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July 9, 2010

Emmy nominations smile on 'Glee'

Posted: 05:04 PM ET

Editor's note: With all the LeBron craziness yesterday, we forgot to discuss the Emmy Award nominations!  What do you all think?  Were your favorite shows and actors nominated?  Who was snubbed?  Who SHOULD have been snubbed?  Let us know below!

By Todd Leopold, CNN

(CNN) - "Glee" really has something to cheer about now.

The Fox series about a misfit-filled glee club earned 19 nominations Thursday morning as the picks for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards were announced.

Among the nods: best comedy series, best actor in a comedy series for Matthew Morrison and best actress in a comedy series for Lea Michele.

"What an amazing year it's been! I never could have wished for more! Thank you all so much!" said "Glee" cast member Chris Colfer, who was nominated for best supporting actor, in a Twitter message.

"The Pacific," the HBO miniseries about Marines in World War II's Pacific theater, topped all entrants with 24 nominations.

The nominations, often criticized for picking the same names every year, welcomed several new entries along with "Glee."

"The Good Wife," the CBS show starring Julianna Margulies as a lawyer whose husband is derailed by scandal, earned nominations for best drama and best actress in a drama. "Modern Family," the breakout ABC comedy, earned a bid for best comedy series. And two members of the "Friday Night Lights" cast - Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton - earned acting nods for their work on the much-praised but low-rated series.

The nominations, often criticized for picking the same names every year, welcomed several new entries along with "Glee."

"The Good Wife," the CBS show starring Julianna Margulies as a lawyer whose husband is derailed by scandal, earned nominations for best drama and best actress in a drama. "Modern Family," the breakout ABC comedy, earned a bid for best comedy series. And two members of the "Friday Night Lights" cast - Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton - earned acting nods for their work on the much-praised but low-rated series.

"Congrats to our entire cast and crew. Ed O'Neill deserves a BIG award," said "Modern Family" producer Steven Levitan on Twitter. "Modern Family" earned 14 nominations.

Old standbys also were recognized, including "Saturday Night Live," which earned 12 nominations and has now surpassed "ER" as the most nominated show in Emmy history. The late-night show, which recently concluded its 35th season, has received 126 nominations in its history.

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May 25, 2010

Taylor Hicks on life after “American Idol”

Posted: 03:37 PM ET

Ok, Idol fans…we’re nearing the end.   You’re new "American Idol" will be revealed Wednesday night.  Before we get there, LKL blog wanted to take a trip down memory lane and talked to previous "Idol" winner, Taylor Hicks. 

Hicks won the fifth season of "Idol" and hasn’t slowed down since.  For the past two years, he has played the role of Teen Angel in the Broadway musical “Grease” both in New York and with the traveling show.  In between performances, he’s been playing clubs and making music.  More information about Taylor, his live DVD, “Whomp at the Warfield” and his latest album, “The Distance” is available at his website, TaylorHicks.com

Taylor chatted with us about his advice for this week’s "American Idol" winner, what he’s been up to, and why "Idol" will survive after Simon.

LKL Blog:  So you’ve been on the road with “Grease” –

Taylor Hicks:  Grease is the word!

LKL blog:  How long have you been doing it?  

Hicks:  All in all with the record and the Broadway show, its been two years.

LKL blog:  And what’s that been like for you?

Hicks:  It’s been a major success actually.  With the success of the role of Teen Angel on Broadway, we decided to integrate [Hicks’ latest record], “The Distance,” within the encore of every “Grease” show and decided to take it on the road for 18 months.

LKL blog:  This was your Broadway debut right?

Hicks:  This was. Yes.

LKL blog:  In terms of performing a musical on Broadway versus what you would do on a regular stage show – I’m wondering what the differences are.

Hicks:  Well obviously you’re playing off of personalities of the actors as opposed to playing off of instruments with musicians.  And I think one of the really cool things about this particular run and this role is I’ve never had any musical training or acting training and so I’ve learned first hand which has been such a blessing to be able to learn to do a brand new craft with a role like Teen Angel.

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May 14, 2010

Idol’s ‘Big Mike’ Lynche: Favorite Idol moment was when my daughter was born

Posted: 08:38 PM ET

Idol fans!

Only two more weeks before this year’s Idol is announced.  Can you believe we’ve come this far?

So we had to say goodbye to Big Mike this week.  The judges used their only save to keep him around a few more weeks, but it was not meant to be.  Don’t feel sorry for him though – he’s got talent, heart, spirit and ambition as big as his frame.

Mike spoke to LKL Blog about this season, the birth of his daughter and what his plans are now that he’s off Idol…

LKL Blog:  So you made it to the top four, how do you feel?

Michael Lynche: I feel good. I feel good.  I mean the last couple days you know there’s up and down moments in your mood and thinking of what could be and what is and what’s going to be now in your future.

I think if your heart’s not a little hurt, you didn’t put enough of your heart into it.

So definitely disappointment because I think a winner wants to win.  I’m happy where I’m at. I think you’ve got to accept where you’re at because that’s where you’re supposed to be.

LKL Blog: You said you go through up and down moments…I think I know what the ups are, but what are the down moments when you’re a contestant?

Michael Lynche:  I just mean these last few days. Just taking it all in of now I’m kind of on the elimination press tour and you never picture this part of doing it.  I think I’ve always pictured being there in the end.  

LKL Blog:  Every night that there was an elimination and the nights when you were in t bottom two – did you prepare yourself or did you try to remain positive and say you’re going to make it?

Michael Lynche: I remained positive. I think America can be a fickle creature (laughs) – that’s kind of my only explanation for it.  And there’s always the chance that you can go home.  There’s always that chance because it’s not necessarily based on who’s the best singer or who the does the best for the night and whatnot and there’s a lot of things that play into it and it’s a big deal.

It’s a big factor of who’s voting, the voting demographic of the show.  But I think that you just go out and just try to be your best. And for me, I thought I always did well.  I thought I had a chance to stay.  So if you give me a chance, I feel like I can take that chance and do well.  I never thought I was going home on any night just because if you do well and put your work in you should be able to succeed.

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May 7, 2010

Idol’s Aaron Kelly: I was getting a lot more comfortable on stage

Posted: 03:16 PM ET

Idol fans! 

Five become four after the season’s youngest finalist, 17-year-old Aaron Kelly, sang his swan song during Sinatra week. 

His elimination surprised many in the blogosphere, considering the rather scathing critiques of Casey James’ performance.  Yet, it was Aaron and Big Mike who found themselves on the chopping block. 

But fear not for Aaron - he tells us that he’s ready to tour, write some songs and record an album. 

What do you think of Aaron’s elimination?   Read our interview with him and then sound off below!

LKL Blog:  You made it to the top 5 – tell me how the American Idol experience turned out for you.

Aaron Kelly:  The American Idol experience for me was – I’ve learned so much throughout it.  Even the farther I got, you can see a change in me.  I grew in confidence and I was going out and having a lot of fun out on that stage and getting a lot more comfortable with it. 

LKL Blog:  You say you’ve grown, I know in the beginning, some of the judges’ comments to you were that your choices, you arrangements, you presence was a little old.  That they were hoping you’d be a little younger.  Do you feel like you grew up a little bit on that show?

Aaron:  A little bit.  The thing is, when I went into the show, I didn’t really change who I was.  The people who are voting for you are voting for the person they saw in the beginning.  So I figured if I changed all of that, they probably wouldn’t like me as much.  So I wanted to stay the same person I was from the beginning.  But I definitely got a year older, in that sense of growing up [Aaron celebrated his 17th birthday on the show].  I didn’t change so much as I grew confident and got way more comfortable up there. 

LKL Blog:  It’s got to be hard when you’re listening to the judges, you’re listening to the producers, you’re taking advice – but you’re a performer and trying to stay true to yourself.  How do you balance what people are telling you versus what you think you should be doing?

Aaron:  Well, you know you just have to listen to yourself and take what they’re saying and kind of take bits and pieces.  You don’t want to take everything they are saying.  But you want to take bits and pieces and add it into what you’re doing without changing who you are.  That’s what I did.  I know that I had a lot of people wanting me to change it up a lot.  But if I changed it up a lot, it would mean changing me.  It would be changing everything pretty much about me. 

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April 30, 2010

Idol’s Siobhan Magnus: I needed to express myself visually

Posted: 07:29 PM ET

Idol fans! 

Only five contestants remain after Siobhan Magnus was voted off the American Idol stage Wednesday night...

There was a lot of buzz over her hair and outfits (butterflies?) but did people focus too much on her style...and not enough on her substance?  Well, we asked her.  Find out what she said below!

And let us know what you think.  We're getting close to the end!

LKL Blog:  Looking back at your time on Idol, give me a sense of what you’re thinking about?

Siobhan Magnus:  I’m just proud of making it this far.  What an amazing experience it’s been.  I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time that it’s completely invaluable.  Probably one of the best experiences I’ll have.  It’s unfortunate to leave at this point; I would have loved to gone further.  But you can’t look at it that way; you have to appreciate it for what it is.  

The people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made and the things I’ve learned are some of the hugest, most valuable things to me that I think might ever happen.  I’m just extremely blessed to have gone through this; especially at the time in my life that I did, at this age.  It’s been incredible.

LKL Blog:  You mentioned the friendships – you’re all almost part of an exclusive club.  As the weeks go on, and fewer contestants remain, is it more difficult to say good-bye?  What was that like?

Siobhan:  It gets harder every week.  That’s one more week that you’ve been together every single day.  We’ve become so close, sometimes we’re the only people we see throughout the week, besides the people who work on the show.  And we’re the only people in the whole world, at this time, who know what we’re going through.  So as much as you can talk to your friends and family about it, this group of people are the only ones who understand.  You’ll say something about what happened that day and they’ll know because they did it too.  You develop these bonds, just being able to talk to each other about what’s on your mind regarding the show and the process.  Every morning, we’d be getting ready to go over to the studio and Big Mike [Lynche] would say, “Good morning, family!”  It’s just that – we’re our own little Idol family.

LKL Blog:  Your style, it came up a lot during the show, especially with the comments from the judges.  Did people think or react or focus too much on the style over the substance with you?  Do you think any of that overshadowed who you were as a performer?

Siobhan:  I think at times it may have.  Just because some nights I would get more comments from the judges about my outfit than about my singing.  And I would become frustrated that I didn’t have enough to work with from them.  I didn’t know what I needed to improve vocally because Simon would go off about my outfit being weird.  And that was kind of a bummer that it was standing out more than my vocals.  But I always looked at my performances as a package deal – I needed to express myself visually as well as with my singing. 

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April 28, 2010

Crime writer Aphrodite Jones on Michael Jackson’s death

Posted: 04:26 PM ET

Best-selling true crime writer Aphrodite Jones has been covering Michael Jackson for years.  On her TV program, True Crime with Aphrodite Jones, she has set out to prove that the allegations of child abuse and the fallout from his criminal trial were as responsible for his death last year as the drugs he was taking.

True Crime with Aphrodite Jones: Michael Jackson airs Thursday, April 29th on Investigation Discovery.  Jones spoke to the LKL Blog about her thoughts on the Jackson case.  The interview has been edited for clarity and content.

LKL Blog: You’ve spent years looking at Michael Jackson, his legal troubles and the man that he was.  In terms of connecting the dots for your program, tell me a little about what you learned.

Aphrodite Jones: I think what I learned is that we really forgot, while Michael Jackson was alive, that he was a human being.  We made him into a caricature.  The interesting for me is that nobody after the acquittal of Michael Jackson turned around and said, “gee, wait a minute, we reported only what we could to dig up dirt and never considered that this man has no place to turn now.”  Frankly, the media ran after him harder after the acquittal.  

It all got turned around on Jackson, in a big way.  I think people don’t realize – when Mihcael Jackson did anything, like the baby-dangling incident, it was blown out of such proportion because everybody made him out to be a freak.

LKL Blog: There’s no denying his talent but he was such a polarizing person.  People just wanted to know every detail – why do you think people had that kind of reaction to him?

Jones: First of all, Michael Jackson broke the color barrier.  And he did it in such a way, with his music, with his friendships and later with his vitiligo.  Here’s someone whose life was dedicated to not looking at races, being of only one color.  His music united the world.  He went to every country in the world with his music.  If his music landed there, he usually went.  And he embraced people of every culture.  Not many entertainers when you think about that really have that kind of stronghold or embrace of people in China, people in Singapore, people in Thailand.  My book [Michael Jackson Conspiracy] has been translated around the world.  In Japan, China, Taiwan, France, Italy, all over Europe.

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April 23, 2010

Idol’s “Teflon” Tim Urban: It’s been a crazy, awesome journey

Posted: 06:47 PM ET

And then there were six…

We’re almost halfway there, Idol fans.  Were you surprised by Wednesday’s vote? 

“Teflon” Tim Urban, the guy with a guitar and a smile, was eliminated from Idol Wednesday night.  Despite often harsh criticisms from the judges and ending up in the bottom three so many times, Tim surprised many (including himself) and kept plugging along on the show. 

After he was voted off, Tim talked to us at the Larry King Live blog about his Idol experience and what’s next for him…

LKL Blog:  So how are you feeling?

Tim Urban:  I’m actually feeling really good.  I’m not really that sad about it.  It’s not really one of those things.  It’s been a crazy, awesome journey.  And it’s really just beginning.  So I actually feel really good.  

LKL Blog:  Were you surprised at all by the vote Wednesday night?

Tim:  Not really that surprised because you don’t really know who’s going to go home.  It could always be you.  So it wasn’t really that surprising.  I was ready for it mentally just because I’ve been in the bottom three so many times before, so I was ready for it.  So it wasn’t a huge shock. 

LKL Blog:  You said it was a great journey anyway – you weren’t supposed to be in the top 24, let alone the top 12 [Tim was added to the top 24 contestants after Idol producers disqualified another contestant].  Was this all gravy for you?

Tim:  Pretty much.  I mean after you get called back to be on the top 24, I’m like this is amazing.  So even if I got sent home the first week of the top 24, which a lot of people thought I was going to be, it still would have been an amazing journey.  To get this far, it’s just unbelievable to me.

LKL Blog:  The judges were pretty harsh over the course of the past few weeks, the name “Teflon Tim” and what Simon had been saying – but a lot of people commented on how happy you seemed.  That you kept smiling through it all.  Did any of that get to you?  Did it bother you?

Tim:  Not really.  That’s kind of who I am, that’s my personality.  I don’t let things get me too down.  It just took it as a joke.  I wasn’t going to think about it too much.

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April 15, 2010

Andrew Garcia on being an Idol contestant: It’s pretty insane

Posted: 07:58 PM ET

Ok Idol fans…we’re down to 7!

Do you agree with Wednesday night’s eliminations?  Were you surprised?  Angry?  Happy?  Indifferent?  Let us know!

For those of you who went to bed early (and managed to stay away from your television, computer, radio and friends today), here’s what you need to know:

Katie Stevens, the 17-year-old who caused Kara and Simon to argue over whether she was a country singer or a pop/R&B singer (Katie sets the record straight for us here at LKL Blog) and Andrew Garcia, who wowed America and the judges with his take on former Idol judge Paula Abdul’s hit “Straight Up” during Hollywood week (but didn’t seem to live up to the high standard he’d set for himself), left the stage for the last time last night… 

BOTH Idol contestants took some time for an exit interview with us this afternoon to talk about what the experience meant to them and what their future plans will be.

As always, let us know what you think about Katie, Andrew or anything Idol…and don’t forget to tune in Monday when Larry talks to SIMON, KARA, RANDY AND ELLEN for the hour about “Idol Gives Back”…live from our studio.

LKL Blog:  After last night, what’s gone through your mind?  Have you re-hashed the past few weeks?

Andrew Garcia:  What’s going through my mind is needing a break from all the craziness that’s been going on.  I made it that far.  And just to be able to say I was in the top 9 out of America’s top singers, it’s an accomplishment that I’m just so happy for and grateful.  It’s crazy to think about it.

LKL Blog:  Were you surprised that you made it that far?

Andrew:  I was.  Because I went in with the intentions of an acoustic singer, doing what he does and just going in there.  But I got to work with a full band.  It was just out of this world.

LKL Blog:  What did you learn as a songwriter, a singer, a performer – what has your experience on Idol taught you?

Andrew:  It’s taught me to connect on different level than just musically.  You’ve got to connect with your heart, your mind, everything.  Literally put yourself in that music and connect with the audience.  That’s where it counts.

LKL Blog:  Everyone still talks about your performance of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”  How did that come about?

Andrew:  I love people talking about that – it’s a work of mine, I put my own twist on it.  They loved it, so it’s cool.  But the judges let it blind them and not seeing what I’m doing now.  And that’s where it kind of got frustrating.  But I have got to get over it and just keep doing my thing.

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Idol’s Katie Stevens: It’s not the end for me

Posted: 07:46 PM ET

Ok Idol fans…we’re down to 7!

Do you agree with Wednesday night’s eliminations?  Were you surprised?  Angry?  Happy?  Indifferent?  Let us know!

For those of you who went to bed early (and managed to stay away from your television, computer, radio and friends today), here’s what you need to know:

Katie Stevens, the 17-year-old who caused Kara and Simon to argue over whether she was a country singer or a pop/R&B singer (Katie sets the record straight for us here at LKL Blog) and Andrew Garcia, who wowed America and the judges with his take on former Idol judge Paula Abdul’s hit “Straight Up” during Hollywood week (but didn’t seem to live up to the high standard he’d set for himself), left the stage for the last time last night… 

BOTH Idol contestants took some time for an exit interview with us this afternoon to talk about what the experience meant to them and what their future plans will be (how do you go back to high school after doing something like this, Katie??)

As always, let us know what you think about Katie, Andrew or anything Idol…and don’t forget to tune in Monday when Larry talks to SIMON, KARA, RANDY AND ELLEN for the hour about “Idol Gives Back”…live from our studio.

LKL Blog:  How are you feeling?  You’ve had a little time to digest what’s happened…

Katie Stevens:  I feel great.  I feel happy that I’ve made it this far.  And fortunate enough to work with all the amazing people I did.  So I’m leaving this very, very proud of myself.  It’s not the end for me.  I’m going to continue to follow my dream.  And hopefully put out an album at some point.  So we’ll see where it goes.

LKL Blog:  Were you surprised at last night’s eliminations?

Katie:  I always go into it thinking that Idol is unpredictable.  And sometimes the results are surprising.  So it could be me at any time.  And I had this feeling when I was on stage with Mike [Idol contestant Michael Lynche, who was saved by judges last week], that it was going to be me.  So I kind of prepared myself to sing my song.  And that’s what I did.  I was emotional, but I tried to do the best that I could.

LKL Blog:  It’s got to be hard.  We’ve talked about this with other contestants too – when you’ve got the judges, who give criticisms and critiques and advice, and you’ve got the producers and everyone else that you work with on the show, taking all that in but trying to remain true to yourself as a performer – how does that all come into play?

Katie:  I started off in the top 24 trying to do everything that the judges said and trying to appease all of them.  And then I realized I just needed to do what feels right to me and to be myself.  So I definitely learned a lot through everything.  I learned to take the judges’ criticism and their advice and just see what I could use and what I couldn’t for what I ultimately want to become as an artist.

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April 13, 2010

Inspired by young cancer patient, Yankees’ Mark Teixeira shares life lesson

Posted: 02:54 PM ET

By Jason Rovou, Larry King Live Producer

Brian Ernst loved baseball.  He loved playing it, he loved talking about it and he loved to think about his future in the sport.  As a star pitcher for his school team at West Hall High School in Oakwood, Georgia, he had hoped to play in college and fantasized about playing in the majors. 

So it was no surprise that the 19-year-old asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to meet his favorite player, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, as he battled the cancer that would eventually take his life in March. 

Teixeira, who has routinely taken time to meet many kids in similar situations during his years as a professional player, said it was a meeting he would never forget.

“I’ve visited hospitals before and worked with Make-A-Wish foundation.  You think you’re giving a kid something, but after I left Brian, he gave me something,” he said.  “I think he gave me much more than I gave him.”

Brian had originally wanted to come to Yankee Stadium in The Bronx and play catch with Teixeira but his failing health prevented any trips.  So instead the Yankee went to Children’s Hospital in Atlanta to visit Brian in February.

As Teixeira arrived at the hospital, he said he was met by a representative of Make-A-Wish, who told him that Brian had taken a turn for the worse and may not be able to see him in person.  But, he said, something happened in the five minutes it took to walk from the parking lot to Brian’s room.

“I walked in and Brian had sat up in bed, had put on his Yankees jersey and was ready to hang out with me,” Teixeira said.  “And his father told me that in the last couple of days, Brian had never been that responsive and wasn’t able to hold a conversation like that.  It was a true miracle.”

Despite being in and out of consciousness for days, Brian was able to have a two-hour conversation with his baseball hero.  They talked about sports – baseball, basketball and football.  They talked about playing college baseball.  But more than anything, Teixeira was struck by Brian’s hope and his desire to help other people – especially children – who were battling similar diseases.

“The most important thing we talked about was how his faith had gotten him through this experience in dealing with cancer.  More importantly, how he affects other people and brings inspiration to other people with this terrible disease,” Teixeira said.

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