Posted: 4:32 pm Monday, July 21st, 2014

‘American Idol’ bits: Jena Irene interview for Atlanta tour stop July 24; Fox chief comments; 

By Rodney Ho

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: Jena Irene performs on AMERICAN IDOL XIII at the NOKIA THEATRE L.A. LIVE airing Tuesday, May 20 (8:00-9:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX.  CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: Jena Irene performs on AMERICAN IDOL XIII at the NOKIA THEATRE L.A. LIVE airing Tuesday, May 20 (8:00-9:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

‘American Idol” runner up Jena Irene had her share of critics on this blog this year. Many just found her style grating, her enunciation poor.

But you have to give her credit for working on her craft, taking critiques seriously and improving week by week. She was also far more versatile than most of her competitors. able to work behind a piano a capella and rocking it with the live band. And the bottom line is she has charisma and can sing, two important components for any artist.

I spoke with her in an advance of the upcoming stop at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, where demand for the concert is decidedly slack. Believe it or not, earlier today, Ticketmaster had fifth row seats available. Fifth row! I suspect even with giveaways galore, there will be a lot of empty seats when I go Thursday night. I had no problem getting a review pass, a far cry from the peak years of seasons 4 and 5 when I had to purchase my own tickets. (This will be my 12th “Idol” live tour. I skipped for the first time last year because my parents were in town and believe me, I am not sad.)

Anyway, back to Jena Irene. She was available for an interview so I took it. She just turned 18 and is “having a blast” on tour. Hardly anybody is bothering to review the tour but the Hollywood Reporter did stop by the Jersey stop and gave the tour kind reviews. “Truly shining in the spotlight was runner-up Irene, who looks like she belongs in an arena. The Michigan teen has that extra star power that manages to connect with the audience with a smile and a wave.”

The biggest this year over the first 12 years: no live band. It’s a mere backing track set list.

“We’re really bummed we don’t have a band,” Jena Irene said. “It kind of sucks. We do the best what we have. In the second song, it’s just the piano and my vocals. No backing track! And Alex [Preston] comes out and plays the drum on the third song. It’s really fun.”

Indeed, many of the nine contestants will play instruments and help each other out. (As reported earlier, Dexter Roberts left the show in early July due to some mutual agreement but why he left has never been clearly parsed out.)

Jena Irene said coming in second never bugged her because her goal was to make it to fifth place. “This is more than a dream come true,” she said. “I got to perform with Paramore [during the season finale.]. That was amazing. I love my place. It’s cool that I didn’t win. A lot of people are still supporting me.”

Here is Jena Irena on other subjects:

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: Caleb Johnson performs "Never Tear Us Apart" on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Wednesday, May 14 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX.  CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting. Also Pictured: Jennifer Lopez (R).

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: Caleb Johnson performs “Never Tear Us Apart” on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Wednesday, May 14 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting. Also Pictured: Jennifer Lopez (R).

Winner Caleb Johnson and their close-knit platonic relationship: “With me and Caleb, it doesn’t feel like an age difference. [He's 23. She's 18.] We’re all in the same business.”

On going to the prom with Caleb: “It was so funny. It was kind of a joke we just went with. There was press outside where it was held. It was crazy. We only stayed an hour and 15 minutes. We didn’t want to ruin it for everyone else. Still, I got to meet my friends I hadn’t seen in five months.”

Mispronouncing her name as “Jenna”: “Oh my god. You have no idea! We’ll be doing sound check and people will yell, “You’re great, Jenna!”

The women’s tour bus vs. the men’s bus: “Their bus is horrible. We keep ours clean.”

On Atlanta: “My brother lived there for awhile and was stationed in Georgia. We went a few times. All I remember is how hot it was in the summer and there was lots of rain. I miss rain having lived in California. We will have a day off so I can’t wait to explore the city and see what it’s about.”

On a record deal: “I have a couple of directions I could go. There are a couple of deals I could negotiate. I’m still waiting to see if 19 Entertainment wants to sign. [She thinks 19 Entertainment has exclusivity on her until around Sept. 21.] A couple of other labels can work with me. Beyond that, I’m still going to take a couple of classes online at Western Michigan University.”

Future plans: Beyond a recording career, she’s interested in the music management business. “I want to be a manager of other people,’ she said.

Type of music she hopes to record: “I’m learning how to compose virtually. Electronic music is my genre. I really love alternative and electronic.”

Harry Connick Jr. CREDIT: Getty Images

Harry Connick Jr. CREDIT: Getty Images

On Harry Connick Jr.: “Even though a lot of people thought Harry was a little harsh, he always gave the best advice. He really focused on my intonation and how well my pitch was, especially when I moved around. I am learning to give a good performance and maintain good pitch and provide good vocals, to be well rounded. He said you can be a good entertainer but never compromise on the vocals.”

***

At the Television Critics Association bi-annual affair which I thankfully no longer attend, Fox Networks Group chief Peter Rice basically dissed this season’s contestants.

While he insisted the show is “aging gracefully,” he then said this:

“It’s been a very competitive year for singing shows. Idol has a very committed fan base. If I had a criticism of the show, it’s that we haven’t found a group kids the last two years who really captured the imagination of the public. We talked about it this year—how do we focus on that and not get wrapped up in this constant conversation about the judges and how good they are?”

I agree that season 12 was a cluster you know what and the talent was subpar. But this year’s talent was decent in my humble opinion.

He said next season there will be even greater emphasis on the talent as opposed to the judges. The judges get along fine so that works fine with me.

***

Ruben Studdard is performing twice in Atlanta in two weeks later this fall at two different venues and events. CREDIT: Getty Images

Ruben Studdard is performing twice in Atlanta in two weeks later this fall at two different venues and events. CREDIT: Getty Images

Ruben Studdard is performing twice in Atlanta in the coming weeks.

First up, he’ll be Wolf Creek Amphitheatre August 23. Tickets can be had here.

Here are prices:

VIP table tickets are $65 per seat in advance, $70 day of show.
Reserved tickets are $40 in advance, $45 day of show.
General admission lawn seats are $25 in advance, $30 day of show.

Two weeks later, the Bounce TV Summer Music Festival Tour 2014 comes to Chastain Park Amphitheatre Sept. 5 featuring Maze (featuring Frankie Beverly) and Patti Labelle with special guest Studdard.

Tickets go on sale Friday July and range from $59.75 to $125.75. I don’t have a link yet to buy tickets.

 

76 comments
Sam-A1
Sam-A1

Mercedes: i'm planning to see the Phillip S. Hoffman film ("A Wanted Man" or something like that) - any word on it?

MercedesS
MercedesS

The most fun for your movie buck this weekend - "Lucy".  Yes, we probably use more than 10% of our brain power, but it's a fantasy premise, people... just go with it, and enjoy another of Director Luc Besson's  super-charged femmes! Scarlett Johanssen, in her third outing as a "different" woman, is great fun.

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

D: You never said - did your nasty 'visitor' leave peacefully, or did you don the boots and axe and become "Captainess America"?

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Morning!

I am looking forward to Rodney's review of the Idol Tour show.  

JTesla
JTesla

Seeing tweets from Rodney at Idol Live, can't wait to read his review.


AARP... LOL

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

A present for Mercedes and all the other Siobhan Magnus fans out there.  She is currently touring with the band Boston as a back up singer.  This video shows off her really terrific voice:

http://vimeo.com/101546848

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

We are dead in the water today. And, since it's getting closer to 'go home time', the sky in Kennesaw is darkening, the wind a-blowin, and the rolling thunder coming and going. Another lovely 10 miles south on I-75 trip!

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

I think Comcast has a "thing" about burying wires.  They are so much easier to fix when they are above ground I guess.  The orange is annoying however.  After so many years, I'd just go out and spray the wire brown or green or black so I didn't have to look at it anymore.

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

Mercedes:  Lucky U! I've had Comcast wires just running on top of the ground thru the bushes, down to the patio and into the wall for years and years. Told 3 times someone would come out and bury them - never happened!

MercedesS
MercedesS

And Project Runway starts tonight

MercedesS
MercedesS

Good luck on your dog, Deirdre.  One thing about having young children around pets, they're the ones who find the ticks and abnormalities in your dogs and cats.


Four months after first reporting a Comcast line down, to our amazement, early this morning we found four men outside the house digging a long ditch from the street to BURY the cable!

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

Fingers crossed that the pup is now cancer-free and ready to move on. I was really lucky with my Amber and her "tiny hairy mushroom" on her head - just n infected thingy of some kind! Very scary dealing with that stuff. Just keep going over him often to make sure no other things show up.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Morning!

That nasty spot on the top of my little dog's head turned out to be melanoma.  Fortunately the vet is very confident that she got it all and that it hasn't spread.  I will have to keep his coat fairly short now to watch for other signs of it but he's in good shape for an old guy.

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

OR that the dingbats are the only ones showing up!

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Went looking for Idol news and all I found was a notice about Constantine Maroulis returning to Broadway in his Tony nominated role in Rock of Ages.

The Idol audition bus is making the rounds and the audition cities are seeing relatively low turn out.  Maybe that means all the dingbats who just want to get their faces on TV are staying away.

DanJohn
DanJohn

Good Morning everyone. It sounds like Dexter is working his way towards being a footnote in Idol history. How did he ever make it to live shows? On a positive note I've been watching both the Australian versions of both XFactor and The Voice on you-tube. There is some serious talent down under. Some are simply amazing!


I've come to the conclusion that I need to find a 10 step program for music junkies. However I don't think it's possible to OD on music, all you can do is drive loved ones nuts which I do. If Simon Cowell's American Version of XF was run like the Australian one with those judges?  It might well be a top 5 show here.


It's a shame that a cable channel can't show singing competition shows from other countries. Well back to cleaning the pool. I hope everyone has a great week.

JTesla
JTesla

"Lucy": I can't get past the 'people only use 10% of their brain' myth. I can usually suspend my disbelief in movies, but when the premise of a movie perpetuates complete rubbish, I can't do it.

The only draw for me is Scarlett Johansson looking very fine, and that's not a good enough reason for me to go to the theater.

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

From previews, I've been wondering how just using your brain to full capacity can turn your hair brown and make it straight. Oh, to get rid of those grays without dye!!!

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

So "Lucy" is worth a shot.

MercedesS
MercedesS

Morning!


Saw a fun action-science movie by French director yesterday.  Predict #1 this weekend.

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

Even your free flying benefits don't make up for those snakes.

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

D: If you were the richest, most gorgeous, most beloved woman in the world, I would not trade places with you if you still lived in the same place! Your snake stories are absolutely horrifying! Give me chills just to read about them! I would have had 30 heart attacks by now! OMG!

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Morning!

Those of you who share time with me on Facebook have already seen the picture of the copperhead in my yard this morning.  I saw this snake before Maggie caught sight of it and I hustled her inside then took a picture.  He's a big one!  I am hoping that he works his way out of the yard while Maggie is confined but I'm preparing my snake boots just in case he doesn't.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Sam-A1 He left.  That one was way too big.  I may be brave but I'm not stupid!

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@JTesla So, has Idol become the Lawrence Welk Show for the "make love, not war" generation?

JTesla
JTesla

@DeirdreC Umm YUK. I like piercings except for septum piercings. Couldn't watch more than 30 seconds of it, it showcases why she failed on Idol, too artsy fartsy.

MercedesS
MercedesS

@DeirdreC  When wires are buried, save an earthquake or sinkhole, they never cause problems.

At slightest wind, we lose power and/or Comcast.

Rickster_
Rickster_

@DeirdreC "he's in good shape for an old guy." 


So your dog & I have that in common! 


JTesla
JTesla

@DeirdreC Constantine on Broadway? Don't make me laugh! Do you know how well Taylor Hicks did on Broadway, best Idol winner ever if only Idol didn't hate him and they if they promoted him and he made a lot of money by selling barbecue and he's done better than Constantine and everyone else on Broadway. He's multi-talented.

MercedesS
MercedesS

@JTesla  Don't judge a movie by its previews.  The one for "Lucy" is atrocious.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@MercedesS If it is Lucy, I already have it on my dinner and a movie plans for our anniversary Saturday.

MercedesS
MercedesS

@DeirdreC  Snake boots, rose leather gloves (they o beyond your elbows) and a pair of sharp hedge scissors (some people prefer shovels) and that snake will be a threat o more.

MercedesS
MercedesS

@DeirdreC @Sam-A1  Not the AJC, D,  the  AJC doesn't have its own critics anymore.

A syndicated out-of-town guy gave it an A.  Most other big-city critics have been lukewarm.  I didn't see "A Wanted Man", and much as I like PSH I probably won't.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@MercedesS @DeirdreC Simon was mean to a lot of people.  Depends on one's perspective whether it was appreciated or not.  While I enjoy snark, I thought a lot of what he said was nasty, mean-spirited and way over the top.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@MercedesS I dunno.  The last time we lost cable was when the septic cleaner cut through the buried wire.  3 years ago!

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

@DeirdreC @MercedesS  I didn't mind when a dreadful voice said they had a vocal teacher, and Simon said "ask for a refund" et al, but when a not really bad kid gave it his all and Simon started on the "airport lounge in 1955.........." BS, it bothered me a lot.  And when he told Kelly he didn't remember her from all the auditions - REALLY!!!!!

JTesla
JTesla

@DeirdreC I want to see a video of that!

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@JTesla If anyone else was home I would be the one taking the video instead of the one killing the snake.