Posted: 24 Aug 2011 07:08 AM PDT
Airability? A television show like The Glee Project gets top marks for bringing a gust of fresh air to the now-trite reality TV genre.
I LOVED watching Glee when it first came out and was addicted for a while, but then the stresses of everyday life set in and I was unable to find space for it in my daily schedule. This seems to be a problem for me nowadays; anything that goes beyond one season, I need to get on DVD and watch in one marathon session (sans baths, meals, daylight) because I just can't be bothered to tune in every week and have the process of watching seven seasons take seven years. Hence, when The Glee Project (GP) came along, I didn't bat an eyelid even, and I wasn't planning to indulge in it. More Glee that I could do without, surely, I foolishly thought.
Luckily, I have two teenagers who insist on keeping the television on for most waking hours of the day (and who seem to have watched every episode of every TV programme ever, even before it ever makes its way to these shores). What I saw in the first episode of GP, naturally whetted my appetite enough to make me want to get home the next day in time for Episode Two.
In terms of programming, I think it's a darn smart move to air three episodes in quick succession – Mondays to Wednesdays on StarWorld (even if an episode is repeated every Monday).
The show was aired in the United States in June (the finale during which the winners were announced happened just last Sunday ... and you probably already know who it is, but I shall not mention it here lest I spoil it for some of you).
I hate to admit it, but I'm even liking GP more than Glee now! Quick definition: GP is a reality show which serves as an audition process for TV series Glee (pure genius!). The very first show took viewers through a huge audition process right up to the selection of the Top 12 – GP did in one hour what American Idol now drags viewers through a torturous two months. Really, I can't applaud the GP makers enough for their outstanding, courageous and selfless editing.
In total, there are only 10 episodes in total, each 45 minutes long. It's quality over quantity every step of the way, which, I think is a huge favour the show does for itself – it allows absolutely no room for its audience to get bored with it.
The 12 contestants that were chosen – Damian McGinty, Bryce Ross-Johnson, Alex Newell, Lindsay Pearce, Matheus Fernandes, Samuel Larsen, Ellis Wylie, Emily Vásquez, Hannah McIalwain, Cameron Mitchell, McKynleigh Abraham and Marissa von Bleicken – are all between the ages of 19 and 22, very spunky, full of character and extremely talented. In fact, one can easily picture any of them in an episode of Glee. (The winner of GP is promised a role on Season Three of Glee).
You've got to hand it to the people who whittled them down from the thousands who turned up. These guys absolutely knew what they were looking for.
And that is, of course, because the person in charge of the auditions was Glee's own casting director Robert Ulrich (whom, I'm completely head over heels because he's so sweet, sensitive and he knows what he wants from the get go and isn't afraid to speak his mind. Robert Ulrich, you are my hero!). Ulrich also doubles up as the show's presenter and teams up with Ryan Murphy (Glee's creator, who appears the biggest diva of them all if you ask me) and Zach Woodlee (Glee's ever-so-cute dance choreographer) as the final judging team at the end of each episode (with catchy titles such as Individuality, Pairability, Theatricality, etc), when they decide who stays and who gets eliminated.
It is important to note that this is not really a talent show, as those chosen to move on are being chosen for how well they would fit into the existing series and if Murphy is able to write up plots and a character to suit them.
The team in charge each week – made up of Ulrich, Woodlee (and/or Brook Lipton, his assistant), vocal producer Nikki Anders (who looks like she could star on Glee too!) and video director Erik White – is top notch. They know what they are doing, they work excellently together and within a time-frame, they are strict yet likeable, they are magicians, it seems, because at the end of each show viewers get at least two excellent performances and some great live drama in the process too (which has turned out to be delightfully thought provoking and meaningful). It is a well-oiled machine, this Glee production company, and it is lovely to watch this Glee microcosm, or the process in which things get done.
Then, before you know it, the numbers are dwindling and you don't have enough time to really start loathing or loving any one of the contestants; although truth be told, I think Cameron (whom I've dubbed Robert Redford Jr) and Damien (from the land of Guinness, the Blarney Stone and Oscar Wilde ... what's not to like?) are totally charming.
Each week a mentor from the show makes a guest appearance, and so if you're a Gleek, you'll enjoy that behind the scenes look at your favourite actor too.
Really, there's nothing not to like about GP!
■ New episodes of The Glee Project are screened every Tuesday and Wednesday on StarWorld, while the repeat of the previous Wednesday's episode will be screened on Monday. Showtime is 8.55pm.
Posted: 22 Aug 2011 09:29 PM PDT
NEW YORK (AP) - Even a fatwa is grist for comedy when you're David Letterman. Back from two weeks' vacation and making his first TV appearance since a threat against his life was posted on a jihadist website, the "Late Show" host played it all for laughs during Monday's monologue.
Letterman began by thanking his studio audience for being there.
"Tonight," he said, "you people are more, to me, honestly, than an audience - you're more like a human shield."
Then he apologized for having been tardy coming out onstage.
"Backstage, I was talking to the guy from CBS," he explained. "We were going through the CBS life insurance policy to see if I was covered for jihad." Until Letterman delivered his jokes, his situation seemed no laughing matter.
Last week, a frequent contributor to a jihadist website posted the threat against Letterman. He urged Muslim followers to "cut the tongue" of the late-night host because of a joke and gesture the comic had made about al-Qaida leaders on a show that aired in June.
"A guy, a radical extremist threatened to cut my tongue out," Letterman marveled during Monday's monologue. Then, referring to his disastrous turn hosting the Oscars in 1995, he added: "I wish I had a nickel for every time a guy has threatened (that). I think the first time was during the Academy Awards."
"And so now," he continued, "State Department authorities are looking into this." But they could save themselves some trouble, he suggested: "Everybody knows it's (Jay) Leno."
Along with his monologue, Letterman mined the situation for his Top Ten List: "Top Ten Thoughts That Went Through My Mind After Hearing about the Threat."
Among them: _ "Why is the staff in such a good mood?"
_ "How can someone be so angry at a time when Kim Kardashian is so happy?"
_ "Some people get Emmy nominations; some people get death threats."
One joke that may have helped spark the fatwa was one of several lampooning al-Qaida in Letterman's June 8 monologue. This was just days after the death of al-Qaida leader Ilyas Kashmiri, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. Though Kashmiri was rumored to be a long-shot choice to succeed Osama bin Laden, he wouldn't have worked out even had he lived, Letterman cracked, pointing to Kashmiri's "rocky start" as a front-runner: "He botched up the story of Paul Revere."
The real butt of that joke: Sarah Palin, potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, who in early June on her "One Nation" bus tour had claimed that Paul Revere's famous ride was intended to warn British soldiers as well as his fellow colonists.
The website contributor, who identified himself as Umar al-Basrawi, railed in his post that Letterman had referred to both bin Laden and Kashmiri and said that Letterman, in discussing Kashmiri's death, had "put his hand on his neck and demonstrated the way of slaughter."
"Is there not among you a Sayyid Nosair al-Mairi ... to cut the tongue of this lowly Jew and shut it forever?" Al-Basrawi wrote, referring to El Sayyid Nosair, who was convicted of the 1990 killing of Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane. Letterman is not Jewish.
Al-Basrawi, considered likely to be an alias, has made some 1,200 postings to the Muslim website, according to Adam Raisman, an analyst for the Site Monitoring Service. The private firm, part of the Site Intelligence Group, provides information to government and commercial clients on what jihadists are saying on the Internet and in traditional media. Raisman said the online forum is often used by al-Qaida.
The FBI said last week that it was looking into the threat.
While Letterman and his writers were polishing their jokes Monday afternoon, outside on Broadway, a bomb-sniffing dog was led around the periphery of the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, ticketholders queuing up along the sidewalk seemed relaxed about attending Letterman's first taping since the assassination threat. Some were even unaware that his life had been threatened.
"I'm not worried. They've got metal detectors," said Kendall Phillips, a 25-year-old from Houston, noting a standard provision in the TV world for screening audience members. "Plus, it's like really hard to get tickets."
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