So yesterday I went to Seattle to be one of the "live audience" members for one of the X-Factor audition tapings (hence the no post yesterday). I've been watching X-Factor for five years now and have seen seasons from the UK (every one but the first), Autralia and Denmark. I think it's safe to say I'm a bit of an X-Factor fan. I'm psyched about the US version and was even more excited to attend some of the auditions. It was a lot of fun, and an interesting look at the behind the scenes aspects of the show. Here are some observations/info from last night:
* We arrived an hour early, as they recommended, and luckily stood in the first portion of the line. Because of this, we were seated in the "first five row on-camera zone," which apparently means we'll be on camera in the shots where they're focusing on the judges. I hope so! We were given a briefing before the show started that covered all of this.
* In line, we were able to watch some of the producers bring out contestants and place them randomly in line for those shots they use before auditions (basically, contestants they know will be on-air "waiting" in the "audition line," though obviously they just place these people in the audience line on the day of the judge's auditions and edit it to make it seem like they don't know this person will make it through).
* The first guy that got placed into the line in front of us was given instructions from the producers to look pensive and contemplative, and prompted with hilarious lines like, "how do you look when you're thinking about something?" or "more pensive!"
* Another contestant was filmed from afar "walking" to the audition line. She had to do this three or four times. Apparently she wasn't walking correctly?
* Once inside, it was uber important that our "on-camera" section was filled. Two people left to go somewhere (bathroom? snacks? who knows, they were gone for 30 minutes) and one of the stagehands had to fill their seats so that the audience looked full to capacity. Poor runaways lost their nice seats, though they deserved it for being gone so long. Our section was lit constantly with a weird blue lighting. Other sections were not lit up, including the floor seats.
* Painfully annoying warm-up guy leads us through equally painful "competitions" while the judges prep backstage. He has a thankless job.
* Judges enter. We're told to have our cameras and phones out, "taking pictures," and going crazy. Apparently they'll be using this shot as the Seattle Auditions Entrance Footage.
* The first group (a tragically named, Boyz II Men-ish boyband) was "the best audition LA Reid had seen yet. Oh, and no worries about LA Reed as a judge. He was charismatic, funny, dry and intelligent. Nicole Scherzinger? Less so. Simon and Paula were exactly what you'd expect.
* Speaking of Nicole, it was her birthday last night. The audience serenaded her. She said that there was no place she'd rather be on her birthday than Seattle. Yeah right.
* Lots of "yes" votes from the judges tonight. Nearly 75% of the acts got through. If we loved them, we were instructed to give them a standing ovation. In the real world, I wouldn't have been moved to give any of them a standing o, but it's what the producers wanted, so it's what we did. (The irritating girls behind us were ready to give anything that moved an ovation.)
* Auditions are LONG, like 10-15 minutes a contestant long. Included were lame questions that never make it on the air (ie: "Any pets?", "if you had a superhero, what would it be?", etc) and oftentimes, multiple songs. The actual judging was usually very quick.
* People were eating all the time. I don't know if this is just an American thing, but the audience was allowed to buy concessions and did so constantly. The rule was only one person out of their seat at a time in any given section, but I could not believe that people seriously couldn't go a few hours without eating. Really, people? You want the camera to catch you walking on by with a hot dog and fries? I don't ever remember seeing that on TV.
* After awhile, it was easy to forget you were in the studio audience and it just seemed like I was watching it on TV, even though the judges were RIGHT THERE. All in all, it was a fun night. I'd go again in a heartbeat, and I can't wait for the airing of the show this September!