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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 02/ 3/2011

'American Idol': Season 10, episode 5 (Austin auditions) UPDATED

By Lisa de Moraes

"American Idol" judges see the contestants in Austin. (Fox)

"American Idol's" two-hour audition episodes are behind us, and Wednesday night's audition episode will be a streamlined hour, focusing on the very best Austin, Texas has to offer.

And yet, the show has time to open with a card that says:

American Idol would like to apologize for last week's outrageous behavior by Steven Tyler.

Thing is, we have no memory of Tyler doing anything so outrageous last week. Is "Idol" trying too hard with the Steven Tyler is a bad, bad boy thing?

But wait - there's more:

Mr. Tyler has been warned and assures us it will never happen again.

Which can only mean....

"My name is Jake Muck," a kid in a blue tank top, blonde hair and oversized baseball cap tells the "Idol" judges.

"You know what 'Muck' rhymes with?" Tyler asks.

"Duck?" Muck guesses.

"Read my lips..." Tyler says.

And then the joke, so lovingly nurtured by the "Idol" producers and Seacrest, coughed twice faintly and died.

UPDATE: Just think how convenient it would have been for comics in TV days gone by -- comics like the great Jackie Gleason, and Red Skelton, and even Johnny Carson -- if when one of their gags curled up an died, could have simply tweeted to viewers who did not appreciate their art: "Smile or 'Go ****a duck'."

This is what "Idol" exec producer Nigel Lythgoe tweeted upon reading comments about the Austin episode's opening. Comment from folks like TVladywatch, who sniffed: "apparently you're not to happy with the talent so u come up with this bull. give us the talent and not fake apologies."


And wehoscott, who asked, "Hey [Nigel], how about apologizing for foisting horrible Kara DioGuardi down our throats for two seasons."

In fairness, Nigel was not exec prod on the show during the Kara years.

But enough about dying being easy and comedy being hard. Let's get back to Wednesday night's Austin auditions, shall we?:

While show host Ryan Seacrest tries out a few puns:

"It's the third time we're saddling up to take a ride ... waiting to take the bull by the longhorns were 7,500 hopefuls. This year's batch no different than any other Austin cattle call..."

Tyler shows up for the Austin auditions in a horse-drawn carriage, and wearing Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West hat.

Meanwhile, show host Ryan Seacrest will phone home to his parents -- and Marc Anthony will visit his wife Jennifer Lopez at the judge's table -- if it helps the show set up Corey Levoy. Corey says he did not meet his older sister until he was 14 and she was 16, due to "parental difficulties" and during all that time were living just 15 minutes apart and didn't know it.

Corey and Corey's sister are BFF's now - which the "Idol" producers take note of with inappropriately romantic music.

While Fox reality-TV evil genius Mike Darnell concocts in his basement a new reality series in which parents who keep their kids apart for 14 years to score each other off are treated to some new and wonderful form of nationally televised humiliation, let's hear the judges jump right in and ask Corey to bring out this sister they've heard about, to help them judge his performance.

Corey's number gives sis "chill bumps," so she gives him a "heck yeah" through to Hollywood. The other judges like her thinking -- Corey gets four "heck yeahs" and he's Hollywood-bound.

Seventeen-year-old Hollie Cavanagh loses her grip on an Etta James classic, and Randy gives her a "no" which makes her cry. JLo asks her to compose herself and try a different number. She tries another tune and stumbles through it, at least on key, though she gets choked up in the middle. But JLo pronounces it "really good and thinks she deserves to go to Hollywood -- does anyone see her surviving Hollywood Week? -- and Tyler feels the same.

Then Randy announces "Guess what, I'm going to completely reverse my [decision] and I'm gonna say yes, too!"

Cut to medley of wannabe Idolettes who did not have the good sense, like Hollie, to weep during auditions and instead wept out in the holding room where they could impress only Seabiscuit and whatever cameraman drew the short straw and got assigned to cover Audition Exit Reactions.

Did you know Texas has a lot of cowboys? "Idol" shows us a few - the ones who can't sing but are, as one of them told the judges, "completely and utterly heterosexual."

Which brings us to John Wayne Schulz, who was saddled with that name - hey, this pun thing is great! - by his mom and dad because, Mom explains, Dad "wanted a son that was ... rough and tough."

"It would have really sucked if I was your son," Seabiscuit jokes with Daddy Schulz.

"No - you wouldn't be the way you are now," Dad says, simply.

Bring on Aaron Copland "Rodeo" music while we hear about how 23-year-old John Wayne's family started ranching cattle in Texas in 1857 -- 150 years before John Wayne's mother was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer. When that happened, back in '07, John Wayne told his mother he would do anything for her, and her response was, "Well, try out for 'American Idol.'"

So, here he is, auditioning for "Idol" and he's just fine. The judges want to meet the parents -- not that they'd been prepped that Mom is a great back story or anything. John Wayne is standing with his kin when he gets the good news: He's through to Hollywood.

"Where's your ticket? You don't have your ticket," says Mom as they leave the audition room.

Seabiscuit wants us to see the belt-buckle wound John Wayne inflicted on his hand during the post-exit hug-fest.

It's already Day 2 in Austin at the start of the second half-hour. Tyler's singing the Roy Rogers tune "Happy Trails" and JLo's hair has been pulled back severely to focus all attention on her blood-red lips.

But 17-year-old Courtney Penry only has eyes for "the sexiest man alive" -- by which she means Seabiscuit.

"I will marry him some day. I can't wait to meet him. Hopefully I won't make a fool of myself," she gushes. Too late.

She cries when she does meet him. Seabiscuit thanks her. She goes in to audition and pronounced JLo beautiful. Randy pretends she meant him. JLo and Randy bicker for a while and Courtney takes advantage of the lull to blow an air kiss to Tyler.

"I can do an air chicken. Would you like to see it?" she asks the judges.

Courtney paints her chicken with broad brush strokes.

Tyler thinks she's got "star quality." Randy noticed her "pretty good voice" but with a "couple of bad habits." But JLo and Tyler give her a yes, so Courtney and her chicken impression are on their way to Hollywood.

She's followed by a medley of people we're assured were very good but we will not be hearing at any length because there are only about 20 minutes left on the clock and, with ads, that means about 12 minutes.

So we'll just have to take Seabiscuit's word for it that "once talent gained momentum there was no stopping them."

Oh, and that Tyler asked some little blond singer, "Where is your pitchfork, you little devil?"

For which the show will be apologizing at the top of Thursday's show, as well as for his pharmaceutical company clinical trials gag.

But, on the bright side, we've gotten through a whole episode without being subjected to one of those glutinous love struck "Idol" auditioning couples who ... oh wait, here's Jacqueline Dunford and Nick Fink. They met in choir at their community college. They "really connected."

She thinks of Nick as "me in boy form" while hastening to add, "It's not like I'm in love with myself."

He, on the other hand, wants them to be "Idol's" first "power couple."

"Are you guys a couple?" Randy asks when both walk into the room together.

"We are," Jacqueline says.

"Uh, this is love -- 'American Idol' style," Randy coos. We struggle to suppress the urge to gag.

Mercifully, they don't duet. Each is an okay singer. JLo raves about their interesting takes on their tunes, Randy pronounces them "a breath of fresh air," and Tyler tells them to "keep the flame alive" - in Hollywood!

"Favorite couple in 'Idol' in years!" JLo emotes.

We take a well deserved break -- but not JLo. She has to sell a Venus leg shavers.

Janelle Arthur wants America to know they've got it all wrong about "country people." Truth be told, country people like family -- and good food. The judges make her sing two numbers, even though her first was just fine.

Seabiscuit helps in an auditioner who is wearing a seven-foot armadillo costume. This brings out the worst in Randy. We never actually see what becomes of Armadillo Girl's audition, but, as she leaves the room, she complains, "I'll just be an armadillo for the rest of my life."

Outside the audition room, Armadillo Girl tells viewers at home: "I know that I can do it, and I know what I'm capable of, and I wish they would have seen it too."

And, finally, 19-year-old Casey Abrams can play the melodica. He's also the night's best audition. We don't mind them saving the best for last, if it means we don't get subjected to another of those button-pushing back stories to which the producers are so addicted to ending audition episodes this season.

The saddest thing we hear about Casey: He gets told sometimes that he looks like Seth Rogen. He has our deepest sympathy.

By Lisa de Moraes  | February 3, 2011; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: 'American Idol': Season 10, episode 6 (Los Angeles auditions)


Yeah I'm tired of the inordinate amount of time devoted to stories about the auditioners, too, and the girls who get through because they're tearing up (yep, the blond girl will be going home from Hollywood in the first cut, and so will the 16 year-old with the Pepe LePew hair from last week). In fact, though they probably see it otherwise, it seems cruel to me to put them into a situation they're so unready for -- they should be giving them constructive advice about what they need to work on instead of raising false hope. I'd rather see the rest of the good singers. It's getting so predictable that when we heard the intro about the cowboy and mother with cancer, before he'd even sung a note, I turned to my husband and said, "He's in." Agree about the last guy -- he was fun!

Posted by: owingsmills | February 3, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Mike McPhate | February 4, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Didn't watch Wednesday night but sounds like I missed a good one! Thanks for the synopsis - I laughed a lot reading this one!

Posted by: MILWI | February 4, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I love this show but...Thursday night was an hour wasted that I'll never get back. I kept waiting for some serious singing but it was all freak show all the time. Worst episode seen to date. Judges beginning to look like a clown act. The numbers put through to Hollywood seem to be high also...even though no numbers were broadcast from the LA freak show episode. Oh to have some of Simon's enforced discipline back into the program...Randy as the 'experienced' need to take control of your mates. Maybe it's just me but it appears that J Lo is growing into Simon's role and Randy is shrinking from it.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | February 4, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

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