'American Idol Gives Back': No charity for Tim
It's Idol Gives Back charity fundraiser night on "American Idol."
On this night, Hollywood celebrities will urge you to donate every spare nickel you have to raise money for needy children in the U.S. and Africa, while simultaneously urging you to dig deep in your pockets to support their latest movie, album, or concert tour. It could make cynic out of a saint. Then there's that emotional whiplash, as the show careens from shots of pop stars singing about bootay to shots of babies dying of malaria and AIDS in Africa. Really, Idol Gives Back night is not for the faint of heart.
The show opens with the country's first couple, via video. President Obama thanks the Fox program for once again holding this fundraiser and thanks us for our generosity. First Lady Michelle notes the event has raised more than $140 million over the years.
President Obama, taking a line from show judge Randy Jackson, tells the seven remaining Idolettes "you are all my dawgs."
"And, Simon, be nice!" the First Lady chides judge Simon Cowell.
Show host Ryan Seacrest notes these are tough economic times but even a small donation can save a life. In the spirit of that message, Judge Ellen DeGeneres has tonight donated the smile off her face, judge Kara DioGuardi has donated one of her sleeves, and judge Simon Cowell has donated his necktie.
Queen Latifah is introduced; she's co-hosting those bits of Idol Gives Back that will emanate from an auditorium in Pasadena, Calif. "I'm so proud to be part of this," says Latifah, whose new movie, "Just Wright" you might want to see perhaps? Only a ticket would buy two malaria nets, which could save about four babies' lives. Your call.
This year's Idol Gives Back Group Lip Synch will be sung by the Top 12 Idolettes. They're all dressed in the traditional Idol Gives Back white - even the already- booted ones, looking like they're all set for late-in-life baptisms.
Actress Jennifer Garner goes to Breathitt County, Kentucky, near her hometown, via videotape, to visit a family of six living in a two-room trailer with no heat, so we can meet little Brenda who benefits from the "Idol Gives Back"-funded Save the Children program. Garner goes into her best Appalachian accent when she walks in the door but drops it later.
Victoria Beckham sits on stage with Seacrest to talk about the two children who have joined them, who have also been helped by Idol-raised money. Why is Beckham so ill at ease, when all the other celebs fall so naturally into their roles as beneficent ones? She's reading fixedly off the teleprompter and glancing concernedly at her two cute sample program kids, Briana and Roy, who sounds more self confident, articulate and authentic than Beckham - and he's never had a publicist.
We can see the Russell Brand and Jonah Hill joke coming as soon as we notice the camera isn't moving off them. They've set up the Idol Gives Back celebrity phone bank, which they says includes the likes of Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and "that thin, pale boy from 'Twilight'," only there is nobody behind them in the phone bank. Oh wait, they've actually come to sell you their new movie "Get Him To The Greek." A ticket to that flick could also buy a couple malaria nets, thereby saving a few infants' lives. Just sayin'.
If you need more evidence that Idolette Lee Dewyze is the favored child of "Idol" producers, Seacrest begins to push and prod him into talking about how emotional he gets before performing. It's part of their "great depths" image campaign for Lee. Lee actually seems embarrassed: "Thanks, Ryan," he says ironically, quickly pointing out that he also gets "amped up" before a rock n roll number and it's not just about the teary eyed stuff as Ryan suggests.
In an instant, we're back in Pasadena, where The Black Eyed Peas believe that singing their tune "Rock That Body" will inspire you to download....er, I mean, pick up the phone and make a donation to Idol Gives Back.
"I want to rock your body," the Peas shout. It's extremely repetitive but we know the performance is moving forward because Fergie is progressively removing more of her clothing. In keeping with the solemnity of the occasion, she winds up in an outfit that says Pool-Side Dominatrix: strapless bathing suit and seven-league boots.
"Rock Your Body" is the perfect lead-in for a video about a young pregnant woman who is dying of malaria in Uganda. Latifah apologizes to her auditorium audience for the buzz-kill video, before it starts.
Back to the "Idol" studio where Seacrest announces they are going to start lining up the week's Bottom 3 vote getters. There's something endearingly daffy about "Idol's" devotion to mixing the rituals of an elimination night with heart-wrenching filmed appeals to alleviate suffering in Africa. It's like the British continuing to serve high tea during the Blitz.
Suddenly, the show swings about wildly and it's a celebrity roast! Conan O'Brien's new leadout-show host, George Lopez is master of ceremonies. The gag is that he won an auction to take Seacrest's place, but told the Idolettes to sit down because "it's about time somebody judges the judges for a change."
Judge Randy Jackson says "dawg" too much, Lopez says - which was true a couple seasons back. Then Lopez plugs his TBS late night talk show, saying judge Kara DioGuardi -- who he calls "Carla Di Guido or however you pronounce it" - is safe from elimination because she was a guest on his show. Plus, he admits, he has papered his bedroom with her nudie magazine pictures (yes, Kara bares all in Allure magazine, on stands this week, and she apparently didn't do it for charity - great mood setter for Idol Gives Back week, Kara),
Ellen DeGeneres he calls the Kourtney Kardashian of the judges - of course because she also had a celebrity attorney for a father, has a clothing line, and appears as a sister act on a reality show. No? Then we don't get it.
Finally, he gets to Simon: a little tee shirt joke, a little man-breasts joke, a little English accent joke, the usual, leading up to "America has voted and you have to go back to England...But since there is a big cloud of volcanic ash keeping people from traveling. Simon you are safe."
"Erik Estrada, everybody!" Seacrest cracks when Lopez is finally, mercifully, finished.
One Sponsor Car Company music video later, Idolettes Crystal Bowersox and Casey James are brought to the center of the stage. Who is Ryan kidding? Crystal and Casey - one of them is going to the Bottom 3, he says. Wait, lemme call Las Vegas and place my bet. Doh, it's Casey! Anyway, that went so well, Seacrest goes for another no-suspense moment - this time with Lee and Aaron Kelly. It's time to flip a coin, I just can't decide! Doh, it's Aaron!
Then we head back to Pasadena so Jeff Beck and Joss Stone can perform "I Put a Spell on You." It is some kind of achievement - not once during their entire performance do either of them look at the camera or at the audience.
Next we see tape about mothers dying in childbirth, narrated by Kara. Then the Secretary General of the United Nations appears via tape - good get! And Nelson Mandela - fantastic get! No, wait, it's only Morgan Freeman. He and Randy Jackson travel via video to Mississippi to visit children being helped by Idol-funded programs.
This week's Idol mentor, Alicia Keys now gets her at-bat. We know she was this week's mentor and we respect all teachers, but we feel compelled to note she is pitchy and singing dangerously out of her range during the first tune. She's a bit better when she performs her second number -- but what is with those lyrics? It's like two drunks sitting in a bar, trying to remember the words to every song that's ever been written about New York City: "The lights will inspire you... Concrete jungle where dreams are made of... There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York...let's hear it for New York, New York, New York."
Jonah Hill and Russell Brand are back to pay off their gag. Instead of celebrities in their phone bank, they have celebrity lookalikes: Woody Allen, Marilyn Monroe, two versions of Tom Cruise, Slash. Except Slash is the real one. Also, last season's Crazy Idolette Tatiana del Toro, only they identify her as former Idolette Clay Aiken. And look, there's Octomom! And here comes former A-lister Jim Carrey, who runs out after surveying the other phone-answerers.
"He had to pee," Jonah explains.
Back in Pasadena, Latifah takes a break from plugging her flick to introduce former 'Idol' winner Carrie Underwood, who miraculously sings a tune appropriate to the Idol Gives Back occasion - then notes that 36 cents of every ticket sold during the "fall leg" of her concert tour will be donated to an Idol Gives Back cause.
Ellen DeGeneres takes us on a taped visit to a food bank David Arquette is involved with in Monrovia, Calif.
Bill and Melinda Gates smile fixedly during their interview with Seacrest about their charitable works, and Wanda Sykes tells a few jokes about 'Idol' by way of hawking her Fox late night show.
Back to the Idolettes: Seacrest brings Siobhan Magnus, Michael Lynche and Tim Urban on stage, then announces that viewers have once again ignored Simon Cowell's call to oust Siobhan and she is safe. Also safe is Michael Lynche, leaving Tim rounding out the Bottom 3.
Former 'Idol' winner David Cook takes us on a taped trip to Ethiopia. Annie Lennox, stranded in London by the volcano in Iceland, performs via satellite, and Mary J. Blige performs "Stairway to Heaven" with an all-star band that includes Randy Jackson.
Simon Cowell takes us on a taped visit to Douglas, Arizona to show us what the 'Idol' supported Children's Health Fund has done for children in that rural area. Then he announces that tonight's show has so far already raised $15 million. Ben Affleck urges us to continue making donations. Sir Elton John performs in Pasadena, after advocating for condom use and AIDS and HIV testing.
Russell and Jonah's flick gets another plug. Then Seacrest announces that Aaron and Casey are safe. Tim has to pack up his pecs and head home.
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April 22, 2010; 7:11 AM ET
Categories: "American Idol"
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