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Posted at 6:08 AM ET, 02/17/2011

'American Idol' 2011 continues Hollywood Week [update -- video]

By Lisa de Moraes

"Idol" contestants perform during the show's annual Hollywood Week. (Fox) | PHOTOS

Check your back-stabbing weapons at the door, Idolettes -- it's "American Idol" group night auditions in Hollywood Week. In Pasadena.

Why is this night different from all other nights? Because you're going to learn the important showbiz lesson of appearing to play nice with people you feel in every way superior to.

Idol producers let the Day 1 pass-throughs from the first round of Hollywood Week think they were stealing a march on the Day 2 pass-throughs. But, in fact, the producers were stealing a march on them. All groups comprised of Day 1-ers who thought they were getting an extra rehearsal day are disbanded. Henceforth, all groups must contain both Day 1 and Day 2 contestants.

Desperation breaks out in the hall as Day 1's seek Day 2's; it's like speed dating on the Titanic.

Tiffany of New Jersey, for example, is frantically trying to hook up with someone, but no one wants her.

"I'm the only professional choreographer in the group and people don't want me!" Tiffany marvels. Could it be they remember her gag to the judges just the other day when she said of the other competitors, "I'm tired of seeing people try to do what I know I can"?

Also looking to hook up with someone, country-guy Scotty McCreery. He makes Tiffany audition for him. "Like you're the prize?" Tiffany snarks. We're loath to admit it, but she's growing on us.

Tiffany finally gets a pass from the producers to form a duet with some blond named Jessica who's gonna regret it. Scotty gets taken in by a group called The Guaps or something.

Scenes from a forced marriage: The two halves of former romantic couple Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks are in a trio now, with half of last week's happy couple, Jacqueline Dunford. Jacqueline's boyfriend got the hook last week. Anyway, they call themselves Three's Company. It's a group we strongly suspect was a fix-up by the producers. Rob is whining. Let's face it, Rob is just a whiner and we begin to understand just why Rob and Chelsee are ex's. He complains that Jacqueline is running the group and Chelsee is no picnic.

"Idol" contestants perform during the show's annual Hollywood Week. (Fox) | PHOTOS

"When you've got your ex-girlfriend, and commander-in-chief -- I'm screwed", he says to the camera--yeah, like that's the first time that ever happened in their relationship. Oh, and did we mention that he can't dance and won't try? Our sympathy meter swings over to Chelsee.

A group calling themselves The Minors are all 15 or 16 years old and rehearse under the watchful eye of their stage mothers who are no doubt there pursuant to California law but we are pretty sure would be there even if it were illegal. The moms are giving out advice, though as one mom admits, the kids don't want it. Still, the kids sound pretty good.

And here comes James Durbin, the guy with Tourettes, to visit with the kids - our sympathy meter swings all the way over to him. Except James is complaining crankily that The Minors have their mothers there though, he snarks that "Idol" "isn't a competition for stage moms" and then lets go with a piercing high note to disrupt their rehearsal. Our sympathy meter swings all the way over to the kiddies.

The competition rushes forward while show host Ryan Seacrest narrates, off-camera, in a voice that is quite unlike him. Where have we heard that voice before? Of course, he's knocking off the Discovery channel nature documentary narrator voice:

The penguins march on across the ice. Some will be eaten by bears...

First weak penguin: Ashleigh Sullivan, who is close to a nervous breakdown and tells supervising producer Patrick Lynn she wants to go home and Lynn, acting out of a deep sense of - well, not wanting to waste a good TV moment, tells her to take a moment to herself, outside, to recover, then sends a camera crew out to follow her attempt to get herself together. Will the other penguins, er, chicks in her group take her back?

Discovery-Voice Seabiscuit wonders. And yes, they do! Happy ending -- good television!

Next penguin: Jacee Badeaux, the cute chubby 15-year-old boy from the New Orleans auditions who gets booted from his group for no reason we get to see.
"JC searches for a new home."

That's Discovery-Voice Seabiscuit talking, while the camera follows Jacee as he roams the landscape after being dumped by the group that took in Scotty.

Finally, Jacee's picked up by a new, very desperate group Seabiscuit has been tracking, called Sugar Mommas and the Baby. Jacee is recruited by Brett Lowenstern -- the one who looks like a younger Carrot Top, but who seems a whole lot more sympathetic since we heard last week about how he got bullied in school.

Next up: "Idol" producers run down some weak story line: Jordan Dorsey abandoned his original group 440 and joined Four Plus One, and 440 hates him -- or maybe it's the other way around. But, anyway, it's a grudge match, at least so Seabiscuit says. The groups seem mostly intent on rehearsing and performing, and they both do a good job -- Four Plus One with The Jackson's "I Want You Back," and 440 with Cee Lo Green's "[Forget] You" -- or maybe it's the other way around. Anyway, the segment's done, so what did it matter?

The over-confident Tiffany Rios, who poached Jessica Yantz from the Sugar Mammas to form the duo Rebel Star - okay, what's with these names, they all sound like 3rd billing at some suburban club. Anyway, the two make the most visually interesting pair, like Jersey Shore meets Gulf Coast but their performance is terrible and they're out. Tiffany disappoints by going with virtually no drama.

Kevin Campos, who oversleeps and has to be awakened while his group-mates in the quartet Spanglish can't find him, gives what is no doubt the best performance of the day for someone who was asleep 10 minutes earlier. But it's not good enough to go through to the next round of competition. Two other Spanglish members make it, but only after TYler confuses everybody by appearing to congratulate three of the four, instead of two.

The next group is four women with what I'm sure is some awesome group name though by now we've stopped listening to group names. They do, however, have a great gimmick--they get Tyler on stage in a chair so they can sing "Some Kind of Wonderful" to him. The gimmick appears to work -- Tyler is left simpering coyly with Seabiscuit when it's over --- but, surprisingly only one of the girls gets through. On the bright side, the rest of the group will always have their memories of having mussed Steven Tyler's tresses.

Another group, comprised of singers who all auditioned in Nashville, will sing the Bruno Mars tune "Just the Way You Are." But it's a mess, especially for Matt Dillard who was pumped up in a previous episode but forgets his lyrics. Only Colton Dixon survives that performance. "I'm a country boy. I'm going home to bed", Matt says on his way out of the hall.

Oh, this is tough. Well, on Paris Tassin anyway, though the judges carry on like it's harder on them. The mother of the little hearing-impaired girl was never all that good but got through on a sympathy vote, only to be shot down on stage during Hollywood-in-Pasadena Day.

"You made it excruciatingly painful for us up here to see that," "Idol" judge and Aerosmith frontman Steven says. We think he's talking about her backstory and her singing. Either way he maybe should have engaged his brain first.

Ashleigh Sullivan, the Breakdown Queen, is up with her group. They harmonize beautifully on the jilted-girl anthem "Hit 'Em Up," so she's through to the next round with much cawing by Seabiscuit about fate of it all and how the group "in one night...found a way to believe in each other and themselves." But judging from Ashleigh's haggard face, she's not going much farther in this competition without a lot of rest and fluids.

The Minors rehearse with like five different sets of coaching from Moms.

"Idol" producers have ginned up this "Somebody to Love" grudge match and now it's time to pay if off. James Durbin's group is singing the Queen song and so is the gaggle of 15- and 16-year olds. Durbin's group is awful, except for Durbin who does a poor-man's Adam Lambert finish with super-high notes. He and another guy are through. Cut to the Moms of The Minors, who are gloating -- egged on by the producers, no doubt.

Then the Minors are up and they're cute and really trying to harmonize, not showboat, like good kids. They get a standing O from the judges. "This is what I joined forces with American Idol to hear," says Tyler. "That was as good as it gets. Freddy Mercury is up there smiling down on you guys." The moms rush the stage; hugs all around.

Rob Bolin and his group The Henpecks, are outside, not rehearsing. Jacqueline talks about administering an electric shock to Rob. This is looking bad, but the producers cut away from them quickly, so they must be saving them for some awful fate.

Next up, two a cappella groups. First one is too pitchy, though strangely two members get sent through. The second a cappella group gets all the vocal and dance moves down with "Get Ready" which wows the judges and Seabiscuit pronounces Jacob Lusk, who ended the number with a semi-comic low note, as "a new star." Clean sweep for them.

Next group features one Carson Higgins - a goofy blond guy with a lot of stage presence, and a lot of moves -- kind of a happy Eminem. He and some other members of his group are given a thumbs up.

Another group has Eddie Murphy buddy-movie potential: white guy in a cowboy getup singing and dancing with four black guys. But we only see seconds of them because their job is to set up a Tyler line: "John Wayne, I think you rode your white horse right into the middle of the Apollo Theater."

The penguins who took in 15-year-old Jacee Badeaux at the last minute are up next: Sugar Momma and the Baby, or some such nonsense. The ladies in the group are all good, Brett "Carrot Top" Loewenstern not so much. And Jacee seems to be vamping through the lyrics, just like Judy Garland used to do after her brain cell count had dropped -- very impressive for one so young. The judges of course are inclined to like this group and send them through, including Jacee after some transparently pretend-hesitation by Randy. "You got some fans out there, dude," judge Randy Jackson says. Jacee breaks down.

What a coincidence - the group who "turned their backs on him," as Seabiscuit says, is up next and the judges do all they can to shake their confidence in revenge for Jacee. Tyler says they should all take one step back before they even start. Then, the three judges proceed to glare at them mightily as they begin singing.

But the script falls apart, because they're giving good performances and, sadly, they were probably right - Jacee did not fit. So, props to the judges for not holding it against them, I guess. The judges instead send them all through. And the moral, boys and girls, is that if you're going to throw somebody overboard in Hollywood, learn to shed some tears. This segment ends with deep-voiced Scotty finally showing how it's done, weeping for the camera over the whole gosh darned Jacee incident.

Oh, boy finally, up next Rob Bolin's group, Sadistic Three-Way.

We see them outside the hall; the ladies seem filled with energy, Rob weighed down, like he's carrying the weight of every guy who ever stuck with an it's-so-over relationship with absolutely no hope whatsoever of sex.

Rob, Chelsee, and Jacqueline are supposed to sing "[Forget] You", presumably because they can really do it from the heart, but, anyway, if they thought the simple lyrics would stick in Rob's brain, that is not happening. The two women are up there selling the song and Rob is dancing like a man in his pajamas trying to find the newspaper in the dark on the front lawn. At least he's able to vamp some lyrics. Of course, he's a goner but, surprisingly, the judges send the women through even though they weren't remarkable.

"So Rob and Chelsee must face their final breakup," Seabiscuit narrates in his best Discovery Channel voice. And then there's one final awkward moment in which Chelsee promises, with complete insincerity, that Rob will "always be one of my very best friends." And Rob at least has the dignity to say nothing then walk away to face the rest of his life never having a date again, thank you "American Idol."

By Lisa de Moraes  | February 17, 2011; 6:08 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Memo to Tiffany from Jersey:

1. There's nothing sadder than having B-level talent, and being convinced you're an A.

2. Loudly proclaiming you're the most talented person in the room when Ray Chalres (who's blind AND dead) knows that's not true is not going to get you friends, which is NOT helpful, when you need to be able to find people willing to be in a group with you.

3. Good-bye.

Posted by: Gunga2009 | February 17, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Best recap yet! Thanks for the early morning laughs.

Posted by: MILWI | February 17, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

"Charles" . . . big fat fingers.

Posted by: Gunga2009 | February 17, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Just curious:

"We're loath to admit it, but she's growing on us."

"...we begin to understand just why Rob and Chelsee are ex's."

"Our sympathy meter swings over to Chelsee."

"...our sympathy meter swings all the way over to him."

Why are we talking about ourselves in the third person, as though we were Caligula? Is this column written by committee? It only has one name on it, "Lisa de Moraes"? Is Lisa triplets?

Sorry. Good writer but the imperial "we" thing just seems pretentious.

Posted by: stevebody | February 17, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Just curious? How about just a moron. Don't read Lisa's column then, I am more than sure you don't watch AI. Oh, wait, I get it - you're a troll. Go back under your bridge or rock or wherever you rolled out from under, you're very unpleasant but I'm sure you already knew that.

Posted by: MILWI | February 17, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"And the moral, boys and girls, is that if you're going to throw somebody overboard in Hollywood, learn to shed some tears. This segment ends with deep-voiced Scotty finally showing how it's done, weeping for the camera over the whole gosh darned Jacee incident."

Yes. Nobody (and I mean NOBODY) actually has real compassion and genuine emotions.

Project much?

Posted by: couwnt | February 17, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Funny line about penguins being eaten by bears, but unfortunately they are polar opposites.

Posted by: justmike | February 17, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

@ stevebody:
FYI, "We" is first person plural ("I" is first person singular). He, she, it and they are third person. If you are going to make snarky comments about grammar, get the grammar right!

Posted by: MyPostEgo | February 17, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Yes. Nobody (and I mean NOBODY) actually has real compassion and genuine emotions.

Project much?"

I agree with Lisa. Scotty McCreery was acting. That kid is super sharp and mature for a 17 year old.

Jacee Badeaux should not have made it on to the next round. It wasn't just a matter of forgotten lyrics. His voice wasn't good enough. He is a class act though, and I guess it can't hurt to send him on for one more round.

Rob Bolin was a disappointment. He clearly decided that not trying and failing would be a better than trying and failing. He didn't have one word memorized. If anything, his adlib seemed rather rehearsed.

This is guy, mind you, that has a face and figure more built for radio than tv. He was fortunate that Chelsee ever went out with him. He was fortunate to have made it as far as he did on American Idol. Quite frankly, Chelsee gets partial credit because their back story is what got him through.

I am still surprised that most of the contestants, save Scotty McCreery, don't get it. Only three things matter - how well you look, how well you sing and perform, and your charisma/likability factor. The overall group performance is irrelevant. It is simply a stress test to measure likability. A good singer in bad group can make it through. Bad singer in good group will not. A good, but unlikable, singer in good group will not make it through. Sure they may go beyond the group round, but they won't make the top 24. Yet, most of the contestants seemed more concerned with the quality of their group. They ruin their likability in the hopes of being apart of a good group. Stupid.

Jordan Dorsey and the leader of the group that dissed Jacee have little chance of making the top 24, despite their talent, because of their unlikable type A personalities.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | February 17, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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