Four Years Ago Last Night

Story Time...

Ashley and Erin's Trip to American Idol
It was pretty much the coolest thing that I've ever done. My BFF Erin and I had gone to the American Idol concert tour after Season 2 in the fall of 2003. It was our first year out of college and first year of teaching. We decided that night that it would be so fun to go to LA in the spring and try to go to a taping of American Idol. So we planned it all out and made our way there during the third week of March in 2004, during our Spring Break. We spent the whole week just going to TV show tapings (The Wayne Brady Show, On Air With Ryan Seacrest (twice), The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Less Than Perfect), which, by the way, are all free.
Wednesday, though, was the best day of the week. We had our tickets which told us that they did not guarantee us seats, so we got there early to get in line. We showed up around noon and didn't see a line yet and were told we could come back at 3:00 and park in the studio parking lots. We went back around 2:30 and saw that there was already a line so we parked in the neighborhood across the street and got in line.
Around 4:00 the line moved inside the studio gates. (We were out on the sidewalk along the street before.) We were lined up outside the building, watching as friends and family of the contestants walked by and went in. They took in the first group of fans to fill in the available seats that weren't taken by friends and family. (It's a REALLY small studio.) Around 4:30, they pulled the next small section of the line, including us, into a small area with four rows of benches outside of the building. There were pages walking through the crowd asking who everyone was a fan of and they were clearly listening for specific names. We just shouted everyone's names. They pulled a few people in and were on the row behind us looking for the next group to take in. The lady asked how many people one girl had with her and they said "Four" and we turned around and stuck our hands out holding up two fingers and shouted "TWO! TWO!" "Great. Come with me." Yes!
They led us inside and I only wish someone had a video of me walking into that room. My jaw dropped as I walked into the studio. It's just like it looks like on TV! (Except WAY smaller.) They took us to our seats and said that we were going to pretend to be friends of Camile Velasco. (Yeah. Who, right?) They did say that if her friends and family showed up, we would have to leave though. We were sitting right between Jasmine Trias' cousin and Matt Rogers' brother. We had great seats! We ended up being right behind and to the right of Randy Jackson.
The show started at 5:00 and it was the first elimination night during the top 12, so we got to see all 12. It would have been better to be there Tuesday for the performance night, but we were lucky to even get tickets in the first place. (I had actually written to the website where you sign up for tickets saying we would just be in town for the week and the president of the website sent me the tickets. That wouldn't happen now with how big American Idol is these days.) It was an hour long show that went super fast.
It was fun to see what goes on during the commercials. They let the audience ask questions to the contestants. We found out the Fantasia got her clothes from Goodwill... she means Bebe... and that George Huff can't frown even if he tries.
The craziest part, though, was that we actually got on camera during the first segment of the show...

I'm the third person in the row past Jasmine's cousin and Erin.

Here's the screen shot. And a few things we saw at the show (from pictures on the Fox website)...

Here are the 12 that we saw.

Although we missed individual performances, we did get to see one of those horrible group numbers.

Clay Aiken performed.

And Jennifer Hudson (You know, the one who won the Oscar?) was in the bottom three. The girl on the left was the one who went home.

The craziest thing, though, was that two weeks later, when we were back at home, I was watching Fox one night and a commercial for the show came on and we were on the commercial! There had been 5 episodes since we were there and they somehow picked that clip of us clapping as the one to put on the commercial! We're right after Paula talks right at the beginning...


So that was one of my favorite days ever. March 17, 2004.