Today I'm thinkin' that I'm rested enough to tell you about my American Idol adventure.
When I first heard that American Idol was going to be doing auditions in Milwaukee, WI I called my sister right away. My sister is an awesome singer and I though this would be a cool opportunity for her.
I convinced her that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so she decided to go ahead and try out.
I was so excited to be able to see the audition process in person! I had to apply for media passes to be able to broadcast from there which was great, but also not so great at the same time. I'll explain why as I go.
My sister, Andi, my bff, Felicia (who used to be on the show with us as our American Idol expert) and I left town on Monday after we got done with work. Felicia's uncle lives right outside Milwaukee so we stayed with him.
We got a little bit of sleep and got up really early to head to the Bradley Center in Downtown Milwaukee for the second day of registrations. I was broadcasting live from there all morning and I got to talk to a bunch of really excited and really nervous people who were registering rather quickly. They didn't have much of a line on day 2 of registration, but I guess day 1 was lined up completely around the building!
Once we were finished there it was a day of fun and relaxing to gear up for Audition day!
Wednesday morning we got up at 2:30am to start getting ready. For me that's not much earlier than usual, but for Felicia and Andi that was miserable. We got beautified and got on the road. When we arrived at the Bradley Center they were already filling up the line at the 4th entrance and it was just after 5am! According to the paperwork they weren't even opening the doors until 8am.
This is where being media was not so cool. My sis and Felicia had to go line up at the 4th entrance and I had to go to the front of the line by the other media people so we were separated from that point on pretty much!
The people in line were full of spunk at 5am. Some of them looked like they were ready to throw up from the nerves while others were amped up and ready to go. They were cheering and singing and chanting it was awesome! The American Idol production crew was there getting shots of the rowdy crowd.
As media I was allowed to talk to people in the crowd and have them sing for the camera, but I only got one interview with an idol hopeful in line thanks to some ranting guy behind me!
This very large man was in a wheel chair behind me yelling things to get people's attention, "The doctor said I'd never walk again, but God gave me the power!" Then he stood up and walked two steps in front of the crowd and two steps back to his chair where he began to sing badly and loudly. When he was finished with whatever song that was he began yelling at the people in line saying something about Idol making deals with the Devil and that if they want to be rich and famous they need to ask God and not American Idol. Then he started yelling prayers. The police asked him to move on so he rolled down to the end of the block, but as soon as the officer walked away he was back right behind me again yelling about being sinners and how they'll all be in the company of the devil soon and holding out the cross he wore around his neck. The police were back almost immediately and ushered him off the premises. Finally I smartened up and just moved to the other side of the media area to avoid another roll by yelling.
While we were waiting for the gates to open Danny Gokey came out of the Bradley Center and started to walk into the crowds shaking hands, hugging people, signing autographs and taking pictures with them it was awesome.
While Danny was busy workin the crowd. I got to talk to one of the producers of the show who gave me the lowdown on what was going to happen inside the doors. You can watch my video interview with Producer, Patrick Lynn, soon on the video link under Media on wdez.com. He told me that this was an audition in front of producers not the judges. The producers would narrow down the search for the executive producers who will come in and go through this all over again with those who are passed through to the next audition at a later date. Finally after that audition those who make it through audition in front of the Idol judges and hopefully by the time those auditions roll around they will have a replacement picked for Simon.
I also got a chance to talk to Season 8 finalist Matt Gerard about what he's doing now. That interview should be available under the Video tab soon too.
Danny started his interviews with other media stations while I was talking to Matt. I was next in line and waiting very impatiently on the phone with Greg (who did a great job handling the studio in Lee's absence). Finally it was my turn and the Idol staffer in charge told me 3 minutes. So I had to throw half my material out the window! Danny is such a nice guy. Smaller than I remember from the last time I met him at St. Jude and cuter too. He's been working out ladies! The full interview with Danny is on the Video link now at wdez.com under media.
They decided to open the gates a little early, around 7:30am. By 8am all the people auditioning were in their seats inside the Bradley Center. They took up the entire bottom section of the venue and more than half the top.
I was not allowed inside the venue so the pictures you see are taken by Felicia and Andi and sent to my blackberry sorry for the low quality.
Andi and Felicia kept texting me to let me know what was going on inside. They said that once everyone was in their seats they started filming stuff for the show. They brought Ryan Seacrest out, which was a big surprise because all the paperwork said he wouldn't be there. Danny Gokey and Matt Gerard performed for the crowd and then they took a short recess while they set up the audition booths on the floor.
There were 12 tables and each table had 3 producers (who acted as judges) and they sent the people down one section at a time. Then they lined them up in groups of 4 and sent them inside to stand in front of the table. Each table was separated from the next with a partition, but the area designated for each table was filled with nervous hopefuls. They stepped to the table one at a time. The producers pointed at them and they began to sing. They had 30 seconds and were asked to step back so they could move on to the next. They asked anyone they wanted to stay to step forward and dismissed the others. It was a very quick process with no critiques. No one really knew why they were turned away. It's hard to make an impression in 30 seconds without some crazy outfit like "Toothbrush Guy," that video interview will be posted on the video link soon too.
I was busy doing exit interviews with people who didn't make it through and some that did and I was told by an Idol staffer that they would be done with all the auditions by 3pm. My plan was to do a few interviews then head out for lunch and to the Milwaukee Public Museum, but when she told me that and I looked at my watch I realized it was already after 1pm so there was not enough time for me to leave. Well, she was a little bit off!
Twelve and a half hours after we arrived they finally called my sister, Andi to the audition booth. She was irritated about having to wait all day, she was tired, she didn't feel well because they threw away all her good food (an apple, orange, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and 4 bottles of water) so she had to buy crappy concession food (pizza, nachos, & pretzels with cheese) and she was extremely nervous. Felicia sent me a text and said she was shaking! I was so nervous for her I thought I was gonna be sick. Felicia said she got up there and sang her heart out, but didn't make it through. Andi was really upset, but like I said she wasn't in the best of spirits before she auditioned either.
Even though it didn't work out the way we'd hoped it was still quite the adventure and we learned a lot about the way the show works. I'm so excited to watch the season to see if anyone I met in Milwaukee makes the show.