The TV Column by Lisa de Moraes: Jamie Foxx Gets Frank on 'American Idol'

Paris Hilton, left, and Nicole Richie are awards-show guests who have the standards police on alert.
Paris Hilton, left, and Nicole Richie are awards-show guests who have the standards police on alert. (2003 Photo By Joe Cavaretta -- Associated Press)
By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not so much Rat Pack as Mickey Mouse Club when the five remaining Idolettes put on their grandparents' clothes and tried to impersonate Frank Sinatra's posse on "American Idol" last night.

Jamie Foxx came to mentor them because he's a really big star. And, he has a movie that just came out, but it's an NBC Universal flick, so no mention is made during the entire show -- a rare instance of product non-placement on reality TV.

"You're already an artist -- you're my number one," Foxx told Idolette Kris Allen, reviving the love-ya-baby! Rat Pack era ingratiation of Sammy Davis Jr.

In his gray suit, singing "The Way You Look Tonight," Kris seemed like a little boy playing dress-up, but judges Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Paula Abdul acted as if he were the second coming of Tony Bennett. They also broke the record for most uses of the word "impeccable" on one Idolette for a single performance. But Simon Cowell -- the only judge worth listening to -- called the performance "a little bit wet" and like watching someone take a well-trained spaniel out for a walk.

Allison Iraheta is "too young to be in love" (she just turned 17), Foxx said about her song choice, "Someone to Watch Over Me," and suggested that she think of her family while singing the tune. Allison finally slowed down and un-rocked her performance, and finally wore a non-scary outfit. Randy called it "Pink -- but with 9,000 more octaves."

Foxx sent Matt Giraud away without comment during rehearsal, then called him back with detailed notes about changing the key, which seemed totally staged. Matt the Hat had a lot of trouble with the tune's lower notes, which suggests Foxx's advice did him a disservice. Simon went whole hog in his effort to justify squandering the Judges' Save Card on Matt a few weeks back, insisting Matt used "Nat King Cole phrasing" in his performance.

Foxx, apparently as put off as Quentin Tarantino was by Danny Gokey's I-Come-From-a-Musical-Family bag-o-shtick, got "right in his grille" during rehearsal, which, Foxx reported, made Danny's rehearsal performance more "pure" and "true." Randy, Kara, Paula and Simon all swooned over Danny's performance.

"Absolutely incredible -- you don't care about who I am at all!" Foxx marveled while pretend-mentoring Adam Lambert -- the most honest comment ever made by a mentor on "Idol." Ever.

Adam, the only Idolette to really get the Rat Pack spirit, donned an iridescent white suit, black shirt and white tie and descended The Ryan Seacrest Stairway to Paradise as he performed "Feeling Good." Once again, his was the night's showiest performance, causing Randy to call it "a little too Broadway," which Simon noted, correctly, is like complaining that a cow moos.

* * *

Just because the Supreme Court has gone and canceled broadcast TV stations' One-Free-Naughty-Word-on-Live-TV Pass, don't expect to see many changes in broadcast TV programs in the near future. Because broadcasters have pretty much been in duck-and-cover mode for years now.

Which is to say that, for the foreseeable future, odds are high you will see cameras swing wildly to the ceiling whenever Sally Field, Cher, Nicole Richie or Bono accept or dispense a statuette at a trophy show; the next "All in the Family" will not get made; and World War II veterans will have to watch their mouths when discussing the horror of their experiences in that war. But sports figures will be free to mutter pretty much whatever crisp expletive they've picked up -- no doubt the result of spending so much time in the company of Bono, Cher, Nicole or Greatest Generation vets.

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