Carly Patterson's trying to make it as a singer on Fox. We can think of worse ideas, such as...uh...wait...uh...give us a sec.

American Hero an American Idol?

You've heard of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, but the Richie Whitt Dallas Observer sports column jinx? I'm just sayin'.

It almost got kick-started last night on the season premiere of Fox's latest reality show Celebrity Duets, when the subject of the column hitting stands today--Olympic gold medal gymnast and Allen resident Carly Patterson--was one of the last two singers vying for survival and a spot on next week's show. Whew. As though she were teetering atop the balance beam, Carly wobbled but dramatically earned the last spot over professional wrestler Chris Jericho.

All growed up and all filled out since we last saw her two years ago in Athens, Patterson appeared timid in her first "Roll & Soul" performance with James Ingram, but visibly relaxed and improved on her country song with Lee Ann Womack. At least that's what judge Little Richard said. But, of course, he looks like a wooden caricature of Prince's grandfather, so can he really be trusted? "Much better, girl," said smallish Rich. "Keep on keepin' on, and you'll be fine."

With that ringing endorsement Carly can pursue her pop-star dream another week, along with the likes of Lea Thompson, Cheech Marin (and has there ever been a more awkward pairing than him singing with Peter Frampton?) and some dude from Queer as Folk. Since two of the remaining contenders, including Xena the Warrior Princess, have actually starred in Broadway musicals, Patterson probably doesn't stand a chance at the $100,000 (for charity) and recording contract. But Carly is by far the spunkiest of the last seven, cartwheeling down Hollywood's Walk of Fame during the show's intros and wearing a spicy dress that showed off tan lines during her ditty with Womack. Said music producer and judge David Foster, "You have the possibility of improving the most of anyone out here."

Here's hoping Carly hits it big. Because, if you haven't heard, she already quit her day job. --Richie Whitt

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