Monthly Archives: April 2006

DwtS Offseason Update 4-14-06

John O’Hurley in Chicago
Season 1 runner-up John O’Hurley has signed on for a limited run with the national tour of the musical Chicago. He’ll assume the role of Billy Flynn for the following dates: June 13-18 at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC; June 20-25 at the Theater of the Stars in Atlanta, GA; June 27-July 2 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa, FL.

Stacy’s Diva Days Numbered?
Stacy Keibler’s absence from April 2nd’s Wrestlemania event is being interpreted as a sign that she won’t renew her contract with the WWE when it expires in July.

Valentin Chmerkovskiy Wins in Philly
Valentin Chmerkovskiy (Maksim’s younger brother) and his partner won the Amateur Latin competition at last weekend’s Philadelphia Festival Dancesport Championships. Who’s that sharply dressed gentleman standing next to the champs in this photo?

Nude Cartoon Characters (Episode 12-9)

At this rate, Terry might win all the remaining immunity challenges on Survivor: Panama – Exile Island.
But his bad strategy revealed that he’s not as smart as he thinks he
is, and it cost Sally, his only ally, her chance at $1 million.

After
22 days on the island, the contestants competed for the perennial
videos-from-home reward. Everyone watched a few seconds of footage of
their loved ones, including Aras’s dad, who has a tepee in his backyard.

Shane
broke down at the mere prospect of seeing his son. “He’s my
everything,” Shane said. “He’s my best friend. He’s my brother.” That
can only mean that Shane fathered his son… with his own mother!

For
the challenge, contestants were split into two teams. Three members of
each team used ropes to maneuver a fourth member, who was suspended
above the ground, facedown, on a panel of wood. Teams swung the panel
so that the team member on it could grab 15 numbered flags around the
game area, and then place the flags into corresponding slots on a log.

Aras,
Cirie, and Shane jumped ahead early, as they swung Danielle about. But
Aras’ rope knocked one of the flags out of its slot, halting their
progress until Danielle put it back in place. Just after she got it,
Shane knocked the same flag out again.

Bruce, Sally, Terry, and
Courtney finished their task while the other team fixed their mistakes.
The winning team sent Aras to Exile Island, and then snacked on peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches and milk, as they watched their complete
videos.

Aras was excited about being sent to Exile Island, at
first. It gave him a chance to search for the hidden Immunity Idol, in
case Terry hadn’t actually found it. But the clues to the Idol’s
whereabouts confused Aras, so he gave up and ate a coconut.

Back
at camp, Shane seized the opportunity to ask nurse Cirie about a
medical problem while the other tribe members were away. He’d developed
a rash on his nether region, and dropped his shorts so that the nurse
could examine it.

Begrudgingly, Cirie gave his condition a peek.
“Shane is like a cartoon character anyway,” she said, “and now he’s
like a nude cartoon character.” Through uproarious laughter, Cirie told
him that his condition was similar to diaper rash, and had been caused
by wearing the same wet pair of underwear for 23 days straight. Shane’s
remedy was to wear his t-shirt around his waist like a skirt, using the
crewneck as a waistband.

At the Immunity Challenge beach, Aras
rejoined the tribe. The Survivors were given the option of skipping the
challenge to eat cheeseburgers. Bruce, Cirie, Danielle, Courtney, and
Shane eagerly took Jeff Probst up on his offer, leaving Aras as the old
Casaya tribe’s only hope for keeping Immunity out of Terry’s or Sally’s
hands.

Terry, Aras, and Sally swam out to a long plank suspended
under water, where they memorized seven symbols attatched on the plank:
variations of skulls, candles, and knives. The three competitors then
swam back to the beach, where they raced to arrange some symbol-etched
blocks in the same order as shown on the plank.

Aras finished
first but had the symbols in the wrong order. Terry nailed it on his
first try, and Jeff ordered the cheeseburger gang to stop eating. Shane
looked forlorn, as a droopy french fry dangled from his frowning mouth.

Sally
and Terry tried to sway people to their side by hinting that the hidden
Immunity Idol would be played that night. But, since Bruce and Danielle
had only briefly glimpsed what Terry claimed to be the idol, and Terry
refused to confirm that he even had it, no one committed to joining
with them. As a result, Sally was voted off.

The only chance
Terry and Sally had to stay in the game together was for Terry to
explicitly tell everyone, “Here’s the idol and I’m giving it to Sally.
Decide amongst yourself who will be voted off.” Even if some people
voted for Sally and the idol had to be played, one of the gang of six
would’ve been eliminated.

Better still for Terry: give the same
speech but don’t actually give Sally the idol. If they don’t call the
bluff, great, but even if they do, they still know it’s one of them
next, no matter what happens in the next Immunity Challenge.

Next
week, Bruce has some serious medical problems. If he has to leave the
game permanently, there’s a good chance there will be no Tribal Council
vote. However, if there is a vote, lots of likely elimination
candidates will emerge — as it looks like Shane is back to his
premerge habit of arguing with Courtney and Danielle.

This Is Where Thinking Began (Episode 9-7)

Going into the last 15 minutes of this week’s Amazing Race,
the only question was whether or not the Hippies would be spared by a
non-elimination leg, after falling hours behind the other teams. Their
salvation came from another source — as a lost Lake & Michelle
were eliminated.

All six remaining teams left the Pit Stop
within three hours of each other, and bunched up at the Siracusa train
station. Teams rode the same train to Rome, where they made their way
to Trevi Fountain, the landmark made famous by the deodorant commercial
in which the crazy girl from Invasion pretends she doesn’t understand Italian in order to meet guys.

The fountain’s marketability didn’t escape the producers of the film version of The DaVinci Code. Teams received a clue and half of a DaVinci-related
puzzle from a guy on a scooter. Their clues led them to the second half
of the puzzle, which was at the nearby Spanish Steps.

The puzzle
was as absurdly simple as any of the mysteries in the original book —
like when the genius main characters took forever to figure out that
the best way to read backwards writing is to hold it in front of a
mirror. All the racers had to do with their puzzle was lay one piece of
vellum on top of another to reveal a secret message, which told them
that the first team to bring the puzzle to Phil would win a prize.

Their
clue instructed teams to fly to Athens, Greece, and everyone traveled
on the same flight. Upon arrival, Monica gushed, “This is where
thinking began!” Of Monica, Yolanda said, “I’m not sure there’s a lot
going on there.”

At an ancient marketplace, teams were given the
option to follow their clue or pursue the first of two Fast Forwards on
the race. In order to complete the Fast Forward and proceed directly to
the Pit Stop, teams needed to smash plates at a nearby restaurant to
find a small red and yellow flag within the plate.

Luck
continued to favor Frat Guys Eric & Jeremy, who found the flag
before MoJo and Fran & Barry. The Frats celebrated by breaking the
rest of the plates in the restaurant. They drove to the Pit Stop at the
Fortress of Rion, where Phil informed them that their prize was a pair
of tickets to the Hollywood premiere of The DaVinci Code.

Having
elected not to try the Fast Forward, the Hippies, Ray & Yolanda,
and Lake & Michelle got on an early train from Corinth. But they
got off at the wrong station, violating the rules of the clue. While
they were able to take a bus to the correct station, each team would be
assessed a 15-minute penalty upon reaching the Pit Stop.

MoJo
and Fran & Barry sulked on their train, 45 minutes behind the other
teams. Joseph tried to motivate Monica in his own sage way: “Lift your
spirit up before I get pissed.”

At the Isthmos Station, the five
teams still racing met up and reached a Roadblock: bungee jumping. Ray,
Tyler, Michelle, Monica, and Fran took the plunge for their teams.

A
Detour followed, offering teams the choice of “Herculean Effort” or
“It’s All Greek to Me.” In “Herculean Effort,” teams competed in three
ancient Olympic sports: discus, javelin, and wrestling. MoJo finished
their events just ahead of Ray & Yolanda, and headed for the Pit
Stop.

In “It’s All Greek to Me,” teams collected tiles with nine
Greek letters. Guys dressed in togas translated the letters into
English, and teams rearranged the letters to form the name of a town on
a map of Greece.

Because it was the more tedious option, Fran
& Barry elected to rearrange the letters. Lake & Michelle
stumbled upon the task while trying to find “Herculean Effort,” but
decided to just rearrange letters as well. They finished just after
Fran & Barry.

On their way to the Detour, Tyler navigated
the Hippies in the wrong direction, putting them over an hour behind
the other teams. When they arrived, long after the other teams had
departed for the Pit Stop, they decided to have fun with the Olympic
games. Tyler took off his shirt and got body slammed by a Greek
wrestler multiple times before they finally completed the task.

Luckily
for the hippies, all of the teams had trouble with directions to the
Pit Stop, the Fortress of Rion, which was over 100 miles away. What
made the difference was whether teams asked for directions early into
the trip or later.

Ray & Yolanda arrived at the Pit Stop in
second place, but the penalty they were assessed for illegally riding a
bus allowed MoJo to catch up. Because MoJo were not penalized, they
were awarded second place behind the Frat Guys, putting Ray &
Yolanda in third.

Fran & Barry, the other team not
penalized, arrived in fourth place. Perhaps they’ll be awarded less
money at the start of the next leg to pay for the back window that
Barry broke when he backed his SUV into a tree along the way.

BJ
& Tyler arrived in fifth place. Evidently, Lake & Michelle had
driven around for a while before asking for help, getting them more
lost than other teams. BJ & Tyler endured their penalty and were
awarded fifth place.

When Lake & Michelle finally arrived,
it seemed that this would be a non-elimination week, as show editors
hadn’t made much of a deal over the team getting lost and falling
behind the hippies. But instead of asking for all their possessions,
Phil told Lake & Michelle that they’d been eliminated from the race.

Maintaining
her stalwart exterior, Michelle explained that she was aware that her
marriage may seem dysfunctional to outside viewers. But, she said, it
works for them, and they’ve got two great kids to prove it.

Leaderboard:
1 – Eric & Jeremy
2 – Monica & Joseph
3 – Ray & Yolanda
4 – Fran & Barry
5 – BJ & Tyler
6 – Lake & Michelle

Next
week, Ray takes over Lake’s role and starts bickering with Yolanda.
Teams travel to the Middle East, where BJ fights heat exhaustion in an
effort to dig his team out of last place.

Nashville Sausage Fest (Episode 4-5)

A disturbing trend continued on this week’s Nashville Star, as
Kristen McNamara became the third consecutive woman eliminated from the
show. Judge Phil Vassar summed things up: “This is becoming a sausage
fest.”

Tonight, contestants performed original songs, and only
one of them benefited from it. Chris Young proved that he can write as
well as he performs. He’s also embraced the fact that he’s a hunk, and
the camera loves him for it. Now if he’d only embrace the fact that he
still has all his hair, he might keep his cowboy hat off for a while.

His
slow tune showed off his vocal range, including a nice falsetto.
Tonight’s guest judge, music producer David Foster, was impressed. He
told Chris, “I’m betting you’re going to win this thing.”

All of
the other contestants had trouble writing melodies that suited their
voice. It’s as if they focused all of their energy on the instruments,
and didn’t think of their voice as a separate, if not more important
instrument.

Jared Ashley took the worst beating from the judges
for his cliched, redneck-themed song. He gave the first performance of
the evening, and Anastasia Brown said, “I’m stunned that you’re here,
and one of them is going home.”

Anastasia reiterated her opinion
when she told Kristen, “America made a mistake tonight.” It’s hard to
disagree, as Jared has yet to do anything to distinguish himself. But,
with recent history on his side, he’ll stick around next week and
Nicole Jamrose will be sent home.

The 10,000 Faces of Charmaine (Episodes 5-7 and 5-8)

Two hours of The Apprentice led to a big heartbreak: Lenny was fired. He wasn’t the only candidate fired tonight, just the only one that mattered.

NBC aired two episodes of The Apprentice tonight because the show will be preempted next week by the two-hour premiere of Celebrity Cooking Showdown. If Trump’s Viceroys — George, Carolyn, and Bill — were the celebrity contestants, it might be worth watching.

Lenny’s
demise came at the end of the first episode, another charity task, this
one sponsored by Ace Hardware. As a part of Ace’s awkwardly named
charity wing, “New Faces for Helpful Places,” each team had to renovate
a recreation room at a Boys & Girls Club.

Gold Rush, led by
Lenny, chose music as the theme for their rec room. At another Club,
Synergy used a vague lounge concept to encompass karaoke, board and
video games, and a “girls” area, denoted by fluffy pink bean bag chairs.

Michael,
Synergy’s Project Manager, did everything he could to sabotage his
team. His trip to Ace to buy paint took twice as long as necessary
because he called Sean for a second opinion on every decision. In later
interviews, Sean screamed, “Michael is such a wanker!”

But
Synergy earned the victory, because their room had something for
everybody. Gold Rush’s music room looked stark and uninviting, with
several expensive keyboards and electronic drum kits shoved up against
a wall. Any kid who didn’t have an interest in performing music would
feel left out.

Lee tried to coach his buddy Lenny on what to say
in the boardroom, asking Lenny what the Ace execs were looking for in
the rec room. “Sustainability,” Lenny answered. “No,” Lee said,
“creativity.” Lenny replied, “Yeah, sustainability.”

Charmaine
went after Lenny in the boardroom, even criticizing his choice of red
for an accent color. Trump pointed at Lenny and said, “You like red
because you come from Russia.” Thank goodness Lenny’s team vetoed his
vodka-vending-machine idea, or Trump would’ve had a field day.

The
Russian was fired without being called back to the boardroom. As he
said goodbye to his teammates, he brushed off Charmaine because, “you
have 10,000 faces.” She walked to the elevator protesting, “I never had
10,000 faces, ever.”

Cheer up, Lenny fans. His website
features lots of pictures, and shirts designed by Lenny and Lee.
Proceeds from shirt sales will go to a charity of their choice; let’s
hope its the Boys & Girls Club, so they can replace those expensive
instruments when the kids destroy them.

As the second episode
began, the women of Synergy told Michael that he was lucky they won the
Boys & Girls Club task, because otherwise he would’ve gone home.
Charmaine confronted Lee about defending Lenny in the last task, to
which Lee responded that his loyalty to his friends is unwavering.

When
the new task was assigned the following morning, Michael jumped at the
chance to join Gold Rush when Trump offered, portending the team’s
doom. Leslie volunteered to PM Gold Rush, with Andrea back at the helm
for Synergy.

In the second sandwich promotion challenge in as
many weeks, teams had to sell 7-Eleven’s new pizza sandwich, the
P’Eatzza. This disgusting abomination replaces the bread of a turkey
sandwich with two cold pieces of pizza. Clearly, 7-Eleven execs didn’t
read this morning’s news on obese Americans. Or maybe they think we’re not obese enough.

Andrea
ignored her teammates’ idea to choose a promotional item that related
to the sandwich, insisting that they give away hats. While Trump and
the viceroys agreed that the hats were stupid, selling the sandwich for
$4 allowed Synergy to increase sales at their 7-Eleven by 997%

Gold
Rush gave away a more appropriate mini-cooler with their sandwiches,
but priced the cellophane-wrapped-heart-attacks at $7.99. For that kind
of money, you could buy a Playboy and still have enough left for a Super Big Gulp.

Lee
tried to salvage the situation. He told Leslie of the store manager’s
concerns about the high price, but she ignored him. Then he tried to
negotiate a deal with a local business to buy 1000 sandwiches. His
efforts failed, and his team only increased revenues by 608%.

In
the boardroom, Leslie elected to bring Lee back in with her and sent
everyone else to the suite. Citing the importance of price, Lee said,
“Who are the most price-sensitive consumers? College kids and senior
citizens.”

Trump actually said to Lee, “I thought you were going
to say something else.” In the course of two episodes, Trump made
offensive remarks about Russians and Jews. For an encore, Trump plans
to bomb London the week he fires Sean.

By bringing in the only
person who advocated lowering the price of the sandwich, Leslie left
Trump no choice but to fire her. Leslie’s biggest regret was that she
was fired on her birthday.

When The Apprentice returns in two weeks, teams must design a promotional piece for a forest preserve. I’m planning on wearing my “Lenny for Governor” t-shirt.

In a Bed with Two Strange Men (Episode 12-8)

Terry’s offer to give Danielle the Immunity Idol wasn’t tempting enough to break up the old Casaya tribe’s group of six. Austin paid the price and became the first jury member on Survivor: Panama – Exile Island.

Gathering information from the protective Casayans wasn’t easy, but Terry got Shane to divulge his intended final four: Shane, Aras, Cirie, and Courtney. Terry even bet $20 against Shane that it would happen, just to make the piece of information that much more damaging when he told Bruce and Danielle about it later.

Scheming stopped for the Reward Challenge. Survivors were randomly divided into three teams of three. Each team loaded 100 coconuts from a bin into the opposing teams’ boats, rowed their own boat to a buoy to retrieve a flag and a net, and then dragged the coconuts from their boat back to the original bin.

Shane, Terry, and Austin seemed like an unbeatable team, prompting Aras to suggest that his team (with Bruce and Sally) combine their coconuts with those of Danielle, Courtney, and Cirie to overload the guys’ boat.

As a result, Aras’s team won. Bruce and Sally let Aras decide which member of each opposing team would be sent to Exile Island. He chose Austin and Danielle, presuming that she would handle it better, physically and emotionally, than would Cirie or Courtney.

For their reward, Bruce, Sally, and Aras were ferried away the following morning for breakfast in bed. Unfortunately, the canopy bed was out in the open and was soaked from the persistent rain.

Sally’s grumpiness over being in a cold, wet bed “with two strange men” went away as soon as breakfast arrived. Bruce marveled over the “out of this world bacon,” and they ate until they could eat no more.

As expected, the tales of their feast weren’t greeted warmly back at camp. Cirie vowed that if she didn’t win a reward soon, “I will die in Panama.”

As poorly as Cirie felt, Austin and Danielle were having an even worse time on Exile Island. They took shelter under a tree and used a wet blanket to cover their heads. Both described it as the worst two nights of their lives — despite these being their first two nights away from Shane for a while.

Austin and Danielle arrived bedraggled and exhausted for the Immunity Challenge, an obstacle course in four stages. During stage one, the first six survivors to dig under a fence and cross the finish line moved on. Sally, Danielle, Courtney, Terry, Shane, and Austin all made it to stage two.

The second part required contestants to solve a brain teaser puzzle, and then navigate though some netting. The remaining La Minans (Sally, Austin, and Terry) all qualified for round three.

The three remaining castaways had to race across a bridge made of two ropes. To help them cross, each racer had two wooden planks they could lay across the ropes. Castaways stood on one plank, placed the other plank in front of them, stood on that plank, picked up the old plank, set that plank in front, and so on. Terry and Sally crossed the bridge first, eliminating an exhausted Austin from the final round.

In the finals, Terry navigated a series of tunnels a few seconds faster than Sally, giving him his second individual immunity in a row.

At camp, Terry confided to Sally and Austin that he possessed the Immunity Idol from Exile Island. He proposed offering the idol to Danielle in exchange for her switching sides. If she switched, it would be easy to convince Bruce to switch as well.

Meanwhile, Aras suggested that his voting block cast their votes for Sally, assuming that, if Terry had the idol, he might give it to Austin. Then whomever the La Minans voted for (presumably Shane or Aras) would be going home.

Courtney argued that it was foolish not to get rid of Austin while they had the chance. When Aras refused to budge, Courtney stormed off. She, Danielle, and Cirie agreed that they wouldn’t be particularly sorry if Aras did go home.

At Tribal Council, Danielle stuck with her original tribe members, who overruled Aras and voted for Austin. After a few tense moments, Austin grabbed his torch: Terry had decided to keep the idol for himself.

While it may seem like keeping the idol wasn’t the most generous thing for Terry to do, he’s the only original La Mina member with a chance to make it to the end. Saving Austin would’ve only bought them one more week, and Terry has to suspect he won’t continue his dominance for six more immunity challenges.

Next week, Shane drops his pants to ask nurse Cirie about some chafing issues. I can only assume that Cirie is the mystery castmember who will be taken away on a boat due to a medical condition — as was promised in show previews a few weeks back. I’d get sick if Shane dropped trou in front of me, too.

Jingo, Jango, Jurino…Jagino! (Episode 9-6)

Following in the footsteps of TAR 7 merchant Chicololo, Jagino the Sicilian fishmonger became internationally famous, thanks to pairs of stinky Americans yelling his name as they carried swordfish around an outdoor market. Nerds Dave & Lori lugged around their catch of the day for nothing, as they were the latest team eliminated from The Amazing Race.

As this leg of the race began, hippies BJ & Tyler had a two hour lead on the second place team, frat guys Eric & Jeremy. The hippies arrived in Catania, Sicily, with enough time to write an obviously fake “Official Team Sign-up” sheet and post it at the gate of a ruined Roman amphitheater, which didn’t open until 8:30 a.m.

They watched from their car as Frat Guys Eric & Jeremy signed their names to the sheet. The Frats gave the sheet a second look, and then knew it was bogus once they noticed the Hippies nearby, in hysterics.

Although they had to wait for the ruins to open, the two lead teams got a jump on the competition, who all got stuck in rush hour traffic and didn’t arrive at the theater by opening time. After a simple task, counting 41 heads on fenceposts around the theater, both teams chose a Detour option called “Big Fish,” which required them to carry a 32-pound swordfish several blocks to Jagino’s market stall.

The task was easy for them, but not so for third place MoJo. Monica struggled to carry the heavy, bloody fish as Joseph tried to call out the fishmonger’s name: “Jingo! Jango! Jurino!” She stopped several times to cry before they found Jagino.

Fran & Barry were the only team to choose the other Detour option, “Little Fish.” They took over a market stall and sold four kilos of small fish in order to receive their clue. The sight of Monica in tears was confirmation that they’d chosen the right task.

Nerds Dave & Lori left the Pit Stop nearly 10 minutes ahead of last place team Ray & Yolanda. But, upon approching Catania, Dave refused to ask for directions, despite Lori’s insistence. By the time he stopped to ask for help, Ray & Yolanda had already reached the first clue.

After finishing their fishy tasks, teams drove to Siracusa, where they encountered a Road Block. One team member had to hop in a kayak and join a water polo game played on a section of the local river. Teams could walk to the Pit Stop as soon as their water polo player scored a goal.

The Frats pulled ahead of the Hippies during the drive to Siracusa, and finished quickly, despite Jeremy initially forgetting his paddle on the dock. Jeremy scored a goal before BJ was even in his kayak.

Phil waited at the Pit Stop near a natural spring, accompanied by a local marching band. When the Frats arrived, Phil remarked on their fishy smell. Jeremy explained that the scent was a new cologne called “Sword.” The team’s first place finish earned them a cruise vacation.

All the teams stayed in the same order from the Detour to the Pit Stop, which left Dave & Lori in last place. Their elimination wasn’t all bad. If this had been a non-elimination leg, they could’ve been forced to wear their smelly fish-clothes for the rest of the race. Dave & Lori held their heads high, knowing they’d raced well and had the experience of a lifetime.

Leaderboard:
1 – Eric & Jeremy
2 – BJ & Tyler
3 – Monica & Joseph
4 – Fran & Barry
5 – Lake & Michelle
6 – Ray & Yolanda
7 – Dave & Lori

With six episodes remaining, and presumably only two more teams to eliminate before the finale, expect things to get pretty complicated over the next few episodes. We’ve yet to see a true non-elimination leg, where a team is stripped of their money and possessions, so it’s a good bet that next week will be the first.

Also, we’ve yet to see a Fast Forward opportunity, so expect at least one in the coming weeks. There is one Yield opportunity remaining, and in past seasons, Yields have often occurred on non-elimination legs. Unless the first team to arrive exercises their Yield option, the Frats and Hippies may continue to trade the first and second place spots until the finale.

Next week, teams travel to nearby Greece, where Fran must overcome her fear of bungee jumping. Tyler develops some new fears of his own while wrestling a guy in a loincloth during some ancient Greek games.

DwtS Offseason Update 4-5-06

Maksim Speaks
Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who’s been laying low since Dancing with the Stars wrapped, made his first post at his own website’s forum. Here’s an excerpt:

“It
was very nice to see that there are people out there that look past my
‘russian asshole’ face and see that I am not a bad guy. As a dancer one
must be emotional and expressive and god knows I have no problem with
it when I dance. My problem starts when music shuts off and I am off
the dance floor.”

He promises to post more pictures and respond to questions through the forum.

No Dancing at the Daytime Emmys
Kelly Monaco says dancing isn’t part of her hosting duties at the Daytime Emmys. However, fans shouldn’t be too upset, since they’ll be treated to a musical performance by General Hospital legend, Rick Springfield.

Burping with the Stars
Fame certainly has its privileges. Tom Bergeron emceed the ultimate celebrity burp-off competition during Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards on April 1. Justin Timberlake out-belched Hugh Jackman, earning Wolverine a pie to the face.

Great Balls of Lukewarm (Episode 4-4)

Guest judge Naomi Judd let contestants have it on tonight’s episode of
Nashville Star. Melanie Torres was eliminated, as the voting audience
continued to pick off the women.

To her credit, Naomi did offer
some helpful professional insight, throwing around terms like
“resonance” and “vocal timbre.” But she didn’t hold back on catty
remarks, telling Kristen she needed tips on how to do her hair and
makeup.

In response to Casey Rivers’s lame version of “Great
Balls of Fire,” Naomi offered her best line: “Sounds more like ‘Great
Balls of Lukewarm.'”

Chris Young was the only standout performer
among the men. He finally realized that women respond favorably to
good-looking guys who can sing, and started playing to the ladies in
the audience. Now that he’s adopted that approach, it’s his competition
to lose.

The best female performer of the night was Nicole
Jamrose, who narrowly beat Melanie to stay in the competition. Nicole
took a risk singing “Thing Called Love,” a song that suits her voice
but obviously invites comparison with Bonnie Raitt. Nicole held her
own, turning out a strong rendition, without sounding like an imitation
of the woman who made the song famous.

Judge Anastasia Brown
said that Nicole was the best woman in the competition, but the voting
audience obviously favors Kristen McNamara. Kristen performed the
over-covered “How Do I Live Without You,” which, coincidentally, was
also performed on tonight’s American Idol. Kristen might deserve to be kicked off just for picking that song.

Jared Ashley and Matt Mason both sounded nasally, and one of them will probably wind up in the bottom two next week.

As
for what else will happen on next week’s show, I have no idea. Wynonna
couldn’t concentrate during the show’s closing moments, because her
mother was onstage with her. And Troy was equally distracted, because
something shiny was onstage near him. They mumbled something about next
week’s show, but their delivery was so off, I couldn’t tell what they
said.

Hopefully, the wardrobe department will put Wynonna in
something more flattering next week. The bell sleeves of her blouse
invited Kool-Aid Man comparisons. And then her mother said, “You’re the
best Hostess since Twinkies.” And…oh, hell.

Trump Doesn’t Scare Me (Episode 5-6)

Bryce doused himself with gasoline and handed Donald Trump the lighter for a spectacular boardroom suicide on tonight’s Apprentice. The blaze ended with Bryce’s snotty taxi cab confession: “It wouldn’t hurt Trump to listen once in a while.”

This week’s task was a disaster waiting to happen. Teams had to write a jingle to promote Arby’s Chicken Naturals sandwiches. Arby’s execs didn’t specify what their competitors’ “unnatural” chicken sandwiches are made of.

Before the task had even been announced, Gold Rush was off to a bad start. Bryce called a team meeting to air any bad feelings. Tarek’s belief that he’s been unfairly targeted in the boardroom because he’s the player to beat earned him a reaction that was equal parts outrage and “Huh?”

Then Lee announced that he couldn’t participate in the task because of Yom Kippur, effectively garnering him a pass from the boardroom. If Tarek was really smart, he’d find some obscure foreign holiday and take it off, just to avoid being Trump’s whipping boy for a week.

After receiving their assignment, Gold Rush arrived 25 minutes late for a meeting with the Arby’s execs. When the CEO asked Bryce if they’d gotten lost, Bryce responded with a nonsequitur: “Did we get lost? Leslie has some questions for you guys.”

The execs called Bryce on his attempt to dodge the question, so he clarified that he didn’t know they were running late because he didn’t know what time the meeting was. To make matters worse, he didn’t even apologize.

When it came time to work on the jingle, the team learned that Lenny was useless for the task. After explaining that jingle bells are not required for a jingle, and then hearing him sing, they found him a spot on the couch far away from the piano.

Tarek wrote a corny, hoedown-meets-The-Andrews-Sisters melody that the group approved because they didn’t have any better ideas. Bryce decided his talents were best put to use sitting on the couch next to Lenny, leaving Charmaine and Leslie to write all the lyrics.

Gold Rush’s half-hearted effort was no match for Roxanne’s catchy rock number, which Synergy Project Manager Sean approved immediately. The death blow was that Synergy’s jingle mentioned that natural chicken was only available at Arby’s. (Again, if that’s true, then what unholy creation dies to make a McChicken?) When approving Charmaine’s and Leslie’s lyrics for Gold Rush, Bryce didn’t notice that his team had neglected to mention this fact, which the Arby’s execs had emphasized.

Synergy’s reward was a 6-course truffle dinner that retailed for thousands of dollars per person. Allie spent the meal fawning over Sean’s accent, while Sean smothered the women with compliments, cheek kisses, and hand-holding. Meanwhile, Michael rolled his eyes.

In preparation for the boardroom, Bryce rallied the troops again, promising not to backstab or humiliate any of them. Because the editors included this proclamation, it seemed clear that Bryce would not adhere to it.

When asked by Trump why Gold Rush lost, Bryce glossed over Tarek’s stupid song and Charmaine’s and Leslie’s lousy lyrics. Instead, he immediately blamed Lenny for not contributing to the final product. It didn’t occur to Bryce that he and Lenny contributed roughly the same amount. And at least Lenny had tried to help, though he said that converting his clever Russian rhymes to English was “crap.”

Trump asked Lee if he should be fired for skipping the task to observe a religious holiday. Lee didn’t bite, saying that he couldn’t ignore his religion just for the show, but that sometimes life is unfair.

Mistakenly, Bryce took this as a sign from Trump to bring Lee into the boardroom, along with Lenny. When Trump asked, “Do you really think I’m going to fire Lee?” Bryce replied that he was sure Lee wouldn’t be fired. Carolyn asked, “Why don’t you just say, ‘Fire me, Mr. Trump’?”

Upholding some moral code understood only by him, Bryce continued to defend his decision not to bring in Charmaine or Tarek instead of Lenny and Lee. As time passed in the boardroom, Bryce became more shrill, sarcastic, and defensive, much like his attack on Lenny during the car dealer task.

Trump didn’t appreciate Bryce’s frequent interruptions, and was especially furious that he brought Lee into the boardroom. Bryce was fired, and Carolyn and Bill agreed that it was a particularly easy decision.

Departing in his cab, Bryce said, “Trump doesn’t scare me. Neither does Carolyn. Neither does Bill. The best candidate is sitting in this cab, and Mr. Trump’s going to realize that.” The camera cut to credits, but returned so that Bryce could grumble, “It wouldn’t hurt Trump to listen once in a while.”

With one delusional egomaniac who won’t acknowledge his own faults gone, will Gold Rush be able to win despite Tarek, their other delusional, faultless egomaniac? Next week’s charity-related task may not even be enough to turn this grumpy bunch of losers into functional adult members of society.