'Idol' auditions return to Salt Lake City
Auditioning for "American Idol" hardly seems Shakespearean, but hopefuls should keep this advice from "Hamlet" in mind during next week's tryouts in Salt Lake City: To thine own self be true.
"Don't worry about what other people are saying around you and don't be intimidated by other people," said senior supervising producer Patrick Lynn. "Just because you think they sing better than you doesn't mean they're a better candidate for 'American Idol.' "
Because "Idol" is about more than just singing. Personality plays a big part in the audition process.
"Personality is a huge part of it," Lynn said. "I mean, we're making a television show. We are looking for people that can sing, obviously. But who also have personality. And that's not an easy thing to find.
"There are a lot of people who don't understand why we don't like their voice, when it's really their voice and their personality."
And a lot of hopefuls lose track of themselves because they get psyched out by the other contestants in line to audition.
"Just focus on what you have to do," Lynn said. "That's really my best advice."
He would know. Lynn has been with "American Idol" since the beginning, working his way up from associate producer. He was here five years ago, the last time auditions were held at EnergySolutions Arena.
"We had a good time there last time," said Lynn, who couldn't recall exactly how Salt Lake City became the first stop on this year's audition tour. Salt Lake will be followed by auditions in San Francisco, Detroit, Atlanta, Boston, Austin and Omaha.
Salt Lake City "was actually one of the easiest cities to pick, Lynn said. The producers were looking at a list of various possible cities, "and somebody said, 'Oh, let's go to Salt Lake City again. OK.' There wasn't much argument about it."
He said the crowd in Utah is a bit different from the crowd at auditions in other cities.
"I think you're more well-behaved in Salt Lake City," Lynn said. "That's good, though. I like that."
The television world has changed a bit since 2008. The last time "Idol" came to Utah for auditions, it was just two months after Utahn David Archuleta finished second in the Season 7 finale, which drew 31.7 million viewers.
Viewership has changed since then. In May, the Season 13 finale was seen by 14.3 million viewers, down 33 percent from the final show of Season 12; 51 percent from the Season 11 finale; and 55 percent from the David Cook-vs.-David Archuleta finale in 2008.
To be sure, "American Idol" is not the pop-culture phenomenon it once was. But even in its much-weakened state, the Wednesday episodes finished as the No. 7 show for the 2012-13 TV season; the Thursday episodes finished No. 9.
"There's plenty of life left in 'Idol,' " said Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly.
Lynn admits he's nervous about how things will go on July 10 and 11. But he's always nervous, and big crowds continue to turn out for auditions every year.
"It's still nerve-racking and scary for us to go out there because we want to make sure people still like the show," he said. "And once people start showing up, we know that they do. I go through this every year."
Because "Idol" has entrenched itself as a TV institution of sorts.
"We're going to have people showing up who only know television with 'American Idol' on it," Lynn said. "That's kind of a weird thing, when you think about it."
Just don't expect to see any "Idol" judges at the ESA this week. Particularly because Fox hasn't announced who the judges will be this coming season.
"These are what we call the culls," said Lynn. It's a preliminary round of auditions for production staffers who decide which hopefuls will get to perform for the judges at a later date.
(Five years ago, that round of auditions took place in September. And was not open to the public.)
And maybe there are some Shakespearean aspects to "American Idol." Certainly, there's tragedy and comedy, depending on how things go for the people auditioning.
It could be "A Comedy of Errors" if they don't take Lynn's advice or "All's Well That Ends Well" if they do.
And for a whole lot of people, this will be "Much Ado About Nothing."
Salt Lake City's "American Idol" auditions are a two-day event July 10-11, but hopefuls will be singing only on July 11.
"We've sort of revamped our registration process so people can just come down, register, get a wristband and a ticket and be on their way," said senior supervising producer Patrick Lynn. "It's actually very easy."
Beginning Wednesday, July 10, at 5 a.m., hopefuls can register for the auditions. You'll need two forms of ID, and if you're under 18, you must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Complete rules can be found at americanidol.com/auditions.
Once you've got your wristband and ticket, you're done for the day. Hopefuls will audition on Thursday in the order they register.
You can show up on Thursday and register, but there may or may not be room for you to audition.