Review of "Celebrity Duets" From The TV MegaSite
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"Celebrity Duets" Review by Danielle 8/30/06

“Celebrity Duets” is a new fall reality show on Fox that is in part created by American Idol’s Simon Cowell. The two-hour live pilot episode featured eight celebrities (mostly of small time fame), each paired up with two different musical artists for two separate duet performances. The celebrity was required to sing a song from the artist’s own catalog and style of music. The panel of three judges consisted of Marie Osmond, Little Richard, and David Foster (music producer). Though Simon Cowell’s well known “king of mean” influence came from behind the scenes, it was missing in the judges panel. The grouping of judges was obviously set up to include someone sweet and kind (Marie), someone off the wall and most of the time unintelligible in his comments (Little Richard), and David Foster (the blunt but never harsh like Simon third judge). The show was hosted by Wayne Brady (most notably of Whose Line Is It Anyway?) and he was very charismatic and was able to recover well during those moments when a live show didn’t go as planned.

The first hour of the show gave the audience and viewers at home a very short glimpse into rehearsal footage of each celebrity prior to their performance but purposefully omitted any footage or mention of the musical artist they were paired with until the performance began. For their first duet, each celebrity appeared on stage first to begin the song and then introduced their musical duet partner as they joined the celebrity on stage. Wayne asked at least one question of the musical artist about their opportunity to perform with the current celebrity and then the musical artist left the stage. The celebrity then stood in front of the panel of judges to receive a critique of their performance. I’m not sure if the wardrobe choices were of the celebrity or artist’s choosing but the “attempt” was made to outfit them to fit the stereotype of the genre they were singing in. Several of the celebrity contestants gave a much better performance during the second duet as it seemed they were better paired with a music style that fit their voices. During the second hour, we were able to see more of the rehearsal time with the celebrity and music artist together since the pairing was announced from the start and both celebrity and artist started the duet on stage together. Only a select few celebrities were able to excel in both styles of music though I believe those who did excel had similar styles chosen for them.

Lucy Lawless (best known as Xena) first sang with Michael Bolton on “Time, Love & Tenderness.” Her better performance was with Smokey Robinson on “Baby, Baby.” Alfonso Ribeiro (former child star, “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”) first sang with Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child on “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me.” The judges also loved his performance with James Ingram. Carly Patterson (Olympic gymnast) first sang with James Ingram but seemed very timid and didn’t project. When she later sang with Lee Ann Womack on “I Hope You Dance,” the judges agreed that country was more her forte. Cheech Marin first sang with Peter Frampton and then later with Randy Travis. Leah Thompson (“Jane Doe”) first sang with Randy Travis and though the judges complimented her effort at high harmony in “Forever and Ever, Amen” she really found her niche singing with Michael Bolton on “That’s Life.” Jai Rodriguez (‘Queer Eye’) was one of the knockout stars of the bunch during both his performance of “Since I Fell For You” with Gladys Knight and the performance of “Say My Name” with Michelle Williams. Chris Jericho sang “Mendocino County Line” with Lee Ann Womack and it was one of the worst performances of the night. His second performance of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” with Peter Frampton proved that he was meant to be a rocker. Hal Sparks (‘Talk Soup’ & ‘Queer as Folk’) rounded out the first set of performances by singing “Tracks of My Tears” with Smokey Robinson. While he seemed to be trying to out-sing Smokey, he related more theatrically to Gladys Knight when they sang “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” After the second duet, the musical artists were sent off the stage without small talk so the celebrities could be judged again. Each celebrity’s performance was recapped back to back in a brief montage while the judges gathered to make a decision. Wayne gathered the celebrities on stage together and called off the names of those staying. As each celebrity’s name was called, they stepped to the side until it came down to Carly Patterson and Chris Jericho. Chris Jericho was announced as the one chosen by the judges to leave and after being asked to sum up this experience, Wayne directed Chris to sing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” with the rest of the celebrities dancing behind him as the credits rolled.

During future episodes, the audience and viewers at home will be responsible for choosing the celebrity to be eliminated at the end of each show. The musical artists will differ from show to show and in true American Idol form, each week will feature a performance show and a results show the following night. You can catch the next episode when it airs in its regular time slot(s), Thursday September 7th and Friday September 8th both at 9PM-10PMET.

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Updated 8/29/06 


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