Aussie 'Idol' to audition in U.K., L.A.


SYDNEY -- "Australian Idol" is expanding its auditions this year to Los Angeles and London, in a first for the show, with producers hoping to find an expatriate singer who can reinvigorate the sixth edition of the series.

On Monday, FremantleMedia Australia and broadcaster Network Ten said two of the three Aussie judges will travel in April to audition contestants from about 1 million Australians living overseas.

FMA said that more Australians live in the U.K. and the U.S. than live in the smallest Australian states of the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania combined, and that they want to "tap into this fantastic and as yet unknown talent pool."

Judge Kyle Sandilands and several unnamed celebrity guest judges will host the L.A. auditions on April 13 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, while judge Ian "Dicko" Dickson, will host the London auditions on April 19 at the Cumberland Hotel in London's West End.

The fifth edition of "Idol" here last year scored its lowest ratings in its history, when an average of 1.4 million viewers watched the final, compared with its Season 2 high of more than 3 million.

Nevertheless, it won its Sunday night time slot in Ten's target 18-49 audience, with an average 38% commercial share and 1.37 million viewers.

The decision by producers to cast their net overseas follows the current success of Perth singer Michael Johns on "American Idol."

He's in the final 11 and is a possible contender to win this year's show. Johns' success also has helped Australian pay channel Fox 8 achieve solid ratings after it acquired the American show and decided to air it each week just hours after its U.S. airing.

Last week "American Idol" was the 13th ranked show to air on pay TV with a total of 923,000 watching episodes of the show that aired across the week.