Archive for the ‘American Idol’ Category

BlakeOnline Special – “American Idol” Pre-Concert Report 2009

August 5, 2009

Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Season eight’s contestants greet fans with enthusiasm and infectious joy.

By Blake

Originally posted August 5, 2009.

I love American Idol. I just think it’s so cool how one television show can have a little bit for everyone, being just as entertaining for elementary-age kids as it is for their grandparents. And there’s almost no worrying about hiding anyone’s eyes or ears for inappropriate content.

As I finished up writing this article and was doing some proofreading before I posted it, I heard the big American Idol news that was just announced last night, August 4, 2009: Paula Abdul – one of the show’s judges that had been a part of the series since its beginning – will not be making the return for the show’s ninth season. The new season begins filming auditions in front of judges soon, and will premiere on Fox in January, 2010. I’m not going to go into detail about the announcement, but I must say that I think I’ll miss Paula on the judge’s panel.

Moving on to the reason I’m writing this article in the first place, when the chance came to possibly meet some of this year’s American Idol top ten contestants as they rolled through their nationwide tour, it was an opportunity that I’m very glad I got to experience. While we didn’t go to the actual concert, a few family members and I decided to head to the concert’s venue early to see if we could get a few autographs and pictures.

While generally the concert doesn’t start until 7pm, the tour’s buses usually get there anytime between 11am and 2pm. Sometime around then, contestants can come out and greet fans. They’re not obligated to, so if they don’t feel like it on any given day, they don’t HAVE to come out at all. However, if you show up around 11 to get a spot with other fans outside, you’ll have a pretty good chance to at least meet a few of the contestants. The experience is also free, which is a great bonus.

We arrived around 11:20 to find a small crowd waiting behind barriers outside of the arena. The amount of people gathering gradually grew larger as time passed, with people covering the entire barrier’s length by around 1:30.

Thankfully, the weather was very nice while we were waiting. It was overcast, but not raining, and only after a while did the sun come out. It was warm, but I didn’t think it was too hot (though it can get a little sweltering after being in it for a long time). If you plan on going early, be sure to pack a lunch and plenty of water. The amount of time it takes for the contestants to come outside varies with each city they visit, but expect to be standing out there for about three to four hours total (including the time spent meeting contestants).

The contestants came out at around 1:45, and the crowd went wild! Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, Matt Giraud, Anoop Desai, Scott MacIntyre (with his brother, Todd, to assist him), Megan Joy, and Michael Sarver all came out to mingle with fans. Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, and Lil Rounds ended up not making it out. Contestants came out about two at a time, not all at once.

Megan Joy meets with fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Scott MacIntyre (right) with his brother, Todd. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Anoop Desai greets fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Some contestants may only have time to go down the line very quickly to sign autographs, while others may take their time to pose for pictures and talk. Kris, Danny, Matt, and Michael were the slowest making their way down the line, each stopping to talk with fans and take pictures. Many of them would run down the line and give hi-fives before signing autographs, creating an energetic mood over the crowd. All of the contestants seemed very appreciative that people had taken time to come see them, and their positive attitudes seemed to perk up the crowd, causing everyone to wait patiently for their turn.

Kris Allen gets ready to greet fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Danny Gokey meets with fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Most of them were happy to stop and take pictures with fans, and would even give shout-outs to your camera or phone if you wanted them to. Michael was striking up conversations with many folks, and Matt remarked a few questions at us (“You’re not too hot out here, are you? Not too hot?”). Did we really look THAT sweaty? Just kidding.

Matt Giraud talks with fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Michael Sarver socializes with fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

I advise to bring something with you for the contestants to sign. There were concert programs and portraits available for sale right there outside, but overall I thought the prices were pretty expensive. Making a poster would be much more cost-efficient, and also makes for a great homemade souvenir.

Seeing the contestants’ personalities unfold throughout the course of the season on television gave me a better appreciation for their work ethic, and for them coming out to say “Hi” to their fans. American Idol is a very special part of my life, and being able to see some of the people that make the show so memorable on a one-on-one level was an amazing experience.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted August 5, 2009. All images belong to Blake’s family.

Channel Flippin’ – Alexis Cohen Passes Away

July 29, 2009

Image © Fox.

‘American Idol’ tryout tragically passes away at age 25.

By Blake

Originally posted July 29, 2009.

“Take it, take it, take it!” That was the infamous line that Alexis Cohen of Allentown, Pennsylvania, told cameras when her season seven American Idol audition didn’t go as well as she would have hoped.

Unfortunately, this past weekend on July 25, 2009, Cohen passed away by being hit by a car in New Jersey. BlakeOnline sends out sincere sympathy and prayers to Alexis’s family and friends as they cope with their loss.

Cohen returned to American Idol in season eight, with a new look and ready to impress the judges with another tryout. However, when she didn’t make it to Hollywood again, she wasn’t shy in the least bit about sharing how she really felt.

Alexis Cohen provided American Idol viewers with two of the show’s most memorable auditions. She was very enthusiastic and passionate about her work, and enjoyed creating art, with hoping to one day become a singer or veterinarian.

By Blake; posted July 29, 2009. All images © Fox.

BlakeOnline Special – BlakeOnline Bullseye Awards 2009 Winners

June 24, 2009

Image © Disney/Pixar.

The winners for the inaugural BlakeOnline Bullseye Awards.

By Blake

Originally posted June 24, 2009.

This year, BlakeOnline is the home of the inaugural BlakeOnline Bullseye Awards! A “Bullseye” has been given to a variety of Disney-related (and some non-Disney-related) productions that I think deserve some extra attention. I chose the “Bullseye” name to keep with the Toy Story theme that began with the new “Buzz” quarterly updates. Hopefully, this will become an annual BlakeOnline event. The Bullseye nominees were announced on June 8, 2009, and the winners are in! How were the winners determined among the nominees? Well, I just chose them. Although it would make sense for Disney fans to choose what they think should win, at this point it was simpler for me to choose the results based on what I’ve observed around the Disney community.

In the future, I plan to give nominations to projects that were released within a one-year time frame (from mid-May to mid-May), but since this is the first year of the Bullseye Awards, I’m gone with an 18-month time frame, from mid-November 2007 through mid-May 2009.

Here are the winners (and runner-ups) for the inaugural BlakeOnline Bullseye Awards!! A * indicates a category that includes (but is not limited to) non-Disney nominees.

Best Movie – Enchanted

This movie has the workings of a true modern Disney classic. Many of the components that have made up previous Disney masterpieces were present, including endearing characters, superb music (provided by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, who earned three Academy-Award nominations), and a subtle focus on animation, even though most of the movie was in a live-action format. The film consisted of an animated heroine named Giselle (played by Amy Adams) being thrust from her home in Andalasia and into the real world. Giselle’s groom-to-be Prince Edward (James Marsden) journeys after her in an effort to return her home, while Giselle is taken in by a flustered man named Robert (Patrick Dempsey). Ultimately the movie’s highest points come as Giselle takes New York by storm as she enchants the city with her charming antics, including breaking out into song and communicating with “woodland” creatures. The film also has a strong emphasis on many Disney references, sure to keep Disney fans paying close attention to detail.

Enchanted wins Best Movie. Image © Disney.

Best Movie Runner-Up – Bolt

Bolt had the feel of a classic Disney animated film. It certainly had taken great care to create its main characters, especially Rhino, the hilarious hamster. Its plot consisted of a dog named Bolt headlining his own TV series, thinking all of his powers from the show are real. This proves to be a problem when he accidentally finds himself in New York, having to trek back home to Hollywood with a sly cat named Mittens and an obsessive fan named Rhino the hamster in tow. Overall I think Bolt was culminated together rather nicely, and hopefully it’s a hint at what’s yet to come from Walt Disney Animation Studios in the coming years.

Best TV Show* – American Idol Season 7

2008’s American Idol contestants possibly revolutionized the competition by adding their own distinctive styles to their performances. With contestants being allowed to use instruments on stage for the first time, the show dramatically changed from looking for the best singer to looking for the best artist – someone who could add their personality into their performances and change up arrangements to better suit them. David Cook achieved this excellently throughout the season, and ended up winning. Cook’s debut self-titled rock album was released in November, and he’s now on tour. In second place was David Archuleta, who has since also released a self-titled album, made appearances on Nickelodeon’s iCarly and Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, and is now touring with Demi Lovato.

American Idol Season 7 wins Best TV Show. Image © Fox.

Best TV Show Runner-Up* – American Idol Season 8

Again, contestants had to step it up to change their performances and define themselves as artists in another unforgettable season. Kris Allen eventually won.

Best TV Special/Movie* – A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa

I can’t express how ecstatic I was when I found out that the Muppets would be returning to TV for a one-hour Christmas special. Part of an ongoing effort to bring the Muppets back (which is expected to continue with more upcoming projects), A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa debuted on NBC in December, 2008, and delivered a wholeheartedly quality Muppet production filled with heart, hilarity, and even a few delightful new songs (which were written by Paul Williams). The special had Kermit and friends delivering several lost letters to Santa Claus. In true Muppet fashion, everything doesn’t go exactly as planned.

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa wins Best TV Special/Movie. Image © Disney.

Best TV Special/Movie Runner-Up* – American Idol Season 8 Finale

A real showstopper, this finale had many surprise appearances and amazing performances. Keith Urban, Kiss, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz, David Cook, Queen, and more were among the highlights. Additionally, the season’s top thirteen contestants were all brought back to perform, and the night ended with Kris Allen being named 2009’s American Idol winner.

Best Acting – Amy Amy Adams as Giselle in Enchanted
The naïve, curious, and awed Giselle was played wonderfully by Amy Adams in Enchanted. In the live-action scenes, the movement and rhythm of Adams’ actions conveyed Giselle’s character excellently. In the animated sequences, the deliverance of Giselle’s diction and speech again brought the character to the screen marvelously.

Amy Adams wins Best Acting for her performance as Giselle in Enchanted. Image © Disney.

Best Acting Runner-Up – Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay in High School Musical 3: Senior Year


Already proving from the first two High School Musical movies that she could diversify her roles to become both the kind Maddie in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody as well as the devious Sharpay in HSM, Ashley Tisdale stepped up her game for the third HSM installment to bring an excellent performance. Devious, attention-getting, and clever all describe Sharpay and all were performed superbly by Tisdale, who once again delivered a solid performance.

Best Song – “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted
Written by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz

Enchanted’s lavish production number, “That’s How You Know” had Giselle (played by Amy Adams) gallivanting around Central Park in an effort to bring cheer and happiness to citizens, as well as teach them how they should treat their loved ones. The song is one of the best new Disney tunes in years, and was released on the DisneyMania 6 CD in May, 2008, sung by Demi Lovato.

“That’s How You Know” written by Alan Meken and Stephen Schwartz wins Best Song. Image © Disney.

Best Song Runner-Up – “I Want It All” from High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Written by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil

Describing the personality of Sharpay Evans (played by Ashley Tisdale) to a tee in one single song, “I Want It All” consists of pretty selfish lyrics when just reading the words, but when watching it performed on screen in High School Musical 3: Senior Year, it does its job quite well to convey the personalities of two of the movie’s main characters and to deliver an important plot point. The lyrics creatively spin dialogue into melodies and suit the Sharpay and Ryan characters wonderfully. The songwriting here is just right.

Best DVD – Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition

Definitely one of my favorite Disney movies ever, Mary Poppins came to DVD again in January, 2009, with most of the wonderful bonus features that were included on 2004’s 40th Anniversary Edition of the film, as well as new supplements going behind the scenes of the Broadway production of Mary Poppins. The movie’s DVD would be magnificent if it contained nothing but the film itself, but the addition of the many DVD bonuses makes it a very satisfying set.

Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition wins Best DVD. Image © Disney.

Best DVD Runner-Up – Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland Secrets, Stories, & Magic

This DVD was released as part of the Walt Disney Treasures series in December, 2007, and includes a truly great new documentary tracing the history of Disneyland and what went into initially creating the park. Bonuses include an entertaining Disney trivia game, a very fascinating presentation (and commentary) of People and Places: Disneyland, U.S.A., several episodes of The Wonderful World of Color, a pleasant art gallery, and more.

Best Internet Video Series* – Disney Park Characters


These are a range of hilarious videos recorded by various Disneyland and Walt Disney World park guests focusing on the happenings of the Mad Hatter, Alice, Peter Pan, the Tremaines, and other characters throughout the parks. What’s so great about these is that – unlike the other candidates for this Bullseye category – most of them are of real events throughout the Disney parks that weren’t scripted, showing the true enchantment that exists in Disney’s characters and Cast Members. Links: Users Briberry, Disleanne, SkeletonStockings, MadHattress330, forevermeg4u.

Best Internet Video Series Runner-Up* – Muppets.com

Began in February, 2008, this is a collection of official Muppet videos featuring Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Pepe, Rizzo, and even some of the lesser-known characters like Bobo the Bear and Beauregard. The videos have been continuously added to the website since the site’s initial launch, and now contain enough material to provide quite a while of hilarious entertainment. They’re definitely worth checking out.

That wraps up this year’s BlakeOnline Bullseye Awards! Congratulations to all of the winners!

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted June 24, 2009. All images © Disney EXCEPT: Bullseye image © Disney/Pixar; American Idol image © Fox.

The BlakeOnline Buzz, Summer 2009

June 4, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 1

By Blake

Originally posted June 4, 2009.

Dear BlakeOnline readers,

Welcome to the premiere issue of the BlakeOnline Buzz, a post that will (hopefully) become a quarterly addition to BlakeOnline. In the Buzz, an overview of new features to the site will be addressed, as well as reader mail (depending on if there is any) and a preview of what’s yet to come.

I would first off like to thank all of BlakeOnline’s readers for making spring 2009 one of the website’s biggest seasons ever. There was a significant (unintentional) focus on theme parks throughout the season, including the beginning of the Budgeting Disney series, a special multi-part look at planning a Walt Disney World vacation on a budget. So far I’ve delved into looking for deals and deciding when to visit. There are more volumes of Budgeting Disney on the way, so stay tuned! Additionally, there were also several articles posted throughout the spring celebrating Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which had its 20th anniversary on May 1, 2009. BlakeOnline joined in the festivities by posting a recap of the park’s birthday events, a history of the park, and a countdown of my personal favorite Hollywood Studios attractions.

On March 10, Disney announced the kickoff of D23, a new official Disney fan club. With the new club also came Disney twenty-three magazine, an all-new official Disney publication that’s just plain awesome. D23 has been the talk of the town all over the Disney community and around unofficial, fan-based Disney websites, including BlakeOnline. When D23 was first announced, I posted my thoughts concerning all of the hubbub, and in May the question of joining was revisited.

Disney answered the “Are you 23?” mystery on March 10 with the kickoff of D23.

With the transition into springtime also came the conclusion of another amazing American Idol season. Kris Allen, age 23, is the new winner and celebrated his win at Walt Disney World on May 29.

Kris Allen was named the winner of 2009’s American Idol season. Here he is with is wife, Katy Allen, minutes after his win was announced.

Just yesterday, BlakeOnline joined the Twitter community! You can follow BlakeOnline here to receive updates about when new articles are posted, as well as other occasional points of interest.

I’m slowly but surely adding the “missing” BlakeOnline articles into the archives. When the site was changed to its current format in October 2008, all of the pre-existing articles had to be posted again, and it’s taking a while. So far, you can check out articles from June 2006 – December 2007, and from November 2008 – present. The in-between articles from most of 2008 have still yet to be posted, but hopefully throughout the summer the gap of articles will grow thinner.

Although it may be subtle hints here and there, BlakeOnline is beginning to be recognized by some real-deal authors and speakers. Back in February, I posted a positive review of The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal. To my very pleasant surprise, the BlakeOnline review of the book has been posted by Julie Neal herself on the author’s Amazon.com blog! I was elated when I saw this! A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thank-you goes out to Julie Neal for taking the time to recognize BlakeOnline and for giving the site an appreciated link on Amazon.

Lastly, the Easter letter I posted in April took a little break from BlakeOnline’s usual subject of Disney to address what it means to be a Christian. The Easter post soon became one of BlakeOnline’s most impactful messages ever, generating 13 comments – a record for the site. It may be a small amount for some, but that’s a big number here. 🙂 Additionally, Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker Amy Carroll kindly used the Easter post in an event of hers to much success. I’d like to give big thank-you to Amy Carroll for not only spreading BlakeOnline, but also for spreading the Word of God.

It’s been an eventful spring for BlakeOnline, and I can’t wait to gear up for a great summer. Be sure to check back to the site often, because there are plenty of surprises headed your way. Stay tuned!

-Blake
June 4, 2009

By Blake; posted June 4, 2009. Image of Buzz Lightyear belongs to Blake’s family; text in Buzz Lightyear image courtesy of photobucket.com; “Are you 23?” D23 image © Disney; American Idol image of Kris and Katy Allen © Fox; The Complete Walt Disney World image © Coconut Press.

Channel Flippin’ – What a Show

May 23, 2009

The 2009 season finale of ‘American Idol’ was the program’s most impressive conclusion ever. (Spoiler warning!)

By Blake

Originally posted May 23, 2009; updated May 29, 2009.

***Spoiler Warning***
This post contains commentary about the American Idol 2009 finale. If you haven’t yet watched the finale and wouldn’t like to know who won yet, don’t read any further!
***Spoiler Warning***

I knew the American Idol contestants and crew could put on a great show. Year after year of amazing season finales and Idol Gives Back specials had proven that Fox could throw a seriously awesome TV party. Even knowing that, I was still blown away by the outstanding performances showcased on American Idol’s two-part season eight finale, which was broadcasted on Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

The finale was the epilogue to a great season of talent, showmanship, and shockers.

The season started out with a new judge, singer/songwriter Kara DioGuardi. At first I had thought that the decision to add a new judge to the show would result in “jumping the shark,” though thankfully that didn’t happen at all. Instead, DioGuardi gave the contestants constructive criticism – telling it like it was without getting mean.

Kara DioGuardi was a new judge this season.

This year, the show returned to its former “Top 36” format as opposed to recent years’ “Top 24” layout. This meant that the top 36 contestants were put into groups of twelve, with one group performing each week and three of each group’s twelve contestants moving on to the top twelve. After that, a “wildcard” show admitted three more performers (that had previously been voted out) into the top twelve. However, a slight twist this year revealed that there would be a top thirteen, putting one more contestant through to the final round of the show.

Once the top thirteen contestants were established, another twist was revealed: the “judge’s save.” Through this new rule, if for any given reason a contestant was voted out and the judges didn’t agree with that person going home, they could “save” that contestant, letting that person keep competing in the show. However, this also meant that the week following the save, two contestants would go home instead of one. The save could only be used once the entire season, and could only be implemented through the week of the top five.

The judges decided to use their save on Matt Giraud. If they hadn’t used their save on him, Giraud would have gone home in 7th place. Instead he ended up staying two more weeks, going home in 5th place.

The judge’s used their only “save” for the season on contestant Matt Giraud.

Fellow contestants celebrate with Matt Giraud as the judges announce their “save.”

This season, the bar was significantly raised concerning the talent level each contestant was brought to their performances. With David Cook’s win last year, the show transitioned from finding an excellent singer to finding an excellent artist. A great voice can get you pretty far in American Idol, but now it’s unlikely that anyone will go all the way without showing their own unique style by changing the arrangements of songs to better suit their personality.

Surprisingly not present in the 2009 season was a full night devoted to Idol Gives Back. An American Idol tradition since 2007, Idol Gives Back involves contestants and celebrities encouraging viewers to donate to several charitable organizations. For two years, a special had aired for Idol Gives Back, filled with spectacular performances, as well as videos of how the money that had been raised was being used worldwide to help others. There was a brief Idol Gives Back update during one of this season’s results shows, which included a video of a trip Carrie Underwood took to Africa to help the cause and a performance by a child that had benefitted from the donations, though no full-blown special aired like previous years.

Noah (center), a child that benefitted from the Keep A Child Alive organization as a result of the donations viewers made for Idol Gives Back, stands with Alicia Keys and Ryan Seacrest after performing on American Idol on May 13, 2009.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 saw the last night of voting for the season. The top two contestants included rocker Adam Lambert and laid-back Kris Allen, who both performed three songs on Tuesday. Concluding the show was a special performance by Carrie Underwood of “Home Sweet Home,” which was this season’s “exit song” that played as each contestant was eliminated. On Tuesday, however, the song was played while a montage of the season’s highlights was shown. It was a somewhat sentimental moment, sort of a signal that the season really was coming to a close.

2005 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood performs “Home Sweet Home” on American Idol on Tuesday, May 19, 2009.

The season wasn’t quite over yet, though. Not a bit, really.

On Wednesday, May 20, 2009, the season finale aired, and honestly was one of the overall best television programs I’ve ever seen. An all-around entertaining show with something for just about everybody, it was really amazing.

Throughout the night, there were several performances by the entire top thirteen contestants (including Jasmine Murray, Jorge Nunez, Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver, Megan Joy, Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds, Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen), including the opening number of Pink’s “So What.”

Additionally, the night included performances by contestants accompanied by celebrities, including Megan Joy and Michael Sarver with Steve Martin, Alexis Grace and Anoop Desai with Jason Mraz, Lil Rounds with Queen Latifa, Matt Giraud (and later joined by the rest of the top thirteen) with Carlos Santana, Allison Iraheta with Cyndi Lauper, Danny Gokey with Lionel Richie, Adam Lambert with Kiss, and Kris Allen with Keith Urban. All of them were exceptionally wonderful performances.

Not only all of those, but the top girls also performed with Fergie, which subsequently followed with a performance by the Black Eyed Peas.

Three “Golden Idol” awards were given throughout the night to contestants who didn’t make it very far in the show, but were very memorable enough from their brief airtime. The first went to Nick Mitchell, who at first seemed very shocked, claiming that he wished he had something prepared. In mid-sentence, he shouted “Hit it!” and proceeded to take off his jacket, revealing his “Norman Gentle” attire. Hysterical.

Ryan Seacrest (left) and Nick Mitchell.

The next awards went to Katrina Darrell aka “Bikini Girl” and Tiana Del Toro. I’m not going to say much about either of their performances, but I couldn’t help feeling a little bit sorry for them, hoping that they’d both feel accepted for who they are without having to take extra measures of attention-getting.

Also included in the night’s agenda was a sentimental performance by season seven American Idol winner David Cook of his new single “Permanent,” which relates personally to him with the recent loss of his brother. After he sang, Cook announced that all proceeds from the downloads on iTunes of the performance would go to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure.

2008 American Idol winner David Cook performs “Permanent” at the 2009 American Idol finale.

The last surprise performance of the night was the two finalists Kris Allen and Adam Lambert singing “We Are the Champions” with Queen.

From left: Adam Lambert, a member of Queen, and Kris Allen.

Lastly, it was time to reveal the winner. The lights were dimmed, the two finalists took center stage along with host Ryan Seacrest, the envelope containing the results was delivered, and the winner was announced to be . . . Kris Allen!

American Idol 2009 runner-up Adam Lambert (left) with winner Kris Allen.

You can see the obvious shock Allen felt by the win from the picture below:

From left: Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and Ryan Seacrest as Allen is announced as the American Idol 2009 winner.

Closing out the show was a performance by Kris Allen, the newest American Idol winner, of his single “No Boundaries.”

Kris Allen (in white shirt, black jacket, and jeans, fifth from right) with fellow American Idol 2009 contestants as he performs “No Boundaries.”

As the show came to its 2009 close, this touching picture of Kris Allen with his wife, Katy Allen, was the last shot that television viewers saw as the credits rolled:

Kris Allen with his wife, Katy Allen, just after Kris was announced as the American Idol 2009 winner.

Update from May 29, 2009: Kris visited Walt Disney World on May 29, 2009, where he appeared in a parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Mickey Mouse, and then performed outside of the American Idol Experience attraction. You can check out coverage of the event at DISUnplugged.com.
I was overall very content with this season of American Idol. It’s hard to believe it’s already completely over. It’s been an amazing ride.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted May 23, 2009; updated May 29, 2009. All images (C) Fox.

Channel Flippin’ – New ‘American Idol’ Winner Named

May 22, 2009

The next ‘American Idol’ winner was announced on Wednesday, May 20.

By Blake

Originally posted May 22, 2009.

***Spoiler Warning***
This post contains commentary about the American Idol 2009 finale. If you haven’t yet watched the finale and wouldn’t like to know who won yet, don’t read any further!
***Spoiler Warning***

For those of you that are still there, let me share my congratulations to Kris Allen for taking home the American Idol season eight title. Gradually rising to become an excellent performer throughout the course of the season, Allen has displayed a genuine, sincere, humble personality since his first audition. He won over runner-up Adam Lambert, and the total amount of votes for both contestants for the finale was a record-breaking number of almost 100 million.

The season finale aired on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 and was the most jam-packed and incredibly awesome American Idol conclusion ever. It really was quite a show.

And while the American Idol buzz is still circling around the nation, check out Disney’s newest commercial:

By Blake Taylor; posted May 22, 2009. American Idol image (C) Fox. Disney Park video (C) Disney.

Channel Flippin’ – Kids’ Choice Awards 2009

March 29, 2009

Miley Cyrus gets shocked and the Jonas Brothers get slimed.

By Blake

Originally posted March 29, 2009.

Last night was Nickelodeon’s annual mega-party of celebrities, slime, and plenty of screaming kids. The Kids’ Choice Awards 2009 aired with a hoopla of excitement.

Much like last year, before the Awards began an orange carpet pre-show aired on Nickelodeon, while a similarly different pre-show with iCarly’s Jennette McCurdy and Nathan Kress was broadcast on Nick.com.

Disney-related happenings throughout the show included Dylan Sprouse from The Suite Life of Zach & Cody winning Favorite TV Actor, Selena Gomez from Wizards of Waverly Place winning Favorite TV Actress, High School Musical 3: Senior Year winning Favorite Movie (with Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, and Corbin Bleu present to accept the award), Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical 3: Senior Year winning Favorite Movie Actress, Jesse McCartney (who is signed with the Disney-owned Hollywood Records) winning Favorite Male Singer, and the Jonas Brothers winning Favorite Music Group.

Another Disney-related award came as a surprise to its winner. Kids voted online as to what they wanted to see host Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson do: sing opera, knit leggings, or dress like Miley Cyrus. The latter won and as Johnson came onstage in a red dress and brown wig, Miley Cyrus was asked to join him to approve his look. Next, Johnson said, “You voted for this, so I give you that. But, I have something to give Miley. I have a very special surprise for you, Miley.”

“What?” Cyrus dryly asked.

“The kids have voted you as their favorite female singer!”

“Shut up! Shut up right now!” She then proceeded to shed tears at her win. “I don’t why I’m crying, but I really thought I was going to lose.”

Her acceptance speech included, as she was still crying, “I really thought I was going to lose, so thank you guys. I’m so excited. I know this isn’t like the Oscars, but it’s still amazing because unlike any other awards show, it’s all because of you guys. So thank you guys so much.”

She was up against Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna, so I think it was very nice of whoever thought up that little surprise way to unveil her win for her, especially since Nickelodeon isn’t even her network.

This year, the “Wanna Be” award was dropped in favor of the new “Big Green Help” award, given to a contributor to environmental help and support for the Earth. The recipient this year was Leonardo DiCaprio.

Another favorite award, the Burp award (which this year was only nominated to animated characters) was given to Rico from The Penguins of Madagascar, a new animated series based on the DreamWorks Madagascar movies, which premiered just following the Kids’ Choice Awards.


Other awards included American Idol winning Favorite Reality Show (which Paula Abdul and David Archuleta were there to accept), iCarly winning Favorite TV Show, and Spongebob Squarepants winning Favorite Cartoon for the sixth time.

Before the night was over, the secret celebrity slime had to take place. Last year Orlando Bloom was the one to get slimed, and this year it was none other than the Jonas Brothers. Which was quite a sight.

Overall it was another fun show, and one which I’m glad I got to see.

By Blake; posted March 29, 2009. Kids’ Choice Awards 2009 logo image and Nickeloeon logo image (C) Nickelodeon. The Penguins of Madagascar image (C) Nickelodeon/DreamWorks Animation.

Theme Park Headlines – They’re Going to Disney World, Part Two

February 23, 2009

Over two dozen ‘American Idol’ celebrities gathered at Disney’s Hollywood Studios last week for an amazing world premiere event.

By Blake

Originally posted February 22, 2009.

I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to attend a Walt Disney World press event more than I did on Thursday, February 12, 2009 as I watched live from my computer as over two dozen American Idol celebrities made their way down the blue carpet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. What was the occasion? The world premiere of the American Idol Experience, a new attraction that gives Walt Disney World guests the opportunity to be in the spotlight and go through a pretend American Idol audition.

The attraction’s recent history can be read in a BlakeOnline article from a few weeks ago, but it ultimately led up to extravagant press event and after party that took place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on February 12.

First, both season 7 winner David Cook and season 7 runner-up David Archuleta appeared on Good Morning America to promote the American Idol Experience along with GMA meteorologist Sam Champion, who even pointed out a Hidden Mickey on the attraction’s stage. David Archuleta toured viewers through part of the process of the new attraction, featuring a short group performance of “Life is a Highway” with him and several Walt Disney World guests. David Cook was shown performing a tidbit of his song “Heroes,” while his main, full-blown performance of “Declaration” had to end unexpectedly due to audio glitches. In the meantime, Diane Sawyer and Chris Cuomo improvised and told audiences that David Cook would be back soon, but since his performance was close to the end of the show, he unfortunately did not get to finish his performance.

Minnie Mouse and David Cook.

Later on in the day, preparations began to go into full swing to await the press event that would occur in the late afternoon. A long blue carpet was stretched out onto Hollywood Blvd., much like the lengthy red carpet at Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean world premiere events.

Reports say that guests began to line up along the street around noon for the 4:30 parade that featured over two dozen American Idol celebrities. Donald, Chip, and Dale were among the many people viewing the parade, holding up posters provided by Disney with phrases such as “Sup Dawg,” “We’re Nuts About Bo,” and others. The attendees of the event included American Idol creator Simon Fuller, host Ryan Seacrest, judge Paula Abdul, season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson, season 1 runner-up Justin Guarini, season 2 winner Ruben Studdard, season 2 contestant Kimberly Locke, season 2 contestant Josh Gracin, season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, season 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo, season 4 winner Carrie Underwood, season 4 runner-up Bo Bice, season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, season 5 contestant Mandisa, season 5 contestant Bucky Covington, season 5 contestant Ace Young, season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, season 6 contestant Melinda Doolittle, season 6 contestant LaKisha Jones, season 6 contestant Phil Stacey, season 6 contestant Sanjaya Malakar, season 6 contestant Chris Sligh, season 7 winner David Cook, season 7 runner-up David Archuleta, season 7 contestant Syesha Mercado, season 7 contestant Jason Castro, season 7 contestant Brooke White, season 7 contestant Carly Smithson, and season 7 contestant Michael Johns. Phew!

Goofy, Mickey Mouse, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, and Minnie Mouse.
Carrie Underwood in the parade during the American Idol Experience opening press event.

After the parade, the celebrities made their way further down the blue carpet for a hoopla of interviews. This part of the event was broadcast live via webcam to http://www.wdwnews.com/, much in the same way that the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest red carpet event was broadcast in 2006. Although the webcam didn’t really show individual interviews, it did show the overall scene of the event for over an hour. It was very exciting to watch from my computer the anticipation leading up to the celebrities’ arrivals, and then the mania that followed each time a new celebrity arrived. Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy were dressed in their best and greeted each arrival, while Pluto and Grumpy were in the VIP section, Pluto holding up a sign that said “Yo Dawg” and Grumpy holding one that read “Simon is my idol but I always agree with Paul Abdul.”

Ruben Studdard at the American Idol Experience.

Once the interviews were over and the webcam stopped broadcasting, it was time for the world premiere of the American Idol Experience! The premiere featured a regular show as it would be performed any other day, with several park guests performing and one being named the day’s winner. However, much more than just a regular show also took place. Ryan Seacrest hosted the rest of the world premiere which featured a speech by Paula Abdul, a performance by David Cook of his song “Light On,” a performance by Carrie Underwood of her song “All American Girl,” and a duet by both David Cook and Carrie Underwood of “You Can Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac. Unfortunately, the duet is not available on iTunes or for purchase anywhere. Lastly, all seven previous American Idol winners came on stage (for the first time ever together in the same place) to each receive a very special American Idol award that was presented to them by the TV show’s creator Simon Fuller and will be presented to each future American Idol winner at each season’s finale.

All seven previous American Idol winners with their special awards, given to them by American Idol creator Simon Fuller. From left: season two’s Ruben Studdard, season one’s Kelly Clarkson, season three’s Fantasia Barrino, season seven’s David Cook, season four’s Carrie Underwood, season five’s Taylor Hicks, and season six’s Jordin Sparks.
After the world premiere, all of the American Idol celebrities took a “class picture” along with Mickey Mouse in front of the American Idol Experience, and then went to the after party! Some of them were even seen riding Rock n’ Roller Coaster.

Mickey Mouse, along with 28 American Idol celebrities including all seven winners, in front of the American Idol Experience at Walt Disney World.
It was certainly an incredible night and, even though I didn’t attend, I’m very grateful that Disney provided the great coverage that they had by setting the webcam up so that viewers wouldn’t miss a minute of the exciting event. If you missed the webcam coverage or you’d like the see more pictures and videos of the event, you can go to the following links:

StitchKingdom.com’s YouTube page for full videos of the entire webcam broadcast.

Orlando Attractions Magazine’s YouTube page for videos of the entire world premiere, including performances by David Cook and Carrie Underwood, and blue carpet interviews.

AllEars.net for pictures of the parade and the blue carpet.

Laughing Place.com for pictures and videos of the parade and world premiere, including performances by David Cook and Carrie Underwood, and pictures of the blue carpet.

MousePlanet.com for pictures of the blue carpet and the world premiere.

StudiosCentral.com for pictures of the blue carpet and the world premiere.

DIS Unplugged for pictures of the parade.

Additionally, WDWNews.com has a great compilation of press releases as well as a look at American Idol celebrities visiting Walt Disney World in the years past, plus a great slideshow of the entire press event, as seen below in the post before this one. If you look at it in full-screen mode, the pictures look excellent. All of the images are (C) Disney.

The world premiere of the American Idol Experience was an event that Disney seemed to work very hard to make happen, and their efforts certainly paid off from what I’ve seen. The attraction officially opened two days later on February 14, and a short look of the world premiere was featured on February 18th’s episode of American Idol. The spectacular event is one that I’m glad I got to see live, even if it was a portion via webcam. It was one event that will not easily be forgotten among Disney fans or American Idol fans.

By Blake; posted February 22, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

If you missed it, check out part one of this article!

Theme Park Headlines – They’re Going to Disney World

February 12, 2009


America’s favorite television show and the #1 theme park destination in the world meet in the American Idol Experience, the newest attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Over two dozen ‘American Idol’ celebrities will be appearing at the park to open the new attraction.

By Blake

Originally posted February 11, 2009.

American Idol fans have been enjoying the last few weeks. The show recently began its eighth season on Fox and has been entertaining families with its first round of auditions, followed by the infamous “Hollywood week.” The top 36 contestants will be announced next and then it’s on to the live performances, which means the first opportunity this season for viewers to vote for their favorites.

Although that’s certainly exciting, today I’m excited for another reason, though it still involves American Idol. This weekend, the American Idol Experience officially opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida. It’s an anticipated attraction that lets Walt Disney World guests see what it’s like to audition for American Idol.

The attraction was first announced in February 2008 as an unnamed American Idol-themed show that would let guests go through a pretend American Idol audition process. The attraction is part of a park-wide revamp at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that includes debuting new attractions, updating already-established attractions, and significant re-theming to the park.

Concept art for the American Idol Experience. The look of the outside of the attraction has been slightly scaled down since the concept art was created.
On May 21, 2008 Jordin Sparks appeared in a commercial on the season seven finale of American Idol to give some more details about the anticipatory attraction. It was then that the attraction’s name was announced as the American Idol Experience. Sparks appeared in the commercial on none other than the balcony of Cinderella Castle.

Jordin Sparks on the balcony of Cinderella Castle, appearing in a commerical for the American Idol Experience.
In June 2008, several season seven American Idol contestants (including David Cook, David Archuleta, Syesha Mercado, Jason Castro, and more) taped some promotional footage for the attraction that is speculated to be part of the show itself. They shared some of their American Idol stories as well as their Disney memories. Brooke White even drew an excellent sketch of Mickey Mouse, who she had learned to draw when she had wanted to become a Disney animator when she was younger.

Brooke White draws Mickey Mouse while sharing her Disney memories.
During the American Idol summer 2008 tour, a one-page promotion for the American Idol Experience was featured in the concert’s program. Additionally, the aforementioned commercial featuring Jordin Sparks was played during the concert’s intermission.

Throughout the fall of 2008, not much information or news was heard about concerning the attraction, other than the construction of the show building, Superstar Television Theater (recently renamed from ABC Theater, where Doug Live was performed several years back). American Idol decorations are abundant outside the theater, and the inside has been constructed to look like the stage from the TV show’s top twelve round.

The outside of the American Idol Experience in Walt Disney World.
In December 2008, promotion and advertising began to pick up for the attraction as its opening date of early 2009 drew nearer. Both David Cook and David Archuleta made appearances on the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade. Cook performed “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” while Archuleta appeared at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to give a look into the new attraction as well as give a summary of the other happenings in the park.

David Cook performs in the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade 2008.
David Archuleta tapes a segment for the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade 2008.
Additionally, in mid-January 2009, Ryan Seacrest appeared at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for reasons currently unknown to me, though I’d guess it would be to film some footage for the attraction. He also posed for some promotional images.

Ryan Seacrest in mid-January 2009 in front of the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.
Also in mid-January, sneak previews of the attraction began to get underway at the park, featuring several showtimes throughout the day and a daily grand finale taking place at the end of each day. Audience members vote for the winner, and each winner receives a “Dream Ticket,” letting them skip the lines at a real American Idol audition process.

A daily finale takes place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The attraction officially opens to the public on Saturday, February 14, 2009. Additionally, a very exciting press event will take place at Hollywood Studios on Thursday, February 12, 2009 for the opening of the attraction! David Cook, David Archuleta, Jason Castro, and over 25 American Idol celebrities will be appearing in a parade down Hollywood Boulevard at 4:30pm. If you’re like me and won’t be able to attend the very exciting parade, you can catch live coverage of the event over at StudiosCentral.com. They’ll have live blog from the park beginning at 4:00pm Eastern Time.

Lastly, be sure to watch (or record) a very special appearance by David Cook tomorrow (Thursday, February 12, 2009) on Good Morning America! He will be performing live from the American Idol Experience at Walt Disney World, so be sure to watch!

You can also expect to see lots of coverage from the press event and of the attraction itself as the weekend progresses. Keep an eye on AllEars.net, LaughingPlace.com, and MousePlanet.com for some reports, as those three websites seem to never fail at bringing the latest Disney news to the vast Disney community.

So remember, watch Good Morning America tomorrow, February 12, 2009, to see David Cook at Walt Disney World and log on to StudiosCentral.com at 4:00pm on February 12, 2009 to see live coverage of the American Idol parade! It’s sure to be a very exciting day.

By Blake; posted February 11, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Channel Flippin’ – It’s Showtime

January 12, 2009

America’s number-one TV show is back.

By Blake

Originally posted January 11, 2009.

I am so excited!

The time is almost here for the season premiere of my (and America’s) favorite TV show, American Idol! This Tuesday, January 13, 2008, will mark the first episode of the landmark show’s eighth season, and there’s certainly plenty to be pumped up about. The show’s even launched a new website look to celebrate the arrival of its eighth year on the air. Also, I’ve been getting into the American Idol spirit by posting some American Idol-related articles into the BlakeOnline archives. I’ve been having to re-post all the past articles when I changed to the current format of the web site and most of the previous BlakeOnline articles have yet to be posted here, so I’d thought it would be an appropriate time to re-post the American Idol articles. So, now you can check out the Disney’s Hollywood Studios changes article (which mentions The American Idol Experience, an upcoming attraction there), a recap of the American Idol season 7 finale, and a report from the American Idol season 7 concert.

First off, there’s a new judge to spice opinions up with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell. Songwriter Kara DioGuardi will join the three famous judges to give the show a little more variation and to add some publicity to the program. It will be fascinating to see what she brings to the show and how she and the other three judges will manage to squeeze in all of their comments into the already-short amount of time given to critique the contestants’ performances.

Not only will a new judge liven things up on this season of American Idol, but the contestants will have a lot to bring to the table when it comes to talent. Last season’s amazing group of performers managed to make season 7 the most memorable (in my opinion) year of the show yet. David Cook, Michael Johns, and Carly Smithson rocked the place out every week; David Archuleta’s voice had the younger and older viewers voting for him weekly; Syesha Mercado and Chikezie Eze added some soul to the show; Jason Castro’s relaxed songs were excellent; Brooke White had sensationally simple songs and a sincere personality; Kristy Lee Cook was the country performer of the bunch; and Ramiele Malubay brought some pop songs to the group. Between the ten of them, there was really something great for everyone.

Additionally, not only did last year’s top ten contestants show they had talent while they were on the show, but they’ve also continued to please audiences outside of the show. All of them toured the country last summer in an outstanding show-stopping concert and some of them have already started their careers as record artists.

Chikezie Eze supposedly has a new album in the works, though I wasn’t able to find much information about it or whether it’s really happening or not.

Ramiele Malubay has released four singles, including a new Christmas song.

Michael Johns released a Christmas single in December and the proceeds of that song will go to the Red Cross and MDA’s Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis fund. Additionally, he helped score the music and also sings in most of the songs in the new documentary of Shaun White (a.k.a. the Olympics’ “Flying Tomato” snowboarder/skateboarder). Michael also has an upcoming album being released.

Kristy Lee Cook released an album in September, called “Why Wait”, which featured her song that was on the country Top 30 Billboard, “15 Minutes of Shame.”

Carly Smithson has been working on music, as well, and will have an upcoming album.

Brooke White has become a spokesperson for the foundation that is partnered between Malaria No More and American Idol Gives Back called Save the World Summer. She has also been writing music updating her blog frequently with posts and videos.

Jason Castro recorded “Hallelujah”, which was (in my opinion) his most memorable song while on American Idol, which is going to be featured in an upcoming Mexican film Amar a Morir. In addition to that, Castro has been updating his video blog frequently with new videos and news. Castro also released a free single of “White Christmas” and is currently working on an album.

Syesha Mercado released a single with Boney James during her American Idol journey and is now working on an album.

David Archuleta released a self-titled CD in November, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts. The album featured several songs that were written and co-written by Archuleta and also included Archuleta’s single “Crush,” which was released in August, as well as the new single “A Little Too Not Over You.” Official music videos have been made for both singles. Consistently updating his blog, David has kept his fans up to speed about his post-American Idol experiences. Additionally, in September David Archuleta taped an episode of the Nickelodeon show iCarly, which is set to air sometime in the spring.

Finally, David Cook has had success with the winning song from the American Idol songwriting competition “The Time of My Life” (written by Regie Hamm) and his single from September, “Light On” (of which a music video has been made). Both were featured on his excellent new self-titled album which was released in November. All but three of the songs on his CD were written or co-written by him. Cook plans to have a concert tour at colleges throughout the country beginning in February.

And that’s all of last year’s top ten. It’ll be tough to top that outstanding roster of performers and their varied music and personalities. I’ll definitely expect to be “wowed” this season, but I’ll hold off on any huge expectations for now.

One thing is for sure – with all the anticipation rising, as well as the introduction of the fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, and the new show website, I can’t stand the short wait we have until the season premiere of American Idol! It will premiere on Fox this Tuesday, January 13, 2008 at 8:00pm Eastern time, 7:00pm Central time and will continue every Tuesday and Wednesday through May. 🙂

By Blake; originally posted January 11, 2009. All images (C) Fox.