'Idol' Auditions Draw Thousands

Thousands of contestants sit inside the Rose Bowl before the Los Angeles area auditions of the "American Idol" television talent competition in Pasadena, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2006.
AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Thousands of "American Idol" hopefuls descended on the Rose Bowl before dawn Tuesday with wide-eyed dreams of becoming the next Taylor Hicks or Carrie Underwood.

The competitors taking the field Tuesday had "American Idol" fame in mind, not football. Pasadena was the first of seven cities where producers of Fox TV's talent show planned auditions.

Roads leading to the Rose Bowl were clogged as auditioners hurried to meet the supposed 6 a.m. PDT deadline to line up. Outside the stadium, early arrivals gathered — some huddled under blankets, some wearing headphones and silently mouthing lyrics. Others did last-minute makeup checks.

The generally subdued early morning crowd roused itself occasionally, once when sample breath mints were tossed into the crowd and another time when TV news crews went on the air.

"I've been wanting to do it for a long time," said Corrin Moore, 19, of Oceanside, Calif. She finally got up the nerve, she said, when friend Candice Starks, 21, also of Oceanside, agreed to join her for the tryouts.

Surveying the growing crowd, Moore said: "It makes me feel nervous. There's a lot of talented people out here."

"American Idol" has demonstrated its prowess as a starmaker by turning unknowns into overnight sensations with awards and hit records. As the top-rated TV show last season, it's shattered expectations that it couldn't sustain its popularity.

"American Idol" also continues to deepen its pop culture imprint. Hicks, the latest winner, and finalists from last season are on tour. Other contestants are pursuing solo careers, and Lifetime is airing a movie about and starring past winner Fantasia this month.