American Idol 10 auditions begin as producers discuss their pre-screening process

American Idol 10 auditions begin tomorrow in Nashville, but for those waiting in line, the auditions have already begun. That’s because, unsurprisingly, producers begin screening contestants before they ever sing a note.

USA TODAY runs down and explains what happens during “Reg Day One,” when producers get all of that footage of people waiting in line–and start to find people. “People think, ‘I have to get in line, I have to get my wristband, I have to get inside.’ But we tell them, ‘It has started. We’re already looking for people.’ Whether they listen or not, who knows?” supervising producer Patrick Lynn told the paper.

“When I go down and I look at the line, I’m looking for people that make themselves stand out. If they’re standing out, even almost by not thinking about it, then they’re going to do well inside. So if somebody has brought five or six of their friends, and they’re playing the guitar, especially if they’re talking to each other and one person is always the center of attention, I like to gravitate toward those people,” he said. As to stories, he said, “It’s not like we’re looking for Your Tragic Story. It’s ‘What’s your story?'”

None of this is any surprise, but it’s interesting to hear them discuss it so openly, especially because the editing still makes it look like the judges are inside hearing every single person who’s in line, when the opposite is true: a tiny, well-screened group gets in front of the judges well after the cattle call.

What ‘American Idol’ producers REALLY want in a contestant [USA TODAY]
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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.