Atlanta and the W hotel in Midtown escaped mostly unscathed as “American Idol” hit town for the fifth
time last summer in search of contestants for the nation’s most viewed karaoke
Fox aired the results of the Atlanta auditions Wednesday
night during a 90-minute edition of “A.I.”
As host and Dunwoody High School grad Ryan Seacrest noted in his intro, the auditions here have
provided the national introductions of Fantasia Barrino, Clay Aiken and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.
Through the magic of editing, “A.I.” viewers unfamiliar with
our city will no doubt require a GPS if they ever visit.
Non locals no doubt now think that the Georgia Dome, the
downtown home of the Atlanta Falcons which served as a holding pen for the
thousands of first round singers in June is magically located next door to the
W hotel in Midtown which played host to the audition finalists in September.
On Wednesday night, the W held a viewing party for its
“A.I.” debut. Said W director of sales Sandy Chambers: “It was amazing to play host to ‘American Idol.’ Everybody here tonight was ecstatic to see our fabulous city and the W Atlanta
Midtown featured on the premiere.”
While the hotel was able to publicly acknowledge its role
Wednesday, when the auditions were being held in September, the areas of the
hotel being used for “Idol” filming were on super secret lockdown from prying public eyes.
This secrecy was jeopardized throughout the process,
however, when screaming contestants, along with their shrieking families and
friends repeatedly burst through the doors of the hotel clutching golden
tickets and dancing in the middle of 14th and Peachtree.
Still, on Wednesday night’s broadcast, the hotel scored an
enviable, extended national advertisement for Altitude, the Midtown W’s luxe 27th
floor private event space with gorgeous views of Piedmont Park and the city skyline.
Prospective singers at the Atlanta auditions rode the
hotel’s glass elevator up to the judges inside Altitude and then descended with
a coveted golden ticket.
Or an immediate need for massive amounts of therapy.
In Atlanta, “Idol” vets Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell, along with second season judge Kara
DioGuardi and guest celebrity judge Mary
J. Blige presided.
Among the more memorable auditions:
Keia Johnson, a
26-year-old former Miss America contestant from Memphis and Jermaine
Sellers, 26, a church singer from Joliet,
Ill. who wowed the judges with Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.”
Proclaimed Mary J: “It was anointed”
while Jackson marveled “You’ve got skills!”
Closing out the show?
A performance of his personally penned “Pants on the Ground”
by General Larry Platt.
Sample lyrics sung by the 62-year-old: “Pants on the ground
/ Pants on the ground / Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground/ Gold
in your mouth / Hat turned sideways / Call yourself a cool cat / Lookin’ like a
fool / Walkin’ downtown with your pants on the ground.”
While Platt was edited in to supply a comic relief finale to
the Atlanta auditions, Platt has every reason to criticize the current
belt-challenged fashion trends among African-American youth.
He’s an Atlanta
civil rights icon.
As a teenager, the civil rights veteran marched with Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and was beaten
during the Selma march. A photo of Platt was published in Steven Kasher’s
book “The Civil Rights Movement: A Photographic History, 1954-1968.”
Late Atlanta civil rights icon and Hosea Feed the Hungry
founder Hosea Williams himself
nicknamed Platt “the general.”
Within moments of the telecast Wednesday night, Platt had
half a dozen fan pages devoted to him on Facebook and thousands of tweets on
Twitter referenced “Pants on the Ground.”
In all, Seacrest reported that 25 contestants from the
Atlanta auditions made it through to the Hollywood rounds.
What are your thoughts on the “Idol” Atlanta auditions?
Feel free to share below.