Sunday, May 31, 2009

Billboard's #1 Club/Dance Song: Deborah Cox's "Beautiful U R"

One of this generation's Dance Divas, Deborah Cox, has the top spot in this week's Billboard club/dance chart.

It is titled "Beautiful U R" and the following video is Jody den Broeder's radio edit mix of this "beautiful" hit.

I hope you like it as much as I do.

Jennifer Hudson is Pregnant

Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson can add mom-to-be to her resume after a weekend baby shower in her honor was held in downtown Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Felicia Fields, a longtime friend of the Hudson, confirmed to the paper that the event happened on Saturday.

"It was a baby shower, a quiet gathering of friends and mostly family," Fields, also a singer and actress, said of a gathering in a relative's home. "They're really trying to keep it kind of quiet."

She added: "It was a nice time that we had."

When asked if Hudson received blue or pink gifts, Fields said, "They don't know [the gender]. More yellow."

Another paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, reports Hudson is seven months along.

Hudson, 27, who is engaged to Harvard-educated-lawyer-turned-wrestler David Otunga, has also kept mum about her upcoming wedding date.

American Idol Castoff Michael Johns Releasing CD

While the "American Idol" post-season promo drive has kicked into gear for winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert, Season 7's Michael Johns will be resurfacing this summer with his first post-"Idol" album.

"Hold Back My Heart," due June 23 from TRP Records, is a 12-song set featuring six songs co-written by Johns and Dave Cobb. Diane Warren and British singer-songwriter James Morrison also contributed lyrics to the set.

Johns finished eighth in the 2008 edition of "American Idol," but his early exit worked to his benefit. He went straight into the studio and started to lay down the tracks for what would become "Hold Back My Heart."

"I'd been signed before; my albums have always been shelved, or the label folded, or the guy that signed me got fired," Johns told "The most nightmarish situations. This time around, I wanted to go and make the record, own the masters, and whatever happened, it was going to be on my terms, my shoulders. You make enough money from being on the tour and being on the show, where I could fund the record. I knew what I wanted to do soundwise."

After Johns wrapped the recording sessions in late 2008, he started to pursue a label deal. "I didn't want to just go with any old deal. I've had deals before," he said. "I really wanted to find a family that I thought believed in the direction of my record."

Johns wound up signing with TRP Records, which is the label arm of Three Ring Projects, a Los Angeles-based entertainment company that provides management, publishing and licensing for their artists. Among those working with Three Ring Projects are Jermaine Dupri, Kelis, Lil Kim and "American Idol" alumnus Elliott Yamin.

Johns' material sounds more like the neo-soul of Ray LaMontagne and James Blunt than the polished mega-pop that "Idol" tends to be associated with.

"It wasn't until 2006, I said to my mom, "What is it that I sing that you love that sets me apart? And she said, it's when you sing that Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Joe Cocker kind of style."

"I was someone that already had a career before," he continued. "Some of the people that get far on 'Idol' -- not to their detriment or anything -- they went with a friend to audition and kept getting through. For me, I was able to come in there and use it as a full platform. I knew what kind of record I was going to make and who I wanted to appeal to."

Johns is currently plotting a tour.

Music Video: "Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga continues her ride up to the top of stardom with her latest release "Paparazzi". Here's the official music video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Coming Soon: Melrose Place to The CW

Being a fan of the original Melrose Place, I'm looking forward to the new version of this 90s "soap opera" coming this fall to The CW.

Adam Lambert and Kris Allen Discuss Who is a Top

Adam Lambert and Kris Allen both seem like winners since the American Idol finale. These guys are everywhere!

They seem to genuinely like each other which is nice and Adam is comfortable enough to make a gay joke during this interview the pair does with Its at around the 1:20 mark where they are asked who will get the top bunk on the American Idol tour this summer. Kris says he doesn’t care. Adam says he’s a top. They both completely crack up.

Star Sighting: Kris Loves Mickey!

American Idol champ Kris Allen checks out the view on the parade route alongside new pal Mickey Mouse during a celebratory ride Friday through the Walt Disney World theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Adam Is Open About His Sexuality, Says Kara DioGuardi

American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert may want America to keep speculating about his sexuality, but there's at least one person who has no doubt which way the 27-year-old singer swings: judge Kara DioGuardi.

"I don't think that Adam was ever in [the closet]," she says in a chat set to air on The View Friday.

Her comment came as part of a response to host Barbara Walters, who had asked if Lambert's controversial loss to Kris Allen was influenced by questions about whether Lambert is gay. Lambert has a penchant for eyeliner, nail polish, tight pants and flamboyant hair styles, and has been photographed kissing other men.

"I hope not," DioGuardi answered. "Because we should be judging on talent and viability in the music industry, and they both had that."

In an earlier interview with, Lambert said people who worried about whether he preferred men or women romantically needed to "calm down," and that the most important thing was that he was being true to himself.

"You should own who you are and what you're about, and never make apologies for it," he said.

Susan Boyle Falls Short at Britain's Got Talent Finale

Despite being the runaway favorite, Susan Boyle failed in her bid to net the big prize on Britain's Got Talent.

She was beat in Saturday's finale by dance troupe Diversity and finished in second place.

"The best people won," Boyle said. "They are very entertaining lads. I wish you all the best."

Asked what the future holds by the show's hosts, Boyle added, "I hope to get an album out. Who knows? I will just play it by ear."

As for street dancers Diversity, judge Simon Cowell said, "You can see them open the Olympics. What you saw tonight was absolutely immaculate."

Cowell added of Boyle, "I am gutted for Susan but she was incredibly gracious. Susan's come out of this very well. We've never had a runner-up like Susan Boyle before. She's won over a lot of fans tonight through her graciousness. She's a really sweet person. She has a massive future ahead of her."

In the show's finale, the Scottish singer, who has captivated the world in the last seven weeks, reprised her performance of "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical Les Miserables, the same song from her audition, which went on to be viewed 100 million times online.

Her prize would have been $150,000 and the chance to perform in front of Queen Elizabeth in the annual Royal Variety Performance.

After her barnstorming performance at the finale in London, Boyle demurely said a simple "thank you" to the people at home, the audience and the producers of the show. It had been a pressure-filled week for the 48-year-old, who had to be moved to a secret location after hounding by the media peaked as accusations flew of her swearing at her hotel.

Asked if it was worth it, she said, "Well worth it. I really feel at home on stage. Of course I do, I'm among friends."

The Judges' Take

The judges were more effusive. In the words of Piers Morgan, she sang the song "better than you did last time" and "that, to me, was the greatest performance in Britain's Got Talent history. I loved it." He, like fellow judges Cowell – who was famously stunned when he first saw her – and actress Amanda Holden were on their feet at the end of her performance.

With applause dying down, Holden told her, "Susan, I have never heard such powerful, confident vocals. You sang it so well this evening. You have been under an enormous amount of pressure but you did it, girl. Simon had a tear in his eye and I have never seen that before."

And Cowell said, "You had the guts to come back here tonight, face your critics and you beat them, and that's the most important thing. I've got to know the real Susan Boyle – which is not the person I've seen portrayed in the media – who is still a very nice shy person who just wants a break. I absolutely adore you."

The favorite from the beginning, Boyle became a household name after surprising the judges and the audience in the show that aired in April. And then, on May 24, she made it into the finale after performing "Memory" from the musical Cats in the semi-finals.

Since her first appearance caught the imagination of the world, Boyle, 48, has been analyzed at almost every step of the – even a $50 hairstyle was dubbed a makeover.

Britain Is Watching

On Saturday, more than 15 million viewers were expected to tune in and three of Boyle's nieces – including Kirsty Foy, who told People, "We're all disappointed but very proud of Susan. She was fantastic tonight." – were in the audience. Back home in Blackburn, Scotland, families, including babies in strollers and infant carriers, gathered in the town's Community Education Centre. Handmade banners that read, "Good luck Susan," "Vote 4 Susan" and "Hands Up 4 Susan," were hung on brick walls. Fans watched on a giant screen with the show being projected and audio echoing throughout the hall.

When her image appeared, the crowd stood up and applauded so loudly Boyle's performance could hardly be heard. Some waved their hands in the air; some audience members stomped their feet, and others chanted "Susan, Susan, Susan." At the end, young boys left the hall chanting, "We love Susan Boyle!"

Before the results, Boyle told the TV cameras that people will see a "new Susan Boyle, Susan Boyle the singer. The pressure put on me this week has been overwhelming. It's the most important night of my life tonight. When I step on the stage it's the accumulation of 40 years of dreaming. A lifelong ambition."

Gillette Explains How to Shave Below the Belt

Is the razor business feeling the recession, or is Gillette just catching on that many men “trim the bushes to make the tree look taller”?

Funny? Yes! But good advice overall! Check it out below.

Jay Leno Delivers His Final Tonight Show Monologue

Jay Leno left 'em laughing as he performed his final monologue from The Tonight Show stage Friday, taking time to thank those who made his show successful – Monica Lewinsky, Michael Jackson, and Bill Clinton – and to reflect on how much time has passed since he first took over the stage from his mentor Johnny Carson in 1992.

"When we started this show," Leno told a cheering crowd in the standing-room-only studio in Burbank, "my hair was black and the president was white. When we started the show, Jon and Kate were both eight."

Before his successor, the younger, taller and visibly more nervous Conan O'Brien, took a seat on the couch next to him, Leno noted that the same security guard who has checked him in for the last 17 years offered the same greeting as he drove a blue Corvette onto the studio lot Friday night: "And you are?"

As for souvenirs, Leno said, "NBC has been nothing but great. [President and CEO of NBC Universal] Jeff Zucker said for $40, I can purchase the robe that's hanging in my dressing room."

After Friday's taping, which marked the 3,775th Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the host said, "I'm going to be going to a secluded spot where no one can find me – NBC prime time."

In closing, which he called, "the hard part," Leno reflected on the good and the bad of the last 17 years, including Sept. 11, 2001.

"When times are serious, you make silly jokes. When times are silly, you make serious jokes. But you always want to have jokes," he said. "That's what we've been trying to do for the last 17 years – make you laugh. And it's been an honor and a privilege to do that."

Leno thanked the viewers, his staff of writers, Kevin Eubanks and his band, the crew and his wife, saying simply, "Thank you, honey."

Leno's new hour-long comedy show will premiere on NBC at the 10 p.m. timeslot on a date to be announced in September.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Star Sighting: Listen to Daddy

Need a hand? Hugh Jackman takes his son Oscar, 9, out for a father-son day in New York City on Thursday. The actor recently discussed the birds and the bees with his kid, joking that the youngster should avoid using his famous father to get girls.

Zachary Quinto is The Milk Man

Star Trek star Zachary Quinto presses up against a few metal bars at a construction site in Los Angeles for photographer Tyler Shields’ new book “The Dirty Side of Glamour.”

Be sure to check out the video portrait below! If you’re curious, it’s whole milk!!!

In the latest issue of German GQ, the 31-year-old actor was asked how his characters from Star Trek and Heroes differ.
Zach analyzes, “What Spock (Star Trek) shares with Sylar (Heroes) — both are deeply divided personalities. They have two souls that are battling one another inside them. And that is how I can best identify with them. I often act introverted, since I’m torn between my head and heart. I’m probably not alone in this.”

SoFLa Local: Padre Alberto Cutié's Leap of Faith - New Church & Marriage

The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the celebrity priest photographed nuzzling a woman on a Florida beach, has left the Catholic Church to join the Episcopal Church and marry his girlfriend -- a move that attracted a strong rebuff from Roman Catholic leaders.

While the Catholic Church requires priests to hew to a vow of celibacy, the Episcopalians, who broke from Rome in the 16th century, have no such rules. Cutié was formally welcomed into the Episcopal Church in a small, private ceremony early Thursday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, the church's South Florida headquarters in downtown Miami.

''I am continuing the call to spread God's love,'' Cutié said after the ceremony, adding that he has gone through a ``deep spiritual and ideological struggle.''

In attendance at Trinity was Cutié's girlfriend, Ruhama Buni Canellis, 35, a divorced mother living in Miami Beach. It was the first public sighting of the couple since compromising photos appeared in a Mexican magazine early this month that led the telegenic cleric to take leave from his South Beach parish.

Cutié sat smiling beside Canellis during the half-hour ceremony. Deacons and former Catholic priests now in the Episcopal Church were by his side -- many notably accompanied by their wives.

Bishop Leo Frade, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, officiated as Cutié and Canellis knelt in front of him to be received into the church.

''We recognize you as a member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church; and we receive you into the fellowship of this communion. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and keep you. Amen,'' Frade recited in Spanish.

At a news conference a few hours later, Archdiocese of Miami officials expressed disappointment in Cutié and had strong words for the Episcopal Church, especially Bishop Frade.

''This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us,'' Archbishop John C. Favalora said.

Favalora said he had not communicated with Frade about the transition and had not spoken with Cutié since May 5, adding that Cutié never told the archbishop he desired marriage.

Battle of Words

''Father Cutié is removing himself from full communion with the Catholic Church and thereby forfeiting his rights as a cleric,'' Favalora said, later adding that Cutié is still ``still bound by his promise to live a celibate life, which he freely embraced at ordination. Only the Holy Father can release him from that obligation.''

Not so, Frade said Thursday afternoon. ''That promise is not recognized by our church. If you can find it in the Bible that priests should be celibate, that will be corrected,'' he said. ``The only thing we can say is that we pray for ecumenical relations. . . . I am sorry they are sorry, and we love them.''

Cutié, who gained media fame across the Spanish-speaking world doling out relationship advice on TV and radio and in print, had telegraphed his intentions for weeks in interviews, during which he spoke about his wish to marry and start a family.

After Thursday's ceremony, Canellis stood beside Cutié as he read a statement outlining his desire to continue serving God while enjoying the freedom to raise a family. Cutié took no questions, but referred to Canellis, a former parishioner whom he met in church, as his fiancée.

''With God's help, I hope to continue priestly ministry and service in my new spiritual home,'' Cutié said in a statement.

It will take Cutié at least a year to become a priest. But Bishop Frade made Cutié a lay minister, meaning he can preach in Episcopal churches but not celebrate the Eucharist, the sharing of the body and blood of Christ. Cutie will give his first sermon as an Episcopalian 10 a.m. Sunday at the Church of The Resurrection in Biscayne Park.

Cutie's Reputation

Cutié will play a key role in revitalizing struggling Episcopal churches, Frade said.

''He has a successful history of rebuilding churches'' said Frade, alluding to Cutié's success at turning around several troubled Catholic parishes, including his most recent church, St. Francis de Sales in Miami Beach. John Villafuerte, a member of that church, reacted with shock to the news about Cutié but said he was still behind the priest.

''I wish him the best. I will definitely miss him. A lot of us will miss him,'' said Villafuerte, 41.
Frade publicly invited Cutié to join the Episcopal church after scandal embroiled ''Padre Alberto'' -- as he is known to millions of Spanish-speaking followers -- for breaking his vow of celibacy. Frade said at the time that Episcopalians would have no problem with a single clergy member having a date on the beach.

The more-liberal Episcopal church considers itself the ''middle way'' between Protestantism and Catholicism. It ordains women and has an openly gay bishop.

The church represents the U.S. wing of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and traces its roots to the Church of England. In South Florida, the Episcopal diocese has 38,000 members, compared with the 800,000-member Catholic archdiocese.

While the Episcopal and Catholic churches have almost identical worship services, there are significant differences. Episcopalians, for instance, do not believe in the infallibility of the Pope.

Frade, who has been friends with Cutié for seven years and met him through a Cuban ecumenical group, has said the popular priest also spoke with leaders of other Christian denominations, such as Baptists and Lutherans. It is unclear if those conversations focused on joining those churches.

Bishop C. Christopher Epting, the Episcopal church's national deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, said it is not uncommon for Catholic priests to become Episcopal priests and vice versa.

''It's possible to receive a Catholic priest straight into the Episcopal priesthood,'' he said, adding that Cutié could bypass the seminary but that he that would need to pass an examination in church history and doctrine.

Kris Allen & Adam Lambert on Today Show

American Idol winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert rocked NBC’s Today Show Summer Concert Series on Thursday and discussed the AT&T voting controversy dubbed “textgate” with host Natalie Morales.

Kris Allen performed “No Boundries” and the Kanye West hit “Heartless,” and runner-up Adam Lambert sang “Mad World.”

Watch Kris Allen and Adam Lambert Today Show videos below.

Meet Hollywood's Newest Aussie: Sam Worthington

He may be new to moviegoers in this country, but the 32-year-old Australian hunk who plays opposite Christian Bale's in Terminator Salvation has been a mainstay in movies and TV in his home country for the last decade.

Now, Sam Worthington is following in the footsteps of Mel Gibson, Hugh Jackman, and Russell Crowe ("My favorite actor, no question," he says) as the latest hottie from Down Under to become an American action hero. So, is he ready for it? "I don't think that anyone can really be prepared," Worthington told People. "I think you'd be silly."

Here are five things to know about Hollywood's hottest cyborg.

Before he was an action star, he was a bricklayer: "I built houses," says Worthington, whose life changed course when he followed a girl to the same drama school that Mel Gibson and Cate Blanchett attended. "I never had any intention of being an actor," he says.

He's not mad at you – he's just extremely nearsighted: "People think that I squint because I'm angry all the time," he says. "It's just that I can't f------ see."

He is an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan: "I'm hoping to meet him," he says of the Terminator actor-turned-politician. "Is that going to be possible? I watched Pumping Iron a couple of weeks ago and loved it. He's extremely charismatic."

Terminator Salvation is not the biggest movie he has this year: Worthington also stars in Avatar, a special-effects extravaganza from original Terminator director James Cameron, who cast the relatively unknown Aussie to star in his estimated $190 million opus. "He kept pushing back like you wouldn't believe against a studio who didn't know who the hell I was and thought that he was crazy," says Worthington. "That guy changed my life. It's simple as that."

His newfound success hasn't gone to his head – or his closet: "I still have the same clothes I had from way back when," he says. "My mates go, 'Don't you buy clothes, you bum?' "

Lady Gaga on Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll

Flamboyant pop diva Lady Gaga says she is bisexual and opens up about her cocaine days on the Lower East Side of New York in a new cover story in Rolling Stone.

The 23-year-old singer-songwriter and budding fashion icon, who fronts the magazine's new Hot List, claims she is "changing what people think is sexy" in the entertainment world. "I don't feel like I look like the other perfect little pop singers," she says.

Likewise, her love life is unconventional, and she admits her attraction to women tends to make boyfriends "uncomfortable."

Gaga also looks back at her "sick" pre-fame days after she dropped out of NYU, when she would order bags of cocaine and obsessively perfect her hair and makeup in a tiny N.Y.C. apartment. She has since channeled that compulsive nature into her work. "The truth is, the psychotic woman that I truly am comes out when I'm not working," she says. "When I'm not working, I go crazy."

She isn't shy about her lofty ambitions for that work. "My true legacy will be the test of time," she says, "and whether I can sustain a space in pop culture and really make stuff that will have a genuine impact."

She already counts one like-minded pop star as a fan: Marilyn Manson. "She knows exactly what she's doing," he says. "She's very smart, she's not selling out, she's a great musician, she's a great singer, and she's laughing when she's doing it, the same way that I am."

Kelly McGillis: Coming Out as a Lesbian Not Easy

Kelly McGillis was relaxing in the Florida sunshine and preparing to go on a cruise last February when a simple question caught her off guard: As a single woman, was she looking to date a man or a woman?

"It was like a moment of truth," says the actress, 52, who became a star after appearing with Tom Cruise in Top Gun in 1986. "[A reporter] asked me the question and I thought, Hmm, do I say the truth, or do I just say, It's none of your business, which is my standard answer?"

Her Truth

"I said you know, I'm just going to say the truth," McGillis told People at rehearsals for her new play The Little Foxes, which opens May 29th at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California.

McGillis's "truth" was a long time coming, and the answer was simple: "Definitely a woman."

The woman who made many a male’s heart flutter as the sultry flight instructor in Top Gun has been married twice and has two children. But she says she's actually been a lesbian most of her life. "I tried really hard not to be who I am. I tried super hard," she says. "It was a difficult journey for me to come to terms and be whole and happy with who I am."

Still McGillis, who stars as Regina Giddens in the play alongside Julia Duffy and Marc Singer, says she was surprised people made a big deal about her revelation.

"I got on a cruise ... I thought the whole thing had just disappeared [after the interview], and then I got a phone call: 'Oh my God, Kelly, you can't believe it, it's everywhere.' "

Back to Work

The Little Foxes is McGillis's return to acting after spending eight years as virtually a full-time mom to her two children, and she says it's been a challenge.

"The idea of being judged just totally freaks me out," says McGillis. "Even though I try really hard not to care what people think about me – and that really is my little adage, what you think about me is none of my business – it does matter, and it is hard."

One thing she's not working on right now: romance.

"I am single, and I'm really happy to be so. I was with somebody for eight years, and I just want to be single ... I have such cool friends, and such a cool life," says McGillis. "I don't know what God's plan is for me at all, I just know I'm so happy to be here and happy to be working."

Doug Reinhardt on Proposing to Paris Hilton:
'When It Happens, It Happens'

Although Paris Hilton was the one getting the "Celebrity Fragrance of the Year" honor from the Fragrance Foundation's FiFi Awards in New York Wednesday night, it was her beau Doug Reinhardt who smelled of roses.

"He makes me feel like I've never felt before," Hilton, 28, told People. "Everything he does is romantic. He's amazing and we're really happy. He's beautiful, he's smart, he's well-educated and he treats me like a princess. We're just very much alike."

In turn, Reinhardt, 24, admits the pair has discussed a possible engagement. "When it happens, it happens," he says. "We've talked about it and we're having fun right now."

On Wednesday night, the duo, along with Hilton's mom and dad Kathy and Rick, and Reinhardt's mother Kelly Roberts, toasted Hilton's FiFi Award and then shared a family dinner together afterward.

Reflecting on their relationship, Reinhardt, wearing a Tom Ford suit Hilton picked out for him, says, "We just connected right from the beginning. We actually started hanging out on Christmas day – our families both go to Aspen every year. We met randomly on Christmas and have pretty much been inseparable. She's an amazing girl and a great businesswoman. She's the sweetest, most humble, hardworking girl. I'm very proud of her."

Hilton has called Reinhardt her sexy boy and Reinhardt enjoys that sense of humor. "She's always making me laugh," he says. "She doesn't take herself too seriously and it's a great thing to be a part of."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Star Sighting: Making Vroom

Hugh Jackman makes a revved-up entrance Tuesday at the premiere of X-Men Origins: Wolverine at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City. The actor was originally scheduled to visit the country at the end of April but the premiere was postponed because of the nation's swine flu outbreak.

Adam Lambert: Live with Regis and Kelly!

American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert filmed his segment for Live with Regis and Kelly in New York City on Wednesday morning, May 27th.

When asked who he looks to for fashion inspiration, Adam said, “I don’t know. I like fashion. High fashion. Alexander McQueen. I like looking at nice clothes. I like nice things! (laughs) David Bowie is a huge influence on me. Glam rock!”

Art Moore, the program director of Regis, even dressed up like Adam!

Watch Adam’s interview below and his performance of “Mad World”:

Stars Voice Disapproval Over Gay Marriage Ban

Lance Bass, Ellen DeGeneres and Kathy Griffin have all voiced their disapproval at California officials' decision to uphold the state's gay marriage ban.

On Tuesday, the California Supreme Court opted not to overturn the ruling which came into effect under the Proposition 8 legislation late last year - six months after gay marriages were declared legal.

And celebrities, both gay and straight, have made it known how strongly they disagree with the current law.

Gay singer Lance Bass released a statement, saying, "I can only hope to one day live in a country that grants equal rights, opportunity, and freedom to all citizens."

And DeGeneres, who married her partner Portia de Rossi just before the ruling was overturned, believes it will be looked back on with contempt in the future.

She says, "I'm sure you heard the Prop 8 news. One day when everyone is treated with full equality, we'll look back and realise how wrong this was."

And comedian Kathy Griffin spoke of her pride in her grandmother who took to the streets to protest Proposition 8.

She explains, "My 89 year old mother has asked me to get her a wheelchair to take her to a protest tonight, even though she isn't in the greatest of health.

"She is neither gay, nor the parent of a gay person, but she is as passionate about this decision as I am. I am so proud to march with her. Shame on the CA Supreme Court for this decision that history will not look back on fondly."

007's Daniel Craig to Make Broadway Debut with Help from Wolverine

Action movie hunks Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig are bringing Hollywood glamour to Broadway - they are teaming up to hit the New York stage for a new play.

The 007 star will make his Broadway debut alongside seasoned theatre star Jackman in new drama A Steady Rain.

The play, written by Keith Huff and produced by James Bond's Barbara Broccoli, follows two cops from Chicago, Illinois whose close friendship is pushed to its limits after becoming involved in a domestic dispute in a poor neighbourhood, reports the New York Post.

Craig performed small roles on the London stage before breaking into Hollywood, while X-Men star Jackman won a Tony Award in 2004 for his turn in Broadway musical The Boy From Oz.

A Steady Rain is due to open this autumn.

Richard Gere Supports Gay Marriage Rights

Richard Gere is speaking out for same-sex rights in the U.S. in support of his brother, who married during the brief period gay unions were legal in California.

Gere is outraged by the California Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold a gay marriage ban, which came into effect under the Proposition 8 legislation late last year - six months after homosexual unions were declared valid.

And he is adamant there is "no reason" why individuals like his younger brother David should be denied the same rights as straight couples.

He says, "My brother is gay and he got married in that brief period when gay marriage was allowed in California. He has two great kids and is a wonderful father."

Did ‘Power Texting’ Influence American Idol’s Outcome?

The winner has been declared, but American Idol fans may be in for some more debate.

The New York Times reports that the show’s voting results for the May 20 finale, which landed Kris Allen as the winner over Adam Lambert, may have been influenced by AT&T employees helping Allen fans with free texting services and instructions on how to power text.

While it remains unclear whether such power texts were counted (the Times points out that the show warns viewers that blocks of votes using technical enhancements may not be counted), AT&T representatives attended two parties in Arkansas — Allen’s home state — and supplied instructions on how to power text, which sends 10 or more text messages at a time, according to the Times. (AT&T is the only mobile phone network that can be used to vote via text message.)

An AT&T rep told the paper, “In Arkansas, we were invited to attend the local watch parties organized by the community. A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested.”

In response to the Times report, FOX, along with FreemantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, the producers of Idol, issued the following statement: “FOX and the producers of American Idol are absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified. Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the American Idol. We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition.”

Though it doesn’t appear that AT&T provided such services to Lambert fans, the power texting technique was also encouraged in San Diego, his hometown. Fliers were distributed to fans there the weekend of his visit, instructing voters on how to power text. One flier instructs fans on how send “between 3K-5K votes in 2 hours — by power texting 10 votes at a time,” and another one encouraged fans to buy a phone and an unlimited texting plan to “send 3K votes easily.”

Meanwhile, a source told People, more than 5,000 fans were given fliers at a rally for Lambert at Mt. Carmel High School, where the Idol runner-up attended.

Star Sighting: Bare Vampire

No shirt? No problem! Showing off his fit physique, Twilight hunk Robert Pattinson strips down and reveals a killer set of abs while on the set of the vampire sequel, New Moon, which continues to shoot in Italy on Wednesday.

Adam Lambert on His Sexuality: 'Keep Speculating'

Adam Lambert says role models come in a variety of different forms – even in eye makeup, fingernail polish and tight pants.

"It's a really, really cool thing," the American Idol runner-up says, "to be able to show people that you can be yourself, and you should be proud of yourself, and you should own who you are and what you're about, and never make apologies for it."

So to those who speculate about his sexuality, he has a message. "Calm down," he says, and "keep speculating."

Lambert, 27, who finished second to Kris Allen in the show that ended May 20, says his comfort in himself can serve as an example. "It feels really amazing to be able to try and pass that on to kids and young adults who don't have a role model like that," he says. "It feels great because I never had a role model like that."

"Conforming is not cool," he adds. "Embracing who you are and what makes you different is actually what's really cool . . . The kids that are different and out there and expressive and are bold with those choices, those are the people that grow up to be people we all want to hang out with, that become celebrities or become really successful in what they do because they believe in who they are."

As for all the talk about his personal life, Lambert says just one word when asked if he'll address his sexuality directly, say in an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone: "Maybe."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

5 Things You Didn’t Know About American Idol Winner Kris Allen

After shocking almost everyone — including himself — by winning the season 8 of American Idol last week, Kris Allen told reporters, “I’m not a man of many words.”

People caught up with Idol’s dark horse from Conway, Arkansas, Saturday, and finally got him talking. Here’s what they learned:

1. He Drives a Clunker: Before leaving Arkansas for Los Angeles, Allen, 23, drove a silver 2001 Pontiac Bonneville. “It’s the most comfortable car to drive,” he says, “but it has a lot of problems. The speedometer doesn’t work; the gas gauge doesn’t work; the windows won’t roll down; there’s something wrong with the gas pedal. But it drives!” Allen admits he couldn’t afford the $300 to fix the fuel gauge — and got stranded as a result. “I’ve ran out of gas a lot,” he says. “Probably four of five times.” Hopefully, those days are over. On the finale, viewers saw season 7 winner David Cook hand Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert the keys to a 2009 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

2. He Married His Best Friend: “She’s been my best friend for a long time,” Allen says of his wife, Katy, who he began dating his junior year of high school. “She’s the coolest chick in the world.”

3. He Said ‘I Do’ In Front of 400 Guests: Allen married his high school sweetheart, Katy O’Connell, on Sept. 26th 2008. “We have a lot of family and friends, and we didn’t want to leave anybody out,” Allen says of his wedding, which took place at sunset on the Arkansas River. “We set out 300 chairs and people were standing up!” At the reception, which was catered by Katy’s grandmother, Allen sang the same song that he auditioned with: “A Song For You.” “We just had a blast,” he says of the day.

4. He’s Got a Sweet Tooth — And Loves Lazy Days: Guilty pleasures? He has a few. “I love Twizzlers,” Allen says, adding, “I love any kind of candy. My favorite TV show ever is Boy Meets World, and my favorite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. For me, my guilty pleasure is that if I don’t want to do anything one day, I won’t. I’ll just sit around, not shower, hardly even eat, and just watch TV.”

5. He Really is Friends with Adam Lambert: “Right before we went to bed [at the Idol mansion,] we’d sit around and talk about the competition, talk about our pasts. We really got to know each other,” he says. “He’s very real. He says exactly how he feels.” Allen explains the two didn’t feel like they were competing against each other. “We both had a lot of confidence in ourselves, and we said, we can’t compare.”

Star Sighting: Adam's Early Appearance

Adam Lambert stopped by The Early Show on Tuesday for his first live performance since not winning American Idol.

Ellen DeGeneres & George Takei Allowed To Stay Wed

Ellen DeGeneres and George Takei's 2008 same sex marriages will stand, despite a new ruling to uphold the ban on gay weddings in California.

The California Supreme Court has opted not to overturn the ban which came into effect late last year, six months after gay marriages were declared legal thanks to a May decision.

During the legal window on same sex marriages, DeGeneres wed girlfriend Portia De Rossi and Star Trek actor Takei exchanged vows with longtime partner Brad Altman.

At a ruling in court on Tuesday, officials declared those gay couples who wed between May and November last year will be considered married.

The people of California voted to overturn a ruling to allow gay marriage on November 4th.

Gay leaders in the state now plan to take their fight to federal court.

Responding to the latest development, DeGeneres, who wed De Rossi in August, says, "One day, when everyone is treated with full equality, we’ll look back and realize how wrong this was."

Kylie Minogue Engaged to Spanish Model Andrés Velencoso

Australian tabloids are reporting that songstress Kylie Minogue, 40, is engaged to 31-year-old male model Andrés Velencoso, her beau of about a year.

The duo are reportedly shopping for a home together in the Spanish fishing village of Tossa Del Mar, Velencoso's hometown.

Minogue got tongues wagging when she told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival, "I'm happier with him than I have ever been before. You never know, he could be the one."

Minogue was previously in a relationship with French actor Olivier Martinez, who was rumored to have cheated on her before their eventual breakup.

Velencoso is an established male model, and was the face of Ermenegildo Zegna, Elie Tahari, and Etro.

Star Sighting: Jerry's Skimpy Dip

Jerry O'Connell cools off (but looks red-hot!) while taking a dip Tuesday in Lake Havasu, Arizona, where the new dad is shooting the horror movie Piranha 3-D.

California Supreme Court Upholds
Gay Marriage Ban

The California Supreme Court has upheld Proposition 8, the initiative which banned gay marriage in the state.

In the 6-1 decision, the judges rejected an argument from gay marriage supporters that the ban was unconstitutional but unanimously ruled that the 18,000 gay couples who married while gay marriage was legal will stay wed.

The only judge who wanted Prop 8 to be struck down was Justice Carlos R. Moreno, who was the court's sole Democrat.

Gay activists had said that the ban revised the California constitution's equal protection clause to the point of needing Legislative approval.

The ruling said: "In a sense, petitioners' and the attorney general's complaint is that it is just too easy to amend the California constitution through the initiative process. But it is not a proper function of this court to curtail that process; we are constitutionally bound to uphold it."

The crowd of gay marriage supporters who watched the hearing live on screens outside the San Francisco courthouse chanted "Shame on you" as the decision was announced.

Gay marriage was legalised in California in May 2008. However, Prop 8 defined marriage as being between a man and a woman last November. Supporters of gay marriage argued the initiative was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

The Supreme Court examined whether a voting majority can overrule minority rights previously recognised by the court, as it had previously declared that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

Gay marriage advocates are expected to hold protests today against the ruling.

California allows gay couples to have civil partnerships but activists say these are not equal to marriage.

Hindus Call For Joanna Lumley Honour

Hindu scholars are urging Nepal's leaders to honor actress Joanna Lumley for tirelessly working for Gurkhas in Britain.

The Absolutely Fabulous star recently helped secure residency rights for the Nepalese Hindus living in the U.K. thanks to a major campaign, which she led.

And now religious leaders are calling for the actress, who was born in India, to be given Nepal's top accolade.

U.S. statesman Rajan Zed insists the actress should be given a Padma Award for her efforts.

He says, "It was remarkable how she handled U.K. Immigration Minister Phil Woolas during the Gurkha campaign. He acknowledged that the actress had given a focus to the campaign.

"Besides Gurkhas, Lumley has also taken up various other causes like exiled Tibetan people, animal welfare and literacy. This ruling makes around 84,000 Gurkha veterans, their wives and children eligible to settle in UK.

"We Hindus are very proud of Joanna Lumley - she was born in Kashmir in 1946 and her father was an officer with the 6th Gurkha Rifles. She should be celebrated. India should be proud of her."

Josh Brolin Caught with Fan in New Orleans

Movie star Josh Brolin is set to take on one of America's leading tabloids over allegations he spent the night with a fan.

In Touch reports Brolin, who is married to actress Diane Lane, was spotted "getting cozy" with a female fan at bars in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he's filming new movie Jonah Hex.

Brolin allegedly partied with Melissa Green at the Royal Street Inn and another establishment last week and the two left early the following morning, according to reports.

An eyewitness tells the publication, "They left together. Josh looked like he hadn’t slept at all and she was wearing the same outfit as the night before and looked embarrassed."

Guy Ritchie 'Working On Guys And Dolls'

Guy Ritchie is set to branch out from the world of gangster cinema - the filmmaker is reportedly in Hollywood to begin writing a script for a remake of Guys And Dolls.

The director, best known for his London-based crime films, is said to have roped in movie hardman Jason Statham to show off his vocal talents in a reworking of the classic musical, which originally starred Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.

A source tells British newspaper The Sun, "Guy has been on the case with the idea of making a musical recently. He had been throwing ideas around with Jason Statham about writing their own musical.

"Guy has had a lot of meetings with top studio bosses about other projects but the Guys And Dolls idea really tickled him."

But Ritchie could be sticking to a familiar formula when shooting begins - he is apparently considering basing the song-and-dance classic in his native Britain.

The insider adds: "He is torn between keeping the script true to the original in New York and taking it to familiar surroundings in London."

Kris Allen & Adam Lambert Talk About the Albums They Want to Record

In the wake of the biggest upset in American Idol history, winner Kris Allen was still surprised he’d beat out front-runner Adam Lambert, when the two spoke to reporters on a recent conference call. “Adam was the most consistent person all year, seriously one of the most gifted performers I’ve ever met,” Allen said. “I think it could’ve gone either way, and America could not have got it wrong.”

Lambert, for his part, had made peace with the results. “I’m totally okay with it,” he said. “I know it sounds cliché, but I really feel like I won by getting to the final. I was able to use American Idol as a platform to get myself out there, and now I have a career. So there’s no need to dwell on the negative.”

Sounding exhausted but excited, both Allen and Lambert gamely addressed questions from the press. Keep reading for the highlights. – Shawna Malcom

• Heartthrob Allen, 23, Idol’s first married winner, revealed that wife Katy had shared Simon Cowell’s concern that her presence could hinder his chances of advancing in the competition. “She’d actually been saying that kind of stuff before [Simon did],” Allen said with a laugh. “She was like, ‘I don’t know if you need to mention me.’ She was trying to look out for me.”

• Now that Allen’s won, he and Katy are preparing themselves for the effect his new stardom will have on their 8-month-old marriage. “It’s definitely a topic of conversation all the time,” the Conway, Ark., native said. “Things are definitely going to change but we’re really strong, and she’s really cool, so we don’t have any questions that everything’s going to be fine.”

• When Lambert was asked whether he thought rumors about his sexuality had affected Idol’s outcome, the singer laughed and responded, “You know, probably.”

• Lambert revealed he had no idea Katy Perry was going to show her support for him by donning a cape emblazoned with his name when she performed on Idol earlier in the season. “I was shocked and completely honored,” he said. “I had a huge smile on my face the minute I saw it.” After Perry’s performance, Lambert thanked her with a hug and received some valuable advice on dealing with sudden fame from the “I Kissed a Girl” singer. “She was like, ‘Just make sure you keep your friends you had before all this started and keep them close,’” he said.

• Both offered an early taste of their upcoming albums. Allen said, “‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ — that’s the kind of stuff I want to do, stuff that has that feel, that kind of moves people.” Allen, who’s been writing music for six years, hopes to contribute songs to his record. “I’m not a man of many words,” he said. “I’m not very expressive or emotional but it comes out in my music. It’s the way I express how I feel.”

• “Labels tend to try to put one box around every artist and keep them in one genre, but I think [my album] can be a collection of different styles,” Lambert said of his plans to record. “I don’t want to do one specific genre. I’m more about fusion. There are a lot of pop artists that are using the ‘glam’ kind of vibe in their music currently so I think I’m actually part of a wave. There just happens to not be many guys doing it right now.”

Jesus Luz: Madonna and I Are Just Friends

Madonna in bridal white (again)? Don't count on it just yet.

"She is a person who I admire a lot, a friend who is in my life," the superstar's frequent companion, Jesus Luz, tells the Brazilian TV show Fantastico. "More than that, I can't say. She is my friend, just a friend."

As for those photos of them buying jewelry featuring Kabbalah symbols, he says, "I received these pieces of jewelry because they are inspired by Kabbalah. If I want to present them to somebody, it could be my mother or a friend of mine. I don't have any marriage plans or any wedding present."

The friendship between Luz, 22, and Madonna, 50, began early this year after they were introduced on a photo shoot by photographer Steven Klein. "I found her wonderful, a person full of positive energy, a nice person, you don't see faults," he tells Fantastico.

The Brazilian model offered a few details from his own biography, saying, "I am a quiet guy. I grew up in Rio, always liked nature, the beach, to treat my body well, to work out, to be healthy. I went to evangelical church, Catholic, yoga, various ways to try and meet God within me."

And is he a ladies' man? "I always liked to date seriously," he says. "I never was just casual."

One thing his pal Madonna has taught him is to ignore media rumors, or taunts he's just another Boy Toy. "In truth," he says, "I never pay attention to what others say about me, because if I let negativity to enter into my life, I can't follow my route, my path."

Cocaine Found in Red Bull Energy Drink

Red Bull has been banned in six states in Germany after a test revealed that the energy drink contained trace amounts of cocaine.

The bans began on Friday after authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia state conducted a sample test that found 0.4 micrograms per liter in the popular drink.

Five other states followed suit with the bans amid concerns over possible narcotics law violations.

Red Bull issued a statement saying the cola is “harmless and marketable in both the U.S. and Europe.” It said similar coca leaf extracts are used worldwide as flavoring, and a test it commissioned itself found no cocaine traces.

On Monday, Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment said that the cocaine level was too low to pose a health risk. It planned to produce a more detailed report on Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pic of the Week: Obama vs McCain....Again? Nah!

Obama shakes hands with John Sidney McCain IV, son of Senator John McCain, who graduated during the annual Naval Academy Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony on Friday in Annapolis, Maryland.

California Supreme Court to Announce Prop 8 Decision Today

The California Supreme Court will announce its decision on whether Proposition 8, the initiative that banned gay marriage in the state, is constitutional today at 1:00 pm (ET).

Gay marriage was legalised in California in summer 2008. However, Prop 8 defined marriage as being between a man and a woman last November. Supporters of gay marriage say the initiative is unconsitutional and discriminatory.

The issue is over whether a voting majority can overrule minority rights previously recognised by the court, as it had previously declared that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

Eighteen thousand couples rushed to tie the knot during the time gay marriages were legal in the state. The court must also decide whether to uphold those marriages.

Vigils and marches have been planned for this evening to either celebrate the ruling or protest against it.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Iowa and Maine now allow gay couples to marry.

Colin Farrell to be Best Man for Gay Brother

Colin Farrell is preparing to walk his gay brother down the aisle when he marries later this year.

The actor will be best man when Eamon Farrell ties the knot with his partner Steven in a European ceremony.

And Eamon has blasted the British government for forcing him to travel abroad to marry. Gay couples can make their relationships legal in the U.K. with same sex civil unions, but still cannot marry in the same way as a man and woman.

Eamon says, "We have to get married abroad. It's absolutely terrible. We have to go somewhere legal, which narrows it down to about five countries.

"I want to be able to get married. The Government's paper on civil unions is only for gay people. If you're straight, you can't have one. So that's not fair either.

"If you want a civil union you should be able to do it, if I want to get married I should be able to do it."

New Release Tuesday!

Here are this week's newest releases on Blu-Ray, CD and DVD:

Cinderella Man (B)
Field of Dreams (B)
Forever Strong (D)
Killshot (D)
New in Towm (B/D) (see above)
Princess of Nebraska (D)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (B)
The Sky Crawlers (B/D)
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (D)

Mandy Moore - Amanda Leigh
Marilyn Manson - The High End of Low
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Simple Minds - Graffiti Soul (see above)
Varsity Fanclub - Varsity Fanclub

TV Shows
The Closer - 4th Season
Designing Women - 1st Season
Gunsmoke - 3rd Season, Volume 2
The Invisibles - Series 1
Land of the Lost - Complete Series
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - 9th Year
The Mod Squad - 2nd Season, Volume 2

(B) - Available in Blu-Ray
(D) - Available in DVD
(B/D) - Available in Blu-Ray & DVD

Monday, May 25, 2009

Coming Soon: Nine

This is the first trailer for the upcoming Rob Marshall movie "Nine" which will be released on November 29th. It is predicted that this film is going to be just as big (if not bigger) than Marshall's star-studded hit, Chicago.

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, Fergie, and Penelope Cruz, Nine is a musical about film director, "Guido Contini" (Daniel Day-Lewis) who is trying to finish a movie but has too many women in his life. There's Luisa, his lovely wife (played by Marion Cotillard), Carla his sizzling mistress (Penelope Cruz), and Claudia his muse (Nicole Kidman).

Harvey Weinstein produced the film version of "Nine," which is based on a musical originally written by Arthur Kopit and Mary Yeston and inspired by Federico Fellini's autobiographical movie, 8½. Raul Julia headlined the original 1982 Broadway production. In 2003, Antonio Banderas played the same role in the Broadway revival, which also featured Chita Rivera, Mary Stuart Masterson, Jane Krakowski, and Laura Benanti.

Based on the trailer, it looks like this will be one of the movies to watch during the Christmas holiday season.

Star Sighting: Malibu Beach Babes

Matthew McConaughey and his partner, supermodel Camila Alves, took their young son to Malibu Beach over the Memorial Day weekend.

The couple can be seen walking Levi Alves McConaughey in the shallow water. The youngster has apparently mastered walking at the early age of ten months. He will be a year old on July 8th.

Susan Boyle Makes Britain's Got Talent Final

Susan Boyle dazzled Britain’s Got Talent yet again Sunday night with That Voice, winning her place in the show’s finale competition next Saturday.

The 48-year-old Scottish singer defeated seven other performers by belting out "Memory" from the musical Cats, and drew a standing ovation from the live audience.

"You are one special lady, I have to say, you really are," panel judge Simon Cowell told her after her performance.

Cowell then apologized to the now-famously never-been-kissed church volunteer for underestimating her when she first auditioned in April.

"You know what, I just want to apologize because of the way we treated you before you sang the first time," he said. "You made me and everyone else look very stupid and I'm very happy for you, very proud for you."

Back then, she knocked the judges socks off when she crooned "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables.

This time, the songstress' new makeover was also a knockout. Though she promised she'd never change too much, on Sunday Boyle wore a sparkly purple dress, professional-looking makeup and showed off well-groomed eyebrows – yes, the once-frumpy Boyle looked downright glamorous as all eyes were upon her.

"What pressure?" she said, when asked after her performance if she had been nervous. "It was really good tonight, I really enjoyed it ... I'm very happy to be here and thank you all for your support."

Watch Boyle's semi-finals performance here

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Final Film Dedicated to Heath Ledger

The director of Heath Ledger's final film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, says the late actor was more than just a cast member – he almost co-directed the movie.

"Heath was just brilliant at it, and he got everybody else going," Terry Gilliam said Friday at the Cannes Film Festival, where the movie premiered this week. "Everybody was just energized by Heath. He was extraordinary. He was almost exhausting because he had so much energy."

When Ledger died in January 2008 halfway into his performance, Gilliam said he had to "go out and find a way of finishing the film for Heath," the Associated Press reports. The solution: casting Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to play incarnations of Ledger during the fantasy movie.

And while Ledger was replaced, he was not forgotten. At the end of the movie, there's a dedication: "A film from Heath Ledger and friends."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Star Sighting: Jersey Guy

What a catch! Matthew McConaughey warms up before throwing out the first pitch at the Los Angeles Dodgers-New York Mets game on Wednesday at L.A.'s Dodger Stadium. The actor must have brought his team good luck: They won 2-1.

Which 'American Idol' Star Is the Top Earner?

Winning American Idol isn't a guaranteed ticket to millions - just last year, former winner Fantasia Barrino nearly lost her home due to lapsed mortgage payments. But it doesn't preclude future success either: Jennifer Hudson, who finished seventh her season, went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

So which American Idol alum banks best?

According to a study by Forbes, country-singing cutie Carrie Underwood is the top performer, with estimated earnings of $14 million last year. She has played over 300 concerts, released 2 albums, and sold 9.6 million CDs and 10.7 million downloads. Not bad.

Jennifer Hudson is the second most-successful AI alum, having earned $5 million last year. She's just returned to the stage for the first time since the tragic murders of her mother, brother, and nephew last fall.

Kelly Clarkson, the original American Idol, is still a top-earner as well, despite her most-recent album, All I Ever Wanted, failing to reach the zenith established by Breakaway (2004). She earned an estimated $4.2 million last year.

"American Idol" ends on a Low Note

Kris Allen's upset victory over glam rocker Adam Lambert drew the smallest "American Idol" finale audience since 2004, slowing the television ratings juggernaut and posing questions about the future of some of its key players.

Preliminary figures from News Corp's Fox network on Thursday showed an estimated 28.8 million people watched the two-hour finale of the popular TV singing contest on Wednesday, down from 32 million last year.

While still America's most watched TV show, "American Idol" audiences have slipped to an average 26.3 million per twice weekly episode over the five-month broadcast, compared to a 2006 high of about 30.8 million.

The slide came despite producers adding a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, to keep the show fresh. DioGuardi, a songwriter who helped pen the poorly received first single "No Boundaries" for Kris Allen, now must wait to hear whether her one-year contract will be renewed.

Panelist Paula Abdul's contract expires with the end of the current season and often-acerbic British judge Simon Cowell, arguably the show's biggest asset, has discussed leaving when his contract is up in May 2010.

Cowell commutes weekly across the Atlantic to run his British-based shows "The X Factor" and "Britain's Got Talent" and has said he would want to leave if "Idol" was toppled from its six-year reign at the top on U.S. television.

An AOL Television poll this week found that 49 percent of "Idol" fans questioned would no longer watch if Cowell leaves.

Contract talks are expected before nationwide summer auditions begin for the next season of "American Idol," which will be broadcast in early 2010.

Fox executives have said they hope all the judges will stay but negotiations will be primarily in the hands of joint producers 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia.

DioGuardi looks to be most at risk, despite a bikini-strip singing stunt on Wednesday regarded as a finale highlight.

Nigel Lythgoe, a former executive producer with "Idol," said he would never have agreed to four judges.

"Yesterday showed me that they had lost the chemistry," Lythgoe told Reuters. "I miss the slapping and the punching and the 'what the hell did you mean by that?' And even when Paula doesn't make sense, I've got a talking point."

The fourth voice on the panel has squeezed performance times and caused the live show to run over time on occasions.

"The Kara experiment was a disaster," said Michael Slezak, a reporter with Entertainment Weekly, who felt the judges had lost credibility and turned fans off with playful antics that diverted the focus from the contestants.

"The judges, really, it would be nice if they did a little soul searching at the end of the season and maybe found a way to reinvigorate interest in what's going on in front of them," Slezak told Reuters.

The declining ratings for "Idol" reflect a general fall-off in American TV viewing in the past two years, blamed on increased competition from videogames and the Internet.

But the AOL poll found that 70 percent of "Idol" fans are as obsessed with the show as ever. Almost 100 million votes were cast by text and telephone this year, a record, by fans choosing between Allen and Lambert in the finale.

The show's viewer-driven format has produced stars such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and is broadcast live or tape-delayed in more than 100 nations including Pakistan, Israel and South Africa.

Sean Penn Calls Off Divorce for a Second Time

Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn has called off his divorce from Robin Wright Penn for a second time, weeks after seeking legal separation.

Weeks after saying he and his wife of 13 years will separate on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, Penn has withdrawn a court application filed in Marin County near San Francisco, the New York Daily News reported, citing court records.

"It was an arrogant mistake," Penn told the newspaper.

It is not the first time that Penn, 48, and Wright Penn, 43, have teetered on the brink of divorce.

The couple started divorce proceedings in December 2007 but got back together again a few months later and withdrew the petition. The couple have two children, aged 18 and 15.

Penn won his second best-actor Oscar in February for his role as gay activist Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's "Milk."

Wright Penn, who starred in the 1999 romantic drama "Message in a Bottle," is currently in France, where she is a juror at the Cannes Film Festival.

A representative for the actress declined to comment.