Inqlings | 'Idol' eyes N. Phila. teenager

North Philly's Luis Figueroa-Roig, 17, an honor student at Girard Academic Music Program, is among the select pack of singers heading to Hollywood to compete on Fox's American Idol.

The teen wowed judges in his New York audition, which aired last night. He taped in August.

In addition to being a great singer who did well a few years back as a 13-year-old on CBS's Star Search, Figueroa-Roig makes a racket in local tennis circles.

He's been playing at Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center since he was 12, and he's a junior instructor in the summer at Stenton Park Playground as part of the center's National Junior Tennis League program. Fox sent a camera crew to the Ashe Center.

He has a long way to go. The Hollywood field, whose number Fox won't disclose, will be winnowed to two dozen semifinalists on Feb. 14. The 12 competitors will be revealed March 8.

Radio activity

PodZinger, an audio and video search engine, says WMMR morning guys Preston & Steve had its most listened-to podcasts of 2006.

WIP alumnus Mike Missanelli has an August release date for 1986: The Inside Story of How Penn State Stopped a Hurricane and Won a National Championship, a look back at the Nits' win over heavily favored Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. Penn State Press will publish.

WURD (900) general manager Kevin Jones says he's been aiming for listeners and advertisers of WHAT (1340) for the last two weeks, since WHAT's sale left WURD as Philly's only African American talk station. As for air staff, Jones says, "we haven't had any real discussions" with any former WHAT-ers. WURD, receivable mostly within the city, streams on the Web at

That's entertainment

Nothing official, but there's talk of a green light for a TV series whose pilot season was shot last spring in Media under the working title The Block. New title: What Goes On. It's writer/director Sri Rao's ensemble drama on the lives of five teenagers in a suburban neighborhood, being planned by The N, the Viacom-owned network aimed at tweens and teens. The N is silent in advance of an announcement.

Pianist Leon Fleisher, performing Wednesday at the Kimmel Center, is the subject of Two Hands, which won an Oscar nomination the other day for best documentary, short subject. Director Nathaniel Kahn tells the story of Fleisher, who at the height of his career lost the ability to play with his right hand.

When The Roots showed up hungry at 12:30 a.m. yesterday at London Grill in Fairmount, chef Michael McNally opened the kitchen and knocked out a four-course meal. It was a cinch, because chefs Andy Brown of White Dog Cafe, Kenny Wells of Savannah, and Dennis Heslin of London happened to be there hanging out.

Zooey Deschanel fans will have to wait till summer for her starring role as Janis Joplin in The Gospel According to Janis. A producer tells me the biopic has run into scheduling conflicts and budgetary issues.

Old City's Arden Theatre Company needs a singing African American child actor (who can play age 10 with a falsetto voice) for its spring production of Caroline, or Change, the Philadelphia premiere of the Broadway musical. Act now. Rehearsals begin Feb. 13. Call Murph Henderson at 215-922-8900, Ext. 43, to set up an audition.

Athletes' cribs

Phils' second baseman Chase Utley and bride Jennifer Cooper bought a condo in L.A.'s Westwood section for $907,500, according to real estate records.

Somebody can really throw Terrell Owens for a loss by buying his house in Moorestown. The Cowboys wideout put his creekside five-bedroom on the market in October 2005 for $4.4 million. The listing now says the owner is "motivated to sell" and "will consider all offers." Price is now $3.4 million - a $1 million discount and a full half-mill less than he paid for it in May '04. Would a hyperbaric chamber cinch a deal?

Contact columnist Michael Klein

at 215-854-5514 or Read his recent work at