American Idol
Auditions #1: Savannah

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Savannah Smiles

So are you guys familiar with this whole American Idol thing? I'm really not, although tonight's show did stir up some vague memories of a show I watched some of back in 2002. Don't worry, though; it seems very similar to The X Factor, whose first U.S. season I just finished weecapping last month. So I should be able to walk you through this.

The season premiere is all about what a venerable institution American Idol is, as we get to meet a slew of eligible 16-year-olds who were only six when Kelly Clarkson was first crowned. And what do you suppose they're all doing on American Idol now? I have a theory. Ryan Seacrest promises that this season will be told largely from the point of view of the contestants. Because that's the main complaint most people have about American Idol after all: not enough schmaltz. Settle down, AI, you're not the Olympics. Yet. Steven Tyler takes credit for taking the show "over the top" last season. Jennifer Lopez claims that she and the other judges are like family now, and Randy Jackson cements his role as the Ziering of what the new (to me, at least) title sequence is now all but calling, simply, Idol. What's wrong with the rest of the title? Why does the Fox network hate America?

We start with lots of "contestant cam" shots of people starting their day and heading into the city that's the host for the first day of auditions: Savannah, Georgia, a city I love and miss dearly. As the judges arrive at the riverfront hotel that serves as the audition venue (the Hilton, if my ten-year-old memories serve), a reporter stops Steven to ask how Savannah's treating him. He tells her Savannah's treating him fine, "But I didn't know you knew her." Wocka wocka wocka! That'll teach her to live in a city with a stripper name.

The first contestant we meet is a 17-year-old kid named David Leathers, Jr. who wears a smug grin, a tie and an untucked shirt, and sunglasses inside. Apparently he's such a ladies' man that his friends at school call him "Mr. Steal Your Girl." Or at least that's what he tells the camera when he's away from all his friends at school. We learn that a couple of years ago, he apparently placed first in a singing competition against some guy named Scotty McCreery. I sense that name should mean something to me. David presents himself to the judges, who are still early enough in this process to not only be interested in his schtick but actually encourage it somewhat. He sings for them in a high, clear voice, and does so well that they ask for an encore in the form of a Michael Jackson song. Because, you know, he's a young black kid and thus has to sing some MJ. They're so impressed that they give him a three-way yes in unison. At least they rewarded the hoop-jumping.

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American Idol

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