By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Feb 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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Simon Cowell is predicting that this year's "American Idol" winner will be female, and I have to say I agree. Last year's final three contestants were guys -- with Allison Iraheta making it only as far as fourth place.

He's talking about trying to find another Taylor Swift, and while she's got a rougher sound than Swift, I'm picking Crystal Bowersox as an early possibility.

Don't read this as a prediction of victory, just yet. But the 24-year-old single mom from Elliston, Ohio, has a voice and an attitude that's likely to get her into the final 12. A combination of girlishness enthusiasm with a Janis Joplin snarl, she stands out from the other 11 female finalists.

Here she is in a pre-"Idol" performance of Joplin's "Piece of My Heart."

The biggest question is whether she'll be able to tame her own talents to fit the musical genres "Idol" contestants are forced to perform in. Her flexibility remains a question.

The dozen female semifinalists perform live tonight at 7 on Channel 6. Their male counterparts perform Wednesday at 7 and four singers -- two of each gender -- are axed at 7 p.m. Thursday, based on the telephone votes of viewers.

Speaking of males, the singer that rises about the other 11 guys at this point is the likable Andrew Garcia, 24, from Moreno Valley, Calif.

Here he is with his own pre-"Idol" performance of a familiar Christmas song:

At this point, a bad performance can be disastrous, and either of these singers could end up a flash in the pan.

But based on what we know now, I'd expect both to be among the 12 finalists. 

On TV: Milwaukee is the top market for Olympic viewership for the first 10 nights of the Vancouver games, with a 22 rating and a 35 percent share of available southeast Wisconsin homes, according to Nielsen Media Research. That average rating translates to nearly 200,000 area households. Sunday night, Milwaukee came in second to Salt Lake City, the host of the 2002 winter games.

  • Speaking of Olympic ratings, MSNBC pulled in 8.22 million viewers for Sunday night's U.S. upset of Canada in hockey. It's the third highest rating for the channel.
  • As long as we're talking about the Olympics, I'll be talking about TV coverage and the ratings with Bonnie North on "Lake Effect," at 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. Wednesday on WUWM-FM (89.7).
  • PBS is teaming up with the BBC for the planned return of "Upstairs, Downstairs," a classic British TV drama. Jean Marsh will return as parlor maid "Rose," this time in 1936, returning to the house at 165 Eaton Place where she'd worked under the previous owners. The new drama will tell the story of life in London leading up to World War II.
  • The second night of Jay Leno's second attempt to fill Jack Paar's shoes on NBC's "The Tonight Show" will feature a visit by Sarah Palin. He's back in the 10:35 p.m. slot on March 1.

Expect a quick move by Channel 6: Monday's announcement by veteran morning anchor Mark Concannon that he's leaving Channel 6 after 23 years may have been news to the public, but it's clear that he's been talking with his bosses at the Fox affiliate about his decision to move on.

No decision has been announced on a replacement in the key job of morning co-anchor, but an announcement is expected shortly, possibly within days.

Concannon told co-workers that March 24 would be his final day on the anchor desk at Channel 6.

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.