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Star Search, May 9: Will Naomi Make "Hack" Runneth Over?by Ken Kellam III -- 05/14/2003
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Friday night brought another round of semi-finalists to Star Search. Twelve acts appear for the second time each, and Arsenio admonishes Naomi to keep it brief more than once.
First is the "Young Singer" category. Leading off is 14-year-old Jeannie Marie, who belts out Debbie Gibson's "Lost in Your Eyes." While the teen has a great voice, I'm willing to deduct a star for the song selection alone, owing to too many cheesy ‘80s memories of switching the dial.
Naomi calls the girl a "tweener," because she's not quite a full-blown teen. After encouraging her to keep growing and get a Joni Mitchell song catalogue, Naomi says the girl has a durable voice and gives her four stars. Ben Stein feels like she was singing from the depths of her heart and he loved it, to the tune of four stars. Ahmed Zappa says she really seemed comfortable, took charge, and everyone loved her, and gives her four stars. Now it's time for tonight's guest judge, rapper Ice T, who tells her he's in the studio with so-called singers all the time, and she can outsing them all, and he gives her the maximum five stars.
Next up is 10-year-old Courtney Zahn, who belts out "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby." Naomi gets her first warning from Arsenio about going over (the show is live, after all), but tells the girl she definitely has the "chops" to be in a Disney comedy, and then encourages her to stay away from beauty pageants and avoid letting anyone over-coach her, and awards five stars. Ben Stein calls the girl "beautiful," says she knocked his eyes out, and he could see Al Jolson coming right out, awarding another five stars. Ahmed Zappa says she was making him laugh, because she had the best time up there and he loved it so much, awarding another perfect score. Ice-T says she may just be 10 but she's a whole lotta woman, and gives her five more stars, for a perfect score of 20.
Joey Pearson, all of 11 years old, is next, crooning Phil Collin's "Against All Odds." Naomi says he has a supple voice that just drips with emotion and she could listen to him for days, awarding five stars. Ben Stein calls him fabulously talented and very endearing, but feels his voice was a tiny bit weak for the song, yet calls him a real star anyway, giving four stars. Ahmed Zappa says he never expected to see Ice T singing along and karaoking with the lad, and gives five stars.
This makes the score as follows: Jeannie Marie 17 Courtney 20 Joey 18.
The viewers award them 13, 17, and 14 stars, respectively, making the final score 30-37-32, meaning Courtney advances to the finals.
Next is the junior dance category. First up is a teen trio knows as "Hot Under the Collar." They give the crowd a spirited routine to the tune of Ike and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary." Stein says this is American creativity, American genius, American energy and American stardom, and awards five stars, presumably American ones. Zappa says they have him shaking in his boots and he loved it, and gives four stars. Ice T says they get four stars just for being able to dance and smile the way they did. Naomi says Tina would be proud of them, awarding four stars.
Next are a ballet duo, Candace and Brandon. Stein calls them very creative, very smooth and very sensuous and gives four stars. Ahmed says they were so great tonight, and were attached together perfectly it was so unbelievable, and gives five stars. ICE T says when you really have talent you feel it, and he felt them, and gives five stars. Naomi says they acted like a unit and were so fluid it was mesmerizing, giving five stars.
Finally, Brent and Melissa take the stage. They hope to represent the U.S. at the next Olympics in Ballroom Dancing (no, I don't think of it as an Olympic sport either). Ben Stein says they were an amazingly creative combination of Jitterbug, salsa, rap swing, and gives them five stars. Ahmed Zappa says they were smoking hot, doing things he had never seen in ballroom dancing (though he doesn't strike me as being an aficionado of the, uh, sport), and will definitely bring in the gold, and awards four stars. Ice T calls them incredible, and fast, but because they said "Ballroom Dancing," he was looking for Brent's shiny shoes and Melissa's high heels (they were both barefoot), and can only award four stars. Naomi says that just as singers use their voices to talk, these two were using their bodies to talk, and awards five stars.
The score stands at 17-19-18, and the viewers add 13-16-15, making the final tally 17-35-34, meaning Candace and Brandon will dance on into the finals.
Now it's time for the Comedian competition. Stephanie Blum takes stage first, covering a range of topics, including motherhood, motivation, working out, her mother-in-law, and her work as a school psychologist ("The things you hear in the halls, like 'Yo mama's a ho.' And I really shouldn't talk to the kids like that"). Ahmed calls her great, and says she's so funny he just spit all over himself in the process, and spits our four stars. Ice T says she gets four stars for the "ho" joke alone. Naomi, after again being admonished by Hall, calls her the heir to Erma Bombeck's throne, and awards four stars. Stein says the material is hilariously creative but the delivery is weak, and awards four stars.1 2 Next-->
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