***ADDITION: SEE BELOW*****
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in the audience for one of the American Idol tapings? Well, Glamb Leader Lila Hayes and I were lucky enough to get tickets for the April 14th taping, the one with Adam Lambert singing! I’m still breathing hard and can’t believe our luck!! You all know Lila, she’s my partner in crime for ATA – All Things Adam.
After realizing we were going the day that Adam would be there, we left San Diego bright and early, hoping we’d be in the front of the line. The emailed confirmation says admission is not guaranteed, and that it is for standing room only. We figured maybe they overbook and give out more tickets than they have room for, to guarantee a full house? Maybe that’s the reason they state admission is not guaranteed? I don’t have an official answer, but I have my theory, which will be answered later. Depending on the day you’re attending, you’re told what time to arrive by. We had a 4:15 report time for the 6 PM taping. Being cautious, we arrived at 12:30 PM and the line was already 20 strong, mostly wearing black and leather! We made friends with those standing in front and back of us and found out that people had flown in from all over the country for this show. We knew the amount of people in front of us could increase if not everyone in their parties were present. When you register for tickets and you get your response email, you have a choice of 3 links to click on for tickets. The Tuesday Dress Rehearsal, Tuesday Live Performance Show or Wednesday Live Results Show. If you’ve responded to that email quickly enough (about an hour maximum response time!), you’ll be able to then select the number in your party, up to 4. The day of the show, all people in your party must be present to enter – no late arrivals. By 4 PM, the line had grown to about 100.
At our 4:15 PM entrance time, we were led to two sitting areas just outside the studio entrance door, for about 45 minutes. We had to turn in our cameras, cell phones and iPods to the security team, so we’ve got no pictures to share with you, only memories. We were given fabric stickers with the Idol logo and were told to put them below our waist, so they wouldn’t be seen on camera. We saw the cute young girls had a “G” marked on their stickers by the “evaluators.” We were sure they would be the ones in the mosh pits to the sides of the judges. At this time, we also saw a large number of people who had actual hard tickets, not just emails like the rest of us had. Hmmmm. I went up to a couple of these ticket holders and asked how they got their tickets. It turned out they were the “friends of Fox and friends of the sponsors.” It was amazing how many of them there were! They were brought into the studio first, which only left about 40 of us. We were now not feeling so certain about getting in. I think this is why they say admission not guaranteed. Maybe they have no idea how many “friends” are showing up?? I was now convinced our early arrival was the only way to go.
After we gained entrance to the studio, Lila and I looked around quickly to try and find a great seat. The studio is filled with seats so I have no idea why the email says “standing room only?” Luckily someone was saying “ladies, come this way.” We weren’t sure if they were talking to us or the ones in front of us, but once we saw that they were being directed to the standing mosh pit, we jumped alongside of them. Lila and I looked at each other with our eyes wide open saying “do we want to be standing here or sitting down?” Very strange considering she and I had just returned a few days earlier from Phoenix, where we went for our second Muse concert. (For Muse, we will only consider having the standing floor tickets. We had been at the Las Vegas concert a few months earlier and all the jumping with the crowd that was smashed up against us had us fearing for our safety, but it was a high like no other!) Sorry, I’m off subject! We quickly saw that only the high side seats were open, so of course we now became 20 years younger in our minds, glued ourselves to the floor and hugged each other, not believing our incredible good fortune. The 20-something girls were in the front and luckily they were short! We were about 3 rows behind them. We were on the Randy Jackson side of the stage, about 10 feet away from where the contestants would be sitting! OMG!!! Forget the contestants, we couldn’t believe we’d be seeing Adam from there too!!! I made it a point to start taking everything in and commit it to picture memory. Everything we’ve been seeing at home from our couches for 9 years now. The red contestant seats, the judges table and chairs, the American Idol signs up in the air, the stairs where Adam strutted down singing Feeling Good! OMG – I couldn’t believe how lucky we were.
Quickly everything started happening. The lights went down, the familiar music started, our hearts started beating harder, and then we heard Ryan with his introduction. You know, the famous one that ends “this . . . is American Idol!” The lights came up and he was walking down those stairs that Adam owns now, and introduced all four judges. You know, you all watched the show. Now I have absolutely no allegiance to anyone on the show this year. In fact, last year I vowed that I wouldn’t pick up the phone once this year. And I’m certainly not getting another AT&T Go Phone, like I did for the final month of voting last season. I’m sure it’s the same for many of you. We’ve all said that we knew from this point last year that Idol would never be the same. Adam has ruined it! No one will ever come close to having his talent, looks and charisma. You know – the “It” factor. Even Adam said it during his brilliant mentoring sessions. The contestants need to wake up! But somehow, being only a few feet away from the remaining 9, I started to see more in them. Being that close, they became real people. They have real emotions, real feelings, and are all nervous, trying to establish themselves in show business. I could see subtle changes in their facial expressions and how they carried themselves as they listened to comments about them and while they endured the results.
During the commercials, we were able to talk with the judges and the contestants. A day before the taping, I had an email that Tim Urban was following me on Twitter. So, Tim was on the seat closest to our mosh pit, only about 5 feet away. I called to him, and he immediately looked at me and stood up and came over to talk with me. I told him I had just gotten an email saying he was following me on Twitter, and he broke into a big “Tim Urban smile.” He told me they had taken all of their Twitter accounts away and someone is impersonating him. I told him I had read about them not using their own Twitter accounts and I wasn’t surprised, but that I just thought it was funny! He gave me a big smile and I wished him luck, and he’s now become a favorite of mine. I know he doesn’t sing as well as Crystal or Lee or Big Mike or Casey . . . but heck, he smiled at me!!!
Watching Aaron walk on stage to get his verdict, I thought he didn’t look well. Even with all the makeup, he still seemed pale. When he was declared “safe” and went back to the contestants area, he looked no better. During the next commercial, Lee was sitting in the closest seat so I called to him and asked if Aaron was okay. He turned around to look at him, and then he turned back to me and said “he’s nervous.” Wow, to still be so affected even after he was “safe.” His youth started shooting out at this point, and I thought about my son who was his age only a few years ago. Instead of a polished performer who put himself out there to be judged, in my mind he then became as close as a “neighbor’s son” – someone you looked after when your friend needed help. I guess what I’m trying to say is I won’t be so judgmental with my comments about this year’s gang. Even though, in my eyes they will professionally never be as good as Adam, they became real that afternoon.
Okay, now I’m going to try to describe what happened next; the reason so many of us were there. During the break, they brought out the microphone stands, keyboards and drums and Monte, Longineu and Tommy came out. Tommy walked over to our side and waved. I’m sure Camilla was there, but we couldn’t see her on the other side. The lights went down, Ryan started talking, and we started screaming. It was obvious how much of the audience was there strictly because of whom else was there that day! The fog started to fill the entire stage and the cone light began beaming down. The music began. The light shone upon Adam’s face and he looked so incredibly magical singing from within the lace print of the fog and lights. Oh that voice. It was perfect, perfect, perfect. Here I was, seeing Adam sing Whattaya Want From Me for the third time in four months. And no two times were ever the same. Lila and I were at the Leno taping in December, Fantasy Springs in February, and now Idol. I have to say, this was my favorite version! Then the strength of the song broke out and the lasers started. You could see the joy in his eyes. He was so into the emotion of the song, careful not to betray his commitment with a smile. He came over to our side and kneeled down with his hand out. Just like when he sang Black or White last year and went to the mosh pit, put his hand out and laughed while he was singing. I wonder if he was thinking about that too? I’ve read comments from him about how great it was to be back on the same stage, like he was home. I wondered if he was reliving any of his past moments on stage? Then he started singing “thanks for loving me” and he smiled so genuinely, knowing he was thanking everyone present for helping him realize his dreams. He ended the song with such a dramatic note, that I wondered if he did it purposely to slam Simon with it! It makes you wonder, why is it okay for an established singer to use the lights, fog and lasers, but not a contestant trying to show they’re the one to pick for stardom?
My only wish was that after singing, the judges would give their comments on him! Oh to hear them rave about him would have made it full circle for so many of us, Adam included! But I’m sure Simon would have said something about the fog and lasers! In fact, when the show was over, Simon walked in front of our mosh pit on his way out, and he shook hands and spoke briefly with several people. Not being shy, I called out “Simon, what did you think of Adam’s performance?” He looked at me and said he “thought it was great. But I couldn’t see it with all the fog.” I added, “not too theatrical for you?” He laughed.
As an added bonus, we were held in the studio for two more hours after the show was over. They had to film some sequences that they’ll be showing on the Idol Gives Back show this week. There’s a part where Russell Brand and Jonah Hill will be at the phone banks, talking to Ryan about the celebrities they have answering phones and taking donations. Well, they’re comments were pre-filmed, so Ryan had to insert his part in the conversation. This took many starts and stops, leaving Ryan turning to us and taking questions and making wisecracks, filling the gaps of time. I love Ryan! He is such an accomplished professional and does such a great job. This began about 30 minutes after the show taping ended. Did you notice in the filmed interview with Adam “the next day” on Ryan’s radio show, that they’re wearing the same clothes as on the show? Ryan with his shirt and tie, and Adam in that incredible silver jacket, tie and “let me stare at your beautiful face” make up? We now think during this 30 minute gap, they were doing the interview. Then they started tearing down the stage, and Ryan thanked us for hanging around, saying they had one more bit they needed to do that our presence was required for. After the stage was set, Lady Antebellum came out and performed a full rehearsal and 2 full performance versions of their hit, Need You Now. This was indeed a very lucky day!
As soon as I submitted this, I checked my email and there was something from Idol Gives Back. It seems they didn’t sell enough seats, and are giving out tickets for tomorrow’s performance! You have to have the special code to get these tickets, and it’s nontransferrable or I’d include it here for you westerners!
So Lila and I are hitting the road again, sooner than we thought. They say it may be a seat filler, so you may not sit with your group, and may have to move a few times. But then they say many times you see the whole show from the same seat. When I went online to look for tickets yesterday, there were a lot of seats available in the orchestra section. They were asking $200 for them. In this economy, that obviously isn’t flying! Maybe Adam will be there afterall, since the ash kept him from flying to the U.K. and scheduled performers can’t fly here?! I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!
We finally left the studio at 9 PM, starving. Lila and I had a great dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, still bubbling about our great fortune. We never stopped talking about it for the 3 hour drive home. After watching our DVRs closely the next day to see any glimpses of ourselves on camera to prove we were there, we have to say you’ll just have to take our word for it! I think I saw myself from the back for 3 seconds, jumping up and down clapping for Adam after he finished singing. And I did see 2 seconds of Lila’s right arm in her cool bronze-colored jacket!
If we find out that Adam is going to be on Idol again, I’m sure we’ll be in our car, bright and early again, ready for another great adventure!
~ Lila, Glamb #3 and Carol, Glamb # 7 ~