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Ten girls sang and five girls were never called to perform at the first live show of season 13 of American Idol. That’s what you saw on TV. The view from inside Stage 36 at CBS Television City offered another picture.
1. At 4:35 p.m. the audience spontaneously broke out into screams. The reason? They had eyes on the 16 boy finalists, whose only job tonight was to support their female counterparts. The audience screamed because the male competitors were being escorted to their seats in the bleachers. A lucky few fans ended up sitting right next to these season 13 competitors, as they were spread out over three rows to the audience’s left.
2. A few minutes later, longtime Idol warm-up maestro Cory Almeida was onstage to pump up the audience for the live broadcast. But first he had an important announcement, which shattered 12 years of Idol policy. It’s been a long-standing rule that you are not allowed to bring your mobile phone into the Idol arena. Security folks were employed to confiscate devices until the end of the live shows. But those people have less responsibility this year, as you are now allowed — even encouraged — to have your phone on your person while watching the show. They still don’t want you to have your phone out while the finalists are performing, just on the commercial breaks, when you are welcome to tweet, Instagram or use any social media outlet in your arsenal. Just one caveat from Almeida: Don’t tweet any results so West Coast viewers can avoid spoilers.
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3. VIP guests at Idol who have the proper credential are allowed to sit in a visitors’ greenroom, where an array of delicious catered snacks and hot and cold drinks are served. In the mood for a cappuccino? You’re in the right place. But not this week — the greenroom has another use, even if temporary. It served as the holding room for the female contestants while they waited for the judges to call their names. Word to the wise: If you’re going to Idol on Wednesday or Thursday, stop at Starbucks first.
4. The new stage configuration allows for the biggest audience ever — 550 people were in the house on Tuesday night, according to Almeida. The “mosh pit” surrounding the stage comes with giant lights that sit on the floor. On the first break, the warm-up man had to warn audience members not to clap too close to the lights — they were creating shadows that put Ryan Seacrest in the dark.
5. The judges were positioned so close to the first row of audience members that fans could easily catch the judges’ attention on commercial breaks. One person asked Keith Urban for an autograph. He looked ready to oblige until he was asked to turn around and pose for a photo with Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. being taken by a Fox still photographer.
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6. It’s not unusual for a group of friends in the audience to shout out their love for a judge or Seacrest. Tonight, a large male chorus of, “I love you, Jennifer!” originated from some familiar faces: the 16 male finalists.
7. While it was the girls’ night to sing, the audience was treated to one male performance. On a commercial break, Almeida was interviewing a group of students from Westchester High School — 47 of them — when a high schooler named Iziah asked if he could sing. He did well enough that Almeida encouraged him to audition for season 14, and the young man said he would.
8. During the live show, mentor Randy Jackson sat with the boys, but during the commercial breaks he spent most of his time chatting with the judges. The one he spent the most time with? Connick, the only one Jackson had not served on a judging panel with.
Twitter: @fredbronson; @idol_worship
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