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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kris Allen takes the `American Idol' title

Kris Allen's smooth vocals and boy-next-door image propelled him to "American Idol" victory Wednesday, turning the theatrical powerhouse Adam Lambert into the most unlikely of also-rans.
"I'm sorry, I don't even know what to feel right now. This is crazy," said a stunned Allen, 23, of Conway, Ark.
As host Ryan Seacrest said in announcing the result of the viewer vote, "The underdog, the dark horse, comes back and wins the nation over."
Lambert's commanding vocal range and stage presence -- and the judges' adoration of him -- at times turned "Idol" into "The Adam Lambert Show," with the other contestants mere guests. But it turned out that "Idol" viewers could embrace a gifted performer like Lambert, one who sported black nail polish and bold self-assurance, only to a point.
Simon Cowell tipped his hat to both contestants Wednesday.
"To both of you, and I don't normally mean this, I thought you were both brilliant. .... The future's all yours," the judge said.
Before the results were announced, Lambert and Allen had a moment of musical camaraderie: They joined together with Queen on the rock anthem "We Are the Champions."
"Adam did win. So did Kris. Nobody lost tonight. These are two champions," said Paul Stanley from Kiss backstage.
The outcome echoed last year's contest, when Cowell all but crowned David Archuleta after the performance finale -- but the victory went to David Cook.
Lambert's triumph was never inevitable. When Allen and Lambert were declared the finalists last week, just 1 million viewer votes separated the pair out of 88 million cast.
Allen bloomed during the season, gaining more assurance onstage and winning viewers over with his smooth, heartfelt vocals, modest demeanor and well-scrubbed good looks.
There was also the Danny Gokey factor. Gokey made it to the top three before he fell out of the contest, leaving his supporters up for grabs.
"After the third one leaves, you wonder where do the votes go from that third contestant," Paula Abdul said backstage after Tuesday's singing showdown.
Allen seemed the likely candidate for those viewers' affections, for on- and offstage reasons. Allen and Gokey, 29, of Milwaukee, were downright conservative when compared to Lambert's elaborate staging and wardrobe choices. Allen is a married college student and has worked as a church worship leader. Gokey, a widower, is a church music director.
Lambert, 27, of Los Angeles, brought measured rock flashiness -- daring, not freaky -- with songs including "Whole Lotta Love," the first-ever Led Zeppelin tune on "Idol." He's largely kept his personal life under wraps, saying "I know who I am" when asked about it.
Earlier this week, Allen said he hoped the outcome wouldn't be decided by "having the Christian vote."
"I hope it has to do with your talent and the performance that you give and the package that you have. It's not about religion and all that kind of stuff," he said.
Added Lambert: "It's about music. That's really important to keep in mind."
The finale Wednesday included the usual bag of tricks for extending the show to two hours and delaying the result until the final minutes. There were group numbers, the Golden Idol Award -- semifinalist funnyman Nick "Norman Gentle" Mitchell among the contenders -- and celebrity-contestant combos.
Allen was joined by Keith Urban on "Kiss a Girl," while Lambert performed with Kiss. The female finalists, including Allison Iraheta, opened up for Fergie, who sang "Big Girls Don't Cry" and then was joined by her group, the Black Eyed Peas.
Iraheta later dueted with Cyndi Lauper on "Time After Time" and Danny Gokey joined Lionel Richie for two tunes.
Rod Stewart sang "Maggie May" after the male finalists opened for him with "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy."
An offbeat guest was Steve Martin, the actor-comedian who also specializes in the banjo. He played his song "Pretty Flowers" with finalists Megan Joy and Michael Sarver on vocals.
Asked by Seacrest to guess who might win "American Idol," Martin replied: "I know it's a long shot, but I'm hoping I do."
Allen rose to the occasion during Tuesday's performance show, especially with his soulful version of "Ain't No Sunshine." But he was tripped up by "No Boundaries," a song co-written by judge Kara DioGuardi and ill-suited to his voice.
Lambert did a better job with "No Boundaries" and excelled on his reprise of "Mad World" and on "A Change is Gonna Come."
"That was the best I've ever heard you sing -- ever!" exclaimed Abdul.
By LYNN ELBER, AP Television Wed May 20, 7:28 PM PDT

Sunday, May 10, 2009

10 Great Jobs to have in the Springtime

After many long months of snow, slush, sleet and subzero temperatures, spring is finally here.
And all you can do is watch it from your window.
What you would give to be outside, enjoying the weather and all it has to offer. (Or maybe you would just give anything to be anywhere other than where you are right now...)
Whichever is the case, we got to thinking about jobs that would be great to have this spring season. Keep in mind, no scientific method was used in the making of this list, but we've got some pretty valid reasoning. Here are 10 jobs that are ideal for spring and why:

1. SportswriterSure, sports take place year round, but for me, spring is when some of the most exciting sporting events go down. Exhibit A: March Madness basketball games. Exhibit B: Major league baseball spring training and season openers. Exhibit C: NHL playoffs. Exhibit D: NBA playoffs and draft picks. Exhibit E: The Masters golf tournament. Sportswriters can take their pick making predictions, following games or analyzing who is going to be the next Tiger Woods.Education: College degree, preferably in communications, journalism or EnglishAnnual salary*: $36,994

2. FloristApril showers bring May flowers, after all. Springtime means blooming flowers, weddings and generosity (aka, bouquets of roses "just because"). Florists will stay occupied during this busy season, while enjoying the budding blossoms that have been buried all winter.Education: High school diplomaAnnual salary: $33,859

3. MeteorologistSpring might be the most inconsistent season for weather. It might snow for a week in April, for example, and be 80 degrees the next. The week after that it rains every day, there are multiple tornados and the next day it feels like fall. The constantly changing forecast would fascinate anyone who studies weather for a living.Education: A bachelor's degree in meteorology or atmospheric scienceAnnual salary: $67,004

4. Landscaping workerIt's growing season! Snow is off the ground and grass, trees and flowers are ready to be planted and fertilized. Lawns need to be mowed, weeds pulled and trees trimmed, all of which add up to a lot of time outside, doing what landscapers do best.Education: No minimum educational requirement, though most states require licensing or certification for workers who apply pesticides.Annual salary: $23,980

5. Construction workerWhat's better than being outside all day working on your latest project? It seems like constructing a house or building would be much more enjoyable in nice weather than in the freezing cold and snow.Education: Most positions have no specific educational qualifications, but apprenticeships are encouraged and require a high school diploma or equivalent.Annual salary: $31,781

6. Fashion buyerSpringtime is synonymous with fashion. Buyers get to shop through all of the new spring lines and buy clothes that have color, flowers and designs for our favorite retail shops -- a far cry from the black and gray turtlenecks and tweed we've been sporting all winter.Education: Requirements vary depending on the organization, but large stores and distributors prefer applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree program with a business emphasis.Annual salary: $50,796

7. College admissions counselorAs high school students graduate, college admissions counselors keep themselves busy recruiting, evaluating and admitting students to their college or university.Education: A bachelor's degree in any field usually is acceptable, and most eventually obtain advanced degrees in college student affairs, counseling or higher education administration.Annual salary: $98,796

8. Pest control workerMany rodents, insects and other pests hide out during the winter but as the weather starts to turn, all bets are off. Though it might not be the most glamorous job in the world, pests come out of the woodwork in the spring, so to speak, which ensures a more steady workload for pest control workers.Education: High school diploma and certificationAnnual salary: $28,056

9. HousekeeperThere's nothing like a little spring cleaning to kick off the new season. Households around the globe will be seeking housekeepers and cleaning services to help them get rid of the dust bunnies that have been hibernating in the corners all winter.Education: No education requirementsAnnual salary: $19,619

10. VendorSpringtime means baseball season, which means hot dogs, cold beer, cotton candy and frozen lemonade. It would sure be nice to spend the day at my local baseball stadium, providing simple pleasures to the fans while watching my favorite team. Education: On-the-job trainingAnnual salary: $19,876

*U.S. national average salary figures based on data from, powered by

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bravo replacing `Runway' with `The Fashion Show'

Generally speaking, a fashion show and a runway go hand in hand. But for TV audiences, they'll now be rivals.
Bravo is debuting "The Fashion Show" on Friday to fill the void left by "
Project Runway," which bolted to rival Lifetime. Bravo recruited designer Isaac Mizrahi, singer Kelly Rowland and IMG Fashion vice president Fern Mallis, the force behind much of New York Fashion Week, for its new reality show.
There are a few tweaks to "The Fashion Show," which debuts Friday: Each week a winning garment is to be manufactured and sold to the public via an online store; all the designers are professionals; and the winner at the end of the season will have his or her own line available at retail.
However, the similarities to the Heidi Klum-helmed show are striking, too. There are few fashion personalities who could rival the wit and openness of Michael Kors, but Mizrahi probably can. Rowland brings the celebrity element to the show, and Mallis probably has had her share of front-row catwalk seats next to Nina Garcia
And there is, of course, the weekly challenge.
There's room for multiple fashion-themed reality shows because it's an industry that average Joes and Janes are mesmerized by and understand, says Mizrahi, who didn't name his obvious competitor. The sixth season of "
Project Runway" -- which has already been taped -- will air this summer on Lifetime.
"As a judge, I am looking first for integrity. I can't tell yet about niches that people will fit into, but we have to train them to think properly and then think about the marketplace aspect. The difference with our show from other shows is that we have an audience that votes every week and they say some brutal things," Mizrahi says.
Rowland is looking for a spark -- and an outfit she'd wear -- among the 15 participants, while Mallis says she is eyeing both creativity and practicality. "You have to be able to walk in it, step up a step in it," Mallis says.
Rowland thinks it's the judges' collective perspective that will benefit the wannabe style stars the most.
"We're all very honest," she says. "Firm Fern and Honest Isaac, that's what I call them."
And her nickname? "Classy Kelly," says Mallis.
"We taught a lot of tough love," Mizrahi says. "It was hard for me. As a judge I couldn't tell them the polka dots were god awful."