Michael Becker / Fox
While American Idol fans were curled up on your sofa munching popcorn and enjoying a night at the movies -- musically speaking -- The Hollywood Reporter was peering behind-the-scenes inside Stage 36 at CBS Television City to see how the movie magic was made. Seven of our on-the-scene observations below...
1. Before every live American Idol show, someone has to warm up the members of the audience -- not raise their temperatures but their levels of excitement. The job of pumping up the guests is usually done by Cory Almeida but he was away Wednesday night. In his place was first-timer Mark Provart, who did well for his inaugural turn. That may be because what you didn’t see last week was Provart shadowing Almeida, learning first-hand from the master.
2. In the first quarter-hour of the show, host Ryan Seacrest walked up to the top of the audience bleachers to make the next introduction. He was standing with stage manager Debbie Williams when he suddenly recognized the man sitting in the aisle seat of the topmost row -- Simon Fuller, creator and executive producer of American Idol.
3. On the next commercial break, following the performance of Jessica Meuse, a special guest took his seat in the audience, and caused an unintentional commotion as all eyes turned to him. The very recognizable guest was Gordon Ramsay, dropping by to plug the season debut on Thursday night of his Fox series, Hell’s Kitchen.
4. Before Dexter Roberts took the stage to perform Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” the audience was instructed to sing along, and was warned that Roberts would be adding the line, “Roll, Tide, Roll,” which would appear on video screens when it was time to sing along.
5. On another commercial break, an extremely loud chorus of booing broke out. It wasn’t because the time-out was too long or that the show doesn’t serve snacks; the audience was asked to boo for the cameras and it was all being recorded, to be dropped in later at some appropriate time.
6. Audience members gave every finalist a standing ovation, but the loudest applause was reserved for Majesty Rose, Caleb Johnson and especially for Jena Irene after her original take on Paramore’s “Decode.”
7. The finalists put in long hours but tonight it was the audience working overtime. After watching the two-hour live broadcast, a majority stayed another hour to watch Harry Connick, Jr. pre-record his performance that will be seen on tonight’s results show. While waiting for cameras to roll, the packed audience heard Connick say, “I’ve never stood on one stage so long without doing anything. I don’t like it!”