American Idol: Hard Luck Story
MS-suffering Osmonds. Tatted single moms. Orphaned flower children. Is this a sweeps week of "Tyra"? Sadly, it's just another auditions episode of "American Idol: Hard Luck Story." Tonight: Salt Lake City.
Show host Ryan Seacrest warns us at the top of the show that they encountered some of the happiest people they've ever met on the show in Salt Lake City.
"Welcome to Utah, the friendliest place on earth!" Gigantic Happy Crowd roars on cue.
And before we have time to even wipe the treacle from our face, we're hit with David, son of the oldest Osmond Brother, Alan, who has shown up at the "Idol" audition with an un-trumpable sob story -- he suffers from a form of multiple sclerosis.
We admit, we resent this. Osmonds already are clogging up the non-scripted bits of the TV landscape. Donnie's aggressively campaigning to shame "Dancing with the Stars" producers into giving him one of the coveted star-spots. Marie, the Fainting Osmond, has a brand spanking new talk show that has just been cleared in New York and Los Angeles and seems destined to launch in the fall. Why can't they just leave us our beloved "American Idol"?
Before our horrified eyes, "Idol" unleashes clips of the Osmond Brothers on the "Andy Williams Show." You heard me -- "The Andy Williams Show." On Fox! We lunge for the remote, but it's too late: David's talking about his barbershop quartet.
It gets worse.
"I was thrown out of the business because I couldn't do the hands!" wails Alan Osmond, another MS victim.
That's right -- Pathetic Old Osmond Brother Multiple Sclerosis Sufferer. The reality-TV Holy Grail.
David explains MS is a weird disease that ebbs and flows and, while he looks all fine and Osmond-like now, it could flair up at any moment, sending him back to his wheelchair. Photo of David in wheelchair.
David sings. The judges pretend they have critical things to say about his performance. But since he's been rehearsing since, like, the womb, they don't stand a chance. They can't beat the irresistible urge to give him a golden pass to Hollywood.
The Osmond is too strong.
"So genuine!" new "Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi gushes.
The Osmond has won.
Next up, Goth Girl Tara Mathews. She says she has ESP "pretty strong" because she can tell when certain people are going to die in real life or on TV. However, her ESP is not strong enough to allow her to know she is a terrible singer and hasn't a chance.
Tara gives the "Idol" camera the finger - nicely covered by the "American Idol" logo - as she leaves the audition room, rejected. She will have the distinction of being the one and only auditioner in Salt Lake City we will see saying or doing something rude. Lucky chick.
We finally meet Giant Pink Bunny Guy -- "Idol" producers have been teasing him since the season debut. He's actually Greg the Rabbit -- as opposed to "Greg the Bunny," the brilliant IFC interstitials turned short-lived Fox comedy series. Greg the Rabbit is the good-luck person for Chris Kirkhan, who might have made it through to Hollywood had it not been for the whole rabbit thing.
"They didn't approve, but what can you do?" Chris asks the camera.
Which cues up a medley of auditioners using "aw-shucks" and "golly gee" speak, while the song "Put on a Happy Face" is heard, by way of driving home the cliché that everyone in Salt Lake City is somehow wholesome. Segue to consomme of rejected Salt Lake City auditioners thanking judges profusely for rejecting them.
"I think I need to move here," judge Paula Abdul tells fellow judges Randy Jackson, Kara and Simon Cowell -- the only judge worth listening to (though this season maybe not so much).
Auditioning new mom Frankie Jordan has a nice voice, an adorable child and a supportive husband, which is more than you can say for Megan Corkrey, who says she simultaneously decided to dump her husband and to audition for "Idol" -- on her birthday. After we see her playing with her adorable baby, she sings a bajillion-year-old Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern tune, "Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine" from the ancient musical "Show Boat." Which, if this were a normal season of "American Idol" would have gotten her the old heave ho. But this is "American Idol: Hard Luck Story" and the judges love the song and they love her -- Simon actually uses that very word. Both moms are Hollywood bound.
High school senior class president Austin Sisneros says he's auditioning "to inspire people to tell them it's okay to follow their dreams" -- mistaking this for "American Idol: Up with People."
He tells the judges this is "awesome -- the most amazing opportinity. " Are those lungs printed on the back of his T-shirt -- or angel wings?
His first song choice is awful. The judges are dubious. Don't put him through! Don't put him through!
"You don't want me to fail -- you want me to do good," Austin tells the judges, big ol' Class President smile on his face.
"We haven't quite joined the fan club yet," Simon snaps back. Love him.
Class President breaks into another song he's rehearsed: "It Takes a Village" by Raffi:
It takes a village to raise a child.
It takes a village,
No one can do it alone.
It takes a village to raise a child.
This should be a serious deal killer. But, it's not because, Simon explains, he's so "likable."
"I'm so excited for this," Class President says as he begins to weep outside the auditions room.
Cue up the Weeping Rejectee Medley.
"Bad auditions blow through like a cold mountain wind," Seacrest says, having found one more Salt Lake City cliché lying around.
Really Tall Chick Taylor Vainfanua is next. She explains the family moved to Utah because her parents recognized her talent. We'll think about that later.
Kara tells the other judges she saw Taylor practicing in the bathroom a few times and is impressed how much Taylor seems to want this. We're impressed the Idol judges don't have private baths, since, again in Salt Lake City, they seem to have each been driven to the audition spot in their own stretch ecological-disaster limo.
Taylor's performance is good, though she's no Single Mom. Randy declares it one of the best vocals of "American Idol: Hard Luck Story" because she listens to what she is singing. We take comfort in the fact that at least one thing never changes on "Idol" -- Randy's cute, but he doesn't make sense. Taylor is unanimously sent to Hollywood.
In this episode, as in the others this season, "Idol" has been teasing us with a really-big finish Super Sob Story. Tonight it's Rose Flack.
Rose looks like Pippi Longstocking after discovering the peroxide bottle. Rose is 16. Rose's father died when she was 13. Her mother was killed in a car accident when Rose was 15. Rose is an orphan, living with the family of her best friend.
"I just wish they were here to see me excel," Rose tells the "Idol" camera, tearing up. "This is the determination of the rest of my life," she adds, as she heads toward her audition.
"Gang -- let's put on a show for Rose!" Mickey Rooney shouts as he jumps into his jalopy and heads for the canteen. Oh, sorry.
Anyway, our story does have an Andy Hardy happy ending. Rose has a nice, pure, unusual voice. She's also no single mom, but her voice is charming.
"There is something about you I absolutely love," Simon says, which makes twice he's used that word, as if you needed further proof this is an "Idol" world gone mad. Rose gets four 'yesses' and she's on her way to Hollywood.
Tomorrow night, Seacrest says, "New York City and Puerto Rico" -- double the danger...the most dramatic episode yet.
I should hope so.
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