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`Supernova' finds its singer: Lukas Rossi

The spiky-haired Canadian grabs a gig as frontman of the new group.

September 14, 2006|Lina Lecaro | Special to The Times

IN the end, goth as much as rock won out in the finale of "Rock Star: Supernova," as Lukas Rossi -- the androgynous, spiky-haired Canadian wailer who favors charcoaled eyes, black nail polish and fingerless fishnet gloves -- beat all comers.

After 11 weeks of swagger-filled performances, Rossi landed the job fronting the newly constructed band Supernova, a collaboration among veteran rockers Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke. It was an intriguing move to bet on one of the show's more unconventional contestants and suggested that the bandmates might be willing to take Supernova in more experimental directions too.

Taping for the three-hour selection process started about 7:30 Wednesday morning at CBS Studios. Before it hit the network last night, the best bits had been pared to a one-hour show.

At the end of the day, it was a television singing competition following all the usual reality-show stratagems: good-looking contestants, contrived pauses and commercial breaks before each elimination, offstage conflicts edited for maximum TV drama. Still the taping managed to have some raw moments and genuine suspense, befitting the hard-rock genre.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 20, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 73 words Type of Material: Correction
'Rock Star: Supernova': An article in Thursday's Calendar Weekend on the finale of the CBS reality series "Rock Star: Supernova" said the group's concert tour begins Jan. 31 in Las Vegas. It begins Dec. 31. In addition, it said former contestant Ryan Star "returned Wednesday as a fan favorite singing a tune released on the show's website." Star was in the audience for Wednesday's finale but his vocal performance had been taped earlier.

It had come down to a battle among three contestants in addition to Rossi -- passionate Icelandic crooner Magni Asgeirsson; charismatic Aussie heartthrob Toby Rand; and the last woman standing, smoky-voiced powerhouse Dilana Robichaux. Each seemed to have a shot at what host Brooke Burke called "the gig of a lifetime."

The boldest choice would have been Robichaux, whose performances were some of the most intense and haunting ever seen on prime-time television. Ultimately, however, she came off as too emotional midway through the series when she was shown fighting with other contestants and subsequently having a meltdown. Hard to imagine Lee & Co. putting up with that for months on a tour bus.

Rand and Asgeirsson each gave strong performances throughout the season as well. But it was the often cocky Rossi who offered more nuanced, if imperfect, renditions of dark faves, including Radiohead's "Creep" and the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony." He was the contestant who really seemed to have the mojo to hold his own with the band, a quality that shined through to the viewing public.

Lee said that Rossi had, in fact, received the highest number of votes Tuesday night, which prompted the band to "listen to our fans." The new group has a built-in fan base, though as it moves forward, a new name seems imminent.

On Tuesday afternoon, a San Diego judge granted an injunction filed in June by the veteran Orange County punk trio Supernova, ruling that upon the show's finale, producers of "Rock Star: Supernova" must refrain from "performing rock and roll music, or recording, or selling rock and roll music recordings under the same [name], pending a trial of this action on its merits, or until otherwise ordered by the court."

Name change or no, the success of a made-for-TV group of this kind isn't guaranteed. The previous season's act, INXS featuring winner JD Fortune, saw solid sales for its subsequent release, and it continues to tour the country, but it still hasn't come close to garnering the acclaim or hit singles of its previous lineup.

Supernova (or whatever the group may wind up calling itself) has even more to live up to, though riding the buzz on the show (both on TV and the Internet) has already helped sell tickets for its 27-city tour.

The debut performance at the Joint in Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel on Jan. 31 is already sold out. Of course, you can't buy the kind of publicity that the group -- as well as the losers, all of whom have solo careers or bands to go back to -- received throughout the show's summer run on CBS, which enjoyed a consistent ratings climb throughout.

Ryan Star, who returned Wednesday as a fan favorite singing a tune released on the show's website, is in talks to release a full album, partially backed by show producer Mark Burnett.

The band and its new singer wrapped Wednesday's show with what is likely to be its first single, a fun if formulaic high-energy rocker called "Be Yourself and Five Other Cliches."

The band's debut album, to be produced by Butch Walker (Avril Lavigne, Pink) is tentatively set for fall on Epic Records.

As for next year's "Rock Star" band, that's likely to depend on just how super things go this time out.

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