A NOT-SO-NEW MEMBER OF THE ALPHABET CITY AVANT-GARDE: Matt having beaten me to the punch on Justice, I watched a little bit of the Celebrity Duets premiere this morning. We are not impressed.
Concept: Demi-celebrities who are not professional singers (Cheech Marin, Lea Thompson, Lucy Lawless, and so forth) are paired up with music stars, a different one every week. They sing duets. America votes.
The show tries to preserve a little suspense by not revealing the songster celebrities ahead of time -- each non-songster celebrity contestant sang the first verse solo, and then introduced his or her singing star partner. So Carly Patterson sang the beginning of "Somewhere Out There," then announced "James Ingram!" Ingram trotted out for the rest of the song, said some obligatorily nice things about Carly to host Wayne Brady (who hopefully will use some of his fabulous wit and musicality to make the show not suck), and trotted offstage. The judges follow the standard-issue AI model -- chirpy Marie Osmond, a largely incoherent Little Richard, and music producer/songwriter David Foster, who AI-watchers may recall from this past season of AI. On the whole, it was pretty yawny.
But here's the weird thing. One of the contestants is Queer Eye's Jai Rodriguez. The contestants are supposedly not singers. But Jai played Angel in the Broadway production of Rent, as well as Carmen Ghia in The Producers -- both obviously singing roles. This tidbit escaped mention in Jai's Celebrity Duets background video, which strikes me as a little suspect. The judges were positively orgasmic over Jai's excellent duet with Gladys Knight -- as they should have been, as Jai is definitively a professional singer. I disapprove.