'American Idol' auditions continue in New Jersey... without the judges

After stops in Nashville, Milwaukee, and New Orleans, American Idol‘s season 10 auditions continue tomorrow in East Rutherford, N.J. That innocuous bit of information has led to scads of people asking me the same question over the last few days: How can the show hold its tryouts when it hasn’t even got its judging panel in place? (If you’ve been living in a sensory-deprivation chamber the last few days, Ellen DeGeneres revealed on Thursday night that she’s leaving the show, while the remainder of the season 10 panel has yet to be announced.) Here’s the short answer: Very easily.

For those of you who don’t eat, drink, and dream Idol, here’s what you need to know: Every year, the show holds a series of cattle-call auditions across the country where a good 10-15,000 folks show up at a massive stadium and sing in front of an Idol producer or vocal coach. If the audition is good (or train-wrecky) enough, the singer then returns for a callback approximately one month later, where he or she performs in front of the Idol judges.

The same process is in place this year. Idol‘s cattle-call tryouts kicked off July 17 in Nashville (where a whopping 16,000 folks showed up) and will carry on through August 19 in San Francisco. According to sources close to the show, callbacks in front of the season 10 judging panel won’t happen till September at the earliest.

Season 6 third-place finisher Melinda Doolittle tells me her initial, un-televised audition took place among a five-figure crowd of fellow hopefuls at the FedEx Forum in Nashville. Her callback, where she memorably sang Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life” in front of Simon Cowell & Co., occurred several weeks later at the Memphis Convention Center. “Tell your readers not to worry,” Doolittle says, laughing. “The show still has plenty of time to decide who their judges will be!”

More ‘American Idol':
Fox Chairman on ‘American Idol': ‘Much that has been written is accurate’
‘American Idol': What about Kara?
‘American Idol': Fox will take time naming new judges
‘American Idol': Jennifer Lopez can be a great judge — if she avoids Ellen DeGeneres’ mistakes
‘American Idol’: 15 Ways to Fix It!

Comments (16 total) Add your comment
  • darclyte

    Thanks for this post Slezak, although this post is really for the “casual” Idol fan. Most Idol followers know that the 15,000 who show up don’t perform for the tv judges. Let’s hope that the panel of judges, whoever they are, do a better job with the talent this year than last year.

    • limonaise

      Ummm….I’m not a casual idol fan, but obsessive and I didn’t really know this. I thought that the initial audition for the producer/vocal coach and the panel of judges occurred at same time frame…even though I had a hard time figuring out how there was enough time to do it all.
      Thanks Slezak for clarifing.

  • Stormy

    It should go better this year. With Simon out of the mix, maybe Randy will go back to pushing his picks a bit more and Simon won’t be there to steamroll his agenda into place.

  • Elizabeth

    Seems like the producers put this decision off till the very last minute. Hopefully they can get their ducks in a row soon or “THIS maybe the last season of AMERICAN IDOL”

    • Jane

      One can only hope. And if it does end up being the last season, maybe AI can take those annoying Swaybots down with them.

  • corey hardy

    heres the thing kara is also now gone….
    so 3 judging seats sit open….
    and the REAL judges are never there for the big auditions you audition in front of the producers then come back about 2 months later for the real auditions (its always been the same way)and they try not to spill that. its honestly not worth the hassle and they dont look for talented people.
    so just a heads up if you make it you WILL have to pay out more money to go BACK to the same place you auditioned 2 months later

  • Otis

    The problem with the medicre talent on AI has always been that the contestants presented before the panel amd public are PRE-screen by people who wouldn’t know a Michael Jackson from a Jermaine Jackson.

  • JJ

    Why on Earth would the producers choose the unsightly horrible sounding Steven Tyler? Women (and gay men) found Simon charming and handsome and at least respected his industry cred while Tyler has always been some creepy looking C Grade Mick Jagger wannabe. Who is sitting at home thinking “Gee I wish that Steven Tyler was on a family oriented show!!”. No one. I’m dumbfounded, much like the awful choice of Ellen who admits herself it was a mistake, at this decision.

  • Marci

    Maybe they want to sign him because of the new “Twilight craze” – he looks like the walking dead.

  • Janizzle

    I knew the judges see only a few auditions, but didn’t realize that it takes place weeks later!

  • Samera

    this proves that the show is a mess and fake. f people have to go through all that, then why do we have to sit through suck horrible singers? LAME

  • Ashley

    The FedEx Forum is in Memphis not Nashville.

  • Chris

    Maybe if the show didn’t require 2 initial auditions, there would be more talented people trying out. That can be a lot of travelling if you don’t live close to an audition city.

    • Sarah

      It wouldn’t work to only have one audition. Do you really expect the judges to sit through 15,000 auditions in each city? And if there were more talented people coming (as you suggest) there would be even more. Really, the two auditions are best. The producers should just put through all the good ones, and not any bad ones.

  • Peggy Sue

    I’m a huge Idol fan but have never figured out the details of the audition part . . so I appreciate this article!

  • Cisco Switches

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