‘Idol’ mentor: Phil Phillips has ‘crazy charisma, incredible sound’


“American Idol” Mentor-in-Chief Jimmy Iovine insists that Phil Phillips — this season’s Safely Scruffy White Guy With Guitar/Inevitable Winner — is vastly superior to the SSWGWG’s who have won the Fox singing competition the past several seasons. (Michael Becker /Fox)
May 21, 2012

“American Idol” Mentor-in-Chief Jimmy Iovine insists that Phil Phillips — this season’s Safely Scruffy White Guy With Guitar/Inevitable Winner — is vastly superior to the SSWGWG’s who have won the Fox singing competition the past several seasons.

“He has certain things those others . . . didn’t have,” Iovine insisted in a phone conference call Monday with The Reporters Who Cover “Idol,” when one of them asked about the death grip the SSWGWG’s have had on the derby.

Those certain things?

“He’s got crazy charisma and an incredible sound,” Iovine said by way of distinguishing Phil2 from Season 7 winner David Cook, Season 8 winner Kris Allen and Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze. (All won in the pre-Iovine Mentor-in-Chief-ing days of the show.)

(Iovine sets those guys in a different category from last season’s winner, Scotty McCreery, who was mentored by Iovine — and who, of course, was safe, white and with guitar, though not scruffy.)

“It bodes well for ‘American Idol’ that a kid like that can get this far,” Iovine continued — still talking about Phil.

Others might disagree, particularly those who blame the tweener-girl voting bloc for the bland sameness of “Idol” winners that industry navel-lint-pickers say has contributed mightily to the show’s ratings declines. This season, for instance, the performance show is down 23 percent compared with last season with viewers of all ages, and down 30 percent among 18- to 49-year-olds who are the currency of broadcast-TV ad sales.

It hasn’t done much for “Idol”-winner debut album sales, either.

Some industry navel-lint-pickers think McCreery — last season’s country crooning winner — appears to have somewhat broken the “Idol” winner curse, noting that his debut album marked the first time that an “Idol” winner debut album hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 since second-season winner Ruben Studdard.

But questions on the Iovine phone call suggest that some members of the media think Phil2 will bring the curse back with him.

Iovine insisted Jessica Sanchez could win it on Wednesday night’s finale, ignoring the fact that seven of 10 “Idol” winners have come from Southern states and Phil is from Georgia (Jessica — the only other Idolette left standing — is from San Diego). And that’s not to mention the fact that Jessica was already tossed off the show once, only to be resuscitated when the judges triggered their Jennifer Hudson Memorial Judge’s Save.

Jessica, Iovine said, was born with “one of those gifts you see very rarely. Her voice, the tone, the range, her poise — she has every chance to win this thing. . . . She can strike a chord in you, with the right song, that no matter what you heard before that, you will vote for her. She can change your mind on a dime. There are so few people like that in the industry — there just aren’t voices like that.”

‘Rules’ renewed

CBS has renewed “Rules of Engagement” for another season.

The network made no mention of the sitcom, starring Patrick Warburton and David Spade, at last week’s presentation to advertisers of its plans for next season. But CBS has ordered 13 episodes of the perennial bench-player for next season, the network confirmed Monday.

‘Breaking’ back

AMC’s “Breaking Bad” will premiere its fifth and final season on July 15 at 10 p.m. — the same time that USA Network plans to unveil its not-about-the-Clintons Washington saga, “Political Animals.”

“Breaking Bad’s” final 16 episodes will be cut in half. The basic-cable network will trot out eight episodes this summer — and you’ll have to wait until summer 2013 for the remaining eight.

Where we come from, that’s called “two seasons.” But in the wonderful world of TV contract negotiations, if you call it “one season in two parts,” it’s generally cheaper than “two seasons.”

Season 5A of “Breaking Bad” will be packaged with a new reality series about the wacky hijinks of a family-owned security company in rural Georgia called “Small Town Security.” It’s scheduled for 11 p.m.

And starting Aug. 12, “Breaking Bad” will enjoy a “Hell on Wheels” lead-in at 9.

“Breaking Bad’s” time-slot competition, “Political Animals,” you’ll remember, is about a former first lady (whose former POTUS husband was a bit of a rover) who makes an unsuccessful bid for the presidency herself, after which she is named secretary of state by the new POTUS. It stars Sigourney Weaver as Not-Hillary Clinton, Ciaran Hinds as Not-Bill Clinton and Adrian Pasdar as Not-Barack Obama.

Afternoon ‘GMA’

Lara Spencer and Josh Elliott will anchor the nine-week test run of “Good Morning America in the Afternoon” — which is replacing “The Revolution” weekdays at 2 p.m., leading up to the debut of Katie Couric’s new syndicated daytime talk show.

Also, the show has been renamed: “Good Afternoon America,” ABC announced Monday afternoon.

The one-hour extension of “GMA” was first announced in mid-April when the network canceled the unsuccessful hodgepodge that was “The Revolution,” which had occupied that 2 p.m. slot. It’s a very important time for ABC because, starting Sept. 10, it’s the lead-in for Couric’s show, which is produced and distributed by ABC parent Disney.

From July 9 to Sept. 7, ABC will attempt to retrieve all those viewers who fled the network at 2, rather than watch “The Revolution.”

The news comes just days after ABC News reported that morning infotainment show “GMA” had beat “Today” for the third week of the past five.

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