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Day 2 of the broadcast Backstage at The 58th GRAMMYs is always more hectic but also a lot of fun: you’re set up, in a groove and a lot of artists are coming by – usually more so than the previous day. It was great meeting ‘Idol’ winner Nick Fradiani, BØRNS and actress/singer Hailee Steinfeld. I also loved catching up with our bud Alessia Cara and seeing Zendaya for the first time in a minute.






East Brunswick N.J.’s JAX stopped by to chat about her new single “La La Land,” her trip to MSG to see Billy Joel, how she feels about her time on “American Idol,” and what she has planned for 2016!


David Cook stopped by “Ralphie Tonight” to chat about his new album Digital Vein and how it got him back to a place where he once again loves to write and record music. Cook was candid about how the death of his brother affected his music, and why he’s in a really good place at the moment. He also took fan questions and talked about possibly returning to “American Idol” next season.

Former “American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is interested in contributing to the show’s final season, set for next year.

“I feel like it’s my baby; I brought it over here (from England),” he told “Ralphie Tonight” on Sunday at the Tony Awards red carpet. “But I don’t know what egos are involved right now.”

Lythgoe produced “Idol” for 11 years, from its start in 2002 to 2013 when both he and fellow EP Ken Warwick were replaced. In a statement following his departure, the TV vet said that he was looking forward to focusing more on his other baby – “So You Think You Can Dance.” That show is currently in its 12th season with a pair of new judges alongside Lythgoe: Jason Derulo and former “Idol” panelist Paula Abdul.
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“A panel of judges isn’t about the individual,” he explained. “It’s about how you sit together. You know, looking at something like ‘The Voice’; it’s fantastic how Blake (Sheldon) and Adam (Levine) really made that work, and anyone that comes in to it now feels very comfortable.

“We’ve three have just got to make it work for ourselves now, and I think over the series we’ll certainly do that.”

“Dance” airs Monday’s at 8 p.m. on Fox.

It’s big business – billion dollar business, to be exact. Perhaps that explains why so many big stars from across entertainment continue to flock to Broadway for producing and/or starring roles. But as evidenced in last Sunday night’s “Tony Awards” broadcast, there is obviously more to the boom than just dollars and cents.

“I think people love live theater,” James Monroe Iglehart told me outside of Radio City Music Hall in New York City on the red carpet. Iglehart took home a “Tony” last year for his current role as “The Genie” in “Aladdin: The Musical.” “There’s something about watching people doing it right in front of you… they are not lip-syncing, there are no special effects, they are just singing and acting and dancing in front of you. There’s an energy to it that cannot be matched.”

That was Iglehart’s way of not only explaining Broadway’s identity, but also its success. Box office revenues climbed to over $1.3 billion this past season.

The earnest seen on stage is clearly admired by all entertainers, including multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban.

“To me this is such a pinnacle, to be in this theater world, to be up there on the Tony’s stage,” he remarked prior to the show. The American Theater Wing and The Broadway League tapped Groban to perform during the “In Memoriam” portion of the broadcast. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in the theatrical world.”

Others, like TV producer and “So You Think You Can Dance” creator/judge Nigel Lythgoe actually began their careers on the stage.

“I started off as a West End Dancer,” Lythgoe responded when I asked him why he became involved in the revival of “On The Town.” The production earned four nominations, including “Best Revival Of A Musical,” but lost to “The King and I.” “So just being a part of Broadway feels like I’ve sort of come full circle.”

Speaking of full circle, when the topic of “American Idol” was mentioned, Lythgoe reiterated that he would like to take part in the show’s final season next year. The producer, who brought the competition to the States from across the pond, added that he doesn’t know, “what egos are involved.”
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And that is another interesting thing about the red carpet of “The Tony Awards”: egos seem to be checked at the door. Kelsey Grammer, who performed on Broadway long before he came known as “Frasier,” told me that he was lured back to the stage because in his opinion, “Finding Neverland” is “the best show I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“It’s just one of my favorite stories,” said Grammer, who performed on the telecast as his character, Captain Hook. “I was invited to come and seen the out-of-town tryout basically, and I just thought it was breathtaking.”

“Neverland” did not receive a “Tony” nomination, but at least the snub isn’t reflected in the box office numbers; in the week leading up to the award show, the musical tallied over a million dollars in ticket sales. With an influx of theatergoers on the horizon thanks to warmer weather and tourist season, “The Tony’s” may have come and gone, but for the foreseeable future the business is here to stay.

Caleb Hawley, a Fieldhouse Music recording artist, stopped by “Ralphie Tonight” on Wednesday. He performed a couple of his tracks – “Bada Boom Bada Bling” and “Little Miss Sunshine” before chatting about life in Harlem, plans for 2015 and lessons learned from his run to Hollywood Week on Season 10 of “American Idol.”

More on Hawley, including his releases Side 1 and Side 2, can be found here. Watch video of his acoustic performance and interview on “Ralphie Tonight” below.



Say whatever you want about Phillip Phillips except that fame and fortune changed him.

“I’m just watching everybody else lose money,” Phillips responded to “Ralphie Tonight” last week when asked if he had a college basketball pick. The “Home” singer found himself in Dallas, the host city for this year’s Final Four weekend, to perform on “Conan.” He did not fill out a bracket.

“Nah, I’m too cheap to do that.”

You could encourage him to “never change” but at this point, he probably does not need the advice. Besides, who saw UConn winning the National Championship anyways? The Huskies going all the way was about as likely as a kid of a pawn shop owner from Albany, Ga. winning “American Idol” and selling over a million copies of his debut album.

Well, if the points about his betting habits and background illustrate anything, it is that Phillips is unique. Perhaps that explains the mellow guitar player’s early success. After a cross-country trek last year with John Mayer, it does not seem that Phillips is fading away any time soon. The “Idol” winner released “Raging Fire,” the first single from his sophomore LP Behind The Light, due out in May. It is Phillips’ first song to hit radio that he received a writing credit for.

“We wrote that one so quick,” he said of the track. “First it was me and Todd (Clark) in the room and we started pounding it out. Then Derek (Fuhrmann) came in. We wrote it in less than a week and it was just all craziness.”

Phillips had a chance to return to his old stomping grounds and perform the song live. He characterized the trip back to the “Idol” set as “terrifying” at first.

“It was like a nervous little kid going somewhere that you know everyone but it’s been a while and you don’t really know how to react,” he recalled. “But it was awesome.”

His persona obviously did not change following the show, but his music might. In addition to having a bigger influence in the first radio single for this project, Phillips noted that there was another difference for his second release.

“I had more time to make this one,” he noted. “I got to do more with production and producing it as well. I got to make it sound like me.”

Phillips classified the new record as “more rock” in part because he brought in a band for most of it. He is the only featured artist on the LP but revealed that Robert Randolph plays guitar on one track. Behind The Light drops May 19. Phillips will co-headline a tour this summer with O.A.R. to support the record.

And perhaps most importantly of all, the artist will do all of this in a good physical state. After a few publicized trips to the hospital for a congenital kidney condition, Phillips said that his “health is great” and should be for many years to come.

“American Idol” season nine finalist Tim Urban stopped by “The Ralphie Show” because he’ll be performing at Miss Connecticut USA this weekend. It serves as the state qualifier to Miss USA, and yielded the current national crown-holder, Erin Brady. I am a judge for the competition.

Tim also talked about his single, “Perfectly You,” and the current state of “Idol.”

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Life & Style Weekly reports that Britney Spears’ new home in Las Vegas will be amazing. Senior Reporter Andrew Nodell also talked about Adam Levine and “American Idol” on “The Ralphie Show.”

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“Extra” host Maria Menounos called in to “The Ralphie Show” and talked about “Extra’s” recent interview with Jennifer Lopez. The singer dodged a question about returning to “American Idol” next year.
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Speaking of singing competitions, “Extra” will be filming with all four judges from “The Voice” and host Carson Daly this Monday at The Grove in Los Angeles. Catch “Extra” weeknights at 7 on ABC, channel 7.