American Idol’s first mass audition of the new season is going on as we speak at Browns Stadium in Cleveland. They began lining up yesterday at 6am, 26 hours before the auditions were to begin today at 8am. Police estimated the hot, sweaty, musical crowd of hopefuls lined up around the stadium like refugees at between 15,000-20,000, a new record, a small city of singers:
- People from as far away as California, Hawaii and Minnesota started lining up at 6 a.m. By noon, the temperature reached 86 degrees and the line was a mass of sweaty bodies, rumpled sleeping bags, duffel bags on wheels, umbrellas and trashed soda cans and water bottles.
“American Idol” producers opened the stadium doors a few hours early to get people out of the sun.
But first, bags had to be searched and identification checked. Minors had to present a parent or guardian (older siblings didn’t count). Items not allowed in the stadium, including food, tents and lawn chairs, had to be taken away.
“If you lost your friend, you’ll find them later,” an “Idol” production assistant barked as people passed through turnstiles.
Only then did Idol contestants receive the blue wristband bearing a number that will be theirs throughout the competition. Every contestant was allowed one companion, who had his or her hand stamped.
Inside the stadium, participants grabbed a seat in their assigned section, then spread out along the concourse to sleep or listen to CDs. There was plenty of time to chill. Auditions, in which contestants will sing for a producer, start today.
This is the first time “American Idol” has held auditions here. Contestants who pass the producers’ tryouts will face “Idol” judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell later this month. The judges will determine who will go on to the Hollywood auditions. [Cleveland.com]
The face of show could be a little older this year, the age limit has been raised to 28. Cleveland.com has lots of photos and audio here.
I think part of the reason for the show’s success is that anyone even near the huge funnel that is the show’s process from mass audtions to finals, can feel an actual part of the show, and by taping the lines and the sprawl and the ambience of the process from the very beginning and including that in what gets aired, a very large number of people really ARE part of the show.
Not nearly as hot today for the actual auditions – today’s natural obstacle is rain. Have fun all!