Film and TV

Idol Beat: Keep Austin...Hidden

Steven Tyler dropped an F-bomb on this week's audition episode, which definitely warrants an expression of remorse. After all, it isn't like they spent most of last week gleefully pixelating the middle fingers and bleeping the profane exclamations of rejected contestants, or helping further sodomize the music industry by making this glorified karaoke contest the yardstick by which we measure talent.

When you think about it, hiring an ex-junkie rock star known for constantly singing about sex as one of the judges and expecting him not to say the word "fuck" is really the least of American Idol's transgressions.

The fifth audition installment took place in Austin (its third trip to the Texas capital), and the producers obviously hoped for more of that city's fabled "weirdness." And while there was certainly some of that, A-town didn't exactly live up to its reputation as the "live music capital of the world."

Or did it? Maybe the fact that none of the featured contestants who made their way to Hollywood last night were actually from Austin is evidence that the city's true musicians wanted nothing to do with the spectacle this time around. Certainly it's better to play a weekly gig at Flipnotics than to sign a lucrative record deal and potentially get your music heard by millions of people, right?

We'll never know. The night's first pick, Corey Levoy, is from Longview, and the judges make the possibly fatal mistake of letting his sister Brooks sit next to Tyler. His sister's his best friend, see, which is either incredibly sweet or terribly, terribly sad.

And then there's Hollie Cavanagh, the weepy kid from McKinney, I don't know if she was punished for being off-key, or just because everyone is sick of hearing "At Last" (seriously, how have they not declared a moratorium on that fucking song?). But then, in a shocking development, J-Lo gives her another chance, and she skates through on the strength of her second performance.

And oh thank CHRIST the producers got hold of a real cowboy, given the preponderance of goofy ass ten gallon hats on display. I don't know what they would they have done if John Wayne Schultz hadn't loped in, doe not only is he named after the Duke (and a disquieting number of serial killers), but his mom had cancer. Ka-ching!

Schultz's audition was "Believe" by Brooks and Dunn, a song Randy described as "great." Really, Dawg? "Great?" That whole Clay Aiken thing makes more sense now.

But then, Randy is too fucking good natured to begin with, which is increasingly a problem with the entire panel. Does anybody honestly think Simon Cowell would've given Hollie Cavanagh another chance after butchering Etta James? Or let Missouri City's Courtney Penry's unhealthy crush on Ryan Seacrest go by without any scathing comment?

Three more make it through in less than a minute (from New Mexico, Arkansas, and North Carolina), including Perez Hilton lookalike Caleb Johnson, who belts out an impressively throaty version of "Rusty Cage."

But by the time we get to the saccharine Arizona couple of Jacqueline and Nick (and after we realize she's going to dump his Andy Samberg looking ass the minute she meets Justin Timberlake), it's apparent that Austin isn't really bringing it. None of the featured contestants were from closer than 100 miles away. There was some token weirdness, but nothing like New Orleans, and not even any Lady Gaga. The final two contestants chosen -- Janelle Arthur and Casey Abrams -- hailed from Tennessee and California, respectively.

The resulting need for filler was perhaps best demonstrated by the aforementioned appearance of Anthony, J-Lo's cadaverous spouse, and her wholly gratuitous commercial for Venus razors. Nice to see her artistic integrity remains undiminished.

Next up, Los Angeles, which makes me ask: how impressive is it to be told you're "going to Hollywood" when, well, you're actually in Hollywood? This is the kind of hard-hitting question I'll do my best to answer.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar