“ Fame costs and right here's where you start paying”
Since I missed the first ten minutes, that’s how Debbie Allen started the 80’s TV show.
Originally a movie, then a TV show that spawned a musical, and now the reality TV show version. Talk about your cash cow. There have been a lot worse things that have been milked, believe me. The reason the franchise is so successful is one Debbie Allen.
Allen has done it all, Academy Awards broadcasts, Hollywood movie production, and Kennedy Center performances. She has has ended up back on TV to outperform the likes of ‘Star Search’, ‘American Idol’, ‘All American Girl’ in the reality TV version of Fame. She adds in her own mix of ‘Boot Camp” and tough mama that cannot be copied by anyone else. The show promises to find what the others didn’t, a triple threat - a singer, dancer and a personality. If you think about it, there aren’t that many of those in the public eye. The other reality TV ‘performance’ shows scratched the surface, but this one promises to blow it wide open.
The show opens with Debbie and Joey Fatone recanting the audition process with a live audience. Here is the first glimmer of promise. Fatone , fresh from a stint in the Broadway production of Rent, offers a host who is already a successful performer. (Oh yeah he’s part of that multi- zillion selling boy band too).I can’t seem to recall the last thing Arsenio Hall, or Geri Haliwell did, and I don’t think Ryan Seacrest ever did anything to recall .
The auditions were held in NYC, Miami, Chicago and LA. From what I gather on the net, the show auditions were very hush hush , with the call only going out to the existing performing arts community. You would think that would exclude those with no talent at all showing up for a lark. Not so . There were still those for whatever reason, felt they had to grace us with what they (only in their own minds) thought was a show-stopping performance. The show reviewed sifting through the hopefuls. Both the horrible and breathtaking were well represented. Even to the losers, Allen offered gentle encouragement when she noted a very young or very nervous performance. The bad ones were laughed off good naturedly, the really bad ones got an eyeroll , but all were thanked politely . Here is where the true expertise comes in. This lady has sat through hundreds of thousands of real life auditions without a TV camera in place to revive a career.( sound familiar ?)
NYC (of course) yielded a vast array of truly talented performances. Home of the real life School of performing arts, New York offered up 17 semi-finalists instead of the 12 they were expecting. Typical Broadway type performances here, with a dash of hip hop dance.
It seemed to be Debbie alone who has the final say. Pseudo judges put in place to torture participants simply for TV shock value, are nowhere to be found.
Miami was a real mix of talent. South Beach cool and salsa with a splash of Disney production. Debbie noted at this point, her inspiration was to give a venue for the many talented people the world deserves to see. I swear I heard Alicia Keys “Falling” a hundred times. Since the performers were very young , it’s not surprising they would choose that song– over(and over) from the set list. 12 were chosen with Debbie’s parting words- Keep working, dancing and dreaming. That’s how it happens.
I’m seeing a pattern of constructive criticism forming, that is so superior to the self-serving destructive kind seen on the other shows. By the time Miami’s performances have gone by, I’ve decided this show is worth watching.
Next Stop - Chicago. It looked like more than a fair share of nuts stopped off to audition here. No Catherine Zeta-Jones or René Zellweger in sight. Between the lady who kept screeching till Debbie told her she sounded like a cat had her by the throat, to the unemployed guy who had nothing better to do, Chicago looked like the auditions took their toll on Ms. Allen. One young lady took it upon herself to re-audition again in Chicago, after she had been turned down in NYC. She gave (probably) the exact same awful rendition of Lady Marmalade on second try. I really wonder who told this kid she had talent, because they didn’t do her any favors. Chicago also had some Barbie types turned away and very upset because in their words, the dances were just “Too HARD” Those pesky performers with real talent, seemed to breeze right through them leaving the Barbie’s complaints suspect.
Last stop was LA. We were ‘treated’ to Benjamin Bratt, and Juliana Margulies pretending to audition. Sorry guys, they were looking for real talent here.
In Debbie’s words “Everyone and their Mama showed up” for the cattle call .The talented performances were offset by some French guy appearing to rap ( I think – I’m not really sure and I understand a fair bit of French) and an audition by a real drag queen. The drag queen had some talent, but since this is network and not cable, Middle America just ain’t ready for her yet. The most interesting thing about LA, were the free form dance performances. They were simplyawe-inspiring. It would not surprise me if there wasn’t a single dance class amongst those kids. They erased any memory I still had of the Idol performances.
Debbie and Joey ended the audition recap with a tribute to “those who had the courage to try” The most stunning revelation, was that it appeared Jesus himself had tried out. I could tell by the hair and the tell tale red and green ensemble. Unfortunately his dance talent resembled the chicken dance instead of the riverdance. Better luck next time…
The second part of this show were the finalists as a whole doing a group performance , and then performances by the first group of six . The semi – finalists came “ready to work” The group performance was explosive, and again erased any similarity between this and Idol, AG , or Star Search. Not a spokes model, or singer with their feet nailed to the floor in sight. The wardrobe however was horrid , especially for the girls. Kind of a cross between Elvira and Jean-Paul GAUTIER. Chunks of fabric , and torn nylon are something I would rather not revive from the 80’s thanks.
We next meet the judges, and again it’s a superior crop.
Johnny Wright – Boy band KING of actual successful current performers N’SYNC (As a group and individually) ,Britney Spears, Christina Milian, and P.Diddy, Boys II Men ,as well as being the original management for The Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block . Even though it’s boy band heavy, none of the other shows had anyone on call who were either currently-or this successful.
Carnie Wilson – before you dis Carnie, remember she is a successful performer in her own right, as well as a talent judge from birth. As a daughter of Brian Wilson, she grew up with her dad’s genius, as well as a life long exposure to musical royalty. She’s heard a list of the best in her own kitchen, and if nothing else has to be one of the best judges of singing talent because of it.
JoJo Wright – Billed as LA’s top DJ. Being the top in what’s probably the #1 or 2 radio market is an accomplishment in itself. He has hosted shows on both MTV and the WB. Hard to top this current success. Assuming that he has a hand in the programming of his shows , he would have to be a judge of what is current and extraordinary. That hair has got to go …
The dancing talent, I assume will be judged by Debbie herself as there is no choreographer in sight. No word on whether JoJo and Johnny are related however.
The winner gets
-A management deal with Johnny Wrights -Wright Entertainment Group,
-A recording contract with Wrights W.I.R.E. records with production by a “superstar”
I feel compelled to write that the Backstreet Boys had to Sue Johnny Wright for mismanagement and fraud, so watch out babies
-A year’s training at the Debbie Allen dance Academy
-1st class suite at the ‘W’ hotel for a year
-An undisclosed at this time cash prize
-Career Guidance from a top Hollywood agency.(presumably to counteract the WEG influence)
Top prizes !
The shows coming up will be,4 groups of 6 who will do individual performances followed by a group performance. 3 will be cut from each show.
The first group up are Shannon Bex 23-Portland OR, Danny Alvarez 20- Miami FL, Alex Boyd 18-McLean VA, McKenzie Thomas 20–Chicago IL, Judy Ho 23-San Diego CA, and Gary Adams 21-Merrick NY.
The outfits are again atrocious. At least the black matched, but whoever put these together was color blind as well as tasteless. It reminded me of the ‘Derelict” collection from Zoolander. What were they thinking?
Shannon is first up .Personally, Shannon lets the world know she’s getting married in 2 ½ months. I do quick math and wonder if the wedding will interfere with the show. She may not last that long but her performance of Donna Summers Hot Stuff was ok.
The judges chose to gush , but I’m suspecting the rag chunk outfit cut up to her crotch may have distracted the male judges. Carnie said she had some pitchy moments ( she did) and that it was simply a ‘good’ performance.
Danny is next and gives an an unexceptional performance of Isn’t She Lovely. He suddenly seems to remember that he has to dance and breaks into a 30 second group of salsa moves.
Johnny says it’s decent, but noticed that the dance and song aren’t together. Carnie said he was stiff and nervous . JoJo was still gushing over Shannon. Debbie adds he’s every married woman’s fantasy. (Um no, too emaciated for me).
Mckenzie is next with the musical standard “Don’t Rain on my Parade.” Her dress was so ugly it was distracting. She simply walked from side to side , then suddenly knelt down to flip her hair. Her voice was outstanding however.
Johnny liked the voice as did Carnie , but wondered where the dancing was. JoJo was preoccupied with the hair flip “ I thought you were looking right at me” Dude you are a judge, I think she was. JoJo is really engrossed by all this moving stuff. He doesn’t seem to have been out of the booth in awhile.
Alex does his rendition of “Just Friends” I find this ones hair distracting, but he does an excellent job .
This is echoed by Johnny – very smooth- good package .
Carnie is distracted by this one ,but it’s the voice not the outfit. He even gets an outstanding from JoJo. we then find out the kid is a ringer having starred in a Debbie A Kennedy Center production at age 14.
Next up is Judy Ho . Avery pretty girl they have found fit to dress in a cheerleader from hell outfit with mismatched boots. The what the F*ck is she wearing came out of my daughters mouth before she had a chance to censor it. It was that jarring. This poor kids performance Of “Gotta be Real” was equally upsetting. I’m bracing for the judges, but suddenly remember this is a show of constructive criticism not ego stoked destructiveness. All judges say they know she has it in her , but didn’t see it tonight. Debbie says she has potential and Carnie interrupts her . Debbie puts her under the judges table by saying she had her turn. We know who’s in charge now.
Last performance is from Gary. In snippets we gather , Gary is an awesome dancer. He dedicates MJ’s “Rock with You” to his grandmother.
His singing is better than Jackson’s, which surprises me. He has trouble with the high notes, but the audience is behind this kid, as he recovers nicely.
Johnny- A few sour notes which you recovered from and adds all I have to do is watch the girls to see you “have It”Carnie says he’s so adorable she wants to eat him up. As a former 300lb gal, that should scare the crap out of him.JoJo, who brands himself a MJ connoisseur, likes the fact there was no imitation of Michael in his performance.
At the end of the individual performances Joey F lets everyone know if they send in a tape by July 1, you can join the show in progress. Cool idea. One or more people will be picked from the entry’s. I’d apply , but I threw out my Fame legwarmers years ago.
The group performance is “for the Love of Money” One of the best funk songs ever. Is this group funky ? No, only Gary and Alex manage to look remotely entertaining in the number. Mostly it’s an off key chorus ..
The absolute best thing about this show is no mind numbing wait for the bootee’s. Fatone simply re-intros the group one by one, and then announces that Alex, Shannon and Gary are moving to the next round. The losers are given a big hug by Debbie. This is so great. Baby remember my name indeed. I’ll remember to watch the next show anyway…
Eny does not dance or sing , but does know some of the artsy types in real life (that is why she’s gonna love this show). Next recap shouldn't be as londwinded as this .For all the AI riff raff who are gonna whine and carry on about how unfair I am, and what a conspiracy it is for me to be so one sided, Boo F*in Hoo – Get back to me when the top three from that show go out of their gendre, do a walkover, give some sugar feet or even perform a half decent grapevine.
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