STAY TUNED: The badly-needed return of SIMON

BILL GREEN

“American Idol” fans, are you going through Simon Cowell withdrawal? I know I am.

Every time one of the contestants delivers a karaoke performance, I miss his honest, albeit brutal assessments.

This week we saw Randy Jackson attempting to fill Cowell’s shoes in the critics corner. But the best he can do in the form of a sharp critique is ‘sounded pitchy dog.’ It was a pale comparison to our beloved Simon. He cared enough to make contestants cry. Good television!

Never fear Simonites, Cowell will be returning to our living rooms this fall with a U.S. version of his Brit hit “The X Factor.” He’ll also be paying us an in person visit next month.

Although we have yet to hear who all the judges for “Factor” will be, auditions will get underway March 27 in Los Angeles. The closest auditions for us will be in Miami, April 7.

The new competition series is looking for talent young and old alike – with no upper age limit (unlike “Idol”). Judges will travel the nation searching for undiscovered talent 12 years old or over – both solo artists and vocal groups – who are willing to brave the panel for a chance to make their dreams come true.

Interested solo artists and vocal groups should sign up now for audition information at www.fox.com/theXfactor.

In another departure from “Idol,” the first time a contestant auditions for the judges, he/she will do so in front of an audience of thousands – raising the stakes and increasing the pressure to impress not only the judges, but also a potential legion of fans.

Other audition sites announced this week include Newark, April 14; Seattle, April 20; Chicago, April 27 and Dallas, date to be announced.

There’s a slim chance I might get to speak with the harsh one in the very near future. Do you have a question you’d like me to ask him? If so, send it to bgreen@naplesnews.com.

Nolan will be Parade grand marshal

The Naples St. Patrick’s Day parade committee has named Fox 4 anchor Patrick Nolan the grand marshal for this year’s parade.

Nolan anchors the 6, 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts. According to a press release from the committee, he first began participating in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2005.

“Patrick’s commitment to our parade and affiliated charities made naming him grand marshal a very easy task,” said Jim McEvoy, chairman of the parade committee.

Nolan considers the event one of his favorite celebrations in Southwest Florida – citing the tremendous volunteer effort that brings it all together.

“It’s a beautiful family event that’s available to anyone who wants to come,” he said.

Nolan is the grandson of Irish immigrants who landed in Chicago (his mother’s side) and Philadelphia (his father’s side).

“To this day, I’m deeply grateful they taught us the importance of being proud of our heritage – no matter where you are.

“Having the honor of being the grand marshal this year is a tribute to their memory, and I’m thankful to the committee for having invited me to be a part of the parade.”

News and notes

Planet Green’s docu-series “Operation Wild” is set to air a two-hour marathon of its second season on Animal Planet from 2 until 4 p.m., March 10. “Wild,” an original enviro-crime docuseries, follows the men and women of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Kevin Nealon, “Weeds,” “Saturday Night Live” –alum is performing at Capt. Brien’s Off The Hook Comedy Club tonight (Saturday). Visit http://www.captbriensrestaurant.com for details.

More Comcast responses

Gordon of Naples writes, upon reading your column in the Naples Daily News Neapolitan section … I realized that I finally had a conduit to air a grievance that I have with Comcast that will not, this time at least, fall on deaf ears.

“My wife and I are snowbirds, residents of Florida, living here in Naples six months of the year when it is snowing up north, and living up north for the remaining six months when it is then warm and sunny, at least warm and sunny enough to play outside with grandkids.

“Our Minnesota condominium association pays to Comcast, fees for basic television cable service and full Internet service for every one of its 120 or so owners, for a full 12 months out of each year. While we are in residence in Minnesota we avail ourselves of this service, but all kidding aside, we help pay for this service through assessed maintenance fees. While we are in residence in Florida our Florida condominium association pays to Comcast, fees for basic television cable service for every one of its 121 owners, for a full 12 months out of each year.

“I’ve carried this grievance up the ladder with no positive result. They responded by telling me that each area of the country has its own accounting system and my sort of injustice cannot be handled. Well, if Comcast is big enough to acquire NBC it should be big enough, and savvy enough, to take care of my little problem. Little problem? Multiply my financial problem by the many thousands of snow birds in this country each year. Remember, a billion here and a billion there, pretty soon we’re talking about a lot of money!”

Judy writes: I enjoyed your Saturday column about Comcast – we do enjoy Comcast’s services here in Naples and back home in Beecher, Illinois – and have always been happy with their services – triple play back home and TV and internet here in Naples – but, can you imagine my surprise when I called Comcast on February 2 and asked them to put our Illinois service on vacation stop and I was told that that service is only offered October thru January. Now, we have been coming to Naples for many years, arriving in December, January, February and one year in March and have never been told that that service is offered only through January.

“I asked if they put out any notice to that effect and was told no -- so what to do? Just send them over $140 per month thru May?

Does not seem right! Does it to you?”

Since you asked Judy, no it doesn’t. In my humble opinion, just like your newspaper subscription (shameless plug here) you should be able to put your service on hold whenever you’d like.

More of your Comcast comments next week.

Until then, stay tuned.

Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist with a secret life as a couch potato. Contact him at bgreen@naplesnews.com.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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