Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Thousands wait for first 'Idol' auditions

By Erica Ryan
The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Antonio Crane drove eight hours to camp out all night in humid summer heat for a chance to live his dreams of becoming the next American Idol.

The 27-year-old from Racine, Wis., was among thousands of would-be "Idols" who thronged outside Cleveland Browns Stadium on Tuesday, a day before auditions begin for the popular Fox show's fourth season.

Cleveland was the first city to host auditions for the show where viewers choose the next pop star from a group of 12 singers that has been whittled down from thousands who try out.

Besides the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the show planned to have auditions for the new season in Orlando, Fla.; St. Louis; New Orleans; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Anchorage, Alaska; and Las Vegas.

As temperatures climbed toward the high 80s, Idol hopefuls shaded themselves with umbrellas and waved fans while sitting on the hard concrete outside the stadium Tuesday morning. Armed with playing cards, bottled water and sleeping bags, participants geared up for hours of waiting. Auditions begin 8 a.m. Wednesday.

"It's worth every minute of it," said Crane, who arrived in Cleveland on Monday.

American Idol producers will decide who in the crowd will report to a second round of tryouts Thursday, when the show's executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick will pick who auditions for judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell on Aug. 14-15.

Jackson, Abdul and Cowell then will decide who gets to go to the Hollywood phase.

The show has produced instant pop stars, including the first idol winner, Kelly Clarkson, whose debut album Thankful went double platinum, selling more than 2 million copies.

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