"American Idol" is the only reality television show I watch and one of my favorite television shows period. I often say, it takes a lot to make me want to put down my book to watch television, but the singing contest on the FOX channel is, in my opinion, one of the best shows on television for lots of reasons. Mainly, you can watch it regardless of who is in your living room and it has mass appeal for all ages.

Matter of fact, my eight-year-old niece Lorna and I often call each other during the performance to talk about our favorites. Two of my cousins and I are often texting each other during the show and prior to our Health Council meeting the other day, we were all chatting about who might get kicked off that night and who we thought was the best overall performer.

Perhaps in a land where gas is too high, the elections run too long and the Iraq war is now entering its fifth year, "American Idol" is a welcome diversion in most homes. Maybe it is just nice to see that some average American can become America's next biggest star. Just look at what the vehicle known as American Idol has done for Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Clay Aiken and Jennifer Hudson, just to name a few. One day they are working like you and me, then the next day they are posing for People and Vanity Fair Magazine, appearing on television and mixing it up on stage with some of their favorite artists.

"Idol," last year, also began what is known as Idol Gives Back and raised more than $70 million for charities across the country including tornado victims here in Tennessee. This show is a refreshing change from all the other line-ups on the air waves and the ratings prove it. It continues to be in the top slot week after week.

I was talking with some friends the other night about the numerous reality shows on television now which apparently came about during the last writers strike several years ago. We have "The Biggest Loser," "Big Brother," "So You Think You Can Dance," "Dancing with the Stars," "The Hills," "Intervention" and the list go on and on. But, I have thought of a couple of reality shows that haven't yet been created:

1. "So You Think You Can Preach" — Men of the cloth would preach a sermon each week. Viewers would vote for the best preacher. The winner of the competition would get an hour-long television show.

2. "Celebrity Survivor" — get a group of A list celebrities and see how long he/she can survive without a chef, publicist, attorney, personal trainer and personal umbrella holder. Winner gets it all back.

3. "So You Think You Can Survive Without a Cell Phone" — This show would feature a group of high school students without cell phones. The teenager who can go the longest without his/her cell phone wins a free college scholarship.

4. "Keeping Up With Soccer Moms" — This show features ten stay-at-home dads.

After six weeks, the one who can still keep up with the family duties wins a vacation and a brand new mini van.

5. "So You Think You Can Teach" — This show features a group of men and women who think teaching is a piece of cake. At the end of nine weeks, the person still teaching gets a week of snow days and money to buy classroom supplies.


And speaking of stars, congratulations to the 2008 winners of the TAD Center's seventh annual Youth Talent Show. The 8-12 year-old winner was Emily Swafford of Stone Elementary. Emily sang during her presentation. Second place in that age division went to Timothy Hawn of Wheeler Elementary in Pikeville. He played the piano and sang.

The winners of the 13-29 year-old age category are Anna Hill of Cumberland County High School and Whitney Padgett of Homestead Elementary. The girls presented a choreographed routine to a Carrie Underwood song. Second place went to vocalist Rodney Insco of Clarkrange High School. Hill, Padgett and Insco will all advance the youth talent show in Knoxville this fall.

Special thanks to the 2008 talent show judges: Dr. Larry Patterson of Eye Centers of Tennessee, Marley Wyatt, former TAD talent winner, and Josh Brandon of Peg Broadcasting for their time and talents.


Disney producers will be in Nashville on April 6 at the Sommet Center to hire extras for the new Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana movie. The new flick, which will be made in Tennessee, needs extras to be background actors in the 15-year-old pop superstar's new movie. These are non-speaking parts.

If you want to be an extra, you need to be at the Sommet Center between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon with a recent 4x4 snapshot and a pen. Extras may work anywhere from one day to several weeks. Filming begins in and around Nashville on May 6.

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