Celebrities show off their vocal chops


Published: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.

Facts

'Celebrity Duets' airs Thursdays

  • What: Celebrity competitors are paired with Grammy Award-winning and No. 1 artists in a reality singing competition.
  • When: 9 p.m. Thursdays, followed by a results show 9 p.m. Fridays
  • Where: Fox (Cox cable channel 13)

  • Celebrities want to be just like us. They want to dance! They want to skate! They want to lose weight! They want to sing, although for some reason they can't just roll up their car windows and warble to the radio/CD/iPod like the rest of us.
    We've already endured VH1's ear-torturing "But Can They Sing?," in which Bai Ling got more attention for weeks of being a bad vocalist and fashion freak show than for years of being a good actress. Now brace yourself for "Celebrity Duets," which airs at 9 p.m. Thursdays on Fox. (A results show will air at 9 p.m. Fridays.)
    People at Fox - from the network's entertainment president to "Celebrity Duets" producers to the guy who sweeps the stage at "American Idol" - insist that these celebrities, who aren't known for singing, can actually carry a tune. They'll be paired with people known for singing - you know, sorta like when Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis did that version of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'," only, we hope, better. Winner gets $100,000 for his or her favorite charity.
    Here's a look at our eight contestants and some advice for them:
  • Chris Jericho Nonsinging experience: First-ever "undisputed champion" of World Wrestling Entertainment, and, according to his bio, a talented actor and television personality, as well as a pop-culture commentator on VH1 and E! clip shows. Argue with him about any of this and he'll hit you with a chair.
    Singing experience: Lead singer of the rock band Fozzy, which has released three CDs. Sorta related: Hosts "The Rock of Jericho," on XM Satellite Radio's "Boneyard" channel.
    What he'll bring to the show: An intimidation factor. Everyone else is "GOIN' DOWN!!!"
    What he should sing: Simply Red's "Jericho," John Mellencamp's "Crumblin' Down," Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got a Hold on Me."
  • Lucy Lawless Nonsinging experience: Best known for playing the title amazon "Xena: The Warrior Princess." Also had recurring role on Sci-Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica."
    Singing experience From her Internet Movie Database bio: "Wanted to be an opera singer until she was 16. Then she learned they have a strict diet and can't stay out all night. After that she changed her mind but still sings."
    What she'll bring to the show: An Internet following of millions.
    What she should sing: Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law" (but she should do the Clash version); Scandal's "The Warrior," but she's either gotta dress as Xena or wear that weird makeup Patty Smyth sported in the "Warrior" video.
  • Cheech Marin Nonsinging experience: Still best known for a series of drug-laced, '70s-era comedy albums and movies with his partner Tommy Chong, Marin has also made a decent career as a supporting actor, with roles in several of Robert Rodriguez's movies and in the Don Johnson series "Nash Bridges."
    Singing experience: Besides several novelty hits with Chong, Marin scored a top 40 solo hit with 1987's "Born in East L.A"
    What he'll bring to the show: Cheech is living pretty clean right now, we hear, so all he'll bring is his sense of humor. Nothing in a baggie.
    What he should sing: Brewer & Shipley's "One Toke Over the Line"; the Rolling Stones' "Rip This Joint."
  • Carly Patterson Nonsinging experience: Gold-medal gymnast in 2004 Summer Olympics.
    Singing experience: Working on launching a pop-rock career with the help of, according to a news item a few months back, Joe Simpson, father of Jessica and Ashlee.
    What she'll bring to the show: Energy. And maybe a pommel horse.
    What she should sing: Culture Club's "I'll Tumble 4 Ya," Great White's "Stick It," the Cars' "My Best Friend's Girl" (for the line, "she'll make you flip!").
  • Alfonso Ribeiro Nonsinging experience: Best known as Carlton, Will Smith's snobby, preppy cousin on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and as Ricky Schroder's pal Alfonso on "Silver Spoons." Continues to act occasionally but now concentrating on directing - including several episodes of the Smith-produced "All of Us."
    Singing experience: Starred in "The Tap Dance Kid" on Broadway; appeared in one of Michael Jackson's Pepsi commercials; released several solo singles on his own, none of which was a big hit.
    What he'll bring to the show: Considering how tight he's stayed with Smith, perhaps the actor-rapper himself.
    What he should sing: Kool & the Gang's "Fresh," anything by Prince, "Parents Just Don't Understand" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince.
  • Jai Rodriguez Nonsinging experience: Culture guru on Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," otherwise known as the guy who really doesn't have that much to do on that show.
    Singing experience: Musical theater, including playing the lead in "Rent" on Broadway. Created "Monday Night Twisted Cabaret" at New York's XL Lounge, which led to his discovery by Bravo.
    What he'll bring to the show: feng shui What he should sing: Queen's "Killer Queen," Heart's "Straight On."
  • Hal Sparks Nonsinging experience: Appears to have a lifetime contract as VH1's No. 1 smart-aleck; appeared in the Showtime series "Queer as Folk."
    Singing experience: Lead vocalist and guitarist for the Hal Sparks Band, which, as hard-rock groups go, certainly beats Warrant. Some TV and club appearances, but we can't find evidence of an album.
    What he'll bring to the show: Wisecracks.
    What he should sing: Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," with just a "minor" tweak to the lyrics; anything by cult band Sparks.
  • Lea Thompson Nonsinging experience: Plucky actress who starred in several '80s movies from the sublime ("Back to the Future") to the ridiculous ("Howard the Duck") and in the '90s sitcom "Caroline in the City." Currently starring in the "Jane Doe" series of TV movies on Hallmark Channel.
    Singing experience: Played a punk rocker in "Howard the Duck," starred as Sally Bowles in "Cabaret" onstage.
    What she'll bring to the show: Perkiness! And, we hope, not a very large, sarcastic, cigar-smoking duck.
    What she should sing: Donnie Iris' "Ah, Leah!" (so it's spelled differently), Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," anything by the Thompson Twins.
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