The Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles holds 7,000 people, so there’s no way the cameras can capture everything that goes on during an “American Idol” taping. Luckily, Billboard.com was on the inside and can give you the scoop. Here’s 10 things you didn’t see on TV:
Photos: Lee’s “Idol” Journey | Crystal’s “Idol” Journey
1) Lee DeWyze’s nerves were bothering him even before the show started. With about five minutes to air, Lee and Crystal Bowersox were brought in through a side entrance from the Nokia courtyard. Looking at the full auditorium, Crystal smiled big and started waving when people spotted her in the hallway. Lee was holding himself up using the railing and stared, seemingly stunned, at the crowd.
2) The early merch on sale for Lee and Crystal was kind of embarrassing. The swag for sale in the lobby looked like it was designed in a hurry – which it probably was. The centerpiece T-shirt was a mock-up of a poster for a boxing match, billing Lee and Crystal as the “dueling songsters.” Ugh. The contestants make quite a bit of their money off the merch sold during the tour, so I hope it gets upgraded between now and then.
3) The only judge who didn’t have an obvious bodyguard when he walked on stage: Randy Jackson. Kara DioGuardi, Ellen DeGeneres and Simon Cowell all were shadowed by a bodyman – Kara’s kept a very close eye on her. Randy strutted on stage by himself and started slapping hands with the fans in the front row.
4) Scott McIntyre received a huge cheer when he entered the Nokia. With about 10 minutes until showtime, the audience erupted into applause: it was for last season’s contestant heading to his seat in the front of the theatre. None of the Idols from this season received anything like the amount of applause he did.
5) Casey James’ cougar fanbase readily switched to Lee. I’m not quite sure if Lee could tell that many of the handmade signs for him in the audience were being waved by women who were old enough to know better. Although I love the mental image of moms breaking into their kids’ craft supplies in the dead of night to make signs to bring to the taping.
6) The audience instructions for Crystal’s run-down-the-aisle introduction were botched. The plan was for both Lee and Crystal to run down the side aisles and high-five the audience as they went on stage. One problem: the instructions before they did it told the audience the wrong aisles. This may explain why people got grabby and knocked Crystal’s mic out of her hand twice – they were surprised she was even there.
7) One member of the crew almost got caught in the act. Seconds before the cameras went back live for Crystal’s performance of “Me and Bobby McGee,” a grip was running off stage to get out of the shot – except he went the wrong way for about four strides. He turned around and sprinted across the entire stage, making it into the wings with a millisecond to spare. Usain Bolt, watch out for this guy.
8) Lee had more signs in the audience, but Crystal’s fan support was much louder. Just like the rest of the season, it was hard to tell a frontrunner by the audience. The most unintentionally hilarious bit of fandom were three little girls, each of whom were holding up the letters “L”, “E” and “E”. They started cheering and jumping around because they were excited, and wound up spelling “EEL” for a good part of the show.
9) Both Lee and Crystal chatted up the swaybots in the front row as they were waiting to comeback from commercial and perform. One point for Crystal, however, for handing out swag shirts.
10) People left as soon as Will Young started singing. Yes, traffic in L.A. sucks and there was a Lakers game on. Still: Rude!
More ‘American Idol’ on Billboard.com:
Who Will Win? | Can ‘Idol’ be Saved?
Simon Cowell, Adam Lambert Pick ‘Idol’ Winner