Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Idol All the While

Butterfly GirlHaving covered American Idol auditions in D.C., Greensboro and now Atlanta, I'm here to tell you they're all the same. How's that you ask? Simple - no matter what zip code the Idol juggernaut rolls into, a wildly diverse mob of starry-eyed supplicants materializes from the mist. Male models and shifty drifters, pageant chicks and pregnant drop-outs, Christian rockers and the criminally insane. They may all hail from different realms, regions and realities - but they share similar dispositions and mutually ambitious dreams. It's in this hodgepodge of humanity that the mass appeal of Idol is revealed, for no matter if you're an aspiring Gangsta rapper or a young housewife smitten with lullabies, you can envision yourself one day soon being coronated by Ryan Seachrest. On this populist allure, TV dynasties are built. Just ask Aaron Spelling. Or come to think of it, don't. He died. Moving on...

Grilling SeachrestW-e-e-e-l-l, speak of the devil and he sends a diminutive metrosexual to answer your every silly question about this steamroller of a reality show. In all fairness, Ryan's a heck of a nice guy and I've watched him suffer the slings and arrows of condescending reporters and amped-up Big Mamas with equal aplomb. That requires a mastery of people skills I really respect. Yesterday, we met Ryan in a secluded part of the Georgia Dome, where the affable Atlantan fielded questions from a snarky press corps. With about a dozen crews all lined up, this generation's Dick Clark gave each camera their own few minutes. That worked well until a purple haired camcorder dude and his college podcast partner stepped up with a unique interviewing style. "Ryan, our own Gayle Sholopowitz has just one question," the kid said, his voice cracking as he read from a crumpled piece of notebook paper, "boxers ... or briefs?" Eyes rolled and groans rang out from the waiting press members as Idol's PR chick moved Ryan on to the next crew. Tough room...

Welcome to the Georgia DomeSpeaking of room, the Georgia Dome has plenty of it - which is a damn good thing since fifteen thousand contestants, a score of Fox affiliates, countless Idol producers and, of course, Atlanta's thriving homeless population milled about at will. All was friendly at first. It's like that at these auditions - at least the front end. Punch-drunk with impending fame, the varied folk who show up for these open cattle calls quickly coalesce into a happy little town. After all, they're all about to be whisked away to Hollywood, right? Well ... no. See, at this point Paula Simon and Randy are nowhere in sight. Contestants eager to kibbitz with the celebrity judges are instead met by anonymous twenty-somethings in Idol t-shirts, who corral them into workable swaths of ambition and body glitter. But even this doesn't kill the mood. Instead, the giddy contestants hunker down and happily exchange addresses and vocal runs. It's not unusual to see people who might never speak to each other otherwise join hands and take turns warbling the latest Avril Lavigne dirge. Oy!

Lenslinger in AtlantaBut the good times don't last. Once the first of the auditions begin, dreams are quickly dashed and scores of disappointed citizens who feel its their destiny to one day rule the charts slink away like freshly defeated prize-fighters. I know this because once they're deemed unworthy of this hallowed event they come see me - or any other camera crew unlucky enough to be caught in the line of fire. Tears, profanity, outright threats and thwarted choruses ring out as the Great Unwashed protest their unceremonial exile from the American Idol dream. It can make for a l-o-n-g afternoon, especially when the inevitable sing-offs begin. See, seven out of ten fallen contestants feel obliged to share their vocal prowess with all who will listen. Thus your grizzled lenslinger is soon surrounded by crooning B-boys, teary-eyed prom queens channeling Christine Aguilera and enough caterwauling choir members to re-shoot that church scene from The Blues Brothers. Beats babysitting some talking hairdo down at the courthouse, I guess...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If a picture paints a thousand words, then that pic of you is "War and Peace".

A.man.I said...

Next time you're in Atlanta hit me up.