American Idol shaved the field of contenders down to the final 20 on Thursday, eliminating five male hopefuls. Among those who made the cut were Lazaro Arbos — who offered a rendition of judge Keith Urban’s Tonight I Wanna Cry — Cortez Shaw, Nick Boddington, Vincent Powell and Burnell Taylor — who judges felt provided the strongest performance with John Legend’s “This Time.”
Taylor, 19, is a New Orleans native and has shed a full 40 pounds since the show’s preliminary rounds. Thursday he made himself one of the favorites on the guys side. Competition has favored the women so far this year, but Taylor and the other male contestants may be able to regain some ground as the cast narrows down.
“Literally, today, I would pay to see you sing,” Nicki Minaj told Taylor. “The best by far tonight… Nobody else was even in your lane tonight, period!”
Also airing this week was an episode of Law & Order: SVU, emulating the very public 2006 domestic violence dispute between Chris Brown and Rihanna. The episode focuses on the incident’s media circus, complete with cameos from Wendy Williams and Perez Hilton.
Of course, if the show’s clear allusions to the pop music couple’s relationship weren’t enough, it tossed in an explanatory line for detective Olivia Munch. “They should double date Rihanna and Chris Brown,” she says of the fictional Micha Charles and Caleb Bryant (who shares Brown’s initials). Often specializing in melodrama, the writers of SVU took the case a step further, ending the episode with the death of Micha and her producers at the hands of Caleb.
Beyonce and actress Salma Hayek have offered a much more positive vision of women’s rights, teaming up with Gucci for the designer’s Chime For Change initiative. The program will produce a series of 10 short films in support of women’s rights, and provide aid to international projects. Beyonce has contributed her music to one of the films, and Hayek narrates.
“I have always felt strongly about equal opportunity for women. Girls have to be taught from early on that they are strong and capable of being anything they want to be,” Beyonce said in a statement. “It’s up to us to change the statistics for women around the world. I’m honored to be in the company of women who live fearlessly and set an example for the next generation of young ladies.”
Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and designer Frida Giannini are among the other celebrities involved with Chime for Change.