'Idol' auditions kick off with California dreaming
Mon Aug 4, 6:44 AM ET
By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
Davion Farris and Natashia Carter became friends during three days spent outside the Rose Bowl, waiting for the chance to be the next American Idol.
After Sunday's audition, the two share another bond: Both made the first cut to qualify for the third season of the Fox hit.
They were among the more than 2,600 hopefuls who came to audition. Some began arriving July 27, including at least one from as far as Mississippi. On Sunday, festive singers, many running on an hour or two of hard-asphalt sleep, shrugged off sleeping bags as the sun rose.
As the occasional singer warmed up her voice in a crowd that snaked across the lot, others stood amid coolers, folding chairs and three days' worth of empty water bottles and Wheat Thins boxes.
Just 10 weeks after Ruben Studdard was crowned as the second Idol, host Ryan Seacrest kicked off the opening audition at 8 a.m., lifting yellow caution tape to let first-in-line Valentin Zamaripa, 19, of Merced, Calif., fellow singers and at least as many friends and family members into the stadium. Idol returns in January.
Turnout was lower than some had expected, possibly because the date and location were announced little more than a week ago. The showing was larger than at last season's first tryout in the October cold in Detroit.
Other auditions will be held in Houston (Aug. 13), Atlanta (Aug. 20), New York (Aug. 25) and Honolulu (early fall). As few as one of every 10 will make it past the first audition, co-executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said.
Hopefuls had little time to show their stuff as they performed in groups of three under blue canopies on the field.
"It was like, 'You made it. You made it. I'm sorry, we're not going to accept you,' said Farris, 18, of Inglewood, Calif., who sang For All We Know.
Farris, Carter (who sang Nobody's Supposed to Be Here) and the others chosen will sing again this week as Idol executives narrow the field before Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul (news) and Randy Jackson begin judging in October.
Cowell will assess videotapes of Sunday's tryouts on American Juniors Tuesday (Fox, 8 p.m. ET/PT).
As Farris hugged Carter, 22, and her mother, Barbara, those who didn't make the cut filed by. Trinity Martinez, 19, of Albuquerque said his third Idol tryout was the least satisfying: " I didn't even get the chance to warm up."
The audition results left singers with hopes lifted or dashed. Maren Brown, 16, of Lynden, Wash., experienced both. She didn't make the cut, but a talent agent approached her as she left the Rose Bowl.
The audition "didn't work out, but maybe something else will," she said.