If you have ever wanted to know what it's like to audition for the show, then this is the place to go first. I got a sneak peek at the attraction, which opens tomorrow officially to the public. I arrived and was told that I would need to choose a 30 second song, anything I wanted, which I would then sing for a Disney casting director. I made it through that and then was ushered in to sing for the producer.
I'm then ushered into the "red room" which is similar to what they have at Idol. This is where you sit with an iPod and can choose from over 100 songs to sing. I chose to sing "Achy Breaky Heart" because I figured I could never be as bad as William Hung! You chill for a while and learn your song and then it's time to sing for the producers. The good thing here is that words are on a karaoke style screen so you don't need to remember them! Despite my lack of vocal skills I made it through and would be singing on stage! I was handed a yellow ticket (actually a credential that said "Vote For Me") and just for the heck of it… Oh OK, who am I kidding just because our cameras were there I screamed those famous words, "I'm going to Hollywood!"
Next, I was brought into a hair and makeup room to get stage ready. Then a vocal coach worked with me on my song and gave me tips on performance, how to move and how to work the camera. Finally, it was my big moment. I was rushed to the stage for my big performance. A stage manager led me to my mark. I stood out and looked at the crowd of tens.
Where was the thousand member audience?! Well, this was just a press day so no audience was there, which I'm thankful for now that I watched the footage back! I belted out my best "Achey Breaky," danced a little, even pretended to sing to Simon who, of course, was not there! Again the words were up on a huge screen karaoke style. I wish I had learned the lyrics though because it really was just like doing karaoke on a huge stage. Then as fast as it started it was over. My 90 seconds of glory were up. Sure, I can't sing — but I headed the advice given to me along the way, "Just have fun." And boy did I ever have fun!
Later that night I got to see an example "finale show" and how it will look when it all comes together. This was a special version though for press with Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul and all seven Idol winners but we did get a good glimpse of the process. The stage is literally an exact replica of Idol's set last seen in season six. The show will have a host, a la Ryan, and three judges. There is no band, just a backing track like they used in season one which Kelly Clarkson always jokingly likes to call "Ghetto Idol" (She said that to me again last night when I interviewed her!).
The host introduces the contestants. I believe there are seven shows a day. So seven contestants compete at the finale show. This one had five. They show various taped clips from Ryan and former Idols and the singer performs. Afterwards, the judges critique. And yes it's their very own version of Randy, Paula and Simon. The only difference is that they sit on the stage instead of in front of it, so the audience can see them.
I'm a tough critic so my one complaint about the show is that the judges are trying way too hard. Instead of being themselves they are reciting what sounds like pre-written cheesy lines. For example, of one person's performance the Randy judge remarked, "Call 'CSI' cause you killed it!" Some people might enjoy the hokeyness of it all though.
After everyone sings they do a quick video recap of their performances and give the contestants feedback. The audience then votes using a keypad. The highest vote getter is the winner and receives a front of the line pass to a future "American Idol" audition. Last night, a guy named Mark Ellis won. At the party though, he told me was 36, so he was actually ineligible to audition for the actual show. But you are allowed to gift the pass to anyone who falls in the age range. So, unlike Idol, anyone over the age of thirteen can audition for the Disney attraction giving people who may never be able to experience "American Idol" a shot!
More next week in my blog on my hosting duties at the event and reuniting with the entire group of former Idol's!!!
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