least 1990, when Paul Barresi, a gay porn star, publicly claimed that he and John were having sex." As a complete coincidence, Travolta married Preston in 1991 in "a quickie Scientology wedding ceremony." They signed a contract whose "exact contents are unknown" and "such agreements can contain almost anything — including prohibiting a spouse from speaking publicly about scandals." Jeff Conaway, who co-starred as Kenickie in Grease alongside Travolta, claims "that John once tried to perform oral sex on him while he slept." Conaway also says "that Kelly knows that John is gay" and agreed to beard for him, because she "wanted the lifestyle that comes with a marriage to a Hollywood celebrity more than love."
All season, Grantland Idol experts Mark Lisanti and Jay Caspian Kang will answer five very important questions about each performance episode. This week, Kang is on assignment at the Super Bowl, so Lisanti will be joined by Fake Jay Kang, his best guess as to how the otherwise-occupied Diva Master would answer each question. This will likely be a disaster.
Let us begin in the manner dictated by our forefathers: Who was your favorite contestant?
All season, Grantland editors Jay Caspian Kang and Mark Lisanti will answer five very important questions about each performance episode. They're already starting to crack under the pressure, so by the top 12 things should really get interesting.
Who was your favorite contestant from Aspen? (And keep in mind by “favorite” we mean “the one you liked the most, you feel me, don’t overthink it, dawg.”)
If, for some reason, — maybe your grandmother was in town, or maybe you were orchestrating a low-level drug transaction? — you did not spend your Sunday watching every minute of football-related television, you might have missed one thing: Steven Tyler, famed reality TV show judge, singing the national anthem before the AFC championship game. What you probably did not miss, however, was the squealing, horrified response to Steven Tyler singing the national anthem before the AFC championship game.
All season, in-house Grantland Idol experts Jay Caspian Kang and Mark Lisanti will answer five very important questions about each performance episode. They literally have nothing better to do.
Who was your favorite performer on the second night?
Kang: I'm torn. Heejun Han will be the third Korean dude to take the Idol stage, following in the footsteps of Paul Kim, who refused to wear shoes on stage, and John Park, who was handsome enough but bored the shit out of everyone. I'm not sure if the Korean-American community is ready to have a contestant who can actually make it to the late stages of the Idol competition. We're ready to content farm, run for local office, dominate college admissions, and write “immigrant experience” novels, but what happens when we're exposed to America's gigantic army of rabid, Idol-voting tweens? I fear the worst.
Overall, though, I want to say that I thought last night's show was much, much better. There were five people (Erika Van Pelt, the mobile DJ from Rhode Island; Reed Grimm; Heejun; chubby preteen dude Eben Franckewitz; and Hallie Day) who each would have been the best person on day one. Of those five, I'd say the mobile DJ was the most likable, Reed Grimm was the most annoying (but maybe because he reminded me too much of fellow scat-o-philiac Casey Abrams from last year), and Hallie has the best chance to make the final three. She has the relatable story, she has a flexible voice that can sing a lot of different types of songs, and the fact that she's married to a nice fat guy gets her around the "too hot for the tweens" problem. If I had to choose, I’d one hundred billion-gazillion percent go with Hallie Day, who really does look like Debbie Harry.
All season, in-house Grantland Idol experts Jay Caspian Kang and Mark Lisanti will answer five very important questions about each performance episode. Their efforts will eventually end in a well-publicized murder-suicide.
Who was your favorite contestant? (Note: Your “favorite” does not necessarily have to be “talented” or “stand any chance of winning whatsoever.”)
Jay Caspian Kang has pledged to write about American Idol until the producers at Fox agree to sign a Jacob Lusk provision that would allow Young Luther to appear on every season of the show, from here until eternity.
Mark Lisanti is the editor of Hollywood Prospectus and has been a professional Idol pundit for the past 25 years. He hasn’t missed a minute of the competition since its world-changing debut, if you discount the scores of soul-crushing results-show hours skipped via DVR.
This season, they’ll answer five very important questions after each episode. (No, not including the results shows. Pay attention.) Today, they warm up for the grueling task ahead with a quick preview of what’s to come in Season 11.
Five days into the new year, and the first big celebrity trend has reared its shockingly cute head: being engaged. We as a culture are used to becoming emotionally invested in one or two celebrity engagements at a time, but seven is a bit much. Yes, seven men decided to put rings on it over the past two weeks, giving us seven celebrity engagements to juggle. Life is hard.
Anyway, figuring out which ones to spend time obsessing over is a tough task. Luckily for you, I have developed a highly complex formula for determining which couples are worth your time.