'American Idol' Behind the Scenes: 10 Things Fans Didn't See From Thursday's Episode

Ryan Seacrest American Idol
Michael Becker / Fox
Ryan Seacrest on American Idol

As viewers saw on Thursday's (March 19) edition of American Idol, the top 11 will remain a top 11 for one more week, as the judges didn't save their save for later in the season, rescuing Qaasim Middleton from elimination. But what about the things you didn't see? Billboard had eyes and ears in the house...

1. The studio audience didn't have to wait until 5 p.m. for the show to begin. Yes, Idol is live to the east coast at 5 p.m. PDT, but tonight the opening of the show was pre-taped just before 4:30 p.m. -- twice. The top 11 sang "Get Lucky" on stage and Ryan Seacrest made his entrance. After his opening dialogue and famous intro, "This is American Idol!," the opening credits rolled and that's all they needed for the very brief pre-tape.

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2. Sitting in section C, row 6, was a songwriter with a tune in this evening's competition. Siedah Garrett, best known for duetting with Michael Jackson on, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and writing Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" with Glenn Ballard, was invited to Idol because Adanna Duru had chosen to sing Garrett's "Love You I Do" from the motion picture, Dreamgirls.

3. After Duru sang, Garrett told Billboard, "I'm very proud of her performance. I was grinning from ear to ear." Garrett, who specifically wrote the song for Idol alum Jennifer Hudson to sing in the film version of Dreamgirls, was met by a security guard at the end of the two-hour show. He escorted her to the third-floor Idol sanctuary to meet Duru for the first time, where she told the season 14 finalist that after Hudson, she delivered the best performance of the song she had ever heard.

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4. Speaking of section C, on a commercial break, stage manager Debbie Williams approached row 4 and asked everyone to stand up and move down the row, allowing three folks at the end of the row to move past everyone and take the first three seats on the aisle. So it was no surprise when a camera crew moved toward the family. What was a surprise to most people who watched the seat swap is that these three people were Connie, Gary and Meredith Seacrest, Ryan's mother, father, and sister. A few minutes later, Ryan brought his mom an ice cream cone featuring a new chocolate and peanut butter flavor named Fradiani Frenzy. It was created by a Guilford, Conn. ice cream shop, in honor of a hometown hero, contestant Nick Fradiani.

5. It's movie night and the judges are eating popcorn. If it seems like they have bottomless cartons of the salty snack, it's an illusion. The containers are refilled on commercials by someone from the prop department, so the judges never go hungry.

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6. One of the judges has sworn to never stand up for a performance. While Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban are not shy to give standing ovations when they feel they are merited, Harry Connick, Jr. has explained that in order to be impartial, he will always remain seated. Tonight, Harry rose to his feet for a performance -- but he didn't break his pledge. Along with his fellow judges, he was on his feet for Kenny Loggins' rendition of "Footloose."

7. The audience enjoyed Jennifer Lopez's performance of her new song, "Feel the Light," from the animated film, Home. It just wasn't the audience in the studio Thursday night for Idol. The production, with a spectacular special-effects laden gown, was taped Wednesday night before a different audience.

8. After Thursday night's show, Lopez sat down with Billboard to talk about her new single, which has already gone out to radio. "It's very exciting. I've recorded a lot of ballads but never one that was released as a single. It's very different for me," she said of the song produced by the Norwegian duo known as StarGate. "It was super-magical to see it come to life with the dress." Does Lopez plan to keep track of the song's progress up the Billboard Hot 100? "I am a chart-watcher. I'm in the music business!" she exclaimed, then clarified, "Not all the time, but I check in on it."

9. Checking in on Lopez during the entire two hours was a high school student from Michigan named Cameron. He was standing on the second-floor deck, holding a sign that asked the star if she would go with him to his prom. Sadly, he has to go back home without an answer, with no way to tell if she ever saw his request.

10. You can't tell by watching Qaasim Middleton's performance of the Beatles' "Come Together," but he suffered an injury while singing the tune that was heard in the film Across the Universe. After the show, the saved contestant showed Billboard his chipped tooth, hit by the microphone live on air. Middleton seemed to take it in stride -- maybe staying on the show took away the pain.


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