Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's a New Era on AI!

American Idol has always been one of my favorite "reality" (and I use that term lightly!) shows. I enjoy watching talented contestants who really just need a break make it to the big league, get coached by some of the best in the business, and then just blossom over 10 weeks of live TV. It's like watching a transformation - and most of the time, my favorites at the beginning do NOT end up being in my top 5 at the end.

Ever since Ellen decided not to return, and then Simon announced he was leaving, and then Kara got fired/decided to leave on her "own terms" - depending on the version you believe - I have been teetering on the edge about whether or not to continue watching. No offense to Steve Tyler (who looks a lot like Howard Stern with brown hair and lipstick) and Jenny From The Block, but I wasn't convinced that the two of them, with Yo Dawg Jackson, were going to be able to do much for me. Or the contestants. Or Fox.

So, I tuned in last night in an effort to give the show one chance to impress me. Let me restate that. AFTER helping Emily work on her 100th day of school project, in which we hot glued 100 Hershey Kisses that spelled "EMMY" onto a blue poster board, and helping Chloe complete her math, science, and reading homework and study for her social studies test, and helping Ross make about 250 notecards for his Spanish mid-term (SURPRISE!!! It is TODAY!!!), and cooking a quick spaghetti dinner, and cleaning up the kitchen, and taking Chloe to gymnastics, and coming home and helping Ross study the 250 notecards he made for his Spanish mid-term, and bathing Emily and reading Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten and Three Cheers for Tacky, and then returning to the gym to retrieve Chloe, and helping Chloe with her bath and devotional, I finally sat down to watch my tivoed American Idol. My expectations were high.

RYAN SECREST is still the draw for me to these audition shows. He makes the contestants relevant (or he pokes endless fun at them - did you SEE the Boy Scout montage? Or the Japanese student footage?) and makes me want to care about them. So, he is definitely a keeper. I enjoyed the way he interacted with Steve and Jennifer, too... I thought he tried to make them feel comfortable without saying, "we have a billion dollar network primetime show with an average of 10 million viewers riding on the two of you!! Don't blow it!!" :)

The tone in the audition room is different this year. After year one on IDOL, SImon emerged as the one judge who would tell you the truth - even if it hurt the contestants' feelings. I always appreciated that about him, even when he was rude and crass with the contestants. Last night, it was like one big love fest. Poor Jennifer can't hurt anyone's feelings, because she has a great need for everyone to "like" her. News Flash: You can't judge people and have everyone like you. Her rookie mistake was when she told the first contestant, "I remember you," and then went on to say that she & Mark were surprised when she wasn't passed through during Hollywood week. Yeah, Jen - based on the audition she gave last night, the same will be true this year. Anyway, she's going to have to toughen up really fast or we will be forced to sit through some unbearably untalented people who have to dance and sing in trios during Hollywood week.

Mr. Tyler just wants to keep his options open. You know EXACTLY what I mean by that. I definitely think he has an ear for this job, though - and he clearly knows what it means to be a star. I think he is going to surprise me as a judge - I just have one tiny request: the high pitched scream-singing he does in just about every other clip - that has GOT to stop. We get it, dude. You can sing like a girl when you want to. Awesome.

Randy Jackson continues to be unimpressive as a judge. I hadn't noticed this before last night, but he rarely leads with the vote, especially when the person is most likely getting a "no." He did it once last night, and J-Lo argued to keep the person. Randy was overridden by Stevey boy, and after that - it became the Jennifer and Steve show. He needs to provide something more than continuity, like an opinion without the words, "just okay" or "not your thing", or he'll be G-O-N-E after this year.

On to the talent:

The first girl that auditioned - the one J-Lo remembered - is Rachel. She manages to carry a tune and makes it through to Hollywood. Good for her.

Tiffany Rios - the Snookie-ish Jersey girl with the big STARS - is just a mess. She bursts into tears at meeting J-Lo, who embraces her as Steven & Randy take time to check out J-Lo's ASSets. Surprise again!! Tiffany has ASSets, too!!! J-Lo actually offers her some good advice about being taken seriously, and she gets through to H-Wood. Yay again.

Robbie Rosen, the guy who sang Yesterday, was great. I didn't really understand the whole "not being able to walk for several years, but there are no pictures of that time in his life" thing, but hey, the kid can sing. Best audition yet.

Ashley Sullivan - the very fidgety (to the point of me thinking she could potentially be on meth) redhead sang a song from Thoroughly Modern Millie. It was underwhelming, and Randy voted "no". J-Lo clearly felt sorry for Ashley and somehow managed to convince Steve that she should get another chance. Hollywood again, baby! If she starts cutting I bet she'll make it into the top 20!!!

I think it would be awesome is Ashley had to room with...

Victoria Huggins, whose sugary sweet personality made me want to gauge my eyeballs out. Really. She sang Midnight Train to Georgia, did a decent job, and I really don't think this girl would have comprehended the word "NO", so she's through! I read a blogger who called her the "Sarah Palin of 2034," and I kind-of agree. There must be some pent-up rage in there somewhere!!!

Travis Orlando, the kid from Brooklyn who grew up in a shelter (or spent some time in one, depending on how you interpret his montage), was extremely talented. He sang Eleanor Rigby, another tune by the Beatles, and then that extremely annoying Jason Mraz song. Both were great, and he's going to H-Wood, too. I did NOT like that it appeared his dad thinks the kid is his meal ticket. That's a ton of pressure for poor Travis, and I really want him to do well.

Two of the freak show people from last night: Yoji Asano, who said he started singing Michael Jackson before he was born, and then proceeded to sing Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus, whom he claimed not to like. Speak English much, Yoji?

Also, the guy who looked very Lord of the Rings-ish made me belly laugh when the judges yelled at him to stop singing and he slowed his voice down like someone was pulling the plug on him. Very funny.

The poor Boy Scout, who is waiting on his Eagle badge, who made that very efficient "Don't Text While Driving" video, who dressed a little like Gilligan - he was just pathetic. But, I am glad they gave his video some air time, and I sure hope he makes Eagle Scout!!!

Signing off until next week!!!!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Interview with Emily

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
I'll be right there.

2. What makes Mommy happy?
When we take a little break.

3. What makes Mommy sad?
When I cry.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
Makes funny faces.

5. What was Mommy like as a child?

6. How old is Mommy?

7. How tall is Mommy?
I have no idea!

8. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
Help kids.

9. What does Mommy do when you're not around?

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
Playing the guitar.

11. What is Mommy really good at?
Taking care of kids.

12. What is Mommy not very good at?

13. What does Mommy do for her job?
Being a teacher.

14. What is Mommy's favorite food?
She has a lot of favorites, but chili.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
When she wins a game.

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Sandy from Sponge Bob.

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
Draw pictures.

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
We have the same hair. (LOL- I wish!!!)

19. How are you and Mommy different?
Our clothes are different.

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
She always says, "I love you" to me.

21. Where is Mommy's favorite place to go?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


1. While I miss Texas, I really do love the fall temperatures in Northern New Jersey. Today's high: 75. Outside right now: 63.

2. Emmy informed some of her classmates that she is "getting" two baby sisters from her mom & dad. Unless she's talking about American Girl Bitty Babies, I am afraid she is in for the letdown of a lifetime.

3. I thought I'd be able to get my act together after the kids were in school. Ha!

4. Joe & I had a fabulous dinner date last Saturday. Flemings in Edgewater gets two thumbs WAY UP from both of us!

5. Fall TV starts NEXT WEEK!! Woo-hoo! Can't wait to see Modern Family & The Good Wife. I went to ABC's website & got a sneak preview of Modern Family & was LOL-ing all the way through it!!!

6. Rex, the escape artist, is at it again. We got home last night & there was a note on the garage door from our neighbors. Apparently, he escaped & headed next door. Not sure how long he was there, but very thankful for nice neighbors who took him in for us!

7. Why were we gone last night? It is meet season!!! Chloe had her first one last night. She did great- a sign of things to come, I'm sure!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Last year, the first day of school was... challenging. The kids had pasted-on smiles, more for my benefit than theirs. One member of the trio wore her disdain squarely on her sweet little face.

This year, everybody had on a genuine smile.
Even the littlest Widner was happy to be starting Kindergarten.

It helps that she doesn't think of herself as a Kindergartener.
In fact, she comes home every day telling me she's the "assistant".
Which is fine, if it produces the desired result: a smiley, happy, 5 year old.
And so far, so good. I'll take it!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's EMMY Time...

...and I am not talking about my 5 year old. The Emmy Awards are this Sunday night, Aug. 31st, on NBC! Due to the fact that the outside temperature in Northern New Jersey did not get above 49 degrees from November until April, I enjoyed some good TV watching last year. In my opinion, network television has been in a drought the last few years, being challenged by HBO and Showtime and many of the cable networks that carry smart, well-written shows. All that changed last year, thanks to GLEE (FOX), Modern Family (ABC), and The Good Wife (CBS). I think this could be the year of the "network show comeback." I love making predictions, and do the same thing at Oscar and Golden Globe time. TV is harder, though, because people are attached to shows and characters. They aren't voting based on one performance. So, below you will find my "vote getters" from last year.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Modern Family
Nurse Jackie
The Office
30 Rock

I am torn in this category. GLEE is an amazing show - the writing is great, the production numbers are great, and the ensemble cast is great. BUT - I think it paints with too narrow a brush to win in this category. Keep reading, though, because I think they will win in a couple categories below. MODERN FAMILY is that magical show with great writing, near-perfect casting, great execution each week, and the all-important relatable story lines. I have not talked to a single person who can't identify with one of the characters in this show. There have been numerous times during conversations that someone will repeat -VERBATIM - a line from an episode. You know you have a hit on your hands when my dad AND my husband will sit down and watch your show. Modern Family, I can't wait for you to be back.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

Glee - Lea Michele as Rachel Berry

The New Adventures Of Old Christine - Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine Campbell

Nurse Jackie - Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton

Parks And Recreation - Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope

30 Rock - Tina Fey as Liz Lemon

United States Of Tara - Toni Collette as Tara Gregson

What does every smart, well-written show need? An actress like Edie Falco to deliver the lines. And she does, every week. Lea Michelle would be a shoo-in if she acted as well as she sings. She is great, but not in a best-actress way.

Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

Glee - Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester

Modern Family - Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy

Modern Family - Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett

Saturday Night Live - Kristen Wiig as Various Characters

30 Rock - Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

Two And A Half Men - Holland Taylor as Evelyn Harper

Do I really need to say anything else? She is amazing. AMAZING. And, I hope they play MADONNA music when she walks up to the stage to accept her well-deserved award. You go, Sue Sylvester! And, for the record, I think Julie Bowen ROCKS as Claire Dunphy.


The Big Bang Theory - Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Larry David as Himself

Glee - Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester

Monk - Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk

The Office - Steve Carell as Michael Scott

30 Rock - Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

This is a hard category for me. Larry David is great, but he's tired. Tony Shaloub has won this category several times, and Emmy voters like to "share the love." Matthew Morrison is just riding the GLEE wave. Steve Carell is a combo of Larry David and Tony Shaloub. I don't know a thing about Jim Parsons. So, I am picking Alec Baldwin to walk away with a statue this year.


Glee - Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel

How I Met Your Mother - Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stins

Modern Family - Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell

Modern Family - Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker

Modern Family - Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy

Two And A Half Men - Jon Cryer as Alan Harper

Eric Stonestreet makes me laugh. Out loud. Every week. I cannot get the picture of him in a clown suit out of my head. I smile when I think of him dancing at mommy & me class with Lilly. The Ave Maria scene at the end of the season had me in hysterical fits of laughter. I realize the success of Modern Family is the impeccable casting of the ensemble, but Eric Stonestreet is my favorite. And if loving him is wrong, I don't want to be right! :)

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad
The Good Wife
Mad Men
True Blood

The Good Wife is CBS' trophy this year. The writing is smart, the drama believable, the characters relatable. The casting is impeccable. It has been a long time since I've said anything good about a network drama, but this year, it's all good. THE GOOD WIFE.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series

Breaking Bad - Bryan Cranston as Walter White
Dexter - Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan
Friday Night Lights - Kyle Chandler as Eric Taylor
House - Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House
Lost - Matthew Fox as Jack Shephard
Mad Men - Jon Hamm as Don Draper

He's a great actor and has all the buzz coming into the awards show...he won the Golden Globe and battled cancer last year. And that is why he will win. Oh, and his show? PHENOMENAL.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series

The Closer - Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson
Damages - Glenn Close as Patty Hewes
Friday Night Lights - Connie Britton as Tami Taylor
The Good Wife - Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Mariska Hargitay as Det. Olivia Benson
Mad Men - January Jones as Betty Draper

Julianna knows how to pick good material!!! Carol Hathaway, and now Alicia Florrick...she is amazing in this role. Every week she evolves her character to a new level. She is relatable and believable. People can empathize with her. She wins, no contest.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

Breaking Bad - Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
Damages - Martin Short as Leonard Winstone
Lost - Terry O'Quinn as John Locke
Lost - Michael Emerson as Ben Linus
Mad Men - John Slattery as Roger Sterling
Men Of A Certain Age - Andre Braugher as Owen

I never watched LOST. My husband downloaded it to my iPOD one year for me to watch on a plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean. About 30 minutes in,I was OUT. But, I know a ton of people upset it's over. So, for y'all, I vote for Terry O'Quinn.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

Burn Notice - Sharon Gless as Madeline Westen
Damages - Rose Byrne as Ellen Parsons
The Good Wife - Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma
The Good Wife - Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart
Mad Men - Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris
Mad Men - Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson

I can't figure Diane Lockhart out. I love that she is interested in a man who is in every way her counterpoint. I love that she is struggling to save the law firm. I love that I don't know how she REALLY feels about Alicia Florrick. She had a not-so-great part to play (in my opinion), but has paralyed it into something I tune in to see. I watch The Good WIfe for Julianna, but I keep coming back because of people like Christine.

A couple other "notables"

BETTY WHITE totally wins for her guest hosting on SNL. I just love her.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS wins for his guest role on GLEE. He is the male BETTY WHITE this year.

Enjoy the show, everyone!