'American Idol' Reveals Season 12's Top 10: What You Didn't See on TV
The Fox show returns to Los Angeles for live episodes -- and saves a seat for THR.
After three weeks in Las Vegas, American Idol returned to its home turf of Los Angeles on Thursday, just in time for the first live show of season 12. You saw the big results reveal, but what didn't make the broadcast? Read on …
1. A teacher of special needs students sitting behind The Hollywood Reporter in the Idol-dome had waited quite a while to get tickets for her first time in the audience. But three people sitting in the front row on the extreme right side of the audience didn’t have to wait even five seconds to be seated. Those three gentlemen were executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, co-executive producer Charles Boyd and Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine.
2. During the first commercial break, the audience erupted in shouts, as if on cue. They weren’t screaming for the contestants, they were all shouting out the names of the judges. It was effective, as the judges heard their exclamations and turned to the audience and waved to their fans.
3. Since Curtis Finch Jr. was only the third male contestant revealed as a top 10 finalist, there were just two guys sitting onstage: Paul Jolley and Burnell Taylor. The latter was so moved by Finch’s performance, he stood up for the entire song.
4. For the first time in Idol history, the audience couldn’t see or hear segments of the show. It made for an odd disconnect the first time it happened, but everyone soon caught on to what was happening. While Ryan Seacrest was backstage revealing to the contestants their individual fates, his audio feed was muted in the house. And the large video screen that would have shown video from backstage merely showed the new version of the American Idol logo in a palette of yellows and browns. A few second later, the colors turned blue, and lights in the house were dimmed. More time went by, and then there was a music cue, the familiar Idol theme. That seemed to take forever, and then, finally, the screen split in two and out of the darkness emerged a top 10 finalist. That was the first anyone on the front side of the screen -- including the judges -- knew the identity of the next finalist.
5. Anyone who has watched him at work knows that Seacrest has a perfect sense of timing and an innate sense of where to be and when to be there. That was evident Thursday when he called Devin Velez’s mother Sandra up out of the audience to join him and her son onstage. As she made her way onto the stage, Seacrest gave her a signal with the back of his hand so it couldn’t be seen on camera, and at the proper moment waved her over -- again, unseen by the audience at home. The whole thing happened spontaneously, guided by Seacrest without a stage manager or a cue from the director.
6. After Candice Glover performed, there was no commercial break before the next top 10 finalist was introduced, so Seacrest ran backstage as the show continued live. Unfortunately, he took the mic that was supposed to be onstage for the next performer. Stage manager Debbie Williams could be heard backstage asking for the mic back, and another stage manager ran it to the stage and placed it back on the onstage mic stand.
7. During the next commercial break, segment producer Kathleen Sheets walked out into the audience, looking for family members of the contestants who had moved into the top 10. She handed them pieces of paper -- invitations and directions to Fox-TV’s Finalists Party, being held next door at The Grove right after the live broadcast.
8. Idol warm-up comic Cory Almeida talks to members of the audience during commercial breaks, and tonight he found a young man named Chase who said he was a big fan of Mariah Carey. Chase, who appeared to be 5 years old, was escorted to the judges’ desk to meet Carey in person, and as he stared at her, Nigel Lythgoe snapped a photo so Chase could have a souvenir of his memorable encounter.
9. One noticeable difference between Idol past and present: The presence of extra security guards to watch over the show's two female judges, Carey and Nicki Minaj. And unlike Jennifer Lopez, whose hair and makeup got touch-ups at every commercial break, Minaj likes to do her own primping with the help of a hand-held mirror within arm's reach.