Carrie Underwood, Idol champs, Jennifer Hudson, Other contestants, Taylor Hicks

Winning a date with Taylor and other Idol awards


Stephanie HladBy MARK FRANKLIN

Who will win a date with Taylor Hicks?

We’ll find out this week on “Live with Regis and Kelly.”

As I reported a couple weeks ago, Regis and Kelly are hosting a “Dating with the Stars” segment and Taylor is one of the two bachelors for whom they’re playing matchmaker.

Emily StiversA field of 10 potential dates has been narrowed to three through online voting. Remaining in the competition is Julie Cortney, a 31-year-old real estate consultant from San Francisco; Stephanie Hlad, a 27-year-old office manager from Brandon, Fla.; and Emily Stivers, a 27-year-old online campaign coordinator from Washington, D.C.

I’m not sure exactly how all this is supposed to work, but in true American Idol fashion, Regis and Kelly are going to milk it for a week. I read Julie Cortneysomewhere that the audience will help select who gets to date Taylor and that he’ll be on the show Friday to talk about his date.

And what’s he looking for in a woman. According to the Regis and Kelly Web site, “a free spirited, career-minded gal who can be serious during the week, but can cut loose on weekends.”

So what are Regis and Kelly going to do? Set him up on a weeknight date, of course.

Jennifer Hudson at NAACP Image AwardsBouncing back with a big way

For Jennifer Hudson, the last couple weeks have been a whirlwind.

First up: Sing (OK, lip synch) the national anthem at the Super Bowl in your first public appearance since the murder of your mother, brother and nephew.

Next: Get your first-ever Grammy for Best R&B album after introducing the world to your fiance on the red carpet.

She was back at it Thursday night, performing and gathering awards at the 40th NAACP Image Awards.

Jennifer won for best new artist, best album and best duo, group of collaboration for the son “I’m His Only Woman,” which she recorded with another former Idol, Fantasia.

She also sang “The Impossible Dream” for President’s Award recipient Muhammad Ali.

Dakota Fanning at NAACP Image AwardsSpeaking of Jennifer …

Another film starring Jennifer, “The Secret Life of Bees,” hit DVD last week. It was honored with best film honors at the Image Awards.

The film stars Dakota Fanning as a young girl who flees an abusive father and sets off in search of answers about her deceased mother. Along for the journey is her best friend and nanny, Rosaleen (played by Jennifer).

They wind up being taken in by August Boatwright (Queen Latifah), who runs a bee farm. Of course, that doesn’t sit well with those already aggitated by the civil rights movement.

The film deserved the Image Award and any other award it gets. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

And then there’s Carrie …

Speaking of awards, Carrie Underwood is up for more, as if four Grammys in three years weren’t enough.

The Academy of Country Music announced award nominees this week. Carrie is nominated for Entertainer of the Year and Top Female Artist.

Her competition in the latter category: Heidi Newfield, Taylor Swift, Lee Ann Womack and Miranda Lambert.

In the former: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban.

Females are seldom nominated for Entertainer of the Year and don’t often win. In 43 years, only six female acts have won, most recently The Dixie Chicks in 2000.

Former Idol contestant Kellie Pickler wasn’t nominated, but she helped announce the nominations, which gives me another excuse to stick a photo of Kellie in Idol Chatter.

Kellie Pickler, LeAnn Rimes, Julianne Hough AMC Nominees

Julianne Hough, LeAnn Rimes and Kellie Pickler at AMC awards nominations.

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