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'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.

Never miss another "American Idol" after-show analysis. Text "IDOL"
to 98999 to have a link to Lisa de Moraes's blog post sent directly to
your phone.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  April 22, 2010; 7:11 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: Biden visits "View"; talks Iran, China...and that other thing

Comments

Ut oh....I think I am finished with American Idol.....I am movin on. Way too much shark jumpin' for me. I think they should go out while they are ahead of the game. Why do they think it is funny to make fun of past contestants...especially those that are more charitable? The music was pretty lame last night too....at least have on singers that you know, can sing.

Posted by: lil5 | April 22, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: ashleytyler22 | April 22, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Why are the producers of this show not disciplined enough, or respectful enough of their audience, to just schedule the show to run a half hour long?

Posted by: kemp13 | April 22, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

I was struck by how bad most of the stars sounded. The Peas were horrible and Keys was too. I was thinking about all the comments the judges would have made. Which makes me wonder about the acoustics in those theatres. If the idolettes were singing under professional conditions, wouldn't they sound much better as well?
Oh and you forgot "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere - NY!"

Posted by: disposall | April 22, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, by the end of your column you seemed tired of the whole Idol Gives Back show, it just kinda trailed off. It was similar to actually watching the show. The announcement that Tim was voted off was anticlimactic (he, mercifully, didn't have to sing). However, I'm betting that if it had been Casey, and not Tim, they would have exercised the sometimes used "Idol Gives Back Save" to throw some excitement back into a very dreary show.

Posted by: observer23 | April 22, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Wow that show was like a crazy quilt torn apart by wild weasles. You did a great job of describing the puzzling madness of it all, Lisa. I couldn't watch the whole thing, just kept flipping back to it during commercials. Why DO the professional singers sound so awful? I mean Alicia Keyes usually sounds fabulous. Makes me think we are way too hard on the Idolettes. Anyway, this season is such a boring letdown. Like Bewitched with the new Darren... Or when Tony and Jeannie got married on I Dream of Jeannie.
I only watch anymore for Lisa's column.

Posted by: tmeintermedia | April 22, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Well, at least we did get to see the infamously reclusive and camera-shy Mary J Blige.

So, yep. Maybe it's time to move on. I'm thinking of becoming a pastry chef.

Posted by: molsonmich | April 22, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Disappointed.
Idol producers didn't give ONE good shot of the..um..back of Fergie's outfit.

Posted by: cjbass55 | April 22, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

While Tim Urban is pronounced a "loser"
by many, there is someone else who is hurting....in the credibility factor....
for those booking guest appearances for the program. Had heard a lot about "blackeyed peas", and after last night I must ask....What is all the hype about? Very unimpressive to me. I guess this demonstrates what promotion and hype can do.

Posted by: teddyb1 | April 22, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I figured AIGB would basically suck air and apparently I was so right. I watched Ultimate Recipe instead and then went to bed. That all being said, GREAT - TIM IS FINALLY GONE!!!

Posted by: MrsKirby | April 22, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Aside from the charity stuff and the usual noble celebrities saving the usual needy Africans in the usual messed up African countries?
All of the contestants have been bottom 3 on a given week except for 3. Crystal Bowersox, Lee Dewyze, and Siobhan Magnus. Usually, at for 7 or maybe all 8 years so far this means those 3 are the ones that are Final Top 3. This year, though, the judges are pulling out the stops to bash Magnus no matter how well she sings.
If you haven't seen the show, it is worth it to hear Crystal perform and to take in the amazing character that is Siobhan Magnus.
Strange, beautiful, sweet, geniunely gifted in vocal power and range. A teen when this started. Judges hate her as a threat to their favorite, Crystal.
This week for example - she took on what Alicia Keyes warned her was the hardest song on the List they could choose from, does it note pefect, but decides to wear what turns out to be a Ferngully homage outfit with plastic butterflies dangling off wires. Then fight the judges again for bashing her singing unfairly.
In tribute, Vote For the Worst decided to replace Tim Urban with her..while at the same time two industry pros said she had taken on Maria Carey/Whitney Houston's song "When You Believe" and hit every high note.

Hard to say this season is THAT uninteresting...

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | April 22, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

ChrisFord1--FINALLY, someone who recognizes the talent of Siobhan Magnus. Someone who also realizes that she is being treated unfairly by the judges AND the press. She is fantastic and I hope she hangs in there. Maybe the voting process will stay behind her and she'll do well in this competition, despite Simon.

Posted by: mbrumble | April 22, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I know you probably don't write your headlines but I wanted to ask if you could try not to put spoilers (ie who got voted off) in the headline. I tivo the show and for the second week in a row have had it spoiled for me. CNN and other outlets have been good about putting the castoffs in the body of the article. Thanks!

Posted by: soleil2000 | April 22, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Well, I'm normally a bit cynical about charity heartstring-pulling, but some of those vignettes brought me to heavy bawling. There is serious suffering in the world, please soften your hearts, give a little if you can, and count your blessings every day.

My admiration for Annie Lennox continues to grow. What a lovely lady and what an absolutely great voice. Annie, you got me through some tough times this past year when my Mom was seriously ill (happy ending). God bless you.

And could Fergie's Porn Star Barbarella attire have been more inappropriate?

Siobhan was doing an homage to Ferngully? Oh, now I get it. I thought she was going for "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" look. She's a very cool girl, girl can snap Simon better than I've ever seen, but again with the nasal thing on most of the song. Girl can sang when she opens up that voice.

Don't get why Casey struck out.

Flowbee Tim's departure was lonnnggg overdue, but ya gotta admit...he is a gracious loser.

Crystal, you were excellent Tuesday night, really moving. But quit listening to the entertainment industry jackals who are obviously telling you to flaunt your cleavage, sex it up. To thine own self be true. That's what a lot of us like about you. You're the anti-Britney.

Posted by: ILoveToSinga | April 22, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Tim Urban going home---now that's what I call uplifting!

Posted by: chantooz | April 22, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I think Victoria Beckham was so "ill at ease" because she couldn't actually sit in the boned corset she was wearing. She kept tilting both backward and to the side in a desperate effort to stay unbent enough to keep breathing.

Posted by: chantooz | April 22, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Pookie,

Thank you! The Caps hockey game was much better. It would be nice if there was a fistfight that broke out during the show sort of like hockey.

Posted by: anonymouslurker | April 22, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

The irony is that the one "idol" that truly DOES give back on a day-to-day basis, out of the spotlight, for years, as both the founder of his own successful children's charity (The National Inclusion Project) and as an ambassador for UNICEF (traveling to places like Banda Aceh, Uganda, Somalia, and Afghanistan) is the one AI only mentions when they want to mock him: Clay Aiken.

Posted by: kolaB | April 22, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Siobhan is one of the worst top 12 performers in the history of American Idol, as far as I'm concerned. She should have been long gone by now.

Posted by: hlef | April 22, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm just glad that Tim didn't have to sing at the end of this spectacle. I thought Wanda Sykes's send-up of Idol was hilarious. Annie Lennox was the highlight of the show for me.

As for the Idols' talent, I thought that Siobhan's singing the night before was lovely. Most of the judges' blatant favoritism toward other contestants is inexcusable.

Posted by: RossEmery | April 22, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I agree with RossEmery about Siobhan. She has a lovely voice and is so much better than most of the remaining idols. As far as the judges praising Lynch and that Casey (he's like every bar band singer I've ever heard), they are so off base.

Posted by: MrsKirby | April 22, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Lisa is right, Idol Gives Back is like a snuff film with product placement and I needed a long shower afterwards. The awkward comedic timing of Seacrest made it all the more uncomfortable and with dead mothers and AIDS babies the trifecta was complete. Still, I agree that Annie Lennox rocked last night and she sounded the best of all live the performancess, especially compared to the lazy Black Eyed Please No Mores song. I guess if they can sell millions of records then there may still be hope for Timjaya out there on his own.

Posted by: ozpunk | April 22, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

It was what it was..superficial.

I had to laugh at Simon riding through this poor section of Arizona in the back of his Lexus SUV from the landing strip where his private jet was waiting for his return, as his camara man shot his talking points, while someone drove him to this unfortunate family's two-room trailor. Who knows how many other cars were involved in the entourage. I guarantee, his sunglasses cost more than those people see in a month.

Posted by: ilcn | April 22, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Been stranded in Europe since last week because of the Giant Pain in the Ash and could really use a laugh -- Lisa you did not disappoint. Brilliant account of the bizarre clash of the commercial and the charitable. "Only a ticket would buy two malaria nets, which could save about four babies' lives. Your call." Indeed.

Posted by: helennio | April 22, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I haven't watched Idol this season and I almost watched last night but didn't and I'm glad. Idol is done, finished. After Paula "left" and to bring in a non-musical person, Ellen, I knew that the writing was on the wall. Too bad Idol doesn't see the writing. Ratings are down this year; I think they underestimated how much Paula was and is needed to make Idol work.

Posted by: dho7993186 | April 22, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

How bad does a show have to be to need Paula Abdul to make it work?

Posted by: ILoveToSinga | April 22, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

It's unfortunate that The Post doesn't print Lisa's AI column this year - at least I haven't seen one there. I accidentally came across this one while searching WP.com.

We watched the show the next night - it ran on so long it went past the alotted dvr time, so we didn't see who was voted off. I couldn't find the answer in the Post and I had to go to the AI webpage to find out who was axed. Lisa's column here succintly encapsulated what we did see before time expired and caught us up on what we missed. (And by the way I would have thought that Paula's 'performance' last year might have caused Randy not to risk standing up on stage and looking like a wanna be famous guitarist.)

I agree with most all the above comments, except the one that annoints Siobhan as the worst of all top 12. I think she is terrific!

Posted by: LetsAllGetAlong | April 23, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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