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Fame, Episode 4: Time to Pick up the Paceby Donna Reynolds -- 06/12/2003
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We have finally arrived at the last of the semi-final rounds. I don’t know about you, but I am glad this part of the process is nearly over. I came to be blown away but, so far, it ain’t happenin’ for me. These shows have been so interchangeable that I could use any one of my past recaps, substitute names and songs and be pretty much on the money. Show me something different tonight, please.
Not surprisingly, Episode 4 starts out just like the previous three – Debbie is in the center of a circle formed by the 24 contestants. Tonight she tells them that this is the last time they will all be together for a while. She wants them to know how much it has meant to her to work with them all. Tonight we are going to represent, focus and hit our mark, and what? That’s right we are “gonna go to work and tear it up.” Someone in the group apparently is getting emotional and Debbie stops, urging them to get out on that stage.
Lots of flipping around tonight in the “came to work” number. These people will have these moves in their heads forever! We meet tonight’s six in the usual manner. Moy burns up the stage from the start (can you tell I like her already – uh uh, no preconceived notions, right!).
Joey and Debbie remind us that we are looking for “that singer who can dance and has a larger than life personality.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tonight each of these six is going to do a special solo and then perform as a group. We meet the judges: Johnny Wright (Joey’s friend and wonderful manager), Carnie Wilson, and JoJo Wright. Then Joey tells us that next Wednesday night, the finals begin with a special two-hour episode and that’s when “you at home get your chance to vote for your favorite performers.” Finally.
After the commercial break, Joey introduces the band and then we meet Harlemm Lee, 27, from Hollywood. Harlemm tells us he is a loner and feels that being in this group situation is helping to bring him out of his shell. He gets all torn up as he tells us that he feels that he is blessed with the gift to appreciate music.
He is singing Janet Jackson’s “Control,” which turns out to be a great choice for him. The song starts out slowly and he has a chance to show us some vocal range. Once the song kicks into gear, he really does “tear it up,” combining different dance styles and working the entire stage. The moves go along with the song and it works for him. He is certainly in control and sets the bar for the rest of the performances tonight! His parents are adorable too.
Johnny says he came to his senses as soon as Harlemm took the stage and that he made a believer out of him.
Carnie is “freakin’ freaked out” and says he knocks her off her feet.
JoJo tells him, “dynamite comes in small packages… you’re the man. Amazing.”
Debbie says from the minute she laid eyes on him, she knew that he was the ambassador for the whole human race. “You give a new meaning to spiritual soul. You’re gonna go all the way, honey.” Harlemm breaks up as he tells us he has waited his whole life for this moment. He is beaming. I am getting a little nauseous.
Next up is Carolyn Zeppa, 19, from New York. She also cries as she talks about her mother who raised her to stand up for herself. She was picked on because she was tall and skinny. She thinks that people see her as being very rigid and ballerina-like but she tells us she is really goofy. “Appearances are not always what they seem,” she exclaims.
She is singing “I Got You” from the musical Fosse. She uses a ballet barre in her number but it is rather distracting and although she does a lot of kicking, I am not blown away by her dancing. She doesn’t sing enough either. We are left really not knowing much more than we did before the performance, other than that she has great legs.
Johnny thinks it was an entertaining performance but feels she held back vocally. He likes it though.
Carnie knows she was nervous but wanted to hear her sing more and says that she thought the song was a little weird. But she feels that Carolyn took command and nods her head vigorously.
JoJo says he liked it and tells her she is fearless. He calls the barre a pole and is quickly corrected by Carnie who uses the opportunity to slam men in general. Carnie, you ought to save some of this criticism for the contestants.
Debbie thinks Carolyn is beautiful and says she sees a Cyd Charisse type of amazing power when she looks at her. Now I can barely remember Cyd Charisse, and I would bet that most of the audience has no clue who she was, but suffice it to say that Cyd was quite a dancer and leave it at that. Anyway, Carolyn realizes it was not her best performance and thanks the band. She looks very disappointed.
Debbie tells us about the prizes – I think we all know what they are by now. Please don’t make me repeat them AGAIN! Maybe someday the identity of the top Hollywood talent agency will be revealed to us. That seems to be the only surprise left in terms of prizes at this point. I will review the prizes for you again next time, okay?
Tonight’s third performer is Johannes Williams, 17, from L.A. He tells us he has attention deficit disorder and he needs music to concentrate. He’s quite the dude in a fine black fedora with feather. His ADHD apparently keeps him hopping and we get to see him doing some rather gymnastic moves in rehearsal. When he was a kid his hero was Batman and he wants to be a role model to kids, encouraging them to open up to different cultures and music.
He’s doing LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells” (Didn’t Carnie tell us on Monday that Justin Jacoby was the only rapper?) This kid can dance and he does back flips, which always impress me. He stops mid-song and shows us a little “beat box” and then flips and spins some more. He really does have some amazing dance moves. I wasn’t wowed and it was a little odd but entertaining nonetheless.
Johnny praises him for putting it all together after having apparently had a disastrous rehearsal.
Carnie likes his attitude and uniqueness and thinks he did a great job.
JoJo says, “You came out and did it” after the terrible rehearsal and is also proud of him for pulling it off. (I wonder what happened?)
Debbie tells him he has so much confidence and is so proud of him. Johannes appreciates all their opinions as well as the kiss from Debbie.
Following Johannes is Lauren Hildebrandt, who is 21 and now living in West Hollywood. She tells us that she has only been in the area for eight months and quickly became depressed because nothing was happening for her. She didn’t know anyone and was crying all the time. She confesses her relationship issues but now she has a boyfriend who makes her happy. However, she will choose Fame over him if it comes down to that.
She has chosen “Hit Me With a Hot Note” from the musical “Sophisticated Ladies.” She has a great voice and strong stage presence. I would call her very Broadway but so far does show signs of having the “triple threat.” I especially like her dress but am waiting to see her dance. She never really shows me much in that department but overall it is a decent performance.
Johnny says she hit him with very strong vocals and he loved her confidence, personality, and outfit!
Carnie could tell she was nervous but thinks she looks great and has a very powerful voice. “You nailed it,” she says.
JoJo says he couldn’t tell she was nervous at all and thinks that she was smooth.
Debbie thinks it is wonderful that she scored so big with “an audience like this” with a classic jazz tune. Laura is happy for the support and tells us she had fun.
Before the commercial, Joey reminds us that next week is the first night of the finals when we get a chance to vote. Thanks, Joey, I might have forgotten that. Why is he on this show anyway? Oh, that’s right, Johnny Wright is his manager and friend. I wonder if they came as a package deal.1 2 Next-->
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