Tuesday, June 26, 2007

American Idol Audition Cities Announced

Well, it was a long time coming, but the producers have finally announced the locations and dates for auditions for Season 7 of "American Idol." Here is the official press release:



Audition Dates Also Set For Dallas, Omaha, Atlanta, Charleston, Miami and Philadelphia

With auditions scheduled in seven cities across the nation, the phenom-
enal AMERICAN IDOL begins its search for the next singing superstar. Once again, talented singers will have an extraordinary opportunity to perform before millions of TV viewers and become household names, with one winning the American Idol title and a major recording contract.

The quest to become the next American Idol is about to start. Auditions for the seventh season of AMERICAN IDOL begin in San Diego , CA , on Monday, July 30, at Qualcomm Stadium.

Auditions will continue in the following cities:
Dallas, Texas Monday, Aug. 6 Texas Stadium
Omaha, Neb. Friday, Aug. 10 Qwest Center
Atlanta, Ga. Tuesday, Aug. 14 TBA
Charleston, S.C. Saturday, Aug. 18 North Charleston Coliseum
Miami, Fla. Wednesday, Aug. 22 AmericanAirlines Arena
Philadelphia, Pa. Monday, Aug. 27 Wachovia Center

Audition informa-
tion for these cities will be an-
nounced shortly. Season Seven of AMERICAN IDOL premieres in January 2008 on FOX.

WHO: Men and women 16 to 28 years old on July 28, 2007 and eligible to work in the United States . Restrictions apply – please go to Americanidol.com for specifics.

WHEN: Monday, July 30

WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium
9449 Friars RoadSan Diego, CA 92108

LINEUP: Wristbands will be given out from Saturday, July 28 (starting time TBA), until 8:00 AM on Monday, July 30. Auditioners will not be permitted to camp out; therefore, once they obtain their wristbands, they will be asked to return to Qualcomm Stadium on Monday, July 30. Additional information is available at Americanidol.com.

USA Today reports that according to Fox estimated, last year the auditions attracted 100,000 hopefuls.

"We do like to see America," executive producer Nigel Lythgoe says of the annual search for vocal talent. Smaller cities, such as Charleston or an earlier site, Greensboro, N.C., "produce some wonderful stuff."

The tryouts will start a week earlier than last season because producers also will be conducting auditions for a new Fox reality series, "The Search for the Next Great American Band."

Whether any city will perform as well as Season 6's Seattle, much maligned by judge Simon Cowell, remains to be seen. (Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis auditioned in Seattle.)

"It's amazing, isn't it?" Lythgoe says. "Everything was condemned about Seattle … and out of it came Sanjaya [Malakar], the two finalists and the songwriters" who wrote Sparks' finale single.

After battling the elements in some earlier seasons, Idol will hold most auditions indoors, save for Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and Dallas' Texas Stadium, which has a partly covered roof.

As with past audition tours, Idol producers will narrow each city's field to 300 to 400 of the best and worst singers. Lythgoe and co-executive producer Ken Warwick will then cull to about 120 per city to sing to judges Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

Producers want to find a way to make sure more good singers make it through the initial auditions and the Hollywood round and into the final 24.

"Too many slipped through the net," Lythgoe says, adding that no big changes are planned.


Season 6 third-place "Ameri-
can Idol" finalist Melinda Doolittle will travel to Zambia on June 28 with Malaria No More to see and participate in malaria prevention programs as a part of First Lady Laura Bush's upcoming trip through Africa, according to PRNewswire. During the four-day tour, Doolittle will see the impact of malaria on the continent firsthand and assist in a distribution of 500,000 bed nets in Lusaka, Zambia to at-risk populations.

The bed nets distributed in Zambia represent the first installment of funds contributed to Malaria No More by Idol Gives Back, American Idol's two-day charity special that raised over $70 million dollars for programs aiding children in Africa and America. Malaria is the No. 1 killer of children younger than 5 in Africa, claiming more than 1 million lives a year worldwide.

"Traveling to Africa has always been a lifelong dream of mine," said Soolittle. "I am very excited to travel with the First Lady and Malaria No More and to show the impact the viewers of "American Idol" have had through their help and support during Idol Gives Back."

The distribu-
tion will take place through an innovative program called Reaching HIV/AIDS Affected People with Integrated Development and Support (RAPIDS), which uses community health volunteers who travel into rural areas of Zambia on bicycles. In addition to bed nets, the volunteers deliver HIV/AIDS medication, nutrition supplements and toys for children.

Doolittle will help load bed nets onto the bikes of community health workers who will deliver them to remote communities. She also plans to perform a song as a part of the day’s program. On June 29th, she will visit various malaria sites, including a health clinic where children with malaria are treated.


ETOnline caught up with Jordin Sparks as she and the other finalists rehearse in Burbank, Calif., for the 2007 Idols Live! Tour, which kicks off on July 6 in Sunrise, Fla. Sparks said, "My mom is going to come for the first leg of the tour, then my nana and then my uncle is going to come because he loves music. I was, 'You need to come with me.' He is 23. It is going to be really cool."

In addition to rehearsals for the tour, which will feature music not performed this past season on the show, Jordin has already begun reviewing songs for her album.

"I actually got a couple of songs the other day," she reveals. "I love them. I am so excited about them. I haven't gone and recorded anything yet. We are still in the starting stages of it."

That means Jordin is going to have to fly back and forth between Los Angeles and the cities where she is performing to get the job done. "I am just praying that my voice stays up," she adds.

Life for the sixth "American Idol" has changed dramatically now that her time isn't her own. But she insists that she doesn't regret it for a minute. "I still can't believe it is actually happening," she admits. "It has been great. I asked for it, and I am so glad I got it."


According to the New York Post, while "The Color Purple" has enjoyed a steady stream of business in the past year, the addition of "American Idol" winner Fantasia in the lead has led to a huge financial windfall for the production.

The play has been grossing more than $1 million a week since Fantasia’s arrival in April, and advance ticket sales are nearing $10 million, thanks in large part to scores of church groups across the country who board buses and attend shows as part of package deals.

Stand outside the Broadway Theatre on any given day, and you'll see four or five buses, some from as far away as Chattanooga and Atlanta, unloading their passengers. (Not all the groups are from churches. The show also attracts student groups, labor groups, even family reunions.)

The Post followed one such group, "The Jewels of Ebenezer," from Fort Washington, Md.'s Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church. They were 56 deep -– including some grandchildren and one husband -– as they arrived at the Broadway Theatre following a 6½-hour trip. Ebenezer African Methodist has a 10,000-member congregation. The church has already sent two groups to "The Color Purple" and plans to send more in the fall. The cost is $160 per person and includes an orchestra ticket, transportation and dinner after the show at Applebee's.

After the show, The Post arranged a surprise for some of the Jewels: A meeting with Fantasia. Ebenezer Jewel Lucille Goldsborough, 82, was touched by the movie version of "The Color Purple" when she saw it back in 1985. But she was moved to the point of tears when Fantasia won "American Idol" in 2004. She hugged the star and said, "Oh, Fantasia, I watched you from the very beginning, and I prayed for you, I prayed for you."

"Mama, keep praying for me," Fantasia said, wiping away tears. "You all got me crying now," she added.

The Jewels were crying, too. Jean Hicks, a semi-retired health-care worker, said: "Look what God has done for you. You are so blessed." She added: "I'm your new grandma!"

"Yes ma'am, you sure are," Fantasia replied, hugging her.

Later, over dinner, Goldsborough said: "Some stars get a big head when they make it, but Fantasia's stayed true to herself. She's humble."

"You can tell she's getting used to her popularity," said Hicks. "You know, she's got the designer dress and the designer shoes. But she's down-to-earth. It all hasn't gone to her head."


The St. Petersburg Times reports that a local rental car company manager has accused Season 4 "American Idol" finalist Jessica Sierra of keeping kept her rental vehicle 12 days over its due date without paying.

Robert Wilson of Apple Rental Cars on 12606 N Nebraska Ave. in Tampa said he filed a complaint with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Saturday when Sierra didn't respond to a registered letter requesting she return the 2004 silver Kia Optima and pay her outstanding debt.

Sierra, 21, first rented the vehicle on May 23, Wilson said, at a rate of $521 per week including fees for being younger than 25 and lacking her own auto insurance. Though Sierra renewed her use of the car several times, Wilson said, she stopped paying on June 13 and had not been heard from again - until Monday.

Before 5:45 p.m. Monday, Sierra brought the car back, Wilson said: "She just said it was a misunderstanding, that's all."

Sierra's attorney, John Fitzgibbons, confirmed Sierra had been renting the Kia for the last month and had re-rented it several times.

A Sheriff's Office spokesman could not be reached Monday to confirm the agency's receipt of Wilson's complaint.

Wilson said the 2005 Idol star, who grew up in Tampa, owes the business at least $643.40 -- and possibly as much as $893.40, depending on the condition of the car. Wilson said Sierra told him to bill her.

Sierra has had her share of legal complications since placing 10th in the televised singing contest two years ago. Last year, a 59-year-old California man was arrested on charges he was stalking the young star. Then, Sierra was booked into jail April 29 at Hyde Park Cafe after Tampa police said she threw a cocktail glass at another patron's head.

Free on bail, she faces charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility in that incident. Wisam Hadad, 28, whose forehead was hit by the cocktail glass, is suing Sierra and the restaurant, saying he suffered mental and physical damage during the Hyde Park incident.


According to EURweb, "American Idol" second season finalist Frenchie Davis says she was a victim of racism by a passenger and flight attendants on Alaska Air, and plans to discuss her ordeal in a press conference scheduled for this week in Los Angeles.

Davis' rep says she was seated by the window at 1:30 p.m. for a scheduled 1:55 p.m. takeoff on Friday. A man and his son had the seats next to her, but the boy complained that he didn't want to sit next to the "big black person."

The man asked Davis to put her armrest down between her and the boy, but she had already fallen asleep as the plane began to taxi down the runway. According to her rep, the man "stands up and shakes Frenchie violently saying wake up and put the armrest down right now. She tells him to take his hands off her."

The man allegedly asked flight attendants to call security because this "big black woman is harassing him," the rep recounts, adding that two flight attendants responded, but didn't bother to ask Davis her side of the story. They alledgedly just demanded that she move.

Davis told the attendants that she was attacked, the rep said, but the pilot somehow got involved, turned the plane around and headed back to the gate, where Davis "winds up off the plane and misses her flight to her next professional singing performance." The rep said, "A few witnesses give her their information and tell her if she needs a witness to call them."


The Los Angeles Times reviewed Paula Abdul's new Bravo reality series, "Hey Paula." The most telling information comes in the last two paragraphs:

"She yells at her stylist, she yells at her lawyer, she yells at her publicist (not the venerable Howard Bragman, whom she recently, and publicly, fired) even though they are all her very best friends. Destined to be what was once referred to as a camp classic, 'Hey Paula' attempts to show the hard work it takes to be Paula Abdul. In this, it succeeds. Few will watch her days unfold with envy. But what Abdul may think makes her look wacky in a lovable and artistically driven way instead creates a portrait of a tightly wound, isolated woman who clearly thinks she is a much better version of what she actually is.

It's not so much a question of watching 'Hey Paula' as it is rubbernecking. That the show has Abdul's full and enthusiastic support may relieve some of the guilt of watching this clearly troubled woman have a hissy fit over the wrong pair of sneakers, but it doesn't do much for the queasiness factor. Which remains very high."

And so it goes.


The 10 Idol finalists inter-
viewed by Fox's Good Day LA, goofing around and opening asking for swag. Blake Lewis first threatens to shave Sanjaya's head in the night (Phil Stacey volunteers the use of his razor), kids he can't stand Jordin, then sings to Steve Jobs to send him a new Mac. The "kids" would also like Gibson guitars and add that they all love iPhones, with Phil saying that they're taking tips from Elliott. It's a hoot. Watch video here.

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© 2007

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