Saturday, July 23, 2011
I’m sure Simon Cowell got giddy when he saw who he got to sit in front of. I mean, right behind him, one row, were Jeff and Michelle Houghton and Kerstin and Evan Fisk. Paula Abdul could barely stand it, they were right there, right behind them, real celebrities.
Today, we went to a taping of the X Factor, the not quite American Idol show that is going to be hitting the US this fall. The show was filmed at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, which seats about 3,000 and was packed. When we arrived, we followed the line as it snaked around a building. We weren’t sure if we were going to get in, so we were especially surprised when our seats were front row, center, right behind the judges. The judges for the show are Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and LA Reid.
We had to wait like an hour and a half for the show to start. For some of that time we were entertained by the audience warm up guy. I think I would actually like his job, he was good and not cheesy like some other ones I’ve seen. Finally, he introduced the judges and they came out to much applause. They came to get their seats right in front of us and shook people’s hands. Did I stand so I could have my hand shook? Yes. Did I feel like MC Skat Cat for a moment? Yes. Did Simon have a Queen Mother like dainty handshake? Yes.
Observations of the judges:
Simon-Fairly large noggin
LA-Wearing what appeared to be diamond encrusted cuff links
Before the taping began they moved people around in different seats in the middle first few rows because they wanted the right look for the people who would get the most camera time behind the judges. There was a production assistant who would monitor our area. I think there must have been a producer in his ear telling him who to move where. We kept trying to look as attractive as possible, hoping that each movement would not involve us.
Then, they brought in the ringers. I don’t know where they came from, but five super hot girls in similar tight dresses got paraded to the front and sat beside us. We, and the rest of the audience tried to figure out their story. There were a lot of theories going around. Are they paid audience members? Are they a singing group? Do they think they’re at the Beautiful Starbucks? They are apparently five sisters (one set of twins) from England. One teenage girl came up and asked for their autographs followed by others. I don’t think they were actually anybody important, but I think one girl thought they were, so everyone else started wondering if they were, then convincing themselves that they were indeed famous people. It was a little microcosm of how we create celebrities, when, in actuality, I think they have a stage mom who wanted to get her daughters on camera anyway she could.
We made it through all the movement, fooling them into thinking we were attractive enough to be front row people (this was mainly accomplished through sitting up tall and making the pursed lips face girls always make in pictures).
This was the “bootcamp” performance stage of the show. Apparently, they have nationwide auditions like Idol, and then have a week of bootcamp, and then sang their song they chose the day before.
The singers came out one at a time, said a few things about themselves, and then sang their pretty little hearts out. There were young kids, a couple of older folks, and some groups. Some were good, some were not so good, some forgot lyrics. If there was any hint that this person was good, the amped up audience would give a rousing standing ovation. Once we got wind of this, we would try to lead the ovations. See, I think we were too low behind the judges to get a lot of camera time, so our best bet was our jumping up into enthusiastic standing ovations. I would also remain standing for awhile so the jib shot of them running down the aisle after their performance would catch me.
There was one performance that was totally worthy of the standing ovation. I won’t mention who it was, so as not to give it away, but it was really really good. I actually got goosebumps.
Honestly, though, I couldn’t see many of the performances because Nicole was right in front of me on the raised judges platform. Did that stop me from making my face really emotive as if I was watching the performances? No. I’ve watched the Susan Boyle clip enough to know that they like to do closeups of really expressive audience members.
In the end, it was pretty good. The judges seemed to take the judging very seriously. If there weren’t cameras there it would have felt like a poorly run talent show because of all time between acts due to making TV. We were there for five hours. It was a fun experience, though.
I’m sure that right now, Simon is somewhere blogging about his chance to shake my hand.
It was cute.
It was a big deal for him.