Correction to This Article
Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article stated that the NCAA championship game between Kansas and UNC was the week's ninth most watched program. The Kansas/UNC match-up was a Final Four game; the online version of the article has been corrected.
Are the Idolettes Inspiring? Dream On!

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This week, the Idolettes are charged with singing inspirational songs to warm up the crowd to drop some serious coin tonight on "Idol Gives Back," which, judging by the number of celebs who've signed on, promises to be the greatest orgy of excess in the history of television. It's gotten so out of hand that Fox has to start the show at 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes before prime time even begins.

Michael Johns gets all causey right off the bat, saying he's gonna sing Aerosmith's "Dream On" because he came to this country with a dream and if you dream and are willing to work hard you can achieve your dream.

Judge Randy Jackson says he doesn't buy Michael as Aerosmith, but Paula Abdul "couldn't disagree more."

Paula's shoes bob knowingly. In honor of "Idol Gives Back" week, Paula is taking her incredible shoes out for quite an airing. She says "Dream On" was the perfect song for Michael -- so much so that her Chihuahuas nearly joined him onstage for the high notes.

Let's be clear; by "her Chihuahuas" she does not mean "her shoes." She means her dogs. No -- not her feet -- her dog dogs.

Judge Simon Cowell doesn't like Michael's performance either.

Syesha Mercado sings a very pale version of "I Believe" -- the song previous Idolette winner Fantasia Barrino slew. Which is only slightly better than last week, when Syesha did a pale version of a song Whitney Houston nailed.

Randy and Syesha get into a lot of cross talk when he suggests she's no Fantasia. "Are you comparing me to her?" Syesha asks incredulously.

Well, duh, yes, Simon explains in so many words. Paula tries to smooth things over, pretending Syesha "flipped" the song and made it her own.

Jason "Dreamy Blue Eyes" Castro does the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of "Over the Rainbow." Which is nice, except that, like the version he's covering, the lyrics are botched. Do not mess with me and "Over the Rainbow." However, this is totally lost on the judges, who, we've been learning this season, have holes in their musical education the size of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. They all love it.

Kristy Lee Cook, perennial bottom-three dweller, sings "Anyway," which even Simon likes. "Tonight you look like a star," he says. Odd, given that she's worn the same look before.

David Cook sings "Innocent" a "teensy-weensy bit pompously" as Simon -- the only judge worth listening to -- cleverly observes. Paula tries to give David C. points for daring to have written "Give Back" in ink on his palm, which he flashes, insufferably, at the end of his performance. Now Carly Smithson, she would have had it tattooed on her forehead. Nonetheless, David C.'s fans in the audience are wildly impressed at his bravery and roar. He gives them a condescending queen-mother wave.

Carly does not have "Give Back" tattooed on her face. But she delivers a very angry performance of Queen's "The Show Must Go On." Simon notes it is "out of kilter" with the whole "Idol Gives Back" thing. Randaula's not loving it either.

This year's winner, Inspirational Song King David Archuleta, sends the judges into ecstasy with his version of "Angels." He will sail through to next week, as Simon forecasts.

And, finally, Nanny Brooke gets the chance to ruin Carole King for all of us forever, turning "You've Got a Friend" into a nanny tune for good little children. Miraculously, the judges don't love it; Simon sums it up as "a pleasant walk in the park."

* * *

Silver Spring-based Discovery unveiled to advertisers yesterday its celebrity-encrusted plans for the new cable network Planet Green -- the Prius of programming. Planet Green rises like the phoenix from the ashes of Discovery Home at 6 p.m. on June 4. Among the star-strewn shows you will be able to catch on the network:

· Leonardo DiCaprio, the Thai beach wrecker turned eco-friendly celeb, has produced "Greensburg," a 13-part docu about the "green" rebuilding of a Kansas town demolished by a tornado last year.

· Adrian Grenier, the hairy hottie from HBO's "Entourage," has been green since before it was hot. Back in '99 he tried to sell his idea of communal winter wear -- "You get some gloves and a scarf from a lost-and-found box, wash them, wear them for a while until you lose them. Then somebody else does the same thing," he said in an interview. More recently, he tried to get Paris Hilton to go green, but it made her skin look sallow. Now he's turned his attention to "The Green Life" in which he shows how you can live, um, "green," using as his base his Los Angeles home, which is undergoing a "green" makeover. Read, major tax write-off.

· Chris "hip-hop superstar Ludacris" Bridges and Tommy "Rock God" Lee will "battle against the toxic forces destroying Mother Earth" from the vantage point of their "hard-charging, carbon-laden world of tour bus-living," culminating in a green-carpet benefit concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles to raise money for the renewal of Los Angeles's Griffith Park, which was devastated last year by wildfires.

· "Emeril Green" begins with the premise that you are confused and intimidated by the focus on organic and locally grown foods and need Emeril Lagasse to show you how to make meals with this stuff.

If that's not enough celebri-tude, in partnership with that bastion of social responsibility "Access Hollywood," Planet Green will present "Hollywood Green With Maria Menounos," a weekly one-hour entertainment magazine covering green news, green happenings and green gossip -- including star-studded "Heal the Bay" charity events and an exclusive trip to the "green" greenroom at the Emmys. You can even watch a famous person visit a farmers' market while another shows you how to wear hemp.

And, our personal fave, "Mean Green Machines," for which Planet Green will use gallons of unsustainable fuels to test whether green machines are "as fast and furious as their not-so-friendly counterparts." Viewers can watch an "adrenaline-packed fight to the finish line" when an electric snowmobile goes head-to-head with the Yamaha Apex MTX, or the KillaCycle takes on the American T-Twin. And feel all good and ecological about it.

"Wrecklamation" sounds kinda fun. A demolition auctioneer bids off everything inside homes tagged for razing -- keeping the stuff out of landfills -- and then tracks the material as it's reborn in a new structure.

And, Tom Brokaw will lend a much-needed note of sanity in a series of specials examining the "critical" issues facing the environment."

Returning CBS dramas set no ratings records last week but -- assisted by basketball play that doubled the network's non-sports Saturday showing -- gave the net enough juice to beat "American Idol" network Fox for the most viewers and finish just one-tenth of a rating point behind Fox among the 18-to-49-year-olds who are the Paris Hilton of Madison Avenue.

Here's a look at the week's hot and not:


"Hell's Kitchen." When the writers' strike erupted, Fox dumped plans to launch, right about now, a scripted series after "American Idol" and instead brought back this summer reality series, which last Tuesday drew its biggest audience ever -- about 12 million viewers.

"CSI: Miami." Second night of a two-parter cleaned up last Tuesday with 14.2 million viewers in the time slot where one week earlier about 6 million tuned in to bid "Jericho" adieu. That's a 136 percent increase.

"Battlestar Galactica." Sci Fi series's final-season debut set a record among 18-to-49-year-old women and logged its largest overall audience -- 2.1 million viewers -- since Oct. 6, 2006.

"Star Wars -- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." Spike TV's Sunday telecast became ad-supported cable's highest-rated movie of the year among young men.


"Monk"/"Psych." In their NBC debuts Sunday, the USA cable series logged about 5.7 million and 4 million viewers, respectively -- slightly fewer than their performances on USA network. This only added luster to "Dexter's" 7 million viewers that night on CBS; it enjoys a fraction of that crowd on Showtime.

CW reality series."Pussycat Dolls: Girlicious" (1.3 million) and "Beauty and the Geek" (1.6 million) both hovered near series lows. Even CW's flagship "America's Next Top Model" continues to crumple against hefty Wednesday reality competition -- down to 3.7 million viewers, compared with 5.1 million the same time last year.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: Fox's "American Idol" and "Idol" results show; CBS's "CSI"; ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and its results show; CBS's "CSI: Miami," "Without a Trace," "Two and a Half Men," NCAA Kansas vs. UNC Final Four game and Tuesday "CSI: Miami."

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