EXCLUSIVE: Kara DioGuardi picks favorite ‘Idol’ contestants, performance and judge (sort of)

Just before Labor Day weekend, I had the pleasure of chatting up New Rochelle native and Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer Kara DioGuardi, who on Aug. 25 Fox announced as the fourth judge on “American Idol.”

new-idol-panel.jpgA true LoHudder, her connections to the region are seemingly endless. As a child, she attended Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale, sang at the Larchmont Shore Club and provided the soundtrack at campaign stops throughout Westchester County for her father, former U.S. Congressman Joe DioGuardi. She later graduated from The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. Despite graduating from Duke University with a degree in political science, she abandoned law to become a vocalist in an Ossining garage band called Gramma Trips.

After snagging multiple jobs at Billboard magazine for a five-year span, she got signed to a record deal. Although her singing career never took off, her songwriting and producing gigs did. She was partially or completely responsible for writing Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Walk Away,” Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and dozens of other recent hits. No wonder she was named BMI’s 2006 Pop Songwriter of the Year.

My full story about DioGuardi is slated for the week ahead, but in the meantime, check out 10 questions and answers from my exclusive interview with “Idol’s” newest judge:

kara2.JPGWhat recent song do you most wish you’d written?
“Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé.

As a singer, how far do you think you would advance on “American Idol”?
“I would hope to the top 10.”

How long have you been watching “Idol”?
“Since the beginning.”

You’d said that you thought “Idol” would have hired someone more famous to fill the fourth judge’s chair. Had you heard of any famous names who were being considered?
“They kind of kept me in the dark. I hadn’t really heard anything.”

As of Aug. 28, who was the most famous person outside of the show to congratulate you for the “Idol” hire?
“Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics).”

From the first seven seasons, who have been your three favorite “Idol” alumni?
“I’d say Kelly Clarkson, (Chris) Daughtry and, hmm, I like Katharine McPhee.”

Who’s the most underrated “Idol” contestant of all time?
“Katharine McPhee.”

What’s your favorite “Idol” performance so far?
“I thought that ‘Billie Jean’ performance that David Cook did was ridiculous.” (In the good way.)

The perception among fans is that Simon Cowell’s the bad cop, Paula Abdul’s the good cop and Randy Jackson’s somewhere in between. With which judge have you sided the most through the years?
“Probably Simon. Sometimes he can be hard, but I also think at times he’s doing people a favor.”

For your first day judging “Idol” contestants, you sat between Randy and Paula at the judges’ table. Where would you want to sit?
“You know at this point, I’m pretty much just like, ‘Where do you want me?’ I’m the new kid in school. I’m not going to cause waves right from the beginning.”

(AP Photo of Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson/Jason DeCrow; AP Photo of DioGuardi/Chris Pizzello)

Podcast: June 25

On the show this week: “American Idol” Season 5 champ Taylor Hicks, former “ER” cast member Gloria Reuben and “SportsCenter” anchor Trey Wingo hit the links to benefit Autism Speaks.

<a href=”http://www.lohud.com/assets/mov/062408_Suburbarazzi_lohud.mp4″ title=”Anarchy Media Player – Right click to download file” class=”noimg”><em>Podcast file</em></a>

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At the end of the video and after the break is the answer to this week’s quiz: A Cincinnati councilman recently apologized to Rip Torn for falsely using his barely obscured mug shot in a campaign ad railing against “child predators.” In what Westchester municipality was Torn arrested for driving while under the influence?

A. Cortlandt
B. North Salem
C. Yorktown
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Kimberly Locke takes a pass on Chikezie

TMZ managed to corner Kimberly Locke, the former American Idol contestant and (in case you didn’t notice the umpteen posts on Suburbarazzi a couple weeks ago) newest celebrity resident of North Salem. tjndc5-5j8dnjbbwjp1we3imdz_layout.jpgAfter cracking up over the reality of being caught inside the camera crosshairs (“I love TMZ!” she said, after doubling over), Locke told the paps that her favorite contestant this season was Chikezie, who got voted off a couple weeks ago.

Incidentally, that checks out completely with what she told us on March 20, when Idol came to film at her restaurant, Croton Creek Steakhouse, in Croton Falls.

In the interest of “giving it up” to the gossip mongers, though, Locke did offer one tidbit: “Chikezie, he wanted to invite me out on a date.” Apparently that didn’t work out for him any better than covering Luther Vandros’s “If Only for One Night.”

“Chikezie Wants a Load of Locke” [TMZ]

(Photo: Tania Savayan / The Journal News)

Podcast: April 9

On the podcast this week: the Beyoncé-Jay-Z wedding, Mariah Carey’s chart-topper, and Denzel’s next movie.

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At the end of the video and after the break is the answer to this week’s quiz: Behind champ Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken, new North Salem resident Kimberley Locke finished third on season two of “American Idol.” Who finished fourth that season?

A) Joshua Gracin
B) Carmen Rasmusen
C) Trenyce

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EXCLUSIVE: Suburbarazzi’s uncut video interview with Kimberly Locke

I’ve posted 10 audio clips and an edited RNN-TV segment from my exclusive interviews with “American Idol” alumna Kimberley Locke, who last week moved into North Salem.

But due to time restrictions, only about two minutes of my video interview could make it to air Tuesday night. No matter! To paraphrase Dionne Warwick, that’s what blogs are for!

Below, you will find the uncut version of the RNN interview, which is about 3 1/2 minutes long. In it, I’m able to give a shout-out to my favorite “Celebrity Fit Club” personality, Harvey Walden IV, so that should be worth the view alone. Hooray!

<a href=”http://www.lohud.com/assets/mov/suburbarazzi-kimberlylocke_.mp4″ title=”Anarchy Media Player – Right click to download file” class=”noimg”><em>Podcast file</em></a>

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Suburbarazzi Week in Review on RNN: EXCLUSIVE chat with ‘American Idol’ star Kimberley Locke

<a href=”http://www.lohud.com/assets/mov/032508_suburbarazzi_lohud.mp4″ title=”Anarchy Media Player – Right click to download file” class=”noimg”><em>Podcast file:</em></a>

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Why would a celebrity choose North Salem as a place to live and open a restaurant? What’s a downside to living with Clay Aiken? And what does it feel like to know you’ll be singing your new song on the “American Idol” stage during this week’s results show?

These questions in an exclusive Suburbarazzi interview with “Idol” contestant Kimberley Locke were the ones to make the cut for tonight’s extra-special segment on RNN. Later this week, we’ll post my uncut interview, including a reference to Kim’s stint on “Celebrity Fit Club.” (Although that version will be uncut, don’t exactly expect a Jerry Springer routine from Kim and me, though. We’re not like that. On camera, anyway.)

EXCLUSIVE: ‘American Idol’ alum Kimberley Locke recruits celebs for charity events in Lower Hudson Valley

locke-pic-07.jpg“American Idol” alum Kimberley Locke is wasting no time getting herself acclimated to New York City’s northern suburbs.

While chatting with Suburbarazzi last week, she revealed that the nicest A-lister in the music industry was the one and only Patti LaBelle. But it seems Locke won’t be on her own when it comes to planning regional charity events.

Not only is she hoping for LaBelle to appear at an upcoming event at Katonah’s Caramoor to raise money for Camp Heartland, but it appears that “Don’t Forget The Lyrics” host and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” mainstay Wayne Brady will provide hosting duties. Camp Heartland, which Locke said recently purchased the Birch Family Camp in Carmel, caters to children living with AIDS.

We love the charity work, of course, but we also love her dedication to bringing more celebs to the Lower Hudson Valley. It keeps us busy in the best way possible.

Find out how why Locke lists LaBelle as her favorite music industry icon and more about Locke’s charitable works in the following clip:


In case you missed any of the other audio clips of my interview with Locke, here’s what you might have missed on Suburbarazzi and sister blog Remote Access:

If you want to hear why Locke moved to the region, click here. If you want to know who her one-to-watch pick is for “Idol” Season 7, click here. Hear about her love of motorcycles here, her decision to audition for “Idol” here and her approach to losing 42 pounds here. And you know you want to know what’s on Locke’s iPod.

(Photo by Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

EXCLUSIVE: ‘American Idol’ alum Kimberley Locke loves motorbike rides through Lower Hudson Valley

locke4.jpgDon’t let the sweet demeanor of “American Idol” alumna Kimberley Locke lull you into thinking she’s intimidated by a motorcycle. She’s got a small fleet of them, and it’s one of the reasons she was disappointed to see biker-slash-nurse Amanda Overmyer eliminated from “Idol” this week.

In this clip from my interview of Locke yesterday, she reveals her plans to buy a Harley in the near future and love for ridin’ hogs through the Lower Hudson Valley and her native Tennessee:


More clips from Locke will appear here and on Remote Access until my story about her appears Tuesday in the Life & Style section of The Journal News, but I’ve posted a few already.

If you want to hear why Locke moved to the region, click here. If you want to know who her one-to-watch pick is for “Idol” Season 7, click here.

(Photo of Locke by Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

EXCLUSIVE: ‘American Idol’ alum Kimberley Locke dishes about move to Westchester

Today, Ted Mann and I sat down with Kimberley Locke, the third-place finisher from the second season of “American Idol” and the newest celebrity to settle down in the Lower Hudson Valley. She’s one of the owners of Croton Creek restaurant in Croton Falls.

Oh, and by the way, she’s performing her new single, “Fall,” on the “Idol” results show this Wednesday.

I have to say, I was impressed all the way around. Classy, funny, sophisticated and beautiful, Locke was a charming and honest interview. As someone who regularly covers “Idol” for sister blog Remote Access, I was a fan of her before, but I like her even more now.

Here’s a clip of Locke discussing why a girl from Tennessee decided to move to North Salem this week; the “Jim and Liam” she references are two of her restaurant partners, Jim Stake and Liam Harvey:


I’ll post more clips on here and on Remote Access until my story about her appears Tuesday in the Life & Style section of The Journal News.

(Photo by Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

Highlander-NYPD Blue hybrid gets the LoHud seal of approval

Among the things that bode well for “New Amsterdam”:

• It gets to debut tonight after “American Idol,” just about the cushiest timeslot in all of television.

fox_37-cloisters-ent33a305.jpg• The pilot was directed by Bedford’s Lasse Hallstrom — he of “Hoax,” “Cider House Rules,” and “Chocolat” fame.

• It has a half-decent premise: The protagonist, John Amsterdam, was a Dutch soldier who, in 1694, was blessed by a Native American with the gift of immortality. Or rather, immortality until he finds his one true love. With undertones of “Groundhog Day,” “NYPD Blue” (Amsterdam is now an NYPD cop in present day), and “Highlander,” I really should like this show, but …

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Is Rosie O’Donnell vying to be the next ‘American Idol’?

rosie-mic.jpgMarch 6: South Nyack’s Rosie O’Donnell discusses “American Idol,” which hasn’t had a Lower Hudson Valley resident make the Top 24 since the previous season. On “The View,” the full-figured O’Donnell says “Idol” is “weight-ist” in light of producers’ lenient treatment of the lean Antonella Barba versus its quick disposal of the plus-sized Frenchie Davis.

April 25: O’Donnell, who later is named the country’s sixth-most charitable celebrity, announces she’ll be leaving “The View”; the announcement comes mere hours before the first “Idol Gives Back” charity episode airs.

May 22: On her blog, O’Donnell posts herself singing along with a remix of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” Later that day, “Idol” contestants sing for the last time before producers voters pick a champ.

May 23: O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck get into an epic 10-minute argument on “The View.” Another epic battle comes to an end later that day, when Jordin Sparks becomes the new “American Idol” — and inspires singers nationwide to audition for Season 7.

May 25: O’Donnell quits “The View.” Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.

(AP file photo by Jim Sulley)

‘American Idol’ gossip from Croton Creek Steakhouse


Ever since my colleague Audrey Green’s article on the new Croton Creek Steakhouse in the May issue of InTown, I’ve been dying to make the trek up to Croton Falls. In case you haven’t read the story, the restaurant is co-owned by former “American Idol” contestant Kimberley Locke. Alas, when my wife and I finally made it for dinner, Locke wasn’t there. Fortunately co-owner Jim Stake (right, with Locke) was and he had plenty of gossip to share.


Who is Locke’s favorite to win this season of AI? “She’s a fan of Jordan.”

Do you guys know of any good AI gossip? “We [Stake and co-owner Liam Harvey] are both going to watch the finals. We’re also good friends with Nigel Lythgoe. Apparently he’s now dating Priscilla Presley.”

Wait, I thought she was already married? “So did we. Same goes for Nigel, though he’s supposed to be getting divorced. Oh well, that’s Hollywood.”

Have any other celebrities been to the restaurant yet? “Martha Stewart was here a few weeks ago. She loved the oven-roasted tomato salad.”</div></blockquote>

“An Idol Outpost in Croton Falls” [InTown Westchester]

(photos: Mark Vergari/InTown Westchester)