Thursday, January 21, 2010
Several years ago, my kids and I were on a trip down to Southern California. One night we stopped to visit with my friend Diane and her family. They were watching a brand new show called American Idol. We hadn't ever seen it. I think they were close to the final four at that time and Diane said, "I can not believe you guys don't watch this show, especially since your girls are singers!" She went on to explain the premise, how it works, how you call in and vote. She was guessing that Kelly Clarkson would win - that was a good guess.
I do have daughters who like to sing, and even though we knew our chances were slim to none, McCall and I, (the only one who was of try-out age at the time) decided to take a little road trip to audition that next season at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
That was a trip and a half. We had no idea what to expect but we were all about the adventure of the whole thing. We drove down with my friend Wendi and met up with another friend, Tracy, who lives in South Pasadena and wanted to share the experience.
We pulled into town and met up with Tracy at around 12:00 midnight. When we got to the Rose Bowl parking lot, there were MASS quantities of people. Some had tents, sleeping bags, blow up mattresses, chairs, folding tables ... some people were playing games and eating out of their coolers. TONS of people were singing and plenty more were "shushing" people up, hoping that they could get their rest before the big audition.
We tried to get a little sleep ... it wasn't happening. After several hours we ventured out of line to find the restrooms. NOPE, that wasn't happening either. Way too many people, way too few restrooms. You could tell from a few feet away that you didn't really want to go in there.
The front of the line had been there for a couple of days. Mid-line for at least all of that day, and for those of us who had traipsed in late - it was still several hours before dawn. We had no idea if we were "too late" and if the end of the line would even be seen. We didn't know if just the auditioner would be allowed into the stadium or what - and no one else around us knew either.
It was a restless night for sure and then at about 5:30 the next morning, crew members were walking past the line telling everyone to get up, clean up and that we would be filing into the Rose Bowl soon. (It was still dark at that point except for the bright lights of the camera crew who were eagerly filming.)
We were handed disclosure papers that needed to be signed stating that FOX and American Idol would be able to use any footage shot during the audition process, basically stating that no charges could be pressed against them ... I guess for defamation of character (who knew back then how ugly that could get, yeah?)
There was a definite buzz floating around that Ryan Seacrest would be there - maybe to film an opening shot or something. (Remember this was Season 2 - who knew?) McCall said, "Mom, if Ryan Seacrest is here and I get to see him, it will be worth the trip and then we can leave."
We took turns saving the place in line so we could head back to the car to freshen up ... well, as best as you can given the circumstances.
I think it was around 8:00 a.m. before we actually filed into the stadium - and then we all sloooooowly filed - into - the - stadium. I would guess around 6 thousand people were there, which by today's American Idol turn-outs was a modest number, and as we sat there in the sun I thought how in the world is this going to happen?
But it did. Everyone who had come there to sing in front of the judges, (the first round of the judges anyway), got to sing in front of the judges, and by 3:30 that afternoon, the last of the auditioners walked out of the empty stadium ... and we were among them.
We had been in line by a really darling, sweet guy named Jeff. He sang for us before we were seated and we thought he was amazing! We told him we thought he would for sure make it ... and then we saw him again ... on TV, during Hollywood week! Yay, Jeff!
Once we did realize that everyone, including the last lone ranger who wandered in just as the end of the line passed through the gates, got their chance, I said, "Next time - we get a hotel, a good night's sleep and a shower before we get in line."
I do believe that was the last year they allowed people to spend the night in line.
But - when all was said and done - a good time was had by all. (At least in our party - definitely not by the crazies, you know the ones, who really do cuss and cry and throw their temper tantrums as they yell, "They don't know what they're talking about!!! I can SING!!!!)
Sidenote: I think after all these years of Idol the totally non-talented singers, who are chosen only for entertainment value, don't really need to be there. They don't like it, Simon doesn't like it, and I think it takes away the slot where other real, potentially good singers might have gotten a great opportuntity.
Aside from that, I love that January brings us a new season of American Idol. (Serious couch time ahead.)
Posted by Polly Wood at 12:01 AM