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Biding time till Bo
'Idol' fans line up to see Bice

By Ronnie Thomas
DAILY Staff Writer

rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — A line forming on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning on the sidewalk in front of CBS Television City at Beverly Boulevard and Genesee Avenue means only one thing: "American Idol."

"They're such dedicated fans," said security guard Gino DeLorenzo of Canyon Country, Calif. "They come early and wait all day for a chance to get in. Even on Wednesday, when the results night is only a 30-minute show, they're here. They want to be first to know who is voted off."

Although the show is a Fox presentation, American Idol Productions rents the studio from CBS. The studio seats between 450 and 500.

Many of the fans waiting in line come from across the country to join a band of local and area residents. They bide their time talking about their favorites and designing signs they'll flash if they make it inside.

That's what 12-year-old Caroline Sandall of Austin, Texas, was doing Wednesday morning at 9:30, with help from her mother, Cynthia. Her sign supported Bo Bice.

"We think he's the greatest," Cynthia Sandall said. "We appreciate his talent so much, and we just had to get here. Even Caroline's teacher didn't have a problem giving her an excuse."

But waiting in line all day for a seat in the audience is the hard way. The easiest is to be a family member or friend of the competitors. "Idol" gives the singers five passes for each show.

Bice invited eight cousins to the two shows last week and a pair of pals. The 29-year-old rocker from Helena apparently considered me one of the latter, although we had never met. His invitation was his way of thanking THE DAILY for writing about him, almost from the moment he hit the national "Idol" stage.

We gave a guard our driver licenses, and he returned with the passes. Near the entrance to the studio, we checked in cameras, cell phones and tape recorders, then passed through a security screen. We then joined families and friends of the other singers, and waited for an usher to escort us inside.

Our seats, labeled "Bo Bice Family," were behind the desk of the judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. I sat almost directly behind Cowell.

The evening was good for those of us who favor early rock 'n' roll. For the competition that night, the singers got the spotlight for not one, but two songs. For the first tune, "Idol" gave them a choice of tunes written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, two of Elvis Presley's most successful writers, who penned classics like "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock." The other song came from Billboard's Top 40.

And with the crowd filing in, the "Idol" band had the studio rocking. A fellow on stage provided a warm-up, getting the audience clapping and cheering his dance moves.

He introduced the judges one at a time, first bringing in Jackson. He led the cheer: "Randy, Randy, Randy," and the audience trailed him with "Jackson, Jackson, Jackson."

He presented Abdul and Cowell in a similar way, but Abdul gave the most striking entrance, dancing and shimmying with the beat, all the way to her seat. When host Ryan Seacrest appeared, the audience was at fever pitch, and "Idol" was on.

During each commercial break, a makeup man came to Abdul to reshape and spray her hair and apply powder and lipstick. He dabbed powder on Cowell a couple of times.

As the show ended, we put "Idol" stick-on badges on our shirts that allowed us backstage to meet the singers. We stood behind a railing on either side of a path as Anthony Fedorov, Carrie Underwood, Vonzell Solomon, Scott Savol and Bice slowly walked past, chatting with fans on either side, signing autographs and posing for photos.

A fan asked Bice to stand beside her husband for a photo. When he told the singer how much he liked his performance, Bice embraced him.

"In the South," Bice said, "we believe in huggin'."

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