Remember how I said only a scandal could keep Tim Michael Poe from winning America's Got Talent? "Timothy Michael Poe is going to win, as long as his story is genuine", I said. Well, thank God for disclaimers. Word on the web is that Poe's story is NOT genuine, and we've just discovered the scandal that going to sink his chances like the Titanic. Apparently, Timothy Michael Poe is lying.
There are quite a number of people who are declaring that Poe was not, as he claimed, injured in Afghanistan. AGT news has recorded the testimony of men who say they served with Tim and declare that he left combat due to an ear infection. The testimony that really convinced me this was not malicious gossip came from an official statement from Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman from the Minnesota National Guard. As The Associated Press reported it:
"Sgt. Poe's official military records do not indicate that he was injured by a grenade in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, as he reports," Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, said in a statement.
Olson noted that Poe did not receive the Purple Heart, which is given to those who are injured in enemy combat. Poe didn't claim he had received the award.
"We looked very closely at his record," Olson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "We did not find something to substantiate what he said."
An NBC spokeswoman said the network and Poe had no comment.
I can't think of any reason why Lt. Col Olson would lie about this, and every reason why Poe would.
Well, then. This puts a little damper on his chances. See, the story was the whole act with this guy. He sings reasonably well, but he really caught fire by turning on the violins. It will be interesting to see if they let him compete in Vegas now. And here's the sad thing... even if his enemies were wrong, and he's NOT a liar, he's lost a huge amount of credibility, and that's going to haunt him in any vote he might face. God knows he won't win only on his singing alone.
Funny thing - I think in a twisted way, this might be a good thing that just happened here. America has fallen into the habit of giving the top prize, repeatedly, to male singers. These guys regularly beat out people far more innovative and interesting. Well, guess what. The slot for a white male solo singer with a sob story has just been tarnished, and they might not want to go back to that well again immediately. Maybe... something else could win this time.
This might have just gotten a tad more interesting, and I can afford to be a tad less cynical about how this is going to turn out.
OK, Austin, what else have you got? They have.. the Aurora Light Painters. They make pictures with light. The founder grew up in a commune that encouraged creativity, and they are the only people who do this: They make pictures with light. The organizer says that they combine technology and magic and... yeah. I can't even tell how they are making half this stuff work. They are drawing rocket ships in the air and using light to make images of their own faces become part of the canvas. It's innovative, different, and beautiful.
Three yeses. And they didn't have to lie about anything.
And then we had a montage of bad acts. They are getting dull. Buzz.
Doppelganger Circus Side Show arrives, and the guy cuts an H with a chainsaw in the middle of an apple that's she's holding in her mouth. Yeah, that's the whole act. Howard's got it buzzed before we even see what they are doing. Honey, you may love your man, but you really need to set boundaries. Sharon calls for a paramedic; this act has given the girl lockjaw. In a previous mishap, he cut off part of one of her fingers. Howie sums it up well. "Three nos. Go take care of her."
There's a terrible women's singing act followed by some very cheesy life-sized cartoon characters who hop around aimlessly until they get buzzed out of our misery. We get the second fatty sex dance in as many days, and the judges are ready to give up.
Then we have Eric and Olivia from the University of Texas. Yep, that's my school, and the Tower will glow orange if they win! They are a singing duo, Olivia is very pretty, and everybody is kind of flipped out when they discover that Eric's not tapping that. Apparently, it is now required that you have a romantic relationship with your music partner. These folks have seen too many episodes of Glee. Howard, in particular, is dead set on getting to the bottom of why Eric can't get anything started with Olivia, and once Olivia is firmly informed that giving in to Eric's charms has now become an official criteria for them being considered a successful act, she can begin to sing.
Olivia's got a very interesting, silky tone to her voice that is quite compelling as Eric accompanies her on guitar. The crowd loves it, and I think... if I were still at U.T. , I would totally go see them in a club. It's not a standing ovation, but it's pretty damned good. Kiss her already, Eric! Howie is only person who says no, which I find kind of confusing. He says yes to all the stupid stuff, and says no to this very nice lounge act.
Richard Grossman is next. He sings opera, and calls himself a Bass Baritenor. Well, that's certainly covering all the bases. He talks a great game about how to produce the right vocal sound, but when he gets started... he's weak, shrill, strained and out of tempo. He'd have trouble getting the part in community theater. Once he actually goes out of tune, Howie buzzes him, and that's over, thank goodness. And yes, Richard. We are familiar with the piece. Are you? Wait... are you calling Howard Stern rude? Richard... he's Howard Stern. Frankly, I'm surprised he's been so well-behaved for this long. I wonder if this whole thing was a put on.
Howard is just beginning to work out how many minutes of his life he's given up to watching terrible acts when we meet Eric Diddleman, Mind Reader. He asks each of the judges to make a drawing on a sheet of paper, and then he has Nick duct tape his eyes shut.
Then... he describes, with rather amazing accuracy, what each of the judges has drawn. That's pretty cool. I am not at all sure how he did that, and I've never seen anybody do that before. The judges are dumbfounded and the crowd goes wild. The judges love him, and he's through quite easily. Let's ask this guy... was Timothy Michael Poe really lying? He'll know for sure.
Next, Summer Lacey does a very competent aerialist act. She's fluid, graceful, and daring. The judges call her original... I would not go that far, since I've seen this kind of thing before, but she's through to Vegas.
Nikki Jensen sings. She's emotional and distinctive, but the judges like her more than I did. Then there's a really edgy, interesting breakdancer, and I wish he'd been given the time they gave to that chainsaw act.
The show ends with a guy who has the most unnerving eyes I've ever seen. He is wearing tinted blue contact lenses, and he's made his eyes look odd and alien by encircling then with heavy makeup. He's like Marilyn Manson with an inferiority complex, and his name is Andrew DeLeon.. He tells us that he grew up as an outsider, alienated from other people, and he's never sung in front of anybody else before. Ever. His test run is on national television? Seriously? Because of the whole goth vibe he gives off, I was expecting something freaky and edgy from him, so what came out was completely unexpected. He began to sing... opera. Opera! With an unearthly, angelic falsetto that sends shivers through my whole spine the second time I listen to him. He has the crowd on its feet, and I realize that we've just had a Susan Boyle moment here. He's moving on, and he's going to be a very big story.
Indeed, since the male singer sob story that we saw yesterday turned out to be a fraud... well, here comes Andrew to take his place as frontrunner. But here's the difference... even if Andrew is lying about his sob story, and he's been training in a conservatory for years, he's still a really beautiful singer. There's something there that's more than just the story.