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    Smiling again... Zhora's Avatar
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    Nashville Star Recap - Premiere Ep. - 3/8

    Nashville Star – USA Network’s Premiere Episode – Saturday, 3/8
    Welcome, ya’ll, to the first FORT Nashville Star recap. Yeehaw!

    The video clips were running by so fast during the everlasting intro, I got that rollercoaster feeling in the pit of my stomach. Interspersed with what must have been clips of every contestant to audition, we get a few introductory words from some legends of the country music industry, including Clint Black, Keith Urban, Wynonna, Hank Williams Jr., and Willie Nelson. It’s almost a relief to the eyes and ears when the flashy intro graphics and theme song kick in.

    Let the show begin
    Our host for the series, Nancy O’Dell, makes her way across the stage in an empty BellSouth Acuff Theater, telling us just what they have in store for us this season. Over the last 6 months, 8000 contestants auditioned for radio callouts in over 50 cities. The winners of those local radio contests were sent on to 5 regional competitions. Tonight we are going to see those original 8000 contestants whittled down to just 12 finalists. The chosen 12 will live together for 8 weeks as they battle it out on stage for our votes every Saturday night. They will be competing for a record contract with Sony Music Nashville. That record will be produced by none other than Grammy winner, Clint Black. Clint joins Nancy on stage, and quite honestly, I don’t know if Nancy is an Amazon queen or if Clint has a side job as a jockey. Either way, I’ll bet Nancy O’Dell could kick the sh*t out of Ryan Seacrest.

    As I giggle to myself imagining that talent competition sparring match, we are off on another video clip howdown that can only be called The Montage of Pain. Among the many contestants were some folks that shouldn’t even sing in the shower. I pity those radio station personalities for enduring auditions that can surely be described as cruel and unusual punishment. While the singing atrocities seem to go on forever, we are fortunate that each stab of the knife is only a few seconds long. Just as my ears begin to melt we are granted a reprieve.

    Let’s introduce the judges
    Tracy Gershon is a Sony record executive. She is looking for something unique and original, something that draws her in.
    Charlie Robison is a recording artist and songwriter. He is currently working on his 5th album for Columbia. He thinks the contestants will probably be strong vocally, and he hopes they are good songwriters.
    Robert K. Oermann is a critic, journalist, and media personality. He has written 7 books on country music and is an editor of Country Music Magazine. He is optimistic and thinks the competition really will find the next Nashville Star.

    As we will find out later in the show, each of the judges has a very strong sense of musical taste and their personalities are quite distinctly different. Unlike American Idol judges, they are all quite capable of kind words as well as slapdowns. None of them appear to be altogether cruel, but they don’t hold back any negative opinions if they have them either. And boy, do they have some. In Baltimore, Tracy told horrifically lame contestant Matthew, “Thank you for that nice compliment you gave us, and you know, ass-kissin’ is a very important element of being an entertainer, but unfortunately, you need vocals to go along with that ass-kissin’, so that’s where I would improve.” In Nashville, Charlie told boldly bad Sandy, “I love the way you slapped your ass, but unfortunately ass-slappin’ is only a very small part of country music.” I guess that means whether you’re kissing it or slapping it, you need the whole package to make it past this experienced panel of judges.

    Off to Los Angeles
    As we come to learn, each of the 5 regional segments will start off with…you guessed it, their own video clip montage. Hold on to your seats, it’s snipits from the various radio contests held to determine who makes the regionals. Finally, clip Hell comes to an end and it’s on to the competition. We get to see small portions of some of the regional contestants’ original song and cover song performances and critiques from the panel. Among some forgettable singers, there are a few standout performers that receive focused attention.
    Travis Howard gives a commanding performance. He works the audience and the judges with his energy. He jams on the guitar and seems to have a really great time. Tracy tells him that Merle Haggard would be proud and Robert tells him that he put a little star on his card because he hopes Travis becomes a great big one. In an interview clip we hear Travis tell us that growing up in Georgia, he was only allowed to listen to gospel music, so he snuck his clock radio under the covers with him at night. He seems like a really likeable small-town country boy and gives off a John Cougar Mellencamp vibe.
    Les Richardson got some positive feedback from the judges and ended up being one of their top 3 LA contenders.
    Brandon Silveira, the spiky haired singer, hammed it up for the crowd to mixed reviews from the panel. Tracy didn’t think he connected with the whole audience. Robert said, “I think Nashville needs a kick in her sequined behind and I think you are just the guy to do it, even though Tracy Gershon doesn’t think so.” Charlie told him that if he had a night off and wanted to get “drunk and stupid” he’s want to go see Brandon perform.

    After all the finalists had their chance, the panel ducked out to the Nashville Star motorhome to review and debate the contestants’ merits. Without much deliberation, they unanimously decide that Travis Howard is the winner of the night and will automatically move on to the final 12.

    Pack your bags, we’re going to Kansas City
    After another rousing video montage, we hear from the Kansas City regional contestants. Among the good, bad and ugly, we are treated to 4 standout performances.
    Tammy Wilkerson is a capable singer who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Kirstie Alley.
    Anessa Andrews is an adorable young lady with an above average voice. Tracy said, “…we enjoyed watching you”, and Robert said, “Sign me up for the fan club”.
    Brandi Gibson is a down-home country girl, a big girl with a big voice. Robert told her, “You’re coming in loud and clear, baby. That’s the best original song we’ve heard so far tonight, and you’re a take-no-prisoners singer too.”
    Natasha Valentine has a very animated and unique style that the judges loved. She says she’s a hillbilly, but she’s so much more than that. Tracy told her, “I can hear it now, labels going ‘we like her, but what do we do with her?’ and I say – let her be herself!!” Robert was falling all over himself when he made a kissing noise and told her, “I love you, you’ve got style, honey.”

    Retreating to their motorhome, we hear the judges talk about what strong performers they saw in KC, but they didn’t really have a tough time picking out the dynamic Natasha Valentine as the winner of the night.

    Hop on board, we’re goin’ to Houston
    Video montage…here we go again.
    Prentiss Varnon, a mild-mannered young man with a big hat and a guitar, gave what the judges thought to be a solid performance. Tracy told him he had a “great stage presence”.
    Kristen Kissling is a hottie. Although the judges later mentioned that she’s not much of a songwriter, Charlie told her, “I’m gonna give you a thumbs up just because I’m hoping to see that outfit again…”
    Miranda Lambert has the looks of a sweet young Heather Graham. She played the guitar and sang her way into the judges hearts. Charlie said, “Everybody is always talking about crossing over between country and pop. What I see with you is like that you’re crossing over, but you’re crossing over into a wonderful place…”
    John Arthur Martinez is a feel good singer/songwriter/guitar player. He brings a great vibe that the judges really raved about. Tracy told him, “I wish you could see these goosebumps I have right now. There is something so compelling about you…”. Charlie said, “I don’t give a sh*t if Nashville is not ready for you, I am definitely ready for you.”

    Houston provided some great entertainment and the judges have to duke it out back in the Nashville Star motorhome. Tracy gives her vote to John, Charlie is hooked on Miranda. They look to Robert to break the deadlock and Miranda comes out victorious and is headed for Nashville.

    Back in saddle, we’re off to that hotbed of country music, Baltimore
    Video montage…need I say more? The big contenders in this regional competition are plucked from the wreckage of dreamers.
    Celina Maggie Brown is a big, bold beauty. The judges all liked her and Charlie told her she had a “great, natural stage presence”.
    Jamey Garner stood out as the stud muffin of the group. He sounded good, he looked good, and he plays a mean harmonica. He’s from Illinois but he lives in New York. Although I don’t think he’s really fooling anybody with his designer cowboy looks and his city slick ways, the judges like him. I think they were all ready to cut a record on the spot.
    Tim Waters, with his shaved head and overalls, has an interesting look. Charlie told him, “I love the way you poke fun at all this”.

    In the motorhome, the decision is easy. They are all quick to decide that Jamey Garner will be advancing to the final 12.

    Last, but not least, it’s the Nashville regionals
    Cue the video montage, then we’re off to the standout contestants.
    Buddy Jewel is clearly an experienced musician. Tracy told him, “You delivered 110%”. Robert told him, “If somebody on music row doesn’t cut that song then those people at the record labels are even deafer than I thought they were”.
    Anne Louise Blythe is the cute girl next door. Robert told her, “You are definitely at home on that stage”.
    Amy Chappell showed talent as a musician/singer/songwriter. She’s from Kansas and she plays the nightclub scene. She reminded me of the Indigo Girls for some reason. Charlie told her, “You knocked me out, you did a great job”.

    The panel retreats to the motorhome and we get a peak at their conversation. It really comes down to Amy and Buddy. Regarding Buddy, Charlie says, “He can sing like anybody in Nashville, but he can’t sing like himself”. When the discussion comes to Amy, Robert says, “This woman rules”. From Charlie we hear about jiggling testicles. {Don’t ask.} So…when Robert says, “Amy” he and Charlie both raise their hands. Tracy still thinks it should be Buddy, but she must have been overruled. Amy Chappell is Nashville’s winner and the last automatic finalist of the competition.

    The final 7 winners
    It’s time for the panel to play back the tapes and confer on the standouts they have seen to determine the remaining 7 finalists. The cameras will roll as the chosen contestants are told the good news in their own hometowns. Robert and Charlie both think Brandon Silveira is hilarious and they just love the guy. Tracy remains unconvinced, but she eventually caves. Brandon seems like a really fun punk-rock-country kid and I just have to chuckle as he spins donuts in his John Deere to celebrate making the finals. Brandi Gibson, 911 operator from Kentucky, makes the cut and is pretty excited to be heading to Nashville. Kristen Kissling, oh Kristen Kissling. The judges burst into hysterical laughter as they roll tape on Kristen. It is footage they had not previously seen. With her legs tucked firmly behind her head she bursts into song, “Heads Carolina, tails California”. {Cue Charlie…} “She’s got my vote”. She must be a cheerleader, she did her little cheerleader jig when she heard the good news. The judges loved Prentiss Varnon so he’s headed off to the finals. He gets the invitation while in his brothers western wear store. He’s not much of a talker, but his mommy sure is. John Arthur Martinez was an easy pick for the panel. While holding his picture, Tracy says, “This is honest country music”. Just like that, John is in the final 12. Buddy Jewel gets in by the skin of his teeth thanks to Tracy’s adoration. The guy has recorded 100’s of songs a year as a demo singer and has dreamed of a record deal his whole life. When he got the good news, his wife told him, {this is} “your first ‘yes’ in ten years”. Yikes. Anne Louise Blythe wins the last Nashville Star finalist position. The invitation arrives while she is waiting tables. The joy filled tears fall as she calls her mom on a cell phone.

    Congratulations to the finalists. They are an interesting mix of dynamic styles and personalities. We’ll be seeing them perform next week on a live edition of Nashville Star. They will be looking to catch your vote by phone, text message and internet, so tune in, it looks to be a great competition.

    Questions or comments on the recap? Send them to Zhora@fansofrealitytv.com.
    Last edited by Zhora; 03-10-2003 at 09:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Yoffy lifts a finger... fluff's Avatar
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    Excellent job Zhora.

    I'll be looking to your recaps each week to keep me up to speed with this show.
    I only wish I could watch it.
    Seems like the emphasis is really on talent here.
    "That's Numberwang!"

  3. #3
    Starbucks is your friend Bill's Avatar
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    Great recap Zhora!
    "George Oscar Bluth II, aka GOB, featured magician in the best selling videotape, "Girls With Low Self Esteem" invites you to enter his world.
    -- Arrested Development, Season III

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    Sexy evil genius Paulie's Avatar
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    Excellent recap, Z! I wish I had remembered to watch the show over the weekend. Your account got me up to speed, though.

    I loved the comment about Nancy "the Amazon queen". I wish I could've seen the contrast between her and Clint Black.
    When you're ten years old and a car drives by and splashes a puddle of water all over you, it's hard to decide if you should go to school like that or try to go home and change and probably be late. So while he was trying to decide, I drove by and splashed him again. - Jack Handey

    Read Paulie's Precaps for Survivor:Vanuatu: 1-2-3-4-5

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    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    The nice thing about this being on USA, is that they're replaying it about 20 times before next week's show. So, if you want to see it, you surely can.

  6. #6
    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    Great first recap, Zhora! I liked, right near the beginning:

    Clint joins Nancy on stage, and quite honestly, I don’t know if Nancy is an Amazon queen or if Clint has a side job as a jockey. Either way, I’ll bet Nancy O’Dell could kick the sh*t out of Ryan Seacrest.
    And I have to wonder if Kristen was picked because she sang with her legs behind her head??

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