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Phillip Phillips wins the American Idol title in Season 11!

Phillip Phillips plays his first single, “Home,” as Season 11’s American Idol

Back when American Idol’s Season 11 premiered in January, there was one audition that stood out from all the rest in Savannah, Georgia. The last audition of the day was a young man in flip-flops named Phillip Phillips, Jr., and he belted “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and then took to his guitar to sing a unique cover of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, playing so passionately he even busted a string. Randy, Jennifer and Steven all sang his praises as Phillips sang his way to Hollywood Week.

Fast-forward four months later, and Phillip Phillips is Season 11’s American Idol. His individual, uncommon sound and his refusal to ever be anything but himself onstage won over the hearts of America as they voted him into the Top 13 and eventually as the 2012 American Idol. Below, Phillips talks about his musical influences and when we can expect his first album.

Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Ryan Seacrest at the beginning of the Season 11 Finale last night

AG: Hi, how are you?
PP: I’m doin’ good, how ‘bout you?
AG: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today, I know you must be really busy. You are officially Season 11’s American Idol! How are you feeling today?
PP: Oh, still insane. Still really can’t believe it, thank you.

AG: So how long have you watched the show and been a fan of the show, and how long had you been wanting to audition before this?
PP: Honestly, I didn’t really watch the show too much until last year. Casey was an amazing, amazing musician, still is. He really kind of made me even think about trying out, but then he brought something different to the table. I really respect the guy. I didn’t really want to audition, but my family just kind of said, “Just do it. The worst they can do is say no,” so I did it, and I can’t believe I even made it this far.

AG: When I spoke to Jimmy Iovine on Monday, he said that for a singer/songwriter like you to make it as far as the Top Two says a lot about the future of American Idol, so were you nervous about that going in seeing as how the last several winners have kind of had this sort of sound that’s just completely different from what you bring to the table?
PP: Um yeah, a little nervous, you know. There’s been a lot of sayin’ about that the past contestants have been, you know, guys who play guitars and stuff, but I don’t really play guitar like they do, you know? I don’t really strum chords too much. I like to do something different with a guitar, or try to anyway. I’m just different from them, and, you know, hopefully I may have, like, helped somebody else who wants to audition for the show like myself, you know?

AG: Yeah, for sure. Speaking of bringing something different to the table, your first single “Home” was great. It has this sort of Mumford & Sons/Arcade Fire sound to it, so is that what we can expect from your first album? And for all of your fans that are probably dying to know, when can we expect that album do you think?
PP: No, my album’s not going to be anything really like that. It’s a very good song, and the writer did a good job. I’m also ready to get, you know, something that’s really coming from my heart to share with the world. My album is going to be little of rock and jazz, and it’s going to be really fun. Hopefully people will enjoy it. It’s going to be some acoustic stuff as well, so I’m excited for it. I don’t know when it’s going to come out. Hopefully maybe by the end of the year or something.

Phillips singing “Stand By Me” on Tuesday night

AG: Perfect. That jazz sound, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of your covers or your takes on songs included that saxophone player. What inspired you to bring that into it?
PP: I just, I’ve always loved sax. I have a really good friend, his name’s Fred, who’s an amazing sax player, and I definitely want him to come with me on the road and really share his talent with the world as well, just making good music, just have fun. He plays beautifully.

AG: Who are your favorite singers or bands, and which ones have influenced your vibe and your sound most?
PP: Eric Clapton, Johnny Lang, Dave Matthews, Damien Rice, so many people. Tool, so many artists out there that have inspired me. Rob Thomas, he’s one of my favorites as well. They’re just real artists, you know? They’re not afraid to be themselves, and they don’t care if you like them or not. They’re just going to make their music no matter what.

AG: Speaking of being yourself,  that reminds me of Tommy Hilfiger being on the show, trying to style everybody up. He even went so far as to say that grey is the worst color to wear onstage…and you ended up wearing grey that night. So what do you have to say about that, how Randy said, “Float, sink or swim, Phil Phillips will be Phil Phllips?”
PP: Yeah, you know, that’s the thing. I’m glad, hopefully I’ve helped some people out throughout the show, that you can be yourself. You can make it in this industry while not giving in to what people want you to be or want you to do, you know? You gotta give a little to get a little sometimes, but you can still be yourself and people will respect you for it.

AG: So what preconceptions did you have of the show before making it to Hollywood Week, and obviously all the way to the end, that have completely been discredited after your time on the show?
PP: You know, I just never thought I would even make it in front of the judges. When it got to Hollywood Week, there are so many talented people, and I honestly didn’t think I would make it as far as I did. Like I said, I’m still trying to wake up, realize what’s happening or what’s happened, because it’s still just unreal to me.

AG: Throughout the season, you’ve had some really incredible mentors, not to mention you had Randy, Steven, Jennifer and Jimmy Iovine giving you advice every week. That being said, which mentor or judge gave you the best advice, and what advice was that?
PP: Stevie Nicks, she was probably my favorite mentor. She was such a sweet woman, and she just told me she loved how I was being myself no matter what. She was glad to see I know what I want out of my music, and that she’s glad I know who I am as an artist.

Sanchez and Phillips take the stage together for the last time before the Season 11 winner was announced

AG: Going back to Hollywood Week, you made really good friends with Heejun Han. Now that you’re going to be going on tour with him, how excited are you about that?
PP: I’m really excited, you know, it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to do a lot of pranks. It’s going to be fun.

AG: Besides getting to hang out with Heejun, what are you most looking forward to about the tour?
PP: Seeing the whole country, you know, it’s going to be so amazing. I’ve never really gotten the chance to do that before. This is the farthest I’ve ever been away from home. I’ve been to Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, and North and South Carolina, but travelling around the whole United States is going to be awesome.

AG: Speaking of home, when do you get to go back to Georgia to visit, or when do you get to go back?
PP: I don’t know! I’m hoping maybe soon, but we’ll see.
AG: What are you looking forward to most about going home?
PP: The southern food. I’m very excited to get some good, home-cooked food. There’s some good food here in California, but it’s very different from back home.

AG: What is the next big move for Phillip Phillips? What can we expect in the coming weeks?
PP: Just going to get ready for the tour and everything. Tour’s going to be fun, going to be a lot of jamming out. Just having fun up there onstage, because like I said, I don’t like being the center of attention up onstage. All the musicians and everybody deserves some limelight, you know, I just love having fun.

AG: What plans do you have for the tour as far as performances go? What are you wanting to perform?
PP: You know, just got to do a few covers and everything. I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m going to be performing yet. Either way, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and just a lot of instruments and a lot of jamming.

AG: Perfect. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers about yourself or about the music?
PP: Just that I’m excited to get my own work out there, and hopefully ya’ll are as excited as I am. Hopefully you like it.

AG: Well thank you so much for your time, like I said, I know you must be really busy. I’ve got to say, I’m a huge fan of yours, I voted for you every week, so congratulations!
PP: Aw, thank you, thank you so much. You have a good one.
AG: You, too!

Here are a couple of memorable videos of Phillip Phillips. From his audition in Savannah, Georgia to taking the title home in Los Angeles, California, Phillips has had one crazy ride!

Jimmy Iovine talks American Idol Season 11 Finale TONIGHT!

Jimmy Iovine, mentor on American Idol

American Idol Season 11 is coming to a close tonight, and it will either end up being pop diva Jessica Sanchez or indie original Phillip Phillips. All season long, Jimmy Iovine has mentored the Idol hopefuls, and he had a lot to say about the finale which airs tonight on FOX!

Jack Kennedy, L.A. Times:
JK: Hi Jimmy, how are you?
JI: Good, thank you.
JK: Good. Thanks so much for doing this, really appreciate it.
JI: Of course, no problem.
JK: This is your second year on the show. You do such a great job with these contestants on a weekly basis. I’m curious, though. The last few contestants – outside of, you know, Scotty [McCreery] – haven’t done the greatest in recent times post-Idol. I’m wondering, what tips do you maybe have for Jessica or Phillip moving forward, whether or not one of them wins the show or not?
JI: Well, you’re dealing with a very unusual situation. Usually, when someone makes their first album, they’re coming from, you know, really trying to figure everything out, and no one knows who they are. In the days of becoming very popular on your own on the internet, or on something like American Idol, the first album… you’re entering a different place than most artists did in the past, so the best thing you can try to do, is get… headspace, to collaborate and make that first album feel like your first album, where you’re taking the input you need and working on it, that sort of stuff. There have been quite a few times I’ve seen in the past where it’s hard to go on TV in front of 20 million people, or 25 million, whatever it is, you know, and then go make your first album. That’s a tough trick.

Michael Arbiter, Hollywood.com:
MA: Hi, thank you very much for talking to us. … celebrated your honesty during the elimination episodes and slammed the judges for constantly positive critiques. Would you ever consider being a judge?
JI: No one has asked me, and you know, not right now. I’m kind of just…I like working with musicians, and I like the creative aspect of what I do on the show. I really enjoy that. It’s a lot of fun for me, you know. That would change that, so probably not, you know?
MA: Okay. Do you think the judges showed too much favoritism towards Joshua this year?
JI: Oh, no. I think what they do is really cool. They just kind of…they were kind of like a lot of the audience. They were fans of a lot of the kids on the show, and Joshua does great work, really. He’s got an impressive, impressive voice, and I can see why you’re sitting there getting excited about him. But I thought they always loved Jessica, they like Phillip, and they liked Hayley and they liked Alicia. I feel they spread the love around, you know?

Ann Bedard, Entertainment World:
AB: The mentoring sessions have been really interesting to watch, and they seem to have been very helpful for the contestants, sometimes resulting in that they change the song they’ve chosen or the approach. Can you tell me when in the week do they happen, and how long is each session?
JI: Well, the sessions are approximately, probably about a half hour each, maybe a little bit more, and they happen on a Friday. I give a lot of thought before I go in, and, you know, I’ve been doing this a long time, so what I’m doing basically is what I do in my office. I talk to musicians, or when I was a record producer what I would do, and yeah, it’s a contest, it’s a show, so it’s all kind of squished into a shorter time. But what I was most shocked about this year is that every one of these kids were cooperative and wanted to learn and wanted to be better, especially the final four or five. These kids really cared and really were interested in, “Okay, is this how it’s done?” I really liked the kids this year a lot, quite a bit, so it made me able to do more, and I would bring my friends in that also have a lot of experience. If we need more time, the kid leaves and comes back, or everybody’s treated equally, and that’s kind of how it works.

Mike Hughes, TV America:
MH: You have these two goals for Jessica. One is for her to sound age-appropriate, but the other is for her to show that she has this big voice that she can use. It seems like that’s hard to pull off, because most days, songs for 16-year-olds are little songs, and she needs to show off the big voice. How do you make that work? What is she going to have to do on Tuesday to win?
JI: Well, believe me, we’ve worked on this. We took both Phillip and Jessica, Jessica has to, on Wednesday, find that balance between what her capabilities are and reach inside and have the right song to click the emotion. She has to get people to vote for her, people that haven’t voted for her in the past. I think she’s up there, but I think she has to have 10-10-10. She just has to do what she’s capable of doing, believe in the songs she’s chosen and the song that Simon Fuller has chosen for her. We worked on an original song that I really like, and I think she’s going to have to go there and do what…she’s a pro. She’s 16 years old, but when this girl is 18, when she grows the next few years, as they would say, “She’s going to be a problem,” meaning that she’s going to do really, really well. She’s got all the capabilities and all the pieces to just do great. I’m really excited. I get excited when I work with her.

Jean O’Sullivan, New York Daily News:
GS: Hi, Jimmy. I know you were born in Brooklyn. What area were you born in and grew up in as a kid, and how did you get into music?
JI: I was born on 2nd Place and Henry Street, down by the Battery Tunnel. When I was there it was called Red Hook Brooklyn, and now it’s called Cabo Hill. I just liked music, and at that time, wanted to get out of Brooklyn. It was either that or sports, and if you met me or see me on TV, you know sports wasn’t an option (laughs). So I got into music. I met a girl named Ellie Greenwich, she was a great songwriter, and she got me a job in a recording studio kind of cleaning up and stuff. I was able to watch, and from there I went to another studio. I had three studio jobs, sort of like custodial, sort of help out set things up, and then eventually this guy Roy Sacolo liked me and he put me in a studio, and I kind of got started at about 19.

Evan Reel, OK! Magazine:
ER: Hi, Jimmy, how are you?
JI: I’m cool.
ER: I’m sure you got a chance to meet Jennifer Lopez while you were working on Idol. What do you think about the possibility of her not returning, and do you think Idol might lose some of its (____) if it loses Jennifer?
JI: You know something, she’s incredible. I hope she does it again. I know nothing about this, fortunately, and on this particular show, it’s a decision that’s way below my paygrade, I just mentor the kids and do my thing. She’s wonderful and funny and beautiful and talented, so I hope they keep her.

Han Win, TVGuide.com:
HW: Hi, Jimmy. There’s been much said in the past two years about, “Oh, only a boy can win.” Can you say why you think this year it might be different, why Jessica really has a good chance of winning?
JI: Well, I’d like to go back and re-phrase what I said, meaning I’m low – what I said before on that call with OK! Magazine – is that I am low on the totem pole. I don’t get to make these decisions about the judges, that’s what I meant. I think I got it backwards in what I said. I’m low on that totem pole. I don’t make any of those decisions or calls on who are the judges and who isn’t. As a matter of fact, they don’t consult me on that whatsoever. Anyway, what was the question again?
HW: I was asking why in the past three seasons, many people have been saying only a boy can win, however, we now have a boy and girl in the finals, and they’re both very strong. Can you say why you think Jessica actually has a really good chance this year to win?
JI: Jessica is born with one of those gifts that you see very, very rarely. The tone of her voice, the range, her poise, she has every, every chance to win this thing. She can strike a chord in you with the right song, that no matter what you’re thinking before you hear that, you will vote for her. She can change your mind on a dime, because those voices don’t come around every day. That’s why there are so few people that sing like that in the industry today. I wish there were more, but there aren’t. There just aren’t voices like that.

Tiffany Wan, Wet Paint Entertainment:
TW: Thank you again for speaking with us this morning. My question for you is, there have been a lot of shocking eliminations over the course of Idol this year. Was there anyone in particular you were really shocked to see go home early?
JI: I had it pretty early on that Joshua, Jessica and Phillip had what it takes to be in the final three. I did not know who was going to proceed or not after Joshua got cut, but those three, I always knew would be, I felt personally they would be in the final three. I’m not surprised at the final two, but if it was Jessica and someone else, I wouldn’t have been surprised at that either.

Alex Gonzalez, La Prensa de Houston:
AG: Hi, Jimmy, how are you?
JI: Pretty good!
AG: This season has been full of surprises, from bringing back Jermaine Jones to saving Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon being eliminated and now Joshua Ledet. What do you make of this season, and what do you think it means for the future of American Idol?
JI: Well, I’m really pleased about, you know, go down to the last two weeks. Phillip is a very unusual artist to get this far on American Idol, and I’m really impressed with that. See, Phillip’s career is going to be based on…he’s a writer, singer/songwriter, and a lot of that is based on…you know, so you don’t have the world to pick material from. I mean, he may take some help in collaborations with different things that he does, but for that secret to still be in the bag and to have him this far as singer/songwriter, a big part of it is Phil’s songs. Dave Matthews, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen wrote all their songs. That part, the audience doesn’t know yet, but I believe in him a lot, and I think he’s got crazy charisma. He’s got incredible charisma, incredible sound, so I’m really happy about that. I think that bodes well for American Idol, that a kid like that can get this far. I just think that there is something about this group. First of all, let me say one thing. The judges…what they do is so difficult, to go on the road and listen to people sing a capella, thousands of them…I couldn’t do that. To differentiate and define one kid and not the other? What they do is really extraordinary, and I think that’s what you’re seeing on American Idol that was missing in some of the years right before that. The A&R process that these judges professionally do is really extraordinary. That’s the thing I’m most impressed at.

Mike Hughes, TV America:
MH: Just to go on with that about Phillip Phillips, if he did win, the last three guys were kind of similar in that they were kind of up-close and personal singers, just didn’t do really well selling records at all —
JI: Scotty did!
MH: Yeah, not counting the country guy, because that’s a good thing for country, but it doesn’t seem to work as well in pop. So what do you think? What would Phillip have to do to actually be successful?
JI: This is a very good question actually. Again, singer/songwriters, it’s a very complicated thing. He has the advantage now of being exposed, people hearing him in an incredible circumstance, and a lot of people know who he is, that’s an extraordinary advantage. But now he has to go make a record that lives up to the popularity and the hype and yet go make his first record as an artist. It’s not always the easiest thing. His record’s got to…he’s got to put a lot of work into it. We’re going to help him a lot, but he has a certain thing a lot of those other people you’re talking about didn’t have. This guy, I don’t know how he was missed in the industry, because he really has such charisma and such a vibe and such a great character that he was looked over probably, and it’s great that he got on this show. It’s terrific for the show that he made it through. I’m really pleased for everyone.

Michael Noble, Click Clack TV:
MN: Greetings, Jimmy. Thanks for making yourself available today. Going back to last season and right up to this one, I have to mention that there are a lot of viewers who appreciate some of your candor and some of your humor as well when critiquing the contestants. Last year was a feeling out period with the introduction of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez and yourself and I’m curious about your thoughts with those behind the judges’ table as opposed to what you do. Steven and Jennifer, they’re kind of on the spot because of the fact that they have rehearsals, so I don’t know if you do or not. But I’m just curious —
JI: Here’s the thing about that. I’m, what do you call it, a mentor, a coach, an executive producer, a producer, whatever you’re doing, I’m in the creative process. I’m on their side. And then at the end of the game, we get to talk about what happened. If you’re in a playoff game and the coach comes back and says, “Well, this guy just blew it, this one did great,” it’s just about what it is. So my responsibility is to just say what it is and help the artist, the singers and the audience give them my take on actually what’s happening and what did happen, why that happened. Why things happen and why they don’t, or why I felt that it didn’t work or why I agreed or disagreed with the judges. It’s part of the creative process. I’m on the front of it and the back of it. And that’s my responsibility, to train the team and then let them know what happened, or how I see it anyway.

Moderator: We will now turn it over for any closing remarks.

JI: Thank you, it really was cool. Thank you.

Latina Jessica Sanchez is headed to the finale of American Idol Season 11!

Jessica Sanchez sings for her life on Season 11 of American Idol

If you tuned-in to American Idol last night, you may already know that the remaining 2 finalists were revealed and that our Latina (Philippine-Mexican) contestant JESSICA SANCHEZ  was the first to make it through to next week’s season 11 finale. Jessica has been consistent every week by delivering impeccable, superb and amazing performances that have stunned the judges, America and brought the audience to their feet. America voted and she is now on her way to the final stage of the competition. Will she  become the NEXT AMERICAN IDOL?! Will she become the FIRST Latina to win American Idol?! Will she be the “last one standing” like AI judge Steven Tyler mentioned on Wednesday night?!  Possibly…Tune-in next week to see for yourself.

FOX will host  the series’ two-night grand finale from the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE Tuesday, May 22 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) and Wednesday, May 23 (8:00-10:07 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed). After weeks of performing on the AMERICAN IDOL stage, the two remaining finalists will perform live Tuesday in front of a theater audience of more than 7000 as well as millions of viewers watching at home. Then, on Wednesday night, at the end of a two-hour music celebration, host Ryan Seacrest will announce the next AMERICAN IDOL. Global superstar “Rihanna” will perform at the finale as well as many other surprise performances, duets, etc.

Chuey Martinez: New host of Travel Channel’s “All You Can Meat”

Chuey Martinez of MTV Tr3s and 104.7 KIIS FM in LA

AG: Hi Chuey, how are you?
CM: What’s up, homie? How are you doin’?
AG: I’m good, how are you?
CM: Houston, huh?
AG: Yup, Houston!
CM: I was just in Texas for like a week and a half. I wish I would’ve known you, ‘cause I would’ve called and just been like, “Girl, come meet me here!”
AG: Where were you at in Texas?
CM: We were everywhere. I was…we went to so many places. We went to, like, no lie to you, Alex, we went to 15 ranches.
AG: Oh wow.
CM: Yeah, I went to so many “ranchos,” and I had flashbacks. Of course, my great-grandfather had a ranch in Mexico, so it was really nice, took me back to my childhood. I would find a tree and cry behind it, kept my composure!
AG: Well that’s good!
CM: Yeah! But we went to so many ranches over there, had a good time over there.

AG: That’s awesome! So can you explain to the readers a little bit about your show, “All You Can Meat?”
CM: Of course! The show, “All You Can Meat,” premieres August 15th at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel. It’s basically me travelling around the country, of course eating some of the best barbecue, and preparing some of the best barbecue, and interacting with some amazing characters and people that live in this beautiful country. Just doing that, and just seeing the obsession that we have. America, we have this obsession with meat, we love burgers, we love steak, we love hot dogs, we love our brisket, we love our ribs, we’ve got a lot of good stuff. You know, I’m just seeing that, seeing what the obsession is, having fun while I’m doing it, and of course eating some great food.

AG: What is your favorite cut of meat?
CM: Man…I’m going to be typical right now. You know, the Mexican side really loves the carne asada, but the Dominican side…I definitely like a good piece of chicken. Un pica-pollo, that’s what we call it in the Dominican Republic. Un pica-pollo. I think that’s like the best thing you can ever eat. You can get a whole chicken in the Dominican Republic for like $2, so that beats everyone, you know? A pica-pollo all day long or a carne asada all day long, and I’ll be happy.

AG: You mentioned being both Mexican and Dominican. Which culture has influenced your life more, and in what ways?
CM: Wow, which one has influenced me more? You know what, it’s so funny, because when my friends or my family hear me speaking Spanish, they’re like, “Wow, where are you from? You’re definitely Caribbean.” It’s funny, because I was raised around mostly all Mexicans and Cubans, but I also had my Dominican cousins around. I got that Caribbean twang, you know, I got that Caribbean-Dominican twang that I can’t quite shake. So when you hear me speak Spanish, it’s definitely Caribeño. I’ve been around all my cultures, but I have to say that all of them have influenced me. In my cooking, in the way I live my life, you know, they all influenced me. They’re all beautiful cultures. I think I’m actually pretty lucky that I’m mixed. I love being mixed with all different flavors, all different cultures. I love it.

AG: What was the inspiration for this show?
CM: I think the inspiration for the show was to really learn and get a grasp of why people love meat in this country, and why we have this fascination and obsession with barbecue. Whether you’re Latino, whether you’re Anglo living in the Midwest, we all love to gather, and we all love to gather with our families, we love to eat together. I think barbecue unifies us! (Laughs) We love to barbecue. Alex, you probably love to barbecue as well, right?
AG: I do! I’m Mexican, so my family has the Mexican barbecue. Fajitas, rice, beans, pico de gallo, all of that.
CM: Right. I had some of the best fajitas I’ve ever had in Austin, Texas. It was the fajitas with tortillas, and it had guacamole, salsa, a little bit of sour cream and cheese, and it was off the hook, Alex.
AG:
What restaurant was it at?
CM: It wasn’t at a restaurant. It was with a bunch of guys that compete professionally. His name was Sierra, and his family…you know I can actually get you that information if you really need it.
AG: Oh yeah, I mean, that’s cool. I went to school in Austin for four years, and I was definitely a meat person during that time.
CM: Did you ever go to Sugar Shack?
AG: No, I didn’t! But I heard about it.
CM: Dude, the Sugar Shack is absolutely amazing. I had the “Notorious P.I.G.” It’s like a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw, and it’s amazing. The two guys that own the Sugar Shack are raza! They are completely Mexican. We were there, and we had a great time with those guys.

AG: So obviously you’ve been filming then already, right?
CM: Yeah, I’m still filming, and I have three episodes left. I’m having such a great time, Alex, it’s just really fun to be travelling around the country just talking to people and exploring and arm-wrestling great-grandmothers, because that’s what I’m doing, and having tea in North Carolina with a bunch of Tias. The show’s not only just going to be about me, it’s going to be about life and my experiences and me travelling across the country. So I think when people watch that, it’s going to be a breath of fresh air, especially for television, you know? There’s not a lot of creativity happening right now in television. I just feel like when people watch the show, they’re really going to be like, “Wow, this is pretty cool.”

AG: What has been your craziest experience so far while filming?
CM: I think the craziest experience while filming was just recently, actually, in Louisiana. I had never seen an alligator up close, and I had never seen an alligator being fed, like, in person. Seeing that…wow. Seeing a 14 or 15-foot alligator right in front of your face being fed chicken, that was pretty gnarly, dude, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was pretty awesome. And canoeing. Canoeing through the Bayou in Louisiana, it was pretty awesome. It was pretty fun.

AG: What made you want to go into this line of work?
CM: Well my background – for the majority of my career – has been radio. I continue to have a radio show here on 102.7 KIIS FM here in L.A., and I’m on Sirius XM. It just naturally happened. It was just a natural progression into something else. I’ve been doing TV for five years now with MTV Tr3s here in Los Angeles, I’ve been doing that, and now I’m also doing some stuff with ESPN and ESPN Deportes here in L.A. I’m just looking at every facet, every angle I can pretty much dive into, every career I can dive into, every median I can see myself doing. I definitely got the opportunity to do this show and just decided I really wanted it. I auditioned for it, and I got it. I feel really blessed.

AG: How did this project come together? How did you hear about it, and how did you decide you wanted to do it?
CM: You know, thank God for my agents! (laughs) Thank God for my agents, they’re awesome. Shout out to IMG, I love you guys. They’re pretty amazing, and they got me the meeting and I got the audition for the show. I auditioned for the show, and I had only a day to prepare for the show. They called me, and they were like, “Chuey, this is a rush audition, they need a tape of you, like, today, talking about barbecue or doing something.” I was like, “All right, cool,” so I get my buddies and we go to a spot in Burbank to eat barbecue. They’re recording me, I’m talking to people inside the restaurant, and we went to the house, edited the whole videotape down, my audition tape, and we sent it to them. I didn’t hear anything. They were just like, “Hey, we’ll let you know.” Two weeks later, I get a phone call, and they’re like, “Chuey, we have some really great news for you.” I was just like, “Okay, what’s up? What’s going on?” They were like, “Travel Channel loves you, the production company loves you, and the casting director loves you. We just want to tell you congratulations, you are the new host of ‘All You Can Meat.’” I couldn’t believe it. I start screaming. You know, because we’re emotional, we’re emotional Latinos. I screamed, like, “Oh my God,” like the Holy Ghost was in me, and Alex, it still hasn’t hit me to be honest with you. I just feel really blessed, and I’m excited. I want everybody to watch this, and I want everybody to know how much fun I’m having making the show. I hope they have fun watching it.

AG: What has been your favorite part so far? I mean, obviously you get to eat some really good food, but other than that, what’s been your favorite thing about this show? Like, if you were a watcher, if you were watching this show, what would be your favorite thing about it?
CM: My favorite thing about it so far, I think , is just the interaction I have with people. I think before the food – the food is amazing – but having these experiences that I’m having with people are great. You know, like hanging out with grandmas in Kansas City, hanging out with Tias and drinking tea in Charlotte, and also hanging out with families of Katrina survivors in New Orleans. I think that was amazing. For a family to have lost everything in Katrina and barely moving into their home, not even a year, and for them to invite me to their home to eat, I think that was beautiful.

AG: How do you find these places to eat? What kind of research is done before you go and eat at these places?
CM: There are lots of stops that I’m throwing out there, because I know of some good barbecue spots in the country. That’s my production team, my producers. The producers I’m working with are great, doing lots of research, and finding families. You know, we’re trying to stay away from the whole, like, me going to a restaurant, because people have done that already. Me going to a restaurant with a camera crew, it’s not like that. It’s like me going into a city and hanging out with the people that have been making ribs for years and making their family’s secret recipes for years. It’s me hanging out with people on the block, in the backyard, at a community center, you know, hanging out with them in front of their grills, their smokers, chillin’ with their families. It’s not just me in a restaurant talking to a professional chef. It’s far from that. It’s life, it’s barbecue, it’s me travelling around the country, it’s me having fun.

AG: Being a Hispanic in the entertainment industry, what has it been like? Any advantages or disadvantages during your time in the industry?
CM: I think – to be honest with you, Alex – there’s going to be disadvantages in every profession, in every situation. Professionally, in this industry, in media, what have you. I think, right now, if you’re Latino, bilingual, you’re young, you’re old, whatever, you’re male, you’re female, whatever. I think, right now, it’s the time for the Latinos, especially in media, when it comes to radio, television, it’s our time right now. I think it’s a huge advantage to be Latino right now, because we are the number one consumer in the country. Do we have the most buying power in this country? The answer is yes. I believe you should be proud of who you are, proud of your heritage, be proud of where you came from, be proud of where your family came from. You know, in my situation, my great-grandparents were campesinos, they were  field workers in Arizona picking strawberries. My great-grandfather worked in the coal mines in Arizona. It’s like, you have to understand and you have to know where you came from to really appreciate and grasp the power that we have now, you know, what they did for us, all the sacrifices they made for us back then so we could have that advantage now, and I think we really do.

AG: What do you see as your next move? I know you’ve got your hands full with this show, but let’s say…five years from now, where would you like to see yourself?
CM: Five years from now, Alex, I’m going to have my own late night talk show.
AG: Awesome, that sounds great!
CM: I’m laying the foundation for all that good stuff down right now, because I will have my own late night talk show. Will it happen in five years? I’m hoping to God it will. Maybe it’ll happen in less than five years, maybe it’ll happen in three years, four years. But that’s what I’m laying the groundwork for now. Do I want to be the next Conan or Jimmy Fallon? You know, sure, I’d like to have their time-slots, but I’m definitely going to have my own flavor, my own spin to it. That’s what my ultimate goal is.

AG: So is there anything else I haven’t touched on that you’d like the people of Houston to know about you or about your show?
CM: Just, you know, I hope everybody enjoys the show. I want everyone to know that I enjoyed making it. I’m still filming it, and to just watch it, support it, and just in advance, thank you everyone for the love and support constantly to my family and my fans, of course. Let’s just rock and roll, let’s have fun, and just know that with me, it’s 100 percent real, nothing really scripted, and what you see is what you get with Chuey Martinez. I hope they enjoy it.

AG: Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today.
CM: Alex, I really appreciate you, thank you so much.

American Idol’s Eliminated: Hollie Cavanagh

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Last night, America’s vote determined who would be journeying to their hometown this week for a “hero’s visit.” Joshua Ledet will be visiting Westlake, Louisiana, Phillip Phillips will be visiting Leesburg, Georgia, and Jessica Sanchez will be visiting San Diego, California. McKinney, Texas native Hollie Cavanagh will be going home, but not for a visit.

Cavanagh’s performances of “Faithfully” by Journey and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt didn’t conjure up enough votes to keep her in the Top 3. However, she will be joining her Idol friends on tour for the American Idol Live! Tour this summer. Until then, she spoke to the media about her time on Idol.

Jamie Ruby with ScifiVision.com
JR: What kind of album do you see yourself making?
HC: I’d like for my album to be kind of on the pop side but with a little bit of soul.  I’d like to make music that’s, you know, on the top of the charts right now.  So somewhere along those lines.
JR: Can you also kind of talk about the Idol mansion and what it’s like living there?
HC: It’s crazy.  The house is so big and, as it got a few of us left, it just seemed bigger each time.  It was a lot of fun and I was very blessed to have been in such a nice house like that, so it was really fun.

Todd Betzold with realitywanted.com
TB: My first question is just of everything you were able to experience and have those moments throughout this season, which one was your best or most favorite moment?
HC: I think probably when I sang “Rolling in the Deep” and “Son of a Preacher Man.”  I think that was definitely my turning point on the show, but definitely also “The Climb” because that was my first standing ovation on the show.
TB: There are only three singers left, so who do you think is going to take it all this season?
HC: I honestly have no idea.  I’m definitely with America and the judges on this one.  I have no idea because the show can go either way and you honestly just don’t know.  But whoever it is, it’s going to be—I mean, they’re all amazing so it’s definitely going to be a fight to the finish line.

Mike Hughes with TVAmerica.
MH: I’m going to ask you—I like to do it as a little different version of that question.  I don’t want you to pick who’s the best or who’s going to win, but you’ve just got this great perspective.  You’ve seen people closer up better than anyone else.  If you could, please, just each person, just tell us a little bit about what you find interesting about that person either as a person or as a performer.  Just something interesting about them.
HC: Phillip is very unique.  The way he performs you don’t see a lot of people perform like that.  He has his very own style and his voice is amazing.  Josh, I mean, he takes you to a whole other place when he sings.  If you watched the show, he amazes everybody each week.  And, of course, Jessica is only 16 and the way she sings—she sounds like she’s in her 20s.  She’s amazing as well as the other two, so it’s definitely going to be tough.  The finale is going to be a big one.
MH: Just to follow up on that one.  Jessica is the only one in school.  Some of the stories talk about—they say you are now a soccer player in high school, but you graduated this last year, didn’t you?
HC: Yes.  I graduated already.
MH: So as you sit there and watch her, you can kind of enjoy the fact that you’re a grown-up and out of school and so on.
HC: Yes.  It was definitely something I was glad I wasn’t doing.

Matt Carter with Examiner.com.
MC: Well, I know you had a pretty close friendship with Joshua while you were on the show and in the mansion and all that.  So when did you guys first become friends and how much downtime did you guys really have to hang out in the midst of everything that is going on?
HC: We started to get really close in Hollywood week and then kind of after that, we were just attached at the hip from there.  When he would rehearse, I would be in there watching him rehearse and when we could ever go out to dinner, we’d go out to dinner.  Like me, Josh, and Skylar, we’d always be out and any time that we had, we just kind of hung out and relaxed and kept each other sane.
MC: What has it been like for you to have, not just praise from people on the show, but so much praise from people who have been on this show—I mean, Carrie Underwood and Lauren Alaina are two people who have been very much in your corner at times this season.
HC: It’s been amazing just to know that they watch the show.  Especially Carrie when I sang her song.  Obviously, it was amazing to get good feedback from Carrie because it was her song, but it’s just crazy the support that we get and it’s just really a blessing.

Michael Jodha with CTV.ca.
MJ: I just wanted to ask you a little bit about your performances from last night.  When you sang “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Jimmy had said that you didn’t quite understand the song, but afterwards when Ryan was discussing it with you, you said that it was a song you’ve always liked, especially the lyrics.  My question is do you agree with Jimmy’s comments or do you stick by your performance as being as faithful as how you intended to sing the song?
HC: I definitely stand by that song.  I love that song, and I think the lyrics in that song are so beautiful and I’ve loved that song for so long.  I’m really glad I got to perform it.  As far as what Jimmy said, I definitely felt that song, and I understood the meaning of it, but it didn’t come across the way Jimmy wanted it to and that’s fine.  I re-watched it and I do agree that there could have been some parts that I could have did more with it, I guess, but I think I stand by it.  I just really enjoy performing that song.
MJ: One of the performances I really liked was when you did the duet with Jessica.  I’m just curious—how hard was it to actually sit or sing on the swings during “Eternal Flame.”  Like how hard was it to perform that song?
HC: It was interesting but it was a lot of fun.  We had fun in rehearsals with those swings.  We’d try to swing high and get in trouble because the lights up top, but it was a lot of fun.

Michael Weinfeld with the Associated Press Broadcast.
MW: I understand that you woke up that morning with a gut feeling that you were going to be voted off.  Where did that feeling come from, do you think, and had you ever felt that before in previous weeks?
HC: No.  There was definitely something different about that day.  I’m not sure what it was, but I guess it was just my gut just telling me.  I was just preparing myself for it, but at the same time staying hopeful because you never know what could happen.  But I’m not quite sure what the feeling was, but it was just different than every other Thursday.
MW: And when you make it to the final four, the pressure is just incredible.  Where did you go?  What do you guys do to alleviate the pressure and what do you do for fun?
HC: We just kind of hang out at the house or maybe go get some dinner or something like that.  There is not really much we do.  We don’t really go crazy because we’re so tired most of the time so we just kind of hang out with each other and just take our minds off our songs a little bit and just mess around and play jokes on each other and just have a little fun.
MW: What sort of jokes?
HC: Just like pranks—like Josh would always try to scare me like 24 hours of the day.  Skylar did it and Colton did it.  Joshua was trying to buy a bunny to put in Phillip’s room just for the fun of it.  Just crazy things.

Rodney Ho with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
RH: You took a lot of criticism from some of the judges and some of your fans got really angry.  Do you think that may have actually helped you, in a sense, that your fans kind of rallied around you whenever you were in the bottom three?
HC: A lot of people say how I feel about how people thought that the judges were really hard on me but I kind of took it in a positive way to keep fighting and I think that’s how my fans saw it as well.  They saw me wanting to keep fighting, so I think they just had my back and got me through each week.
RH: You didn’t get a lot of airtime going through Hollywood, but I guess over time, people picked up on you.  Did it worry you when you watched the show and said, “Oh my, God, where am I?”
HC: At the beginning, I was a bit—my friends were like, “Are you sure you tried out this year.  Are you sure you’re on the show?”  I was like, “Yes, I’m coming on there.  I promise.  I got showed in the Vegas week.  I think it helps me, in a sense, though.”  I was okay with it.  I had like 20 different thoughts going through my mind about why or why it wasn’t shown.  I think it was a good thing.

Tiffany Wan with Wetpaint Entertainment.
TW: My first question for you is a lot of people were kind of calling you the dark horse, and I think Randy even said it, kind of the dark horse of the competition.  How did you feel about that description?
HC: I mean I would take it as a compliment, I guess, you could say.  I never really looked into what everyone was saying.  I really was focusing week by week and making sure that my songs were right and my songs were good enough.  I just went out there and I wanted to improve each week.  I think that people were seeing an improvement in me each week.  I definitely feel like I’ve grown so much.  I’m just really proud of that.
TW: My follow-up to you is what do you feel like was your hardest week on the show in terms of the theme?
HC: I think my hardest one was definitely Billy Joel week.  That was one that was not a great one for me.  It was a tough one.
TW: Anything in particular tough about it or just it wasn’t really your strength.
HC: Yes.  It just wasn’t really my style and, obviously, I had like two different songs and then I ended up with “Honesty” and I had never heard that and I was learning it.  It was a very tough song but I got through so I was glad.

Michele Angermiller with the Hollywood Reporter.
MA: I have a question about a lot of contestants this season seemed to have said that they had never heard of the songs that they were assigned by Jimmy or whatever.  Do you think maybe it would be easier if the themes were more current?  Because you are a pop girl.  You always do well on the current songs.
HC: Yes, I mean, sometimes it’s difficult when we get songs and we have no idea what they are, but I guess that is the competition.  You’re going to get songs thrown at you that you don’t know and you have learn.  You don’t have a choice, so that was part of the competition, you could say.  Sometimes we did wish we could sing songs that are on the radio now because a lot of teenagers and all that watch, but I think it would have been nice to have a mixture of both like a lot, but I think they have done that pretty well this year.
MA: Were there any British artists you wish you could have done during British week?
HC: There was a lot.
MA: I’m sure you had a wish list.
HC: I was going to do a Spice Girl song and change it up, but  I stuck to Leona.

Beth Kwiatkowski with Reality TV World.
BK: So when I talked to Skylar last week, she said you were convinced you were going to be the one eliminated but she kept insisting to you that you were going to be surprised.  What was going through your mind last night?  Did you think you were going to be eliminated again and therefore weren’t surprised with the results?  I know you said you had a little bit of a gut feeling, but were you surprised at all?  You didn’t end up crying.  You seemed to take it really well.  It almost seems like you were prepared for the news.
HC: When Skylar was there, I was very shocked at that one because Skylar had killed it every week and she’d done amazing every week.  That was a shock to me.  This week something was just different than I felt last week.  Skylar kept insisting that it wasn’t me going, but you just never know.  But this week I think I just felt it.
BK: Okay.  There hasn’t been a female winner of American Idol since Jordin Sparks and I think it was 2006.  Do you think a woman can actually win at this point or do you think, given the voting public seems to be largely girls, do you think the show is just going to keep having guy winners every year?
HC: I think it’s tough for girls now because there are a lot of girl votes that go for the boys.  But you never know in this show.  The three that are left – they all have the biggest chance to win.  They’re all going to bring it each week.  I know they are.  It’s going to be tough for America, I know that. 
BK: Do you think Jessica Sanchez is capable of pulling that off?
HC: Yes, of course.  She’s amazing.  She’s definitely capable of winning and so is Josh and so is Phillip.  It’s a tough one.

Alex Gonzalez with La Prensa de Houston.
AG: So you’ve had some really amazing mentors this season.  You have Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Stephen Tyler giving you advice each week.  Which judge or mentor has given you the best advice and what advice is that?
HC: I think I’ve definitely always felt loyal to Jennifer because she’s been with me—she’s always been rooting for me and always had my back since last year and always believed in me.  I think she’s definitely been a big inspiration for me since last year and this year.  In my mentor sessions, I would definitely say that Stevie Nicks was a big one for me because we kind of had a moment and it got really personal and beyond the lines of me in a singing competition.  She really just cared about us at that moment and wanted to help.
AG: What are you going to miss the most about being on Idol and what are you most looking forward to about going on tour?
HC: I think all the American Idol crew and production and everyone.  It’s so fun working over there with them.  They’re all so nice and just so loveable and you just have a good time.  That’s going to be hard leaving all that.  Even leaving the Idol stage is going to be difficult because we spent so much time there.  It’s like our new home, so it’s going to be difficult, but we’re all excited for the tour—to just start singing for our fans and not being judged and just enjoying.  We love to sing.

Sammi Turano with TV Grapevine.
ST: My first question for you is out of all your fellow competitors, which one do you most want to collaborate with?
HC: I would love to do a duet with Josh.  That would be amazing because he’s amazing.  I’ve done a duet with Jessica and I’ve done one with Skylar so far in the competition, so I’d like to do one with Josh.  That would be pretty fun.
ST: My other question for you was you got a lot of good advice from the judges.  What kind of advice would you give your fellow competitors and future competitors of the show?
HC: I would just say to be confident in yourself and have self belief.  If you’re going to go for it—go for it.  Don’t let anybody steer you in the direction you don’t want to go and stay true to yourself.  Anything could happen and you just have to believe that and keep pushing forward.  If they try to bring you down, you just pick your hat up and you just try harder the next time and prove them wrong.

Mike Hughes with TV America.
MH: Hollie, I’ve never met anyone who moved from Liverpool to Texas.  That’s such an interesting contrast.  When you did that, what did you find interesting about what was different about the way people here live life or something?
HC: It’s like a huge dramatic change.  I went from a completely different lifestyle to this lifestyle but it was a good change.  My dad moved us out there to be here and follow our dreams here and make a better lifestyle for us.  It was a good change.
MH: It was a change in what way?  How do we live differently here?  What did you notice about life being different here?
HC: In England where I lived it was very like you do the same thing every day like see your family and do this or do that.  It’s here there is so much more to do, I guess.  Like I can go out and achieve something like this.  Much more of that makes sense.

Moderator: Unfortunately, we are out of time, so Hollie, do you have any closing remarks?

HC: Just to all my fans just thank you and thank you for everybody’s questions.  I definitely hope to see what happens in the future and we’ll see what happens.  And to all my Holliepops, you are all amazing so thank you guys so much.

American Idol: Season 11’s Final Three!

JOSHUA LEDET, PHILLIP PHILLIPS AND JESSICA SANCHEZ

ARE THE TOP THREE FINALISTS ON AMERICAN IDOL!

THE TOP THREE WILL PERFORM THREE SONGS EACH:

JUDGES’ CHOICE, JIMMY IOVINE’S CHOICE AND THEIR CHOICE

WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, ON FOX

 Two-Night Season 11 Finale Airs Tuesday, May 22 and Wednesday, May 23

 Last night, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez were named the Top Three American Idol finalists. One of them will be crowned the next American Idol, but not before all three travel back to their hometowns, to see family, friends and fans. After America cast a season-high 70 million votes for their favorite finalists, it also was revealed that Hollie Cavanagh had received the fewest number of votes and was eliminated from the competition.

With only two performance shows left in the season, tune in next week, Wednesday, May 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), when the Top Three return to their hometowns and find out what songs the judges and Jimmy Iovine have chosen for them to perform. Each finalist will sing three songs: “Judges’ Choice”; “Jimmy’s Choice”; and “Their Choice.”

Don’t miss the live results show the following night, Thursday, May 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), when host Ryan Seacrest will announce the Top Two finalists who battle it out in the Grand Finale. In addition, Lisa Marie Presley will perform “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” from her new album “Storm & Grace,” and Season Eight runner-up Adam Lambert performs his new song, “Never Close Our Eyes.”

As the Top Three prepare to return to their hometowns, here’s what they’re looking forward to:

JOSHUA:  “Performing at the Burton Coliseum. I’m excited to see it filled with my friends and family!”

JESSICA: “I’m excited to see my friends and family and I want to visit Eastlake Middle School. I love my fans in San Diego so much. I want to give them all kisses!”

PHILLIP:  “There are so many things I am looking forward to – seeing my family, jamming out with the guys, chicken and cheese nachos and homemade chicken pot pie!”

 

The Top Three finalists are:

Joshua Ledet
Hometown: Westlake, LA
Age: 20
Keep up with Joshua at:
http://www.twitter.com/JLedetAI11
http://www.facebook.com/JLedetAI11

Phillip Phillips
Hometown: Leesburg, GA
Age: 21
Keep up with Phillip at:
http://www.twitter.com/PPhillipsAI11
http://www.facebook.com/PPhillipsAI11

Jessica Sanchez
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Age: 16
Keep up with Jessica at:
http://www.twitter.com/JSanchezAI11
http://www.facebook.com/JSanchezAI11

On tonight’s results show, global superstar and AMERICAN IDOL judge, Jennifer Lopez,  performed her hit new song “Dance Again.” Season Seven AMERICAN IDOL winner David Cook also returned to the IDOL stage to perform “The Last Song I’ll Write For You.”

“Like” AMERICAN IDOL on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanIdol. Follow the series on Twitter @AmericanIdol and join the discussion at #Idol. Also, follow host Ryan Seacrest at @RyanSeacrest, and follow the judges: @yo_randyjackson; @JLo; and @iamstevent.

AMERICAN IDOL is produced by 19 Entertainment, a division of CKX, Inc. and FremantleMedia North America. The series is created and executive-produced by Simon Fuller, CEO, XIX Entertainment, and executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America; Ken Warwick, Executive Producer, FremantleMedia North America; and Nigel Lythgoe, CEO, Nigel Lythgoe Productions.

See what happens every Thursday when the show ends, but the cameras keep rolling, as the eliminated finalist says an emotional goodbye and exits the IDOL stage. Visit www.americanidol.com for this exclusive insider’s view each week after the West Coast broadcast of the results show, as well as for exclusive videos, interviews, photos and special behind-the-scenes information.

American Idol’s Eliminated: Skylar Laine

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Season 11 of American Idol has been entirely unpredictable. From bringing back Jermaine Jones making it a Top 25 to the shocking elimination of Colton Dixon, this season has America on its toes. In keeping with the unpredictability, fan favorite Skylar Laine was sent home last night.

Resident country singer Laine had many memorable, high-octane performances like “Stay with Me” by Rod Stewart and “Gunpowder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert. When it came down to the final five, Laine, Phil Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet, America decided Laine would be the first to go.

Mark Stone at Castanet Media: 
MS: Hey Skylar.  How are you?
SL: I’m good.  How are you?
MS: I’m doing pretty good, pretty good.  Sorry to see you go last night.  It was a big shock to everybody.  I was just wondering, as you were looking back is there anything that you wished you could have showed to America?  Like, whether it was a song, or a party personality, or something that you wished you could have done?
SL: I mean, I really think that I showed everything that I could, you know.  I showed ballads.  I showed upbeat songs.  I showed passion.  I showed anger in my songs.  I really think that I showed a lot of stuff.  I wouldn’t change a thing that I did on the show.
MS: Cool.  Just a quick follow up.  So if you could choose a night on the town with any of the judges who would it be and why?
SL: I’d probably pick Steven to go out on a night on the town because you know he’s crazy.  We’d have fun.
MS: You’d have a lot of fun.  Well thanks so much Skylar.  All the best to you.
SL: Thank you.

Todd Betzold with RealityWanted.com. 
TB: Hi Skylar.  How are you?
SL: I’m fine.
TB: I just was wondering, like, you will be going on a summer tour with the Top 10 this upcoming summer.  So I was just wondering what are you looking forward to the most with that?
SL: I’m looking forward to meeting fans on the tour because they’re the ones that have gotten me this far.  They’re the ones that are still supporting me now even though I’m not on the show anymore.  I’m just looking forward to meeting them and then seeing all the places that we’re going.  Finally, feeling like I’ve made it by being on a stage, giving a concert.  You know, you feel like you’ve finally made it.
TB: Right.  What advice were you given during the show that you’re going to carry on with you from this point on?
SL: I’m definitely just going to keep the advice to just stay myself.  Like, don’t let anybody change me as an artist.  I’m not a pop country singer.  I never will be.  Don’t let anybody try to make me one.  I need to sing that kind of country music that I want to sing and that comes out when I write.
TB: All right.  Well, best of luck to you.  I did love you.  I was sad to see you go.
SL: Thank you so much.

Jamie Ruby with ScifiVision.com. 
JR: Hi Skylar.  Thanks so much for doing the call.
SL: Oh, yes, it’s fine.  Thank you.
JR: Well, first thing I wanted to ask you is you always had really great dresses on the show.  I have an odd question, but I was just curious, do you choose those or is it more of a stylist thing?  Do you get to keep the clothes that you have on there?
SL: We get to keep most of the stuff that we wear.  The stylist helps us.  But if I didn’t like something, of course, she would always say, “Okay, well we’ll find something else.”  But she was really good at finding me stuff.  She kind of knew that–I told her I was like, bringing me dresses but have something that’s a little bit like maybe hard-core over it or something.  Not something so girly.
JR: Well, you always looked really great, I think.  
SL: Thank you.
JR: Why did you decide to audition for American Idol and why now?
SL: I’ve actually wanted to audition for like two years.  I’ve always had something else going on that I couldn’t.  So this year I finally got the chance and I was like, you know what, I’m just going to go out for it.  I don’t think I’ll make it past the first round but I did.  Now I’m the top five.  It’s incredible.  It’s like unbelievable to think I’ve made it this far.
JR: Great.  Well thanks a lot.  It was sad to see you go.  So good luck.
SL: Thanks.

Michael Jodha with CTV.ca.
MJ: Hi Skylar.  Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today.
SL: You’re welcome.
MJ: So, I know, on the show you said that you were a country girl and you love the support of your country fans.  I’m just curious, was that a conscious decision to promote yourself only in that way or do you feel that that kind of shoehorned you into a box that may have alienated you from the support of non country fans during the competition?
SL: No.  It’s definitely a conscious decision.  I pretty much know.  I’ve accepted the fact that if I get to make an album and I have singles out that they’re probably only going to be played on country radio because that’s just the way it is.  That’s the way my songs are going to sound. I’ve pretty much accepted that.  I’m fine with it because I want to make real country music; you know, like Honky Tonk songs, just the good old country stuff.  I mean, that’s was going to make me happy and that’s what comes out when I write.
MJ: Okay.  My follow up is, I know that the judges have commented that, especially last night, that they’re finally seeing you comfortable on the stage not just singing but with performing as well.  I’m just curious, what kind of growth have you seen in yourself from last night’s performance and from the first time that you stepped out on the Idol stage?
SL: I definitely got more confident each week you know.  I’ve always been confident on stage, rocking out.  But I’ve gotten more confident each week.  I’m just happy to have made it this far, just top five.  I think this place is good with me.
MJ: Well, thank you very much.  All the best for your future.
SL: Thanks.

Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.
SL: Hi.
JS: Hi.  It’s such pleasure to speak with you.
SL: Oh, thank you so much.
JS: You have an amazing voice and I’m glad you got so far in the contest. I was wondering, your inspiration is Miranda Lambert.  Is there any hopes of maybe doing a bit of a duet with her in the future, maybe some songwriting?
SL: It would be my dream to write with Miranda and do a duet.  Justin Moore is another one of my inspirations.  Like, Miranda and Justin are my idols.  I would love to do a duet with both of them and write with both of them.  So, hopefully, one day I will be able to.
JS: I was wondering, what would you say was the best advice that you received while you were on the show from the judges?
SL: I definitely received the advice to stay myself and don’t change what kind of artist I am.  Just keep writing.
JS: Great.  Thank you so much.

Michael Weinfeld with Associated Press Broadcast.
MW: Hi Skylar.
SL: Hi.
MW: Skylar, the judges kept saying how great you were but then you get voted off.  Did you ever give any thought to trying to please the viewers as opposed to pleasing just the judges?
SL; I really always thought about that.  You know, I was really thinking about that every time.  I was trying to please the viewers and the judges.  Maybe it was just my time to go.  I just didn’t get enough votes.
MW: Also, I understand that you said that you were relieved to be voted off because of the stress level and now no more stress.  Can you compare the stress that you had to endure for Idol to any other thing that’s ever happened in your life?
SL: I really can’t.  It’s like; this has been the most stressful time.  But the thing is I loved it.  But I said I was relieved because I am relieved that I won’t have to have that crazy hectic schedule; just because I won’t have to worry about song choice and being judged.  I just am relieved about that stuff.
MW: All right.  Thanks a lot, Skylar.

David Oliver with USA Today
DO: Hi Skylar.  How are you today?
SL: I’m good.
DO: Good.  Okay.  Back when you auditioned when you talked about your family’s restaurant and how much that meant to you.  Are you still planning on helping out even with all your success on Idol?
SL: Of course, I want to help out.  I just want to help out in any way possible that I can.
DO: Okay.  Who were you closest with on the show?  Do you have a favorite memory or inside joke that you’d like to share about another contestant?
SL: I was closest with Josh and Hollie.  We just had a bunch of funny stuff we’d always say.  I would wake her up with a duck call sometimes.  So that was pretty funny.
DO: All right.  Thanks so much.  Good luck.

Tiffany Wan with Wetpaint Entertainment.
TW: Hi Skylar.
SL: Hi.
TW: We were sad to see you go in the office. But thanks for speaking with us today.
SL: Thank you.
TW: Like some other people have said, the judges always gave you, like, really great encouragement throughout the weeks.  So was it a surprise to you to go home this week?
SL: It’s never a surprise on Thursdays.  You never know what’s going to happen.  This season has been really unpredictable and it’s going to keep being that way now.  I was just happy to make it as far as I have.
TW: My follow up for you is, I read that Carrie Underwood also said that she was sorry to see you go last night.  How do you feel about her comments?
SL: I think that she was so sweet about it.  She, actually said in one of her interviews, I think, that the country communities already welcomed me with open arms and that just means the world to me.  So all of her comments were sweet.  I was so happy to hear them.
TW: Great.  Well thanks again for your time today.
SL: Thanks.

Beth Kwiatkowski with Reality TV World.
BK: Hi, Skylar.  Congratulations on making it this far.
SL: Thank you very much.
BK: No problem.  So I know that you’ve said that you weren’t really surprised to be eliminated.  Would you mind elaborating on that a little bit because, at first glance, it seems like you might have been a little surprised given Hollie had landed in the bottom three quite a few more times than you throughout the season.
SL: Well, I wasn’t surprised because, I don’t know, I just got a gut feeling when I came back up there and I stood there and I told Hollie, I said, “I think you’re about to be surprised,” because she thought she was going home.  She was like, “No I’m not.”  I said, “Yes.  You’re going to be surprised.”  Then I said, “I told you so,” after it because I mean I just wasn’t surprised because you can’t be because you never know what’s going to happen.
BK: Sure, during last nights show, Jimmy Iovine said Jessica Sanchez’s dress was “too mature and racy for her age.”  He thought it probably made people a little uncomfortable to watch I guess.  However, Jennifer Lopez quickly came to Jessica’s defense and said that although some voters might have thought her outfit was a little too much and rightfully so, she thought people in show business had different standards and it would be considered acceptable.  So I guess what’s your opinion on the debate?  Do you think Jessica’s dress was age appropriate or do you think it was a little too much for the show and the American Idol audience?
SL: I really don’t know what to say about that.  Her dress, I loved her dress.  I think, Jessica’s got a body to die for and she’s stick thin.  Don’t we all want to be that way?  But I don’t really know.  I loved the dress and if people were offended by it then they were offended by it.  But I didn’t really have a problem with it.
TW: Okay.  Thank you so much, Skylar, and good luck with everything.
SL: Thanks.

Michele Angermiller with The Hollywood Reporter.
MA: Skylar.  How are you?
SL: I’m good.  How are you?
MA: I have an 8-year-old daughter that was in tears last night.  Tears, she loved you.  She was voting for you.
SL: Thank you.  Thank you so much.
MA: So I was supposed to tell you that.  Anyhow, you had some amazing performances early on.  A fan favorite would be when you opened up with “Stay With Me” just exploded on the show and that’s one thing Jennifer Lopez loved about you.   She said that you were kind of like, let me on stage, let me on stage.  Did you feel that adrenaline rush every time you hit the stage?
SL: Yes.  Definitely.  Even if I was singing a ballad I felt an adrenaline rush you know.  It’s crazy to be up on that stage.  You just feel so much–I can’t ever remember anything that happened on stage.
MA: Never?
SL: No.  I really don’t remember anything.  I just have to watch them back.
MA: Now what do you think you’re planning on for the tour?
SL: I’m definitely going to sing country.  I don’t want to have to sing pop.  On the show, of course, we have to sing what they give us and everything.  I just want to sing country music and hopefully I get to sing some of my songs.
MA: Looking forward to whatever you record in the future, Skylar.  We miss you.
SL: Thank you so much.

Mesha McDaniel with Celebrity Profile.
MM: Hi Skylar.  How are you?
SL: Hi.  Fine thanks.
MM: You’re welcome.  I think you did a great job on American Idol.  You were really fun to watch on the stage.
SL: Oh, thank you very much.
MM: You’re welcome.  You were really consistent throughout the entire competition and you could tell you really wanted to win.  But going into your final performance you fumbled with your song.  How important do you think song choice is?  Do you think it had anything to do with you being eliminated?
SL: I don’t know if song choice had anything to do with me being eliminated.  I really don’t know what it was.  It could have been.  I will never know.  So I don’t really like to linger on it.  But I’m just trying to remember my good times and everything that I’ve had on the show.  I had a great time the other night performing.
MM: You’ve been in Hollywood for a few months and this is where it all happens in the music industry.  Are you ready to leave your hometown of Mississippi and become an LA girl?
SL: No.  I don’t plan on moving to LA after the tour.  I want to move to Nashville because you know that’s where country music is and that’s where country artists record.  So that’s where I want to be.
MM: Okay.  Thanks Skylar.  Congratulations.  I know you’re going to do great.
SL: Thanks.
MM: You’re welcome.

Tammy Smith with the Sun Herald Newspaper. 
TS: Hi Skylar.
SL: Hi.
TS: It’s another Mississippi girl here from Biloxi.
SL: Oh, that’s cool.
TS: I’m kind of following up on something somebody asked you earlier about the clothes.  I know that you’re a tom boy at heart and you’re just a good ‘ol Mississippi girl.  Are you planning to keep some of that glamour that we saw in your costumes incorporated into your every day life now?
SL: I don’t know about in everyday life, maybe once in awhile.  But I always try to keep something a little bit more hardcore in my outfits, you know.  Give me a dress but I’m going to put something with it that’s a little bit more tomboyish.
TS: Okay.  All right.  Thank you so much.
SL: Thanks.

Jennifer Still with Digital Spy.
JS: Hi Skylar.
SL: Hi.
JS: I was so sad to see you go.  You were my favorite. 
SL: Oh, thank you so much.
JS: The one question I wanted to ask was that you know you have said that, obviously, it was a lot of pressure from week to week in the competition which makes a lot of sense.  But that never came across on stage.  Like, you somehow managed to really just bring energy.  Even after you were eliminated a lot of contestants sort of like can’t keep it together.  But you just had that same energy and that same attitude.  So how were you able to just stay so positive, even before the eliminations every single week to sort of shut down that pressure once you hit the stage?
SL: I definitely just forgot about everything and would sing songs I love.  I just forgot about it all and rocked out.  I just wanted to go out with a bang last night and I think I did a good job of it.
JS: I definitely agree.  Well, good luck with everything in the future.
SL: Thank you so much.

Alexandria Gonzalez with La Prensa Houston. 
AG: Hi Skylar.  How are you?
SL: I’m good.
AG: So I’m kind of late into this conference call.  So I don’t know if anyone’s asked you this yet.  I was just wondering, you’ve had some really great mentors throughout your time on Idol.  But which mentor was your favorite and why?
SL: My favorite mentor is probably Stevie Nicks because she just spent so much time learning the songs the night before and everything and she wanted to kind of have an idea of them.   Then she came in the next day and really had done her homework.  She really showed that she respected us and we respected her.
AG: Awesome.  What was your favorite performance?
SL: My favorite performances, there’s probably, I have two, “Stay With Me” and “Gunpowder And Lead.”  I love both of those.
AG: Awesome.  Well, thank you so much.
SL: Thank you.

Jamie Ruby with ScifiVision.com.
JR: Hi again.  So when you first got on stage when it was in front of the big audience, what was running through your head?
SL: I really can’t remember what was running through my head.  When I go out on stage, I kind of just block it all out.  Probably running through my head, what I can’t remember is like, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.  Don’t fall.  Don’t fall.
JR: So but you don’t really think about it, though, now?
SL: No.  I don’t really think about it because I can never remember what was going through my head when I was performing.
JR: Great.  What did you find then the most challenging?
SL: The most challenging was probably just staying true to myself and walking in high heels.
JR: All right.  Thank you.

Andrea Dresdale with ABC News Radio.
AD: Hey Skylar. 
SL: Hi.
AD: Can you talk more about how you say that you can’t remember anything that happened on stage?  Are you saying that your mind actually like, you know, went black and you didn’t remember how the performance went when you were standing there being judged and they would say, it was good, it was bad, whatever.  Could you really not remember?
SL: I mean I could remember.  But I could never remember what was going through my head in the middle of the performance.  Like, sometimes I’m not even thinking about anything in the middle of performance.  I’m just singing it, you know.  Or sometimes, I could be thinking about something completely different in the middle of a performance. I could be thinking about like, hum, what am I going to eat when I leave here or something.  I don’t know what it is.  It’s weird.  But it just happens that way.  I can never really remember what it is.
AD: Okay.  Well one thing you always did on stage is you always made sure to slap the hands of all the fans that were around the stage.  Did that come naturally to you?  Did you make a conscious decision to do that because you were, I think, one of the only contestants who ever did that.
SL: I really loved coming up and touching the fans hands.  They’re the ones that have gotten me here.  They’re the ones that love me.  They’re the ones that are going to buy my albums, hopefully.  So I just wanted to show them that I know they’re there and I know that they’re supporting me.
AD: Okay.  Thanks.

David Oliver with USA Today.
DO: Hi again Skylar.  I was just wondering, if you had any plans of writing albums now or do you have any songs that you’re working on?
SL: I have a lot of songs.  I have songs that I’ve written before and, of course, I have a catalog of them.  Then I have stuff that needs to be finished.  I want to write with other people.  So anything that they can have me do I’m really excited about.
DO: Okay.  Just one more.  If you had to pick somebody to win the competition now, who would you pick?
SL: Oh, I could not pick at all.  I wouldn’t pick even if I could because they’re all so amazing and I love them all.
DO: All right.  Thanks Skylar.

Sharyn Jackson with Xfinity TV.
SJ: Hi Skylar.
SL: Hi.
SJ: I got cut off for a minute.  So my apologies if you’ve already been asked this.  But Jimmy said in his commentary last night that he felt you didn’t understand the lyrics for “Fortunate Son,” and also, that you didn’t have the darkness that Jesse Springfield had.  I was just wondering, what were your feelings about these two songs and did you feel like you connected to the lyrics?  How did you understand those lyrics?
SL: “Fortunate Son” is a war protest song.  So you know it’s kind of like–I didn’t really think I should–I didn’t really know if I should connect to the lyrics or not.  I just was kind of singing the song because I really liked the melody, you know. Sometimes you just sing a song because you like the song.  Then Jessie Springfield, I felt like I had the darkness.  I felt like I had a lot of passion.  But Jimmy always has his opinion.  He’s not where he is today without knowing a couple of things.  So I respect his opinion.
SJ: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you.  Unfortunately, we are out of time.  So Skylar, do you have any closing remarks?

SL: I just want to thank everyone for all the support.  I just want to say that I hope to be talking to you all in the future; maybe if I get to make an album or about a tour.  Thank you all, though, for everything.  I hope that you all have a blessed day.