It’s a hit! According to host Regis Philbin (or creative execs at NBC), 25 million viewers tuned in last week to watch AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, the all-new, totally original reality TV competition that in no way resembles “The Gong Show,” “Star Search,” Amateur Night at the Apollo, any show that contains “America” in the title, any other show with Regis, any show that involves a call-in vote, any show that gives away a million, “Pet Star,” or “Baywatch Nights.” Oh, but they lie. It’s exactly like “Baywatch Nights.” And far be it from me to question the Reeg, but I’ve read elsewhere that the two-hour premiere last Wednesday was more like 13 million (which is still good, but even with my bad math skills, nowhere near 25 million). I guess they are counting the people who tuned into the two rebroadcasts. And anyone who might have glanced at a commercial. And anyone who might have tuned into “Baywatch Nights” mistakenly thinking it was AGT. Because they both contain the Hoff, and they both happen at night, Baby.
If You Can Make It There, You’ll Make It Anywhere
This week’s episode takes us to the East Siiiiiiide. That’s right, if this show bites, it’s biting the Big Apple, because tonight we are watching folks who qualified through the New York/East Coast auditions. Reeg comes onstage looking way more casual than he does on any of his other shows. Doesn’t he usually dress up nicely on his talk show? When he did “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” did he not single-handedly popularize the monochromatic, shiny shirt ‘n’ tie look? Oh Reeg, you fashion maven, you. Well, tonight he comes out on AGT looking, frankly, quite sloppy! Rumpled sport coat, no tie, shirt with collar undone. Either Reeg doesn’t care about his appearance any more, or he was caught off guard making out with one of the contestants backstage.
Like last week, we are treated to clips of the losers (pronounced “LOO-zahs!” in New Yawk speech). “Thousands” of people came to the auditions in Times Square, according to Reeg. Although, according to his and NBC’s math, in actuality it probably only amounted to…243 people, not counting the animal acts. And stray transient people who wandered in looking for shade (hey, it’s summer, it happens). Sorry, wrinkly grandma singing her rendition of “Don’t Cha” who looks like her brassiere is probably older than any of the Pussycat Dolls (that 18 Hour Bra has seen way more than 18 hours and has clearly lost its ability to support)! Sorry, scary crack whore in an old bridesmaid dress with a chimp in a diaper! Sorry, porno company manager guy (see you at work next Monday on the set of “The Da Vinci Load”). Sorry, mime/comic/jewelry designer/car wash lady! So these people won’t be getting their 15 minutes of fame, but at least they get a nanosecond. And speaking of people grasping desperately onto their 15 minutes, back are judges, David Hasselhoff, Brandy, and Piers Morgan.
All That, Aback, Angel
All That – This group of five good ol’ boys describe themselves as a “clogging ensemble…that don’t fit the normal stereotype of clogging.” Color me ignorant, I didn’t even realize there were…stereotypes…of cloggers. I’m still wondering why they aren’t wearing clogs. In their tap shoes, tank tops, and hair gel, to me these guys are like N’Sync meets Lord of the Dance—which is not a compliment. To the panel, however, these guys are golden. “You guys are ‘All That’ and more,” Brandy gushes. “You were awesome,” declares the Hoff (although “awesome” seems to be the favorite word in his limited vocabulary). Piers says he doesn’t like them (to a chorus of audience boos) but only…wait for it…because “every woman in America’s going to love you…You rocked the stage.” They’re unanimously voted through.
William J. McGowan – This portly vocalist proudly announces that although he has never had formal training for his voice, when he sings audiences are “taken aback.” Oh I don’t doubt it. When he opens his mouth to do “Cara Mia” I too am taken aback; in the sense that I recoil away from my television set in abject horror as he caterwauls like a cat stuck in a Foreman grill. He is unanimously XXXed out, but gets defensive, claiming that many people have described him as “magnificent.” What he left out is the part that goes, “-ly horrible at singing.” Even Miss Nicey-Nice Brandy says, “Hell no,” when asked if William should be allowed through to the next round. Like that other (in)famous William with dubious vocal talent, Mr, McGowan does not continue with the competition.
Leonid the Magnificent – How does one describe the sparkling spectacle that is Leonid? Standing what looks like 10 feet tall in silver platform boots, lamé mini-skirt, glitter makeup, mirrored body jewelry and hot pink angel wings is “Leonid the Magnificent,” a buff young man originally from Russia, but now living in Brooklyn. Reeg tries to work some shtick at Leonid’s expense (Lunge: “Funny, I lived in NY too and I’ve never seen you.”), but the outré Angel holds his own (Riposte: “We go to different clubs.). Like a Pierre et Gilles image come to life, Leonid strides with feline grace carrying a small dagger and a longer sword-like contraption attached to which are three small disco-type mirrorballs. As if just walking in those gigantic platforms weren’t talent enough, he balances the longer sword on the little tip of the small dagger which he has placed in his mouth. The problem arises when he tries to do the splits—and the sword plunges down dangerously, nearly turning to Leonid into Leonora in one fell swoop. Piers Xes him, and the audience gasps. Leonid picks right back up, and successfully performs the split with the swords balanced; the crowd goes wild. Then, as if the split maneuver wasn’t enough of a heart-stopper, he takes a thin piece of floss and balances the sword on that. The crowd again goes wild, but what do the judges think? The Hoff says “Victoria’s Secret takes on a whole new meaning,” but says no. Piers says Leonid would be “perfect for the top of my Christmas tree [but] otherwise you are magnificently useless,” which is harsh even for a captious Brit critic. Brandy is the only judge pulling for Leonid, and she staunchly defends him by pointing that although he dropped the sword once, he picked it up and finished the act flawlessly. Brandy is outvoted by the guys, and
Magician, Musician, Malleability
Elliot Zimet – The spitting image of Scott Evil, Elliot comes out to a seemingly malfunctioning microphone. He takes it off the stand and proceeds to fling it at judges, causing Brandy to put her hands up in terror—psyyyche, it’s all part of the act, and the mike hurtling towards Brandy’s face turns into a dove in the nick of time! Now all the judges have to worry about is bird flu! So Elliot is a master illusionist, but he’s hip, he’s modern, he’s Seth Green in a pleather Members Only jacket, so he doesn’t pull rabbits out of top hats, he turns cell phones into sunglasses, speakers into birds, birds into more birds, jackets into brightly plumed macaws—all to a hip hop beat, yo! It’s high energy, earns a standing O from the crowd, and impresses even Mr. Piers Cranky Knickers, who says although he’s never found dove acts to be anything but “excruciatingly boring” he found Elliot’s act to be “quite fun.” Hoff finds it “refreshing,” and Brandy gives the third yes that gets Elliot and his fine-feathered friends through to the next round.
Corina Brouder – Another harpist, but younger and hotter than last week’s, is a nurse who has used her angelic voice to soothe patients’ pain. She does a dreamy version of Sarah McLachlan’s “In the Arms of an Angel” and because she is a young, hot, and can actually sing and play, she is absolutely through to the next round.
Dave Smith – If you’ve seen any of the million commercials for AGT, you’ve probably seen Dave, a bendy fellow who has twisted himself into a pretzel, and plays guitar with his legs and feet behind his head while he sings “Bend me, shape me, any way you want me.” And that’s about all there is to his act. It’s funny and interesting for about 30 seconds, but how much of this can you really watch, and is it entertaining enough to earn a million bucks? Amazingly, Brandy and Piers seem to think it’s amusing enough to ask him back. And the crowd seems to love the contortionist. I never thought I’d ever see the day where David Hasselhoff is the single voice of reason, but here it is. A sign of the Apocalypse, surely.
The Passion of the Leonid
Brandy interrupts the show to plead fervidly on the behalf of Leonid the Magnificent. She feels that he deserves another chance, and demands that Leonid be brought out again so she can discuss it one more time with the guys. “I think he’s great, and I would really like for you guys to reconsider,” Brandy says, bringing the statuesque, silver angel to tears. The audience cheers heartily, and Leonid falls to his knees in gratitude.
Piers explains why he ejected Leonid from his graces: he did not like that Leonid had looked “a bit nervy” and dropped the sword. Still, Piers gives Leonid a chance to change his mind. Then, in a surreal segment that looks like Wim Wenders film gone through a camp blender, Leonid makes an emotional speech (which, though spoken in English, is given subtitles due to Leonid’s thick Russian accent): “I as waiting for this moment all of my life. Do you remember your first audition? Your first job? Have you been perfect all the time? Did you screw up everything and you pray, ‘God, give me this chance one more time and maybe I’ll do this right?” It’s a monologue on a par with Scarlett O’Hara’s “I’ll never be hungry again!”
It’s such an impassioned plea; there is hardly a dry eye in the house. Leonid cries, heck even I cry (I want to know what eye shadow he’s wearing, though, because it fairs much better than mine in the downpour). The Hoff asks the crowd if they want him to come back, they must stand up; and they nearly all get up on their feet. Piers says he won’t change his mind because the audience wants him too—but he will change his mind because Leonid displayed “passion, raw emotion, determination and hunger.” With that, Leonid gets one more chance at the next round, and the beatific angel skips offstage, promising next time he will be perfect.
Band, Balance, Beatbox
PBM – These six guys are a rock band from Michigan who do not define what PBM means, so I’m guessing it stands for “Peanut Butter Monkey.” They want to be the biggest thing out of Michigan since Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker, and I say that joke just writes itself. But jokes aside, the band is pretty gorram rockin’, with great energy, a fantastic horn section, a new wave ska feel, and catchy melodies—however, Piers (who is the only one to X them out) is reading my mind when he says they should “get a great lead singer.” I’m sorry, but with everything else so on the money, his nasal delivery is just a few cents short. The Hoff thinks they’re just fine, and says to bring them back. After appealing to Brandy by declaring her a “fine girl,” she tells PBM, “Now you know I’m gonna say yes.” Backstage, the loyal members of PBM say they’re keeping their front man no matter what (well, until he pulls a Gwen Stefani, and leaves them after they get famous).
Frank Simon – What juggling was to the West Coast, balancing seems to be to the East Coast. Frank’s a big lug of a guy who looks like the one weirdo who comes uninvited to every party, gets boozed up, and starts looking for stuff in your house to mess with. I’m betting that’s how his act developed, which basically consists of him balancing household objects in his mouth, like a motorbike, and a stove. This might be entertaining to the crowd, but not when it’s your bike or stove; and it’s not enough to impress the judges who give him the XXX. When the judges criticize him, with Piers saying “This is a talent show, not a freak show,” the phrases “I love U.S.A.” and “Everybody clap for me!” seem to be all the heavily accented Frank can say in response. There is something anachronistic about Frank, like he’d be more at home in a traveling circus in the 1800s, married to the bearded lady, with children who have webbed feet.
Matther Fuhrmann – Aside from serving in the naval reserve, this massively pumped fellow whose parents gave him a name sure to be misspelled and mispronounced for all eternity has “perfected” the “craft” of sound effects/beat boxing. For no good reason (other than to show off his pecs, six pack, and biceps—which is all well and good but has ZERO to do with sound effects), he strips off his t-shirt and proceeds to make sound effects that won’t have Michael Winslow from Police Academy worried about losing his job any time soon. He’s XXXed out, with Piers suggesting he go join Chippendales, and the Hoff, former King of Superfluous Shirtlessness, looking a wee bit threatened. Brandy does her passive aggressive thing of letting the guys say no first, so she doesn’t have to vote no and look like a meanie.
Snow White Strips, Side Swipe, Singers
Michelle L’amour – This pretty princess in the Snow White costume (who appears to have borrowed some of Leonid’s glitter lipstick) has a degree in finance, but wanted to follow her “passion”…Stripping! When the burlesque music kicks in, the innocent-faced Michelle does a decidedly un-Disney-like dance, peeling off bits of costume à la Lili St. Cyr, as the children in the audience ask, “Mommy, why does Daddy pitch a tent when he sees Snow White?” Take my advice, the better answer would be, “Honey, because he is an avid enthusiast for the fine art of ecdysiasts,” not “because he blows the money that should be in your college fund at Scores every Friday.” Brandy is the first to X this time, and she tries to push the buzzers for Piers and the Hoff, but is unsuccessful until Snow White is down to her bra and panties. A prudish Brandy asks Michelle to put on some clothes, but Michelle says (what’s left) of her outfit “is just like a bikini, but sparklier!” Piers says the way she’s dressed is “just fine” to him and declares her “the most talented woman I’ve seen in the competition thus far.” The Hoff, similarly pleased with Michelle’s abundant talents, says, “I think you spiced up the show, I want to bring you back.” With Brandy outvoted, the guys are “excited” to see more of Michelle in the future, and just because they’re sitting down behind the judging panel doesn’t mean they’re not giving her a standing ovation.
Side Swipe – Chris, Matt and Jackson have over 20 martial arts titles between the three of them, and want to “shock the world” with their talent. For some reason, when they come on stage and rip their clothes off, Brandy doesn’t put up a fuss…I’m smelling a double standard here! Piers mentioned the male exotic dance troupe earlier, but I can’t describe Side Swipe as anything but The Karate Kid meets Chippendales. Their high-energy acrobatics whip the crowd into a frenzy, and win over the judges, even Piers who says that this kind of “dynamic” act is what they’ve been waiting for all day. “You kicked some ass with class,” the Hoff says, bestowing his blessing upon the trio like some Patron Saint of Perpetual Shirtlessness. Side Swipe is a shoe-in.
Marlon Reynolds – from the William J. McGowan School of Singing for Middle Aged Chubsters comes Marlon, who barely gets through the first line of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” before he’s XXXed out and told by Piers that “You should have left your voice in San Francisco.” People in San Francisco scream in terror.
Bianca Ryan – 11 year old Bianca says that when she sings, people say, “A black woman’s ghost just got into your body!” That’s a new twist on an old hit, let’s pitch it to a studio! Next summer, from Paramount Studios, Ghost 2: Whoopi Goldberg’s character dies and comes back in the body of Dakota Fanning to compete in a reality TV talent show. You heard it here first! But I digress, this highly motivated, eerily mature and confident child might look like Rhoda Penmark but she sings like…well, yes, an adult black woman with lungs of steel, incredible power and vocal control. When Bianca does “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” (made famous by Jennifer Holliday), it’s positively frightening. Brandy says that she is her favorite act in the competition. Piers says, “Change your hair, change your dress, change your shoes, and you will win this tournament.” With all the comments Piers makes about clothing, you’d he was on “What Not to Wear.” The Hoff tells the crowd to get on their feet for the little girl. Do I even need to tell you she’s through to the next round?
How can you follow this act? You can’t, which is why this is where this week’s episode ends. Like last week, more acts from the East Coast qualified than they were able to fit in the show, but we’ll have to catch their action next time. Only one more show before we get to vote. Tune in next week for another chance to see if AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, this time in Chicago.
Yes, for you I am top of Chreestmas tree, but mehbee for someboody else, I can be Got! snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com