News Column

Philadelphia Daily News Howard Gensler column

May 10, 2013

YellowBrix

May 10--LET'S FACE FACTS, the judges on "American Idol" do less actual judging than the "judges" at Philadelphia Traffic Court.

Their purpose is to cheerlead and create drama and give viewers some name recognition to latch on to while they learn the names of the new batch of karaoke singers.

Judging chemistry is hard to duplicate, and "American Idol" has been floundering around since the original trio of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, mixing in Kara DioGuardi, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler before adding this year's newbies.

Usually the show has used its judges to gin up controversy in the offseason as a reminder that the show was coming back, but this year, as ratings drop, there's so little interest in the competition that the judging headlines are coming out before the finals.

Mariah Carey warned them she couldn't be on a panel with Nicki Minaj.

Jennifer may replace Mariah.

All four judges will be new next season.

Harry Connick Jr. is in talks to come aboard.

Randy Jackson is out.

That last one? It's official.

"Yo! Yo! Yo! To put all of the speculation to the rest, after 12 years of judging on 'American Idol' I have decided it is time to leave after this season," original judge Jackson told E! News. "I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry. It's been a life-changing opportunity but I am looking forward to focusing on my company Dream Merchant 21 and other business ventures."

Translation: I've made so much dough from this show I no longer need the aggravation. Anyone want to buy a pair of sunglasses from my new line?

It's not TV, it's -- who knows?

The face of television is changing as you read this.

YouTube is launching 30 pay channels at an average monthly cost of $2.99 and Arizona Sen. John McCain wants legislation to force the big cable companies to offer a la carte pricing instead of all-you-can-eat pricing.

McCain has about as much chance of this getting through Congress as he does of beating Obama in 2008.

According to the Los Angeles Times, McCain is also interested in protecting Aereo, the start-up company that offers broadcast TV over the Internet. Broadcasters say Aereo violates copyright laws.

Should Aereo win in the courts, Fox and CBS have already threatened to take their content off broadcast channels and move directly to cable.

Political insiders told the L.A. Times that McCain wants to give the Federal Communications Commission the power to strip the licenses of any broadcaster that moves to a cable model.

Huh? He wants to give the federal government more power? Wonder how Fox boss Rupert Murdoch is going to feel about that?

Too much 'Action!' for noted director

Chinese authorities are investigating whether one of the country's top film directors, Zhang Yimou ("Raise the Red Lantern," "Hero"), fathered seven children in violation of the country's strict family-planning laws, state media and a local official said yesterday.

Reports circulated online this week that Zhang has seven children. This is no trivial offense in China.

Zhang, 61, reportedly could face a fine of up to $26 million, said the People's Daily newspaper, the Communist Party mouthpiece. People caught breaking China's family-planning policy must pay a "social-compensation fee" based on their annual income.

TATTBITS

-- Dame Shirley Bassey and Duran Duran will perform at amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS gala during this year's Cannes Film Festival. It will be Duran Duran's only public performance of 2013.

Completing the musical lineup, British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding and Tennessee four-piece Hot Chelle Rae will add pop flavor to the high-glamour charity event on May 23.

AmfAR representatives including Sharon Stone, Janet Jackson, Jessica Chastain and Heidi Klum will join a host of celebrity guests at the gala, which has become a hot ticket at Cannes. Now in its 20th year, the annual event has raised over $80 million for AIDS research.

-- Neil Patrick Harris will be back for his fourth turn as host of the Tony Awards.

The 67th annual awards will be broadcast live by CBS from Radio City Music Hall on June 9.

-- The 70th Venice Film Festival, beginning Aug. 28, has announced that Oscar-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci will chair the jury.

Bertolucci, 73, headed the jury previously in 1983.

-- The "modern" version of Richard Wagner's "Tannhauser," which we wrote about earlier this week, has been canceled.

The opening-night audience in Dusseldorf, Germany, complained about scenes showing Jews being executed and dying in the gas chambers.

Monika Doll, spokeswoman for Duesseldorf's opera house, said there would only be concert performances without theatrical staging.

Doll said producer Burkhard Kosminski had refused to tone down the disputed scenes, even though the Holocaust-related parts prompted several in the audience on Saturday to seek medical attention.

Hey, it isn't over until the fat lady barfs.

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

Email: gensleh@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5678

On Twitter: @DNTattle

___

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