Kelly Clarkson has something to say about her new movie -- and her sexy new look
DALLAS--There are times when Kelly Clarkson doesn't seem quite human, and this is one of them.
The original American Idol, making the rounds Tuesday to hype her new movie musical, "From Justin to Kelly," hasn't slept in more than 24 hours -- and couldn't be happier. She doesn't really have a choice.
Clarkson's morning is packed with interviews at radio and TV stations, and at every stop people rush out of offices in threes and fours, grabbing at her. Receptionists, security guards, station managers, DJs, guys in three-piece suits. Clarkson obliges them all, signing autographs, putting her arm lovingly around strangers to pose for photos, hugging tightly the little girl who can't manage to get words out of her mouth.
Never once does Clarkson give a hint that she wouldn't mind putting her head down right over here for just a minute ...
"I had so much to do [last night], and when it was 12:30 I just thought, 'Well, I have to get up in three hours anyway,' " Clarkson, 21, says as she heads to a van to move on to the next interview. When asked how long she has been back home, she squints in concentration, "A couple days ... I think. I actually don't remember."
With her debut CD on store shelves and her movie being released nationally June 13, Clarkson's job right now is to stay awake and sell, sell, sell. The "hometown premiere" of “From Justin to Kelly” is tonight in Burleson for Clarkson's friends and family. Co-star
Justin Guarini is flying in today to take part in a pre-movie "homecoming" with Clarkson that's open to the public. After that, she will jet off to London for more promotional appearances.
Clarkson clearly is a pretty good saleswoman -- her CD, "Thankful," just went platinum. But there has been the odd bump in the road. At least some of her hard-core fans may need to be sold on her all over again.
The sticking point came last month when Clarkson performed a single from “Thankful” on “American Idol” wearing a tight black top, hair teased into a wild-woman mane and with a bevy of cleavage-heavy dancers behind her.
Clarkson looked, well, sexy. And she caught some flak for it. Entertainment Tonight asked, "Has sweet Kelly Clarkson become a diva, after all?" Internet chat groups buzzed with opinions about the makeover; even alternative weeklies carped: Our simple, down-home girl has tarted up and gone Hollywood!
Clarkson finds the hand-wringing a little strange. "I love Britney Spears. She's quite the performer; people have to give her that credit," she said. "People always say, 'Oh, I'm sick because it's not about voices, it's about body and everything.' Well, that's what people are buying, so it's not always the artist's fault all the time."
Besides, shaking things up is a good thing, she said. "People say to me, 'Please, don't change. Never change.' People always change. Life is all about growing and finding out about yourself and broadening who you are. I'm always going to be trying new things and not limiting myself."
If you disagree, feel free to march up to Clarkson and tell her about it. But be warned: "My mom always thought I should be a lawyer, because I love debating," she said. "I'm polite, but I'll tell people exactly what I think."
On Fox 4's "Good Day" on Tuesday, they were counting on her being polite more than direct. They didn't want her to just sit down for an interview, they wanted her to do the weather.
"The weather?" Clarkson exclaimed when she arrived. "I've never done the weather, but OK. Will you actually tell me what the weather is?"
Sure enough, near the end of his segment, Fox 4 meteorologist Evan Andrews asked Clarkson to give the forecast for her hometown of Burleson. "Sunny and hot so bring your sunscreen," Clarkson advised. She then gave the five-day forecast -- expertly sweeping her arm across the map as if her lifelong dream was to be a weather girl.
At every stop, it turned out, Clarkson had to work for her supper. On KVIL's "Dixon & Miller," she got her plug in for the movie, insisting it's just fun, mindless entertainment: "Don't expect Sissy Spacek," she said. But in exchange they asked her to do a string of promos: "I'm Kelly Clarkson, wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from ..."
A station assistant reminded her, "103.7."
At Mix 102.9, station jock Jeff Elliott asked her to guess the ages of a handful of celebrities celebrating birthdays, and she did pretty well, except for John Fogerty ("I don't even know who that is," she whispered to her road manager.)
Then it was back in the van and on to the next interview. "It's like day care all over again," she admitted, before the subject switched over to the threat of online music piracy. Clarkson's answer to what the music biz considers a life-and-death issue: work
harder. She's planning on doing just that on her still-in-the-works world tour late this summer.
"I love making albums, but I love performing live," she said. "It's great to see people get into it. It's great to see people singing lyrics because a song really touches them. This business is about getting out there and promoting yourself. That's why I'm so busy. I want people to come out and see me.
"There's all sorts of ways to get that money other than your album, if you're willing to really get out there. It's a crappy thing if people download your songs [for free] because that's your livelihood. But thinking it's crappy isn't going to fix anything."
Besides, she likes getting out there as much as possible, which is exactly what she recommends to the newly crowned American Idol, Ruben Studdard. "I enjoy people," she says as the van rumbles down the highway toward another interview. "I love doing interviews and appearances. Well, I love it if I'm healthy and getting sleep."
With that, she leans her head back and closes her eyes. A moment later, the eyes pop open again, and she smiles. "OK, I'm good."
– By Douglas Perry, published in the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, 2003