The “American Idol” finale time lived up to its hype. What a trip! A quick glance around the 7,000-seat Nokia Theater yesterday revealed that we baby boomers were well represented even as the audience was heavily populated with long-legged and long-haired 20-somethings in (very) short skirts.
Last year, a 30-second spot on the show, with an average age of 44, on average cost $435,000 or about $46.75 per viewer. Many Idol parents are young boomers and the show continues to attract significant ratings in the 40+ demographic. I met third-place Idol Joshua Ledet’s boomer parents after the show, even as they looked fairly overwhelmed and understandably tired from all the hype.
I’m addicted to “American Idol.” I’ve decided it’s because of so much time spent on stage as a child, teen, college student and young adult. Playing piano almost before I could walk, singing, playing violin and eventually obtaining a degree in theater and speech communications, I live vicariously through every hopeful who masters stage nerves that I could not. I’m much more comfortable on camera.
Attending yesterday’s event encompassed the whole day: the drive, standing in a line that wrapped around Staples Center and finally nabbing those precious tickets. Then with four hours to kill, it was a matter of finding something to do before show time: lunch and magazines filled that bill beautifully.
I grabbed a drink at ESPN Zone at LA Live and watched celebrities arriving on the Red Carpet, nearly tableside: easy as. The list included former Idols Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Haley Reinhart, Jordin Sparks and Scotty McCreery, among others, as well as the current Top 12.
Starry, starry night
The show was spectacular, with blinding lights, pyrotechnics and star after star in “the same room”: Chaka Khan, Neil Diamond, Rihanna, John Fogerty, Reba McIntyre, Jennifer Holliday—whose facial contortions stole the show—and flamboyant Fantasia in the WOW catsuit. Elder statesmen Aerosmith rocked the house. JLo danced and lip-synched as tan masculine bods kept pace and the ubiquitous wind machine did its thing for her hair. Make-up artists rushed to touch her up during every break.
Surprising to me? That the judges don’t actually sit there much of the time, except for Randy Jackson. The speed with which crews set up and tear down sets during precise 1.5 to 3-minute commercial breaks deserves its own Grammy: The pressure must really be on to get it right the first time before coming back “live.” Ryan Seacrest is so at home on stage he must sleep there.
Seeing the show produced live verified that all is not as seamless as it appears on TV—and that’s part of the magic of the small screen. The new season premieres Jan. 13 on Fox. Let me set the clock now.