X-Factor: Steve Jones, Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul Leaving the Show

Three of the five X-Factor cast from the 2011 season won’t be returning for the 2012 season, since Steve Jones, Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger have been told by Fox that they won’t be part of the 2012 show leaving only Simon Cowell and L.A. Reed from last season.



Simon Cowell  may have made a huge mistake, when he predicted X-Factor would draw 20 million fans. He may have raised the expectations so high, that it doomed the first season of the show. The show never got past the 13 million mark and mostly drew, between 10 and 12 million viewers for most of the shows.
Now with the first season over, the host Steve Jones and a judge, Nicole Scherzinger  have been told they will not be returning and it has just been announced today that Paula Abdul has also received the same news.
Jones Departure No Surprise
It was not a huge surprise that Jones would be leaving, since he seemed out of his element on the show and seemed discombobulated and not tuned in to what was going on around him. The firing of Scherzinger was not entirely unexpected, since her lack of decisiveness sent Rachel Crow home. She couldn’t make a decision, forcing the judge’s panel to be in a deadlock. The show then had to use the America’s vote, which ended the dream of winning X-Factor for Crow, when it was disclosed Crow had garnered the fewest votes that week.
Personally, I thought Paula Abdul did an efficient job as a judge, but apparently the producers wanted a more goofy Paula. She was paid only a million dollars for her work as a judge. She had reportedly left American Idol when she found out that Ryan Seacrest was being paid millions more as a host than she was being paid as a judge.
Paula Given Groups To Mentor
When Paula was given the groups to mentor, it showed the producers didn’t want her team to win, which was evident in the voting. Groups are an afterthought in singing competitions, since viewers identify more readily with a solo artist.
Cowell is wanting to take the show in another direction. With him and L.A. Reid  the only returnees from the 2011 season, it will be interesting to see just what that other direction will entail.
My hope is that the group category will be eliminated from next year. How can a viewer identify with a group, especially when the show made groups out of solo singers? It takes time to form a group and make them a cohesive unit and the new groups weren’t allowed the luxury of having that time.
Cowell May Scale Back On Production Numbers
Cowell, who didn’t seem to go for the big production numbers, may try to scale back on the glamor and glitz and focus more on the singers and their performance. He will definitely need a host who is more comfortable onstage than Steve Jones. I am sure he would like to have Seacrest as his host, but Mr. Seacrest has so much on his plate already, doubt that will happen
It will be critical that the new judges  will connect with the audience and be prepared to make hard decisions, without falling apart like Scherzinger did last season.
Paula-Simon Pairing Didn’t Draw Viewers
The general consensus was that Simon and Paula being together would help the ratings. However, that didn’t seem to be the case with X-Factor drawing 7 or 8 million viewers per show less than American Idol.
It is not like X-Factor was a complete failure, since most shows would be tickled to have 12 million viewers tuning most weeks. More viewers mean more money from the sponsors and Cowell realizes that.
Cowell has eight months to fine tune X-Factor, assuming the next season will start in September again. So we have to wait till then. to see what direction Cowell is taking the show.

Big Bang Theory Tops American Idol In Early Ratings

Those that are saying there are too many singing competition shows, gained some more ammunition last night, when Big Bang Theory drew 15.5 million viewers to 15 million viewers for American Idol.

It was the second consecutive week that Big Bang Theory topped American Idol in the ratings. The Voice and X-Factor may have played in a part in the American Idol decline in ratings.

Too Many Singing Competition TV Shows?

Apparently music fans don’t like the idea of three singing competition shows, when considering that American Idol drew over 20 million fans in almost every show last year, but this year is floundering around the 15 million mark lately. Most shows would be happy to have 15 million tuning in, but for Idol it is a staggering blow to attract only 15 million fans.

Now the question is if the three judges really disagreed on the talents of some of the singers on the show last night, or was it a ploy to increase ratings in the future. Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson have got along well, for the most part since the three became the judging team in Season 10. Maybe it was a one-time thing, but it seems like the American Idol judges, may be trying to emulate the tension between Simon Cowell and the other judges on X-Factor.

Producers May Be Contemplating Changes

The producers are probably re-evaluating the show, now that the show is not No.1 in its time slot. American Idol has been a juggernaut in the ratings, but now Big Bang Theory has shown they can post even better ratings.

The Voice Returns on Super Bowl Sunday

The Voice will return on Super Bowl Sunday for another season. That could make things worse for American Idol having two singing competition shows on each week.

I don’t think anyone thought we would see a situation comedy beating the No.1 singing competition show, but Big Bang Theory has done just that.

Ratings May Jump During Hollywood Week

American Idol may regain the top spot when they get into Hollywood week, with all the drama that comes with Hollywood week. I still remember someone tell Scotty McCreery he wasn’t good enough for his group, then Scotty went on to become the American Idol, showing he was more than good enough for their group.

The ratings should be even better when the singers for the live show are chosen, then once they are chosen viewers may pick a favorite and watch till their favorite is voted off.

American Idol doesn’t seem to be that different from past years. It may just be the victim of overkill when it comes to singing competition shows and American Idol is paying the price by receiving lower ratings.




Battle of Mansfield : Last Confederate Victory of the Civil War in Louisiana And Aftermath

Louisiana Civil War Battle Map
Map depicting Civil War battles fought in Louisiana from Americancivilwar.com.
The March 14, 1864 battle at Fort DeRussy marked the beginning of a series of seven battles, between the Union and the Confederacy in the state of Louisiana. Union forces defeated the Confederate forces and opened the Red River to Alexandria.
It would be 25 days later before the Union and Confederates would battle next. The Battle of Mansfield was fought on April 8, 1964 after Union forces led by Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, who had traveled 150 miles up the Red River, encountered Major General Richard Taylor commanding the Confederate forces.
Banks Retreats Toward Alexandria
Taylor attacked the Union forces despite being outnumbered and Banks finally retreated back toward Alexandria. The battle marked the last victory for the Confederates in Louisiana and preceded five consecutive defeats by the Union troops, including a defeat at the Battle of Pleasant Hill on April 9, 1864.
Union troops had suffered 2,900 casualties at the Battle of Mansfield while the Confederate forces incurred had 1,500 casualties. The Confederate forces would have 2,000 casualties, which almost half the casualties of the Union forces, who had 1,100 during the Battle of Pleasant Hill.
Confederates Lose 200 Troops At Blair’s Landing
Union forces overwhelmed the Confederates at Blair’s Landing, with only seven casualties compared to 200 by the Confederates. Brigadier General Tom Green leading the Confederate forces lost his life in the battle.
Two weeks later in another crushing defeat on April 23,1864 in another battle at Monett’s Ferry, the Union forces would have 200 casualties while the Confederates suffered 400 casualties.
Banks Leads Union Forces To Victory In Mansura
It would be May 16, 1864 before the enemies encountered each other again in Mansura, where General Banks would lead a flank attack on Confederate troops that gave the Union another victory. Battlefield casualties are unknown.
The battle at Yellow Bayou would commence on May 18, 1864. The battle was the last of the Red River Campaign and ended with 360 Union casualties and 500 Confederate casualties. It was regarded as a strategic victory for the Union as their forces lived to fight another day.
For complete descriptions of every battle fought in Louisiana during the Civil War:
The following website has many photos of places in Central Louisiana, which had to do with the Civil War. There is also a possible explanation of why the Kent House survived the burning of Alexandria by Federal troops.
Burning of Alexandria
Retreating Union troops burned 90 percent of Alexandria on May 13,1864. Kent House and a Catholic church were the only prominent landmarks still standing after the savage burning of Alexandria. Father J.P. Bellier brandished a sword when federal troops attempted to burn the Catholic church, with them deciding to not kill Father Bellier or harm the church.
 The federal troops helped themselves to anything they wanted, while the fires were burning. Cows ran through the streets of Alexandria along with chickens who had been scorched by the fire.
By the time the fire had subsided, there was no record of any legal transaction filed before May 13, 1864 that existed after the fire. It took 36 years before Alexandria would reach a population of 5,000 again.
For many more details of the burning of Alexandria:

Gov. Earl K. Long (La.) Sent to Mental Institution In 1959: Fires Administrators, Absconds From The Premises

1959 was not a good year for Governor Earl K. Long, the Democratic governor of Louisiana. Governor Long wanted to retain his position as governor, but was prevented from running again, since he was not allowed to succeed himself. So that problem, along with the return of his heavy drinking and taking up smoking again, combined to place him in a bad mental state. In addition he was taking pills to make him sleep, in combination with uppers and downers.
The situation was exacerbated when he was in a rage as he ranted during a legislative session. He later meant to apologize for his behavior, but instead flew into another rage instead.
The following short audio of Governor Long ranting  in the legislature can be heard here:
Jesse Bankston, the Louisiana Director of Hospitals, thought that Long needed immediate treatment, so had him restrained for two days, while mulling over what to do next about the governor.
It was determined that it would be better to transport Governor Long to an out-of-state hospital, so that he could not use his power of governor, so he was sent to a Galveston, Texas hospital.
Taken to Galveston Hospital
He was strapped into a gurney and flown from Baton Rouge to Galveston and taken to John Sealy Hospital. Dr. Titus Harris had been informed that Governor Louisiana was there on his own volition, but found out that was not the case.
Governor Long filed papers to be released from the hospital, after threatening his wife Blanche with federal kidnapping charges, for having him transported across state line to Texas. He then made a deal with Blanche and Russell Long, that he would consent to be sent to Oschner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans.
However after one day there, he told Blanche wanted to Winnfield to rest. Blanche told him that he had promised to stay at Oschner, but Earl said that he didn’t say how long he would stay.
Blanche Long worried about what the governor might do next, had Chester Williams the coroner of Baton Rouge prepare the papers, to have Governor Long committed to a state mental institution. Meanwhile Long who had left Oschner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans, was intercepted by six sheriff’s deputies and taken to Baton Rouge.
This paragraph from Inside Northside Magazine describes the chaotic scene at the courthouse:

The deputies dragged the governor of Louisiana, kicking and screaming, out of the car. They punched him, knocked him to the ground, and put him in their car. He was examined by the coroner, who was not a psychiatrist, and by a psychiatrist who had never met him. The psychiatrist rendered a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, which was quite commonly used at that time to commit anyone for any reason.
He was taken to Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville, where he was admitted under the commitment order. While he was treated there, the acting director of the hospital, Dr. Charles Belcher, later indicated that they had not made any final diagnosis of his true condition.

Governor Long contacted Joe Sims to represent him in a habeas corpus hearing in Covington, Louisiana. The governor had a trick up his sleeve though. He called a meeting of the state hospitals board to meet before the hearing.

The governor had Jesse Bankston removed from office at the meeting, then appointed a friend of his as the new director. The new director then proceeded to fire Dr. Charles Belcher the superintendent of Southeast Louisiana Hospital. The new superintendent, then stated that there was no reason for Governor Long, to remain in the hospital and authorized his release.

Feared Being Poisoned

Governor Long was taken to the Green Springs Motel in Covington to eat breakfast, but refused to eat food off his plate, fearing it might be poisoned, so helped himself to the food on the plates of the others eating there.

He would spend the next few days at the Pine Manor Motel in Covington and while he was there Blaze Starr a stripper, from Bourbon Street in New Orleans paid him a visit on July 2, 1959. His romance with Starr seemed to be more of a revenge thing, after Blanche had  him committed.

Long Garnered National Attention

Governor Long was in the national news that summer and we happened to be on vacation from Louisiana to Canada. One vehicle we encountered on the trip had someone holler “Hey Governor Long” at us. They probably couldn’t help themselves, when they saw the Louisiana license plates on our vehicle.

To read the complete article about him being committed the entire Inside Northside Magazine article, which is very lengthy can be read here:


53 years have passed since our governor went off the deep end and while researching today, have learned more about those days in one day, than what I have learned in the previous 53 years.

Runs For Lieutenant Governor

Governor Long was intent on becoming governor, but when he saw it wasn’t going to be allowed, he ran on the Noe-Long ticket with former governor of Monroe. The ticket came in a disappointing fourth place polling only 97,654 votes. They finished behind deLesseps Morrison with 278,956 votes, former governor Jimmie Davis with 213,551 votes and Senator Willie Rainach, who Long had ranted against in his legislature outburst received 143.095. The three candidates garnered 635,602 votes compared to the 97,654 votes for the Noe-Long ticket.

It looked like the political career of Governor Earl K. Long was dead in the water. But this is Earl K. Long we are talking about and he entered the race for the 8th Congressional District against incumbent Rep. Harold B. McSween. Surprisingly he won the election but died on September 5, 1960 at the age of 65, before he could take office.

The years 1959 and 1960 were turbulent years for Governor Long. It all started with his rant in the Louisiana legislature, then progressed to him being committed in two mental institutions, firing the administrators to be released. Then came his affair with the Bourbon Street stripper Blaze Starr, his loss as a lieutenant governor candidate in 1959, then he arose from the ashes to win the 8th Congressional representative seat, shortly before dying.

I only saw Governor Long once. He was at the Continental Trailways bus station making a speech on the stump, while handing out chickens to those, he hoped would vote for him.

Louisiana politicians were and are still known for taking their politics seriously and nobody took politics more seriously than Earl K. Long.


Have The Voice and X-Factor Killed Off The American Idol Star?

Erika Van Pelt a DJ and wedding singer was the best singer on the Thursday night American Idol show.

Hallie Day had one of the most impressive auditions on American Idol on Thursday night’s show and has a great chance of being in the Final 12 in Season 11. Hallie should go far in the competition, if she can get past Hollywood week which has been known to end singing careers, before they even get off the ground.

Fewer Viewers Than Last Year

American Idol drew less fans on Thursday night, than they drew in any audition or Hollywood show last year. 21.89 million was the lowest number of viewers, in the auditions before the final 24 show last year. 

Only 14 million viewers tuned into American Idol last night, which was less than any show last year. It could be that fans are experiencing singing competition burnout after a heavy dose of American Idol, The Voice and X-Factor. It will be interesting to see if The Voice makes a dent into the American Idol franchise, when it debuts on Feb. 5 on Super Bowl night.

The magic was still there for me in both American Idol shows telecast this week. However, The Voice and X-Factor fans may not be as likely to watch American Idol as in the past.

There is still little likelihood that Javier Colon and Melanie Amaro, who won The Voice and X-Factor respectively, will come close to having the name recognition of Scotty McCreery, who may have won only $250,000 but has sold over a million albums in three months.

It is not likely that The Voice and X-Factor have killed off the American Idol star, since American Idol drew over 20 million in almost every show in 2011, while X-Factor maxed out at 12.59 million on finale night. The American Idol finale drew 29.29 million when Scotty McCreery was voted the American Idol.

The American Idol franchise may be a little shaky, but I look for ratings to get better as fans choose their favorites and follow them as long as they survive the cuts during Hollywood week.



American Idol: Still King of the Singing Competition Hill

The return of American Idol last night signaled that the No. 1 singing competition show, by far outshines The Voice and X-Factor. The other shows have their moments, but neither show comes close to matching the drawing power of American Idol.

Shaun Kraisman was one of the most interesting contestants, as he did an excellent Ryan Seacrest impression, but didn’t advance to Hollywood despite singing very well in my book, but the judges didn’t agree.

My personal favorite was Shannon Magrane, the daughter of former major league pitcher and MLB Network analyst Joe Magrane. The judges coaxed Shannon into bringing her family to the audition room, so they learned, that she was going to Hollywood the minute the judges told her the good news.

The last singer at the Savannah, Georgia audition was Phillip Phillips, who impressed the judges so much that he was asked to sing a second song. Phillip will be a singer to watch when the Hollywood week round starts.

American Idol was a breath of fresh air after The Voice and it’s chairs that turned around, to reveal the singer that was singing, if  the judge liked the song, plus it reminded us how much we disliked the constant bickering of the X-Factor judges. The bickering between Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul was a huge distraction, not to mention the annoying host Steve Jones, who seemed to annoy the judges, as much as the fans.

There is no doubt that American Idol is still the best singing competition. It may be difficult to follow-up the success of Season 10, when Scotty McCreery won the title of American Idol. Even more impressive was that Scotty sold a million copies of his debut album, only three months after being released. His sales far eclipsed those of Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze, whose record sales never did take off.

It is safe to say that Scotty is the most successful recording artist, after winning American Idol, since 2005 when Carrie Underwood won Season 4.

We won’t know until May who wins Season 11 of American Idol, but fans will have fun watching the shows, till the winner is revealed by Ryan Seacrest.

Cajun Pawn Stars: Hometown Reality Show

Jimmie DeRamus, owner of Silver Dollar Pawn Shop in Alexandria, Louisiana is being featured in Cajun Pawn Stars which recently debuted on the History Channel.

It may never draw the viewers garnered by the original Pawn Stars on the same channel.

There have even been reports, that the owners of the original Pawn Stars show, filmed in Las Vegas, were less than pleased, when they found out about the spinoff show.

They reportedly had not been notified by the network, that the Cajun Pawn Stars show was even in the works. They claim to have  in their contract, that there would be no spinoffs, from the original Pawn Stars shows.  They are probably concerned, that with two reality pawn shop shows, on the air will lower the rating for their original Pawn Stars show.

For those who don’t get the History Channel on their cable service, they will be pleased to know, that the shows can be viewed, in their entirety at the History channel website.

I recently watched the first two shows and the main difference, between the two shows is that DeRamus offers more money for items brought to his pawn shop. DeRamus even offered twice the value for one item. That is not normal practice for most pawn shops.

Having grown up across the river from Silver Dollar Pawn Shop it makes it more interesting to watch. Folks from the area are probably seeing people, that they actually know on the show. I have been in the store a couple of times myself.

DeRamus really wanted the first record ever made by Jerry Lee Lewis, that the expert verified was authentic, but the owner, who just happens to be married to Jerry Lee’s sister, decided he couldn’t part with the record, even though the offer by DeRamus was more, than what the record had been valued at.

He also tried to buy a pair of $5,000 and $10,000 sister bills, but came up empty, when the owner turned down his $500,000 offer, then DeRamus upped that offer, but it was no deal.

The pygmy goat that was leaving souvenirs, for someone to clean up was sold for $40, after DeRamus declined to buy it for $60.

The show to me was an excellent representation, of life in Central Louisiana. It may not be able to compete with the flashy Pawn Stars reality show, being filmed in Las Vegas, but I look for it to catch on, as the weeks go by. This show seems to give more background on the customers, than the Las Vegas based Pawn Stars show, which for the most part, doesn’t come close to offering the money,  that is offered on Cajun Pawn Stars.

It was almost like going home again for me, since we live 125 miles from Alexandria now.