'American Idol': Pia Toscano drops in and other top moments you didn't see on TV

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Image Credit: FOX

Tonight’s American Idol was the first night the public could vote, the first night in front of a live audience, and the first time on a brand new stage at the studio in Los Angeles, and wait — is that Pia Toscano?!

I’d never been to an Idol live show before, so it was all new to me, but the new stage included a snaking pit with more room for the performers to strut around, and a cityscape montage reminiscent of the L.A. Law intro from the 80s. The judges were spiffed up in their finest — most remarkably, of course, J. Lo, fresh off that whole Oscar nipple confusion, in sky-high sparkly Louboutin heels and a skin-tight white sequin dress.

Today’s show didn’t feature any crazy audience antics or falls off the stage, but there were quite a few fun things you didn’t see on TV:

– Pia Toscano in the audience. Pia!!! She was in the first row, camera-ready, and the whole time I was just waiting for Ryan to call her out. But he didn’t. The warm up guy introduced her, but that was about it. I was this close to being sure she was the surprise reveal coming back at the end. Wishful thinking, I suppose. Pia was robbed!

– Colton and Schylar’s love fest. Brother-sister duo Colton and Schylar Dixon got separated during Hollywood week, but Schylar was in the audience to cheer her big bro on. He motioned at her during the home video, and after his performance you could hear Schylar scream “I love you Colton!” loud and clear.

– Nigel, Nigel, Nigel. Having never been to a live Idol show before, I was pretty shocked to see how much input producer Nigel Lythgoe has on set.  Every commercial break, Lythgoe was up at the judges’ table, sometimes giving direction, sometimes joking around with Randy, J. Lo, and Steven. He gave waves to the audience, but really was running around and working the whole shoot.

Steven’s makeup artist also wears animal print. During each commercial break, a parade of makeup artists rush over to the judges’ tables for touchups. My favorite part of this had to be the juxtaposition of Tyler’s zebra print robe thing with his makeup artist’s orange and black leopardy cardigan. Apparently love of animal print is a job requirement for working for the Aerosmith frontman.

Jeremy really is the team cheerleader. Jeremy, lauded by the judges for his huge heart, was full of passion even before he took center stage. As Colton was coming off stage, Jeremy greeted him with a huge bear hug.

– Robert Pattinson — I mean Brendan Fraser — I mean Chase Likens.  The only performer to go country, he was the first one who felt like you were watching a star, based on the huge response from the audience in studio. Jenny’s “movie star good looks” comment didn’t hurt him either.

– The nipple moment.  This is one where you actually saw more on TV than we were privy to in the audience. Although I’m kind of glad — not being able to see Steven Tyler’s nipple up close and in person is probably a blessing. We weren’t quite sure what was happening, or even if J. Lo’s comment about her Oscar dress made it on air, but I was glad to see it did! Definitely one of the funniest moments of the evening and part of the beauty of live TV.

– The big reveal. I was hoping we’d get some sort of preview (see: Pia note), but Jermaine was just as much of a reveal to the audience as he was on TV. What was fun to see during the commercial break were Jermaine’s interactions with Ryan. The height differential is so shocking and they were both having fun with it. Ryan even leaned against Jermaine back-to-back, arms crossed,  looking like practice for an album cover photo shoot.

Follow @laurahertzfeld

Read more:
Tuesday recap: Top 13 guys
Top 13 guys: How’d they do?
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Thursday recap: The top 24

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