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'American Idol': In Hollywood 'everybody wants to be a star'

February 4, 2011 | 12:10 pm


Approximately 39 minutes into Thursday’s Los Angeles auditions, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler had an exchange that captured the essence of the breadth of hopefuls that walked before them.

“Talk about delusional people,” Jackson quipped, his lack of patience more evident than in any of the prior cities.

“Well, it is L.A.” Tyler replied passively, already well-versed in what the City of Angels had in store.

With Ryan Seacrest declaring that “there’s only one place you want to be if you want to hit it to the big time,” glimpses of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the famous Capitol Records building flooded the screen. Hollywood is, after all, on every contestant's mind. 

Seacrest boasted that millions flock to L.A. in search of stardom, which is impressive, but it also suggests there's a population of millions of talented wannabes, many of whom have already paid their dues grinding and starving on the streets of Hollywood, and are ready to blow away the judges.

Or so it seemed.

Somewhere, something went wrong –- or the true reality of this town surfaced. Contestant after contestant failed before the panel. The show even nixed the sappy back stories, save for one hopeful who dropped out of college to pursue “Idol” and music (without telling his family he'd left school) and showed up with his mother, who was beaming to Seacrest about her son’s studies. The audition, however, didn’t work out for him … at all.

In a town where “everybody wants to be a star” (as Jackson pointed out), the judges unleashed some of their most stringent criticism. One contestant was told he was tone deaf, another was told he set the song on fire –- in the wrong way -- and on both occasions the hopefuls were in complete surprise at the feedback.

The competition did manage to tout another Justin Bieber-inspired change in hopes of securing more hopefuls with platinum-ready pipes.

After lowering the age to 15 to snag younger talent –- which has so far yielded a hefty number of golden tickets –- the show took the auditions online to MySpace for the first time, with the best being sent to L.A. to audition again.

It wasn’t revealed how many MySpacers were chosen to travel to L.A., and only one was shown: Karen Rodriguez, a 21-year-old who was praised and advanced because of her “beautiful control.”

Seacrest emphasized how “Angelenos failed to deliver,” how “abysmal” the hopefuls were, and the “steady stream of disappointment” the judges had to suffer. He opined that after a few were rewarded golden tickets, it “all fell downhill,” and that the “delusional” contestants were in clear abundance.

There was Tynisha Roches, a 25-year-old musician who ends all her sentences in a purry “owwwww,” carries her own microphone, does the splits on a whim, name-drops in conversation and “has three albums that are ready to be composed.” She didn’t deliver on her Frank Sinatra tribute but assured the panel that she’s “definitely a musician, I just know it.”

And Matt “Big Stats” Frankel, from West Hollywood, spent his montage decked out in a suit and constantly on the phone setting up meeting after meeting for his entertainment company. He made sure to make multiple references to the compilation album his company released, which he promises features Chaka Khan. Oh, and, “Big Stats” is his rap name and because he’s gone green he only rides the bus around town to conduct his business. But not even taking on Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny From the Block” (after a freestyle) was enough to advance him.

The city is chock-full of talented musicians hustling by performing on the streets, in bars, on the boardwalks of Venice and Santa Monica and elsewhere, but, instead, the competition showcased an array of contestants who would be advised to start looking for more fitting careers (as Jackson and Lopez had to say a handful of times).

But hey, this is L.A., where everybody wants to be a star.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy


Photos: (Left to right) Tynisha Roches from Los Angeles, Cooper Robinson from Inglewood, Anthony Granger, 24, from Inglewood, all perform in front of the judges on Thursday, Feb. 3, on FOX. Credit: Michael Becker / FOX.