Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MAY 16, 2007

Last night's final-three showdown show on American Idol was a non-stop love fest, with scarcely a negative word spoken or a bad note sung. Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis and Melinda Doolittle each did three numbers: one selected by a judge, one picked by the Idol producers and one they chose themselves.

Jordin got things under way with a 1978 Rose Royce song, "Wishing on a Star," which was a British hit but not an American one. Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul both approved of her performance. Simon Cowell, who had asked that she sing it, praised the vocal but complained about the arrangement, a barb which bothered host Ryan Seacrest, who teased him about it. Jordin returned later in the show with an energetic rendition of Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money" and then the dramatic "I (Who Have Nothing)," which oddly earned her Simon's scorn as "a 17-year-old singing a 60-year-old song." Jordin got him back, however, when she noted to Ryan that the number Simon gave her to do was from the '70s. For someone born in 1989, it all must seem like ancient history.

Paula picked the hard-to-sing Police hit "Roxanne" for Blake and deemed the results "fantastic." Randy called it "hot," a term he applied to four other performances on last night's show. Simon carped that it wasn't as good as the original. Blake's second number, chosen by the Idol producers, was Maroon 5's "This Love," which all three judges enjoyed and said was a great sound for him. His finale, Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone," again got their unanimous approval.

Randy challenged Melinda with "I Believe in You and Me," a difficult 1996 Whitney Houston song from the soundtrack of The Preacher's Wife. But he was more than satisfied with the results, saying that she "blew it out the box." Paula called it "amazing...fantastic." And Simon said "Round one goes to Melissa." The judges were even more enthusiastic about her performance of Ike and Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" and her own selection, "I'm a Woman." At the end of the show, Simon confessed that he hoped she makes the finals.

So here's the official prediction... I've been calling a Jordin-Blake final for weeks, but now, I don't think that will happen. Melinda is in... and unfortunately, I think Blake is too. I really would like to see Jordin make it, but I think she could be the odd contestant out. I think the totals will be really, really close, but I think Jordin will be going home. Join us tomorrow at 7:20 when JD Roberto will join us with the week's backstage scoop and a preview of the finale.

Using a special additive or cutting off your A/C won't really cut your gasoline consumption. But myths like these run rampant. So before you attempt a half-baked scheme to stretch your gas dollars, here's a look at what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to fuel economy:

Nothing but gimmicks:
There have been additives, special magnets and even a pill that has promised to improve a car's fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent in some cases. Most of these products provide a negligible, if any, improvement in fuel efficiency. Consumer Reports and the government's Environment Protection Agency, have tested dozens of these products finding that none of them offer any significant improvement in fuel economy.

Windows, air conditioning - who cares?
There's the old saw that leaving your windows rolled down creates an aerodynamic drag on your car, cutting down on fuel efficiency. And there's the notion that the fastest way to drain your gas tank is by running your air conditioning. Don't believe either one. In two separate studies conducted in 2005, the automotive Web site and Consumer Reports compared the fuel economy of both a sedan and an SUV at highway speeds with and without air conditioning and how open windows affected gas usage. What they found was no significant difference in fuel economy in either sedan or SUV under either condition.

Don't wait until Wednesday:
Some drivers insist the best time to buy gasoline is on a Wednesday, when pump prices have cooled from the weekend run-up when oil companies typically raise prices. That's true to a point, but Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, says while prices tend to be higher on the weekend, there's no ideal day of the week to purchase your gas. Geoff Sundstrom of the motorist organization AAA notes that gas prices fluctuate from day to day and are determined by gas station owners who look at a variety of factors (including wholesale gasoline prices, competitors' prices and food and drink sales if they have an attached convenience store.) Drivers who want to bargain-hunt for inexpensive gas should instead check out Web sites like, which allows consumers to find the cheapest gas in their area simply by entering their zip code.

Restart your engines:
It's probably a myth that goes back to the days when cars were equipped with carburetors, but many drivers believe that starting up and turning off your car repeatedly is a fast way to drain your gas tank. But because of modern fuel-injection technology, drivers actually save gas by turning off their engine than letting their car needlessly idle. Granted it's probably not sensible shutting down the engine every time you get stuck in traffic, but if it looks like you might be at the drive-thru for more than 30 seconds to a minute, it's worth turning off your car.

Tips you can use:
So what are some fuel-savings tips you can trust? Make sure your tires are properly inflated for starters. Besides posing a safety hazard, underinflated tires can reduce your fuel economy slightly. Removing excess weight from your car can also help save you gas. The Department of Energy estimates that drivers can save anywhere between 3 and 6 cents a gallon just by removing those golf clubs and other unnecessary weight from your trunk. If your car comes equipped with cruise control, make sure you use it, especially on long trips.'s study revealed that using cruise control at highway speeds offered an average fuel economy savings of 7 percent. But the biggest fuel saver is driving the speed limit and driving sensibly. Rapid starts and stops and exceeding the speed limit will dent your pocketbook. Just by adhering to one of those, the Department of Energy estimates that drivers can save anywhere between 15 and 98 cents a gallon.

90210's Ian Ziering and partner Cheryl Burke bade farewell to the Dancing With the Stars stage during last night's results show. Despite judge Len Goodman's comments that Ian was "technically the soundest" performer in the competition, Ian was never able to shake the "McStiffy" posture that judge Bruno Tonioli nailed him for in early performances. The judge's favorite performance from Monday's show was 'N Sync's Joey Fatone's jive with partner Kym Johnson. And while the pair were in the bottom two during last week's judging, they were unflappable during their repeat performance. During next Monday's competition Joey, boxer Laila Ali and Olympic speed-skater Apolo Anton Ohno will dance freestyle as they vie for the mirror ball trophy in the finals of A-B-C's Dancing With the Stars.

CBS has announced its fall lineup... They are dropping "Jericho", "Class" and "Close to Home".

Returning shows include "How I Met Your Mother", "Rules of Engagement", "The Unit", "Numbers", "The Ghost Whisperer", "NCIS", "Survivor", and all three versions of "CSI" and "Shark". . . starring the real-life ticking time bomb that is James Woods.