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Behind The Scenes at American Idol

by LauraBelle

Many of us have wondered what it is like to be behind the scenes as a contestant on American Idol – how much you have to go through before you get face to face with the three judges, and what it’s like to actually hear Simon’s remarks directed at you. Through Miranda Tozier-Robbins experience, we get to find out.

Twenty-two-year-old Massachusetts native, Miranda, was working in Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom for one semester of a college program and living in the housing at Disney. She left the confines of Pinnochio’s Village Haus to test her fate with auditioning for a spot on American Idol. Miranda wanted this badly enough to leave at 2:00 AM on August 25th, and walk two hours to the Orange County Convention Center. She waited in line for two hours before the first contestants were let in. But for someone from Disney World, waiting in line is nothing new.

Once inside, Miranda showed identification and received a wristband. After the registration process, everyone was herded into a big large empty room while more people were continually registered and added to the mix. There were to be no auditions that day, but there was Karaoke going on, and small groups of people would gather in song.

The first round of auditions began the following day, and everyone was seated in rows of chairs. Eventually they were led, presumably without a cattle rod, into another room with twelve tables. Each table had two unknown judges, and the contestants were sent in groups of four to the tables for their first audition.

Once in front of those two judges, each of the group of four were asked to sing a few lines of a song. Miranda chose “Everytime” by Britney Spears. One of the judges asked if she could sing something else, and she did “Us Against The World” by Play. After all four were done singing, their wristbands were cut off, and all were dismissed but Miranda, who was told American Idol was looking for something different. She was given a number and a piece of paper and sent upstairs. Miranda had made it through the first round of auditions.

Once upstairs, Miranda was interviewed by a journalist who was writing a book about American Idol. Her picture was then taken, and she had to fill out more paperwork, and then sent to yet another room. Hopefully she left bread crumbs to find her way back to the beginning.

This room was about the size of a classroom, and everyone was given the words and music to “Crocodile Rock”. They were told to remember as much as they could as they would be asked to sing it later and it would be used as a “funny excerpts” montage. I had previously thought that when they did montages like that, that all those people had sung “Proud Mary” or “The Star Spangled Banner” on their own, and the editors had just collected them and edited them together. I wonder why they picked Crocodile Rock as these sixteen- to twenty-eight-year-olds weren’t even alive when Elton John did it in 1973. Their only reference to it would have been John Stevens singing it in last year’s American Idol. And well, let’s just not go there.

Eventually twenty people filled the room, and they were moved to wait in chairs outside another room. Inside the room was executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, who were the last stumbling blocks before the onscreen judges of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell. Everyone was asked to sing their song from the beginning, and Miranda chose “Everytime” again. Asked to sing something faster, she moved on to her other choice of “Us Against The World.” Miranda was asked a few questions, given a green sheet of paper and asked to return September 7th to go in front of Jackson, Abdul and Cowell.

Before Miranda could return, though, the collection of hurricanes began hitting Florida. After Hurricane Frances struck, the auditions were postponed. Eventually she received a call asking for the airport nearest her home, as not everyone that was to audition was from Florida. No explanation was given as to where or when they were going. A few days later she was called and told because of the fast approaching Hurricane Jeanne, they needed to get all the Orlando contestants to Las Vegas, Nevada where stars and crew were already setting up for the regularly-scheduled Las Vegas auditions. Miranda and other others arrived at the MGM Grand on Sunday with meal vouchers, were given Monday to use at their disposal, and auditioned on Tuesday.

The auditioners were told to pretend they were still in Orlando, as the producers figured this was easier than explaining to the viewers the need to move everyone to Las Vegas because of the hurricanes. Personally, I feel we are a smart enough audience to understand that, but apparently the producers don’t see that in us. Before each contestant auditioned, they had to speak to the cameras in the confessional, and then were seated in a row of chairs outside the room where the judges were.

Miranda remembers the first guy in to see the judges and a few others that made it to Hollywood. She wasn’t so lucky. After all the waiting in rooms and lines too numerous to count to see the famous judges of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, Miranda was told to have two songs prepared, and her choices were “Upside Down Bouncing off The Ceiling” by The A*Teens and “Blame It On The Weatherman” by B*Witched. After hearing her audition, Randy told her he felt like he was back a high school on the playground. Miranda took this as a compliment as that was the effect she as going for, even wearing a microphone headset and shades to complete that pop star look.

Paula told Miranda she felt like she was watching cartoons, and after Blame It On The Weatherman, Paula asked if Miranda was going to blame the weatherman for her performance. After Miranda’s jaw dropped, Paula told her she looked shocked. Miranda admitted to being a little hurt. Simon was the next to speak and asked Disney employee Miranda if she really believed Dumbo could fly. After Simon followed with asking her to remove her shades, Paula told her the competition wasn’t for her and she should go back to Disney. It’s funny, but we never see Paula’s hurtful comments on the show, only Simon’s.

As for Miranda’s future, her semester at Disney now complete, she is back in Massachusetts, holding an Associates degree in Sciences in Broadcasting and Telecommunications. She is taking some classes for personal growth, and will be interviewing soon for an advanced intern position at Disney. She hopes to be able to still pursue a singing career.

I’d like to thank Miranda for her courage in sharing her experiences with me, despite the fact her audition didn’t go the way she had planned. I wish her much success in the future.

I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com


Freelance writer, webmaster of realityshack.com, chief editor at applemagazine.com, contribtor to TechLife News and maketecheasier.com, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.