Major hugs, kisses, props, and ponies to AB Chao and Alex Richmond for filling in and helping out when I accidentally taped over the last round of auditions. I'm getting so old, people. I think in a couple of years I'll forget how to operate a VCR entirely and will have no choice but to become a really bad comedian.
Previously: I did not think Alden was really, really hot. I didn't. Shut up.
The very beginning of this episode got cut off, but I know I didn't miss anything other than a recap of all the stuff we've already seen. My tape cuts in with the kids grabbing their luggage at the Los Angeles airport to head out for the next round of auditions. It turns out that some of them were on the same plane as Tony Bennett. After a cameraman explains to the kids who Tony is, they act like they're in awe. For those of you who fear that Tony's one of those inaccessible celebrities, you'll be happy to hear that he waits at the luggage carousel just like all us commoners. Of course, they cut away before they show his personal assistant actually riding down the chute, holding them, because Mr. Bennett doesn't like to get any scratches on his tweed $400 Hartmann Travel Master garment bag. ["I stepped on his foot one time, wearing a really lethal pair of boots, and he was very gracious about it." -- Sars] Tony tells a cameraman, "I was the Britney Spears of my day." The brat pack was all abuzz when he danced with that snake while singing "I've Grown Accustomed" at the Sands. Ryan "Down Boy" Seacrest can't resist voicing over the encounter with a thoroughly predictable "they left his bags in San Francisco" joke. Don't strain yourself trying to be funny. It takes away from all time you can spend in the tanning booth.
The kids load into earth-destroying [product-placed vans and SUVs] and are brought to a "Hollywood" hotel. I'll be using quote marks around all references to Hollywood, as it seems they're just as indiscriminate in throwing around the name as they were last season. They could be in Bakersfield for all I know. The quarterfinalists all gather in one of those cookie-cutter convention halls that are on the first floor of every mid-range hotel on earth. I think they just bring a box into an empty room, pull a spring, and the entire thing -- bland wall coverings, hideously patterned carpeting, boring pseudo-deco sconces, plastic potted plants, and peach-and-goldtone chairs -- just inflates to fill the space. They're greeted by Simon "Karma Killer" Cowell and Randy "Feed Me" Jackson. Simon tells them that one person in this room is going to be rich and happy in about five months' time. Dammit, I've pretty much used up all my jokes on that line. He said the same thing last season. I believe I observed that that person would be Simon. I would just like to point out that I was correct. We get some brief shots of some of the contestants from the previous round (and for some, that will be the last time we see them), before everybody heads off to bed for the evening.
Ryan's voice-over tells us it's day two, while a caption on the bottom of the screen at the exact same time says it's day one, so hooray for quality television! The 234 quarter-finalists are dragged over to the Alex Theater in dozens of gas-guzzling SUVs. If Simon Fuller ever meets Arianna Huffington, he's in for an earful. I've been informed that the Alex Theater is actually in Glendale. If the other things I've heard about Glendale are true, it probably doesn't mind being confused with Hollywood. Glendale is like a hooker who lets you call her by your uptight ex-girlfriend's name while you're having dirty sex. As we see shots of the kids milling around, Ryan idiotically voices over that the kids were unaware that half of them would be going home after today. How could they not know that? Why the hell do they think they're there? Shut up, moron.