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American Juniors, Episode 1: Some Great Kids and a Nasty Momby David Bloomberg -- 06/05/2003
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It’s finally time for the show we’ve been hearing about for months now but have few actual details on – American Juniors! Ryan Seacrest is back to host – and he seriously needs a shave. He says they are creating a band of five kids who will end up competing with Ruben and Kelly and others for the top of the charts. OK, maybe, but I just don’t see some kids as really “competing” with Kelly and Ruben. Anyway, he says this format has worked before, with a group called S-Club Juniors who were a sensation all over Europe. So I guess we’ll see.
As the theme music starts up, all I can think of is, “Hey, they stole the Fame theme song!” Somebody’s gotta be contacting a lawyer about that.
Ryan comes back and tells us that from thousands, they will narrow it down to 20, and then we, the viewers, pick the best five. They are looking for great voices, great dancing, and great personalities. Ah, the triple-threat. Wait. That’s Fame too. Are we sure this is American Juniors and not Fame Junior?
As part of a way to find out about their personalities, they give the kids a chair in a room where the parents aren’t allowed. It ends up being something like the show, Kids Say the Darnedest Things (or whatever it was called). One girl says she’ll be a huge star, another that he’s the next Elvis, and a third who says that being a popstar is stupid, so he wants to be a Seaworld trainer because he really likes whales. I think he’s on the wrong show. Seaworld Juniors is on Animal Planet.
The first auditions are in Pasadena, and people are lined up for miles (well, okay, I didn’t actually measure, but it sounds good) at four in the morning. Yeesh. And they are already fighting about it, too, as one woman says they are bumper-to-bumper because other people are coming later and trying to squeeze in. Tsk, tsk.
Apparently, though, they were trying to cut in with good reason as the audition quota fills up quickly and they have to turn away a number of people. Some note that after eight hours of waiting, they are not happy. Eight hours?! Yeesh again. One woman tries to get her kid to sing from the backseat as they are told to drive away. When the kid won’t sing on the spot, the perturbed mother say, “You lost your chance.” Nice.
As we go inside to get ready for the auditions, Ryan says some of the kids have to impress their own moms as much as the producers. One mom discusses how competitive it is while another says her daughter has been in competition and pageants since the age of two. (Two?!) Some parents, she says, are not there for the kids, but for themselves. To bolster this point of view, one mother talks about how she wanted to be a singer so she’s here now with her daughter. These people have serious issues.
On the lighter side, one father performs a song for his son, ending with a raspberry at him (kind like, “top that”). The son takes up the challenge and does a good job, ending similarly. I say the kid was better. In any case, they end with a big hug. Awww.
The kids are brought to the stage in groups and are to sing a verse and a chorus. Then they all do some dance steps because it will be a performance group. The audience is made up of the parents.
We get to see a number of the performances, including Kelvin Woods, 9, who sings “Dreams” by Ashanti. We see his mom singing along in the audience. Then comes Canyon Grove, with a great moptop of hair. His parents say he has no formal training but he is good.
Jadzia Pittman says she is 7 ¾. She sings her verse, and the producer says thank you. She is supposed to stop singing at that point but doesn’t quite get it. She keeps going, singing another verse. Thank you. She keeps going. Sings another verse. Thank you. Keeps going. At this point, all the parents in audience are laughing. She’s finally done and leaves the stage. You know, I have to say, I can’t really blame the kid. I mean, the producer was not saying, “You’re done” or “goodbye.” He was saying “thank you.” To a little kid, that doesn’t mean, “Get off the stage now.”
Next up we have two sisters. First is younger sister Tori, who normally gets the attention. Her ultimate goal is to be a singer and actress. She’s pretty good. Mom says she has done beauty pageants and was the state finalist for California. At nationals, she won National Hostess. (What is that? Does she have to serve people food or something?) Her sister Taylor had a hard act to follow. What’s worse is that mom says Taylor thinks she is the ugly duckling of the family. When they entered her in a competition, she asked her mom why she was in the modeling portion because she wasn’t pretty, but she ended up winning.
Ryan voiceovers that some kids needed more than self-belief. We see some clips of kids who forget their words, cough in the middle, whatever. One little boy sticks out his tongue at audience. Heh.
Others had more than their fair share of confidence. Aaron Albert is 10 ½ but has a sense of humor many years older. He tells the camera that his mom is his wife (okay, that doesn’t look nearly as funny in print, but it was, trust me). He says the kids at school don’t really know what he does, but maybe they’d like to try it when they see him. He sings but doesn’t make it. Still, he says it was a good experience and while he’s kind of upset, there’s not much you can do. This kid is much more mature than some of the parents! His mom says they try to instill kindness and good heart and the rest all comes in time. Says she could never do this.
As has been mentioned before, the kids need not only to sing, but to dance. So we see a number of shots of kids dancing – some great, some, um, not so much.
Chauncey Matthews, 11, has both the moves and the pipes, according to Ryan. I’d have to agree.1 2 Next-->
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