TV-Final Amer. Idol Traveling Tryouts; Dance War 08 Loses Another; Book Review

American Idol 2008 enters its next phase this week. The final city visited, Atlanta, is featured in this post, the winners, the losers, those who wear snakes and the identical twins.

Also, Dance Wars 08 continues and Bruno's not doing so well.

A Book review, "The Doctor, The Murder, The Mystery" by Barbara Damato.

I think he killed his wife, the author thinks he did not. I do not think the state had near enough evident to convict.

Many of you will remember this case.

Pic of the Day
Pic of pet birds montage interacting with pet dog and cat

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America Idol 2/5/8-Atlanta

According to the hype, it was Atlanta, Georgia that produced such Idol greats as Fantasia and Clay Aiken.

So on the last two episodes of the Idol traveling series, 2/5/08 and 2/6/08, the group goes to Atlanta with various left over on the second night.

Below, a few pic montages from the last two traveling audition series for 2008 and below this, a video remix of those last two nights.

2.5.08 AI Atlanta montage one

Montage AI08 2.5.08 TWO

Prior Links to Posts for "American Idol" 2008
Premiere Show 2008-Philly and Dallas
San Diego and Charleston
Miami and Omaha Tryouts AI2008
Atlanta and Various Tryouts -the last AI2008

Dance War 2008

This might well be this Blog’s last review of this series save the eventual winner.


I am bored. The show is boring, in fact.

First, the concept of Bruno and Carrie Ann critiquing their own as well as the opposing team’s performance seems somehow unreal. Most reality shows of our day feature a panel of judges that, on the surface, are impartial. The notion of judges who have invested time, talent and hope in the performers, and then having these same people doing the judging…well it’s an edge that is lost somehow.

Also, the performers are really not the best. I understand it’s a reality show and the notion is that the contenders might not be the best but with time and an audience vote, the best will be ascertained.

I don’t buy this because this series has had some very, very lame performers. Again, yes the concept is that the contenders must be able to sing AND dance. The two talents required might reduce the level of talent but I am just so sorry but some of those singers should not have been allowed to perform on live TV.

Finally, this notion that one of the judges should get to choose who goes on with their team, well once again this goes against the grain of the reality TV competition as we know it. Audience voters generally vote against or for a PERFORMER, not a team. I think this concept tends to dilute audience performer loyalty, a mainstay of reality competition TV.

Poor Bruno gets voted down every week and I start to wonder what happens when Bruno’s team is reduced to one dancer and who knows, maybe Carrie Ann’s team will have its full compliment of six dancers.

Below some pic montages of the last episode of 2/4/08, and below this a video remix of all the performances.

Bruno, Carrie Ann with their teams montage

Carrie Ann team montage

Bruno team montage

"Dance War" 2008 Contenders
Bruno's team
Charity-b-sent home 1/28/08
Tony-Sent home 2/5/08

Carrie Ann's Team
Prior Links to Posts for "Dance War" 2008
Premiere Show
Maxx and Corrina sent home
Begins America's Votes
Charity Sent Home 1/28/08
Tony Sent Home 2/5/08
Focus on TV Posts of Fame

Those Wacky TV Chefs. Includes Rachel Ray and the sexiest chef of them all.

TV News Pundits including Russert, spitting Matthews and the one I adore.

"Dancing with the Stars" of 2007, reviews, pics and videos.

American Idol 2007 and The Bachelor. One night's review with links to all the others.

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Cover of The Doctor, The Murder, The Mystery book

"The Doctor, The Murder, The Mystery" by Barbara Damato

….the true story of Dr. John Branion murder case.

I remember this case vaguely. It occurred back in 1967 and involved a wealthy doctor and the mysterious shooting of his wife.

The doctor was Dr. John Branion, a wealthy doctor married to Donna Branion. Donna was also from a wealthy medical family.

First things first. The contention of this novel is that Dr. Branion was innocent. Right there I have issues.

For as much as I love the True Crime genre of literature I usually steer away from any True Crime book which take the position that the story inside promotes the innocence of the subject.

Sure, innocent people go to jail and probably way more often than we’d like. I’d argue, with no handy stats save my instinct, that more guilty people are released than innocents jailed.

Author Barbara Damato didn’t convince me a whit that Dr. Branion was innocent of murdering his wife. She did, however, totally convince me that the state did not adequately prove its case.

Donna Branion was killed on 12/22/67 at an estimated time between 11:00 am and noon. The timing of the activities of John Branion on that day is crucial and by me, there’s just no way Dr. Branion could have killed his wife.

First, there’s plenty of proof that Dr. Branion was with patients up until 11:30 am. There’s also proof that he picked up his son afterward at nursery school and in addition, stopped by to pick up a family friend for lunch. Dr. Branion then came home, found his wife dead in the laundry room. Police were called at 11:58.

There’s all sorts of extraneous, conflicting and confusing information regarding timelines, including a neighbor who swears to have heard gunshots at 11:20, a time when Dr. Branion was known to be at the hospital, still seeing patients.

But even without this, we’re talking 28 minutes for Dr. Branion to get to the nursery school, pick up his son, put on his coat and boots, then stop by the friend’s real estate office only to be told that the friend was too busy for lunch. After all this we are told that Dr. Branion somehow got home, shot and killed his wife, who fought back mightily with clues from the Branion bedroom to the laundry room where Donna was found dead.

All this within 28 minutes of time?

The prosecution went with this time frame, to the point of having a test driver actually drive this route including all stops. It was possible but close, damn close. We don’t know if the prosecutors tested putting boots on a young child or not.

The author played with this timeline for the entire book and I understand why.

Only at some point later, much later in the book, does the author mention that prosecutors told her, off the record, that they weren’t convinced that it was Dr. Branion who shot his wife. Some of the prosecuting team believed that John Branion hired someone to kill his wife .

Well this is important. Although I’d argue that there’s something a bit unjust about prosecuting a case that you don’t believe which had to be the case if one is to believe those prosecutors.

I don’t buy that tight timeline at all but I don’t know why Dr. Branion couldn’t have come home earlier in the day, killed his wife, then come home later to…SURPRISE…find her dead. The author never deals with this possibility, perhaps assuming that since Dr. Branion was on duty at the hospital all morning that it was an ironclad alibi. Perhaps a reader out there somewhere knows more about this case because hey, doctors get breaks and such. Seems to me a doctor could just excuse himself, needs some fresh air, gotta run down to pharmacy to explain a prescription. Hospitals are big places.

And Dr. Branion DID live quite close to that hospital so why couldn’t he have went home and killed his wife then back to work, all busy being seen by anybody, being seen by the nursery school folks, stopping to pick up that family friend who had told Dr. Branion earlier that she wouldn’t be able to join him and Donna for lunch?

Further, the fine Dr. Branion had been having a secret affair and come on, dead wives, secret lovers, hey…not a good combination. The author obviously has great affection for Dr. Branion and his third wife, Shirley Hudson. It is nonetheless, author affection notwithstanding, that Shirley Hudson was a great big elephant in the room in terms of a motive for Branion to kill his wife.

And let it be noted that Dr. Branion did take off for overseas and was on the loose in Africa for many years. John Branion associated with many questionable characters over the years, including a very close association with the Black Panthers.

Barbara Damato’s husband helped John Branion, who was finally bought to justice and thrown in the slammer, draft up many appeals.

None of them worked. John Branion got more help with proving his innocence than most of his co-criminals behind bars. Over and over, Barbara and her attorney husband filed appeals; appeals to the state, appeals to the feds.

Could EVERYONE really be wrong about Dr. John Branion?

Yes, this reader did not get convinced that John Branion did not kill his wife. I did become quite convinced that the state did not prove its case to any proud standard.

But Dr. Branion didn’t have a half bad life during his years on the lam. He hobnobbed with African despots and dictators and Shirley Hudson was able to join him. Shirley and John had a child together, a daughter.

Donna Branion, however, died quite young and her son grew up without ever knowing his mother.

Review Ann Rule's "Every Breath You Take"

Shiela Bellush had quadruplets and, unfortunately, two daughters with Allen Blackthorne.

Blackthorne had everything a man could want. But he didn't have Shiela.

So he murdered her and left her babies toddling all about their mother's body.
Review Ann Rule's "Every Breath You Take"
Ann Rule's "Heart Full of Lies" and "Bitter Harvest"

Liysa Northon was featured in Rule's "Heart Full of Lies". Liysa was pretty, intelligent and fortunate enough to live in two homes, one in Hawaii and one in Bend, Oregon. She was married to a Hawaiian Airlines pilot, Chris Northon, and was a talented photographer and writer in her own right.

Dr. Debora Green was a physician married to another physician, a Cardiologist, Dr. Mike Farrar. The couple owned a luxury home in Prairie Village, Kansas.

Both women had beautiful children; Liysa had two precocious boys while Debora had a son and two daughters. Both women wanted their husbands dead. One succeeded, the other gave it a try. Debora Green's house burned down and two of her precious children perished in the flames.

Both of these women are crazy as loons.

Ann Rule's "Heart Full of Lies" and "Bitter Harvest"
Ann Rule's "No Regrets"

A book review as Ann Rule does it again with "No, Regrets".
He piloted mighty boats and lived past 80 years but his own wife ended it all for him.

Ann Rule's "No Regrets"
Ann Rule-"And Never Let Her Go"

And Never Let Her Go" is the true crime story of Thomas Capano, scion of a wealthy Delaware family, lawyer and political insider. It wasn't that long ago that this case was splashed in all the newspapers in this area and I vowed that when someone wrote the book I would look into it immediately. I was delighted that Ann Rule wrote the book.

Ann Rule-"And Never Let Her Go"

Ann Rule "Last Dance, Last Chance"

This book by Ann Rule is unique out of all her novels in that Rule actually got to interview the victim who almost died at the hands of the idiot around who the story is based.

Ann Rule-"Last Dance, Last Chance"



Anonymous said...

Re the Branion case, just how stupid/ignorant are you? Stick with Idol.

Pat Fish-Kaitlyn's Grandma said...

I usually delete ad hominum comments but I'll leave the above just to show you how unintelligent people comment.

Please note that I am reviewing a BOOK.

I wonder if perhaps it was the author who left this comment.