Archive for the ‘Channel Flippin'’ Category

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.

Channel Flippin’ – No ‘Wonderful World’ This Year?

June 6, 2009

Image © Disney.
Disney might not formally be airing ‘Wonderful World of Disney’ this summer.

By Blake

Originally posted June 6, 2009.

The Wonderful World of Disney has been an ongoing, continuous television series since it debuted in 1954, back when it was hosted by Walt Disney himself. It’s taken on many different formats, has been aired on several different networks, and has had a few name changes (it was initially called Disneyland).

Over the years, the show transitioned from an episodic format with a host showcasing classic clips as well as sneak previews for current projects to the current format of simply airing a movie with Disney promos during commercial breaks. And really, that’s just fine. I still look forward to watching the show almost every time it airs.

Since 2005, it has seemed that The Wonderful World of Disney has aired strictly during the Christmas season and again during the early summer, around June – early July. This year during the summer, however, there seems to be no sign of the show airing at all.

The show’s website from last year, www.disney.com/wonderfulworld, currently redirects to the “My Page” homepage, which is questionable. Additionally, ABC.com usually has a list of what movies will be aired on the show about this time every year, but there’s no trace of those, either.

However, even if Disney isn’t planning on airing The Wonderful World of Disney formally under that same title this summer, they still have some exciting television projects coming up.

Tonight (Saturday, June 6), ABC Family is having a special night of Pixar fun. They’re airing Finding Nemo, as well as the fairly new Cars Toons shorts featuring Mater and other characters from Cars. These include the first three Cars Toons that premiered on TV last October, as well as Tokyo Mater, which debut in theaters alongside Bolt a few weeks after the film was released. If Disney had wanted to, they could have simply labeled tonight’s ABC Family lineup under The Wonderful World of Disney banner and it would have fit right in.

Finding Nemo will air tonight, June 6, on ABC Family, as will several Cars Toons shorts. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Similarly, next Saturday (June 13), ABC is airing The Haunted Mansion, the 2003 film featuring Eddie Murphy. Again, it’s not labeled as The Wonderful World of Disney, which I find sort of odd.

The Haunted Mansion will air Saturday, June 13, on ABC. Image © Disney.

However, even though The Wonderful World of Disney may not be debuting anything this summer, both Disney Channel and the new channel Disney XD (a re-marketed Toon Disney) are both premiering several new projects. Disney XD’s first original series, Aaron Stone, debuted in February and is about a video game coming to life in the real world. Disney XD’s next original series, Zeke & Luther, will debut later this month and is about two boys wanting to become skateboarders.

Disney Channel is also in the process of premiering new summer attractions. On June 26, a new original movie will debut called Princess Protection Program, and will feature Demi Lovato (from Camp Rock and Sonny With a Chance) and Selena Gomez (from Wizards of Waverly Place). Disney Channel is also continuing to air new episodes of Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Phineas and Ferb, The Suite Life on Deck, Sonny With a Chance, and their newest series, Jonas.

Princess Protection Program premieres Friday, June 26, on Disney Channel and be released on DVD on Tuesday, June 30. Image © Disney.

So both Disney XD and Disney Channel are continuing to crank out new productions. But why is Disney choosing to air movies on ABC and ABC Family on Saturday nights without The Wonderful World of Disney’s label? It’s really not that big of a deal and the quality of the movie’s presentations won’t be much different (other than not including Disney promos during commercial breaks), but it just seems a bit peculiar.

By Blake; posted June 6, 2009. All images © Disney. Finding Nemo image © Disney/Pixar.

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’ – Celebrating the Sponge

April 18, 2009

Celebrity guests, new specials, and more highlight Spongebob’s 10th anniversary celebration.

By Blake

Originally posted April 18, 2009.

As I walked into Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, a rather large display caught my attention just inside the main entrance. A sign that hung from the ceiling read “Happy Spongebob,” with merchandise abundant all around the area, all of it featuring Spongebob Squarepants. A smaller sign read “Celebrating 10 Years.” What?! Ten years? Really?!?

Yes, the highly popular Nicktoon Spongebob Squarepants premiered on May 1, 1999, and to celebrate the fry-cook sponge’s 10th birthday, Nickelodeon has several exciting events planned, some of which have already taken place.

The party kicked off on January 9, 2009, with the unveiling of a new Spongebob website, www.Spongebob.com. The site features videos, games, a blog written by the show’s crew members, character “biographies,” and an area where fans can create a Spongebob-related profile page.

On January 18, the main voice cast (including Tom Kenny as Spongebob, Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick, Roger Bumpass as Squidward, Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy, Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs, and Mr. Lawrence as Plankton) gathered to read an entire episode in front of an audience at the Sundance Film Festival. You can catch a video of that event here.


The episode that they performed was a double-length special entitled Spongebob vs. the Big One. The episode features the voice of Johnny Depp (though he did not appear at the episode reading event) as Jack Kahuna Laguna, a surfing expert who has to teach Spongebob, Patrick, and Squidward how to surf back to Bikini Bottom when the trio is lost on an island. In the book Bring Me That Horizon: The Making of Pirates of the Caribbean by Michael Singer, a story is told of Johnny Depp initially approaching Disney with a request to voice an animated character in one of their movies, and instead they asked him to play Captain Jack Sparrow. Even though he did voice a character in the 2005 stop-motion film Corpse Bride, I’m still glad that Johnny Depp did indeed get to play an animated character in Spongebob that his children could enjoy watching.

In a clever marketing move, Nickelodeon premiered Spongebob vs. the Big One first on DVD on March 3, over a month before its television airing on April 17. In my opinion, the special is one of the better double-length Spongebob episodes (which are usually released twice a year), and features a surprise joke that has to be one of the funniest in Spongebob history. If you missed the initial airing of Spongebob vs. the Big One, you can catch it again tonight (Saturday, April 18) at 7pm Eastern time on Nickelodeon, or you can rent the DVD. It’s definitely worth at least one viewing.

Spongebob vs. the Big One is now available on DVD and features the voice of Johnny Depp.

Johnny Depp isn’t the only guest voice that will appear as part of the show’s 10th anniversary, though. Spice Girl Victoria Beckham will also make an appearance in an upcoming episode.

Additionally, two more specials (that are expected to be an hour long each) will debut later this year. The first is reported to premiere in the summer, and will be a documentary looking into the creation of the show and the extensive impression it has made. The second new special is supposed to debut in November, and will be a “flashback” clip episode where Spongebob and friends look back at some of their most memorable moments.

All of the aforementioned events are taking place in addition to the airing of regular Spongebob Squarepants episodes. The show is currently in the midst of its sixth and seventh seasons (with the sixth season having a few episodes left to air, while some of the seventh season episodes have already begun to air), and new episodes will continue to premiere throughout the 10th anniversary celebration.

If you can, catch an airing of Spongebob vs. the Big One featuring the voice of Johnny Depp (or rent the DVD), and additionally be on the lookout throughout the rest of the year for new episodes, a guest appearance by Victoria Beckham, a documentary, and a special clip show. Happy 10th birthday, Spongebob!

By Blake; posted April 18, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Channel Flippin’ and Theme Park Headlines Reminders – Spongebob and Space Mountain

April 17, 2009

A few quick updates.

By Blake

Originally posted April 16, 2009.

Hey, everyone! I first want to say thank you to everyone who supported the Easter post I wrote a few days ago. Your support really means a lot.

Secondly, I wanted to inform you of two quick updates, since I don’t currently have the time to write a full report on either news stories.

The first piece of news concerns the guy who lives in a pineapple under the sea, Spongebob Squarepants. Remember to tune in to Nickelodeon on Friday, April 17, 2009 at 8pm Eastern Time to see an anticipated episode of the hit Nicktoon. The episode is a half-hour special called Spongebob vs. the Big One and will feature a special voice appearance of Johnny Depp!

The next bit of news concerns a Walt Disney World favorite, Space Mountain. The next few days are your last chance to ride the classic Disney roller coaster in the dark before it goes into extensive refurbishment on Sunday, April 19, 2009. It is currently scheduled to re-open on November 21, 2009. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority will also be closing on April 19, but will re-open a little earlier than Space Mountain, on August 24.

Image © Disney.

I just wanted to remind everyone of that news, so make sure you watch Spongebob Squarepants on April 17 at 8pm Eastern Time to hear Johnny Depp voice a character, and if you’re in the Orlando area try to ride Space Mountain before Sunday, because it’s your last chance to ride it until November!

-Blake

By Blake; posted April 16, 2009.

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.

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.

Channel Flippin’ – The WDW Christmas Day Parade 2008 "Drive-Through" Review

December 27, 2008


By Blake

Originally posted December 27, 2008.

OK, so here’s the deal. I’m about to dash out the door in a few minutes and I’ll be unable to post any new articles on here for over a week and I thought the holiday season couldn’t go by without me awarding some compliments to this year’s outstanding Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade. Since I’m short on time and I really need to summarize a lot in this article, instead of calling this a regular review (which it’s not), I’ll dub it a “drive-through” review, since I’m not really taking the time to elaborate (simply because I can’t) and you’re really getting the bare basics of my thoughts.

But ANYWAY, this year’s Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade was once again hosted by Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa from Walt Disney World in Florida and Ryan Seacrest from Disneyland in California. There were a few times when I felt embarrassed for them because of the lines they were saying, but it’s Christmastime so I’ll cut them some slack.

It was a VERY Disney parade this year and it seemed like instead of featuring celebrities with the characters off to the side as with previous years, there was more focus on the characters with the celebrities to the side.

Making their debut in the parade were Bolt, Mittens, and Rhino from Bolt and Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Giselle from Enchanted even made a quick little appearance, which was certainly welcome since she hasn’t been seen on WDW premises for about a year now.

Since it was the parade’s 25th anniversary, there were archived “flashback” clips from previous years’ parades scattered throughout the show, including performances by Jodi Benson, Kermit the Frog, Amy Grant, and others. These features were clever and appreciated until a 2005 clip of Vanessa Williams was played again and billed as this year’s finale, which made me feel partially jipped because I was hoping for a brand spankin’ new grand finale.

However, it seems that the cash usually spent on the rousing, choir-filled finale was used elsewhere in the parade for several other superb numbers that were very satisfying. One of the highlights that comes to mind for me is the opening number featuring Miley Cyrus singing “Santa Claus in Coming to Town.” Although I’m not a big Miley fan – but I certainly don’t have anything against her – I found her performance to be exceptionally great. It was performed in front of Cinderella Castle and featured appearances by Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Chip, and Dale. Additionally, Miley had a brief jam session with Stitch (dressed as Santa) on the guitar, and then Mickey made his grand parade surprise entrance in true Disney fashion. It was an overall Disney-fied performance that I think worked so well because Miley Cyrus is an all-Disney girl herself and having an out-of-studio performer usually takes away from that Disney experience. It was definitely one of the best of the parade’s opening numbers I’ve seen in a few years. Miley Cyrus shared the stage equally with the characters instead of taking up the entire spotlight and interacted very professionally with them, doing a very good job to bring some Disney flavor to the performance.

Anyone who’s been reading BlakeOnline for a while knows that I’m crazy when it comes to American Idol, and I was very pleased to see this year’s winner David Cook sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on Main Street. Runner-up David Archuleta also appeared, but he served as the viewers’ tour through Disney’s Hollywood Studios rather than singing.

Lastly, the best performance of the parade was undoubtedly the Mary Poppins number on Main Street. Talk about a showstopper!!!!! Being my favorite live-action Disney film, I was delighted that it would be represented in the parade. Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee appeared as Mary Poppins and Bert, respectively, from the Broadway musical and performed “Supercalifragilisticexpiaelidocious” accompanied by 500 (!) dancers. They worked their way from inside the Confectionary and then proceeded outside to fill Main Street from Town Square to the hub! I loved the way the song didn’t all stay contained in one place as it traveled from inside the Main Street shops and then transitioned its way into the Street itself. In that regard it reminded me of the parade’s opening numbers of the 1990’s where hundreds of Disney Cast Members and characters would prance around the entire resort singing Christmas carols.

Not only that, but the Mary Poppins performance also included the background dancers from the Broadway show dressed as Main Street Cast Members, which added an extra bit of Pixie Dust to the already-magical number.

Although ABC will not be re-airing the parade, you can catch clips of it, including the sensational Mary Poppins performance, as well as behind-the-scenes footage (which features the performers rehearsing at 5:00 am) at Disney.com/celebrate, but hurry before they’re taken off the page! I noted last year that I thought the parade was on its way to becoming a real Disney show instead of a celebrity concert, and I think this year’s parade made that statement even clearer.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

By Blake; posted December 27, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

Channel Flippin’ – "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa" Review

December 23, 2008


The Muppets’ renaissance to stardom continues with a much-needed breath of fresh air in their new Christmas special, “Letters to Santa.”


By Blake

Originally posted December 22, 2008.

It’s been a long time since I was completely content with a new Muppets production. The short new videos appearing lately on YouTube and on the new Muppets.com have been great, but if the Muppets are supposed to have really won audiences over by the time their new movie hits theaters in 2010, I knew it was going to take a lot more than short Internet clips to make viewers want more Muppets. The Studio DC specials that aired in August and October of this year did their job to get younger audiences interested in the Muppets, but were somewhat painful for longtime Muppet fans to watch.

Thankfully, Kermit and the crew were back to their classic flair and charm in the superb new Christmas special, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, which aired Wednesday, December 17, 2008 on NBC.

In the new special, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Great Gonzo, Pepe the King Prawn, and Rizzo the Rat are getting ready to embark on a tropical vacation for Christmas, but put their plans on hold when they accidentally forget to mail a letter to Santa written by Gonzo’s friend and neighbor Claire (played by Cory in the House’s Madison Pettis). Since it’s Christmas Eve and the post offices have closed for the holiday, the Muppet bunch decides that the only way that Claire’s Christmas wish can come true is if they deliver her letter to Santa personally. You can imagine the hilarity that comes from them as they make their way to the North Pole on a quest to find Santa.


It seems that every Muppet imaginable has come out of extinction to make an appearance in Letters to Santa. It actually reminded me a lot of the Muppet*Vision 3-D attraction at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks. The two productions’ plots are completely different, but it seemed like they were very similar in making sure that each Muppet character had their own bit of screen time, even if it was brief. We get a great short sampling into each character’s personality that I hope will be repeated in more force in the upcoming Muppet feature-length film. Sam the Eagle’s quick and random appearance was hysterical.

Even the lesser-known characters that have been absent for several years returned, including Kermit’s nephew Robin, Lew Zealand (with his boomerang fish), Beauregard the custodian, Crazy Harry, Bobo the Bear, and a few others. The only smaller characters that I didn’t spot were Sal Minella and Johnny Fiama, who I didn’t even notice were gone until I really thought about who was absent.

Muppet veteran Kirk Thatcher serves as director for Letters to Santa, and he has previously directed It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz and written Muppet Treasure Island, as well as episodes of Muppets Tonight and Dinosaurs.

Another Muppet favorite, Paul Williams, wrote the four original songs that appear in Letters to Santa. Williams first worked with the Muppets in a guest appearance on The Muppet Show, and later wrote the songs for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, The Muppet Movie, and The Muppets Christmas Carol. I’m not sure why, but it had somehow registered in my head that this new special wasn’t going to be a musical, so I was very pleasantly surprised when Kermit started singing the opening song, “Delivering Christmas,” which turned out to be my favorite of the new songs.

The writers of the special include Paul Williams, along with Saturday Night Live writers Hugh Fink, Scott Ganz, and Andrew Samson. They add mature, but definitely not inappropriate, jokes and gags that make the special appealing to any age group. Pepe and Rizzo especially seemed to be given extra care when being written for – they’re the center of many of the jokes and apply most of the comedic side of the special.

As with any Muppet production, celebrity cameos are around every corner in Letters to Santa. Embarrassingly, the only cameos I recognized were Madison Pettis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Nathan Lane. However, many other celebrities appeared that I didn’t recognize, including Jane Krakowski, Uma Thurman, and more.

Not too lengthy to prolong itself or its storyline, though not too short to leave us wanting much more, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa is honestly one of the best Muppet productions I’ve seen in years. Filled with all of the favorite Muppet characters and featuring a healthy balance of comedy with heartfelt emotions, there’s not much to criticize. And considering the relatively quick amount of time that it took to pull the special together, it’s amazing that it turned out the way it did. If this rate continues in the quality that the Muppets’ works are producing, then I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves – er, paws – for 2010.

How do I rank A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa will most likely please: Muppet Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Young Adults – Adults – Old Folks

If you missed A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, you can catch it again on Hulu through December 31, 2008. So hurry if you missed it or if you want to see it again!

By Blake; originally posted December 22, 2008. All images (C) Disney.