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'IDOL' DREAMS WISHFUL SINGERS MAKE PITCH FOR SHOW.

Byline: Cindy Chang Staff Writer

PASADENA - Their longshot chance at fame came with a price: Camping out in the cold in the Rose Bowl parking lot for two nights without showers just to get a five-second audition Monday to become the next ``American Idol.''

About 4,000 wannabe pop music stars took the fling for their shot at fame at the Los Angeles tryouts for the televised singing contest that was a hit for Fox Television this summer.

In the parking lot judging area, scenes of celebration and disappointment played themselves out. Groups of friends found themselves dealing with mixed emotions as some were anointed with blue wristbands while others emerged bare-wristed.

Libby Curiel, 21, of Los Angeles made it to the next round, while her 17-year-old sister, Desiree, did not.

``It feels terrible. She's a much better singer than me,'' said the winning sister.

``It feels awesome. My sister made it,'' said the losing sister.

This was show business of a sort, and a certain removal from reality was as vital to success as a winning smile and perfect proportions.

How else would one soldier move on against numbers like these? Thirty- six hours in line for an audition lasting all of five seconds. One winner out of 20,000 hopefuls nationwide to receive a recording contract and a chance at pop stardom. At the Los Angeles auditions for ``American Idol,'' even those who were rejected outright were sometimes unable to look the grim reality in the face.

``No, she didn't give me any bad news,'' said a young woman in a sheer red blouse, though she was in tears and lacked the blue wristband that marked those who made it to the next round.

A realistic world view doesn't stand one in good stead when camping out for two bone-chilling nights on hard asphalt without access to hot food or showers.

``When you sleep on concrete under four or five blankets, your hips hurt from lying on your side. I haven't taken a shower in two days,'' said Rashida Jordan, 20, who drove from Las Vegas with her friend Luke Ouderkirk, 21. The two stood amid a tangle of blankets, Cheese Nip boxes and empty cookie wrappers a few steps from the gates of the Rose Bowl.

Having arrived on Saturday morning, they were among the lucky 1,000 who would penetrate those gates for a short audition in front of a panel of producers.

The remaining 3,000, most of whom had camped out since Saturday night, were granted a five-second run-through in the Rose Bowl parking lot. About 2,000 of them were asked to return for a second audition at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood over the next two days.

Out of the original 4,000, 150 to 300 will be selected to compete with winners from other tryouts in Detroit, New York, Atlanta and Nashville for the 32 spots on the show.

Those final 32 will get a chance to sing on national television where they will face snide remarks from a panel of celebrity judges as well as potential rejection from a television audience of millions. The show's viewers vote from home on who will make it to the next round.

The winner gets a recording contract, a concert tour and instant celebrity status - though how long that star will burn is one thing the show's producers can't guarantee.

``We're looking for talent. They've got to have the 'X-factor,' capture our attention, entertain us,'' said David Goffin, a senior producer for ``American Idol.''

David Allientis, a New York native who recently relocated to Albuquerque, was a rare exception to the generally stoic attitude among the sea of tired and unwashed contestants. He hadn't slept or eaten in the three days, he noted bitterly.

``Why couldn't we each have an appointment and then leave? I felt like a bum for three days. I feel so sorry that I was transformed into something I wasn't supposed to be.''

CAPTION(S):

5 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Concord, Calif., resident Victoria Lucero holds a poster of her daughter, Vanessa, while waiting with thousands of other singers in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for a shot at stardom on ``American Idol.''

(2 -- color) Lancaster resident Alyson Roberts, 20, auditions for ``American Idol'' on Monday. The singer made the first cut and will return for a second audition.

(3 -- 5 -- color) At left, John Daly, 24, of Santa Clarita gets in a last-minute practice, while others, like Katie Smith, 21, of Carlisle, Iowa, right, traveled a little farther for Monday's shot at ``American Idol.'' Below, Moorpark's Kate Flood, 21, gets a hug from friend Nicole McKendricks, 22, after making the first cut.

Walt Mancini/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 19, 2002
Words:791
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