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Gwen Stefani joining ‘The Voice’

- April 18th, 2014

Gwen Stefani may actually be a “hollaback girl” after being called in to replace Christina Aguilera on The Voice next season.

According to TMZ’s inside sources, NBC and The Voice’s show runners began looking for a big name star to take over for Aguilera after the singer announced she was pregnant.

stefani-voice

Aguilera allegedly wanted to stay on throughout the duration of her pregnancy, but ultimately stepped back from the position after she began to feel waned down.

TMZ also reported that Stefani, who gained recognition for fronting the popular ’90s alternative band No Doubt before emarking on her solo pop career, had only signed a contract for the eighth season, and Aguilera had already signed on to take over for the following year.

The next season of NBC’s popular singing competition begins filming in June. NBC had no comment on the news at the time of this posting.

Christina Aguilera didn’t exactly “binge watch” The Voice when she wasn’t on it

- July 28th, 2013

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – While Christina Aguilera remained very complimentary of The Voice, apparently she didn’t spend a heck of a lot of time watching when she was off the show last season.

“I caught an episode of last season, and I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, I can see why people like this,’” Aguilera said at the Television Critics Association tour.

An episode? As in, one episode? That’s it?

You might think Aguilera didn’t mean it literally, but later she added, “Thank God for Shakira. She did a beautiful job. You know, just sweet, lovely energy, and lovely for the show. And Usher apparently came and stepped up with a lot of creative stuff. I’ve yet to watch back the episodes. Maybe I can check out what happened there.”

Both Aguilera and Cee Lo Green are returning to The Voice this fall for its fifth season on NBC and CTV, rejoining fellow coaches Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. Shakira and Usher stepped in for Aguilera and Green when they took season four off, but Shakira and Usher will be back again for the sixth season of the show next year.

Members of Shelton’s team have won The Voice three seasons in a row. He’s currently on tour and wasn’t with Aguilera, Green and Levine when they spoke with reporters, although Levine observed, “(Shelton’s) lying. He’s at home.”

Aguilera said. “Well, I understand that I am coming back to The Blake Shelton Show at this point. He’s like, ‘I’m so glad that you re-signed your contract with me.’ It’s hilarious.

“I think we can all agree it’s the contestants that do win at the end of the day, and not us (the mentors). But you know, if anybody were to win three in a row, I mean, Blake keeps it funny with his trophies.”

The one time the panel session got a little tense was when a reporter brought up Levine’s controversial comment that he “hates this country” when he was disappointed in a public voting result on the show. It turned into a bit of a Twitter and media storm.

“Welcome to my world, Adam.,” Aguilera said, referring to the pressure of people analyzing every word that comes out of your mouth.

Frustrated that he still was talking about it, Levine said, “You know, listen, everyone makes mistakes. If your intentions are good, if someone misunderstands you, regardless of what the scenario is, I think people can see through stupid media hype. No offence.

“If part of my personality is to say things that are going to piss people off sometimes, then fine. That’s okay with me.”

The mentors and host Carson Daly also were asked why The Voice hasn’t produced a post-show star yet.

“What’s really the definition of ‘success?’ ” Aguilera asked.

Daly added, “I’ll put it in perspective. Danielle Bradbery won last year. Danielle Bradbery is 16 years old. She has eight years to figure it out, her voice, an album, whatever it might be. And in eight years she’ll be the same age as Taylor Swift is right now. She’s got time.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

The Voice: My embarrassing personal awakening

- December 16th, 2012

Christina Aguilera 4

Judge not lest you be judged? Hardly.

Perhaps the best way to gauge what reality-competition television shows do for the careers of their hosts is to analyze it on a really personal level.

The hottest reality-competition series right now is The Voice (NBC, CTV), and I’ll be 100%, embarrassingly honest about it.

The background: I’m a big music person historically, but because my job focus these days is TV rather than music, my musical world is limited to the music I prefer – like any average fan – rather than keeping up on the entire industry. So …

1) I had never heard of Blake Shelton before he was a judge on The Voice. Recently during the Grammy Nominations Concert Live broadcast (CBS, Global), Shelton got nominated for something, and I was like, “Hey, the guy from The Voice.”

2) While I had heard of the band Maroon 5, I did not know Adam Levine’s name, and I could not have picked him out of a police lineup before he was a judge on The Voice. Now, when I see him performing, as I did on the Grammy noms show, or in a recurring role on American Horror Story: Asylum (FX Canada), I think, “Hey, it’s that Moves Like Jagger guy from The Voice.”

3) I vaguely was aware of Ce Lo Green before The Voice, but I initially thought his performing name was Gnarls Barkley. Turns out that was a musical duo, of which Green was one-half (the shorter half, I presume). But I knew the 2006 song Crazy, which was everywhere.

4) Of course, I was well aware of Christina Aguilera (pictured above) long before The Voice. But admittedly, that had more to do with her, um, “assets” than her music. To this day, I don’t think I could name one of her songs. Nothing against her, it’s just not my genre.

The wider point being, with the music business essentially in the toilet, there is definite value for Shelton, Levine, Green and Aguilera – and their cohorts on other reality shows – to appear on these projects, at least for a year or two.

It keeps their names “out there.”

There isn’t a direct impact on CDs any more, with sales of actual physical CDs dwindling every day. But when you’re talking about touring, or appearances on other TV shows or in movies, either as themselves or as actors, any added “face time” with the public provides a leg up on the competition for a piece of an ever-shrinking pie.

Being on a high-profile reality show sends the message that you’re “relevant” – not necessarily to people who keenly follow modern music, but more to the vast majority of the population that follows music only casually or peripherally.

You know, people like me.

I know who Blake Shelton and Adam Levine and Ce Lo Green are now. And Christina Aguilera, you just keep doin’ whatever it is you do.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Dennings, Hendricks compete for “breast dressed” title on Emmys red carpet

- September 24th, 2012

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The first star to make a buxom splash on the red carpet at the 64th annual primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday was Kat Dennings of 2 Broke Girls.

Dennings (pictured above) was one of the first celebrities interviewed during red-carpet coverage on E!, outside the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

And when the well-endowed Dennings, wearing a low-cut red dress, mounted some steps to the interview area, interviewer Giuliana Rancic’s eyes just about jumped out of her head.

Rancic: “OK, when you walked up here, I was like, ‘Wow, you look gorgeous.’ ”

Dennings: “Well, no matter what I do, they’re there, so, what are you doing to do?”

Rancic: “You knew what I was getting at?”

Dennings: “Yeah.”

Rancic: “Could you tell I was staring at them?”

Dennings: “Well, you know what I mean? I looked in the mirror and I was like, ‘Uh, God.’ But what am I going to do? They’re always the same size.”

Rancic: “Honey, don’t even say it like it’s a problem. It is a good thing.”

We concur.

There was a similar moment when E!’s Ryan Seacrest was interviewing the similarly curvy Christina Hendricks of Mad Men, who was wearing a low-cut silver dress. Seacrest asked Hendricks (pictured below) how Mad Men’s fans would react if her character, Joan Harris, and Jon Hamm’s character, Don Draper, ever got together.

“Um … I don’t know how the fans would react … it would be a very combustive situation, I would think,” Hendricks stammered.

“Combustive is the right word for this moment,” Seacrest said.

Touche.

E! always brings a sense of fun to red-carpet coverage, as opposed to ABC’s approach, which tends to be a bit more stiff.

But E! went the extra mile at the Emmys Sunday with three deliberately ridiculous innovations:

* The Mani-Cam (celebrities stuck their hands close to a little camera so their fingers could walk a tiny red carpet and their manicures could be examined).

* The Stiletto-Cam (same idea, with shoes).

* And the Glam-Cam 360, in which stars were photographed “in the round” to be more intricately examined by Fashion Police.

Speaking of Fashion Police, Joan Rivers kicked off E!’s red-carpet coverage with the following speech:

“It does take a village to produce a great show,” Rivers said. “Fashion Police would not be a big hit without the help of many of you wonderful celebrities, so I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to some of them.

“Tara Reid, thank you for being a skank. Christina Aguilera, thank you for being a chubbo. Courtney Love, thank you for not even knowing that you are Courtney Love. And thank you Lindsay Lohan, for just being you … hic!”

Former Emmys host Jimmy Fallon also dipped into the deep well of celebrity rap sheets for humour when he was speaking with Seacrest.

As the interview began, Fallon was pretending to be out of breath and panicked, as if he had just had a narrow escape from a dangerous situation.

“I’m just glad to be alive,” Fallon said. “Amanda Bynes gave me a ride over.”

Fallon also quipped that he didn’t actually have a ticket for the Emmys, but that “Clint Eastwood is saving me a chair.”

The really funny thing was, when ABC opened its red-carpet coverage with Fallon, he told the exact same jokes to Chris Harrison!

Great lines, Jimmy Fallon, but remember, people have clickers and they aren’t afraid to use them.

Then again, jokes about Bynes aside, it’s possible that Fallon really was frazzled. Maybe he caught a glimpse of the four-part attack provided by Kat Dennings and Christina Hendricks.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

(For full coverage of the actual Emmy Awards ceremony, which aired on ABC and CTV, you can check out the story I filed for Sun Media here.)

Christina Hendricks