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Welcome to Hollywood -- Or As Close As We Could Get to the Hotel Where We Got A Good Group Rate

This year's American Idol Bad Auditions Tour is over -- a resounding success: ratings are up, Rosie is appalled, Paula is lucid. Time for "Idol" wannabes to head to Hollywood.

Exactly 172 would-be pop stars have made it to Hollywood, show host Ryan Seacrest tells us.

Only, the auditions appear to be going on at the Orpheum Theatre, in downtown L.A. Clearly, "Idol" producers subscribe to the Hollywood-as-state-of-mind argument.

This year, twice as many women as men made it there, Ryan tells us.

And yet, when this week's "Idol" is over, the producers have promised, judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson will have whacked enough women to wind up with exactly the same number of male competitors as female. Why? They're trying to judge 'em -- not breed 'em.

First up: The Women

"The large number of girls is going to make for a brutal round of cuts," Ryan warns.

"Inside the theater the pressure is palpable," he says.

Has "American Idol" ever used the word "palpable"?

Will Ryan say "verisimilitude" before this season is over?

The first six women perform. Then they are lined up on stage. Then Simon guns them down: "You're all going home. None of you are any good."

"Shocking -- all six girls are out!" Ryan tells us, in case we're too slow to have figured that out. And yet, just a second ago he expected us to know what "palpable" meant.

The next six sing. Then they're lined up on stage; only two survive. Among those downed: Rachel the military chick whose husband is serving in Baghdad. She tells the camera she wanted to get as far as she could for her husband.

Ditto Porcelana, who trained like Rocky Balboa for the competition, and Sarah, who ran away to audition in New York City.

Happily, Baylie Brown -- the city girl stuck in a farm girl's life, who Simon said was "Commercial with a capital C" -- makes it through.

"Did they cut too many on the first day?" Ryan wonders, totally contradicting his earlier blather about having to send home a boatload of chicks. Even Ryan doesn't listen to his own blah, blah, blah.

Day 1 ends with Nicole Turner fighting with her stage mom over her song choice. Turner sings the song her mom wanted her to sing; the judges are not impressed and send her home. Stage Mom then gets up on stage and tells the judges her daughter sang the song to please her, adding "I don't know if I can ever make it up to her." Geesh, should've thought of that earlier, Nicole's Stage Mom.

Day 2: The Men

Annoying 19-year-old repeat competitor Brian Miller tells Ryan that it's "an emotional roller coaster" for a guy "as young as I am" to make it to Hollywood twice on this show -- which makes us want to see him cut.

Nice Navy guy Jarrod Fowler, from the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, sings the "You Raise Me Up so I Can Stand on Mountains" song -- which makes us want to see him cut.

Surprisingly, both our wishes are granted, leaving us just one wish.

This brings us to the infamous Group Round. Ryan promises us "drama" which means "cue up the pictures of the women contestants."

Day 3: Group Day

Simon tells contestants not to forget the words to the songs they've chosen to perform. This is shorthand for "you're about to see lots of contestants forgetting words to the songs they've chosen to perform."

That includes, most notably, Baylie Brown, who may have been Commercial with a capital C but who got Flustered with a capital F by the drama that flared up between her two singing partners -- those Paris Hilton/ Nichole Richie-esque BFFs.

Minutes later, Jason "Sundance" Head forgets the words to his group's song, and Simon says he sang through his nose and halfway through the performance turned so red he looked like he'd been boiled. And yet, he sails through to the next round. Even "Sundance" doesn't get it, telling the camera he'd better start doing something right or they're gonna cut him. Unless, that is, he's a guy and they've got too many chicks in the competition. Then he's pretty safe.

Shots of Simon, Randy and Paula looking at remaining competitors' snaps. "She's cute," Paula says. "We've got to lose more girls," Simon says.

Singers are divided into three rooms, signaling the start of the annual Judges Enjoy Holding Contestants Out Window by Ankles segment of "AI."

Paula takes Room 1. She prattles on about "interesting moments," "near fatal moments" and "you are all aware how many rooms there are, correct?" She finally hauls them in with "Congratulations!"

Randy takes Room 2. "We should just put you out of your misery now, right? I'm really sorry to say...that you guys are going to see a lot more of us!" That Randy -- a window dangler with a sense of humor!

Lack of soundproofing is a total bummer for the wannabes in Room 3, who have heard screams of joy coming from Rooms 1 and 2, and know it's the end of the road for them.

"It's the end of the road," Simon tells them.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 14, 2007; 12:04 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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