Think You Know Everything About ‘American Idol’? Part 2

Simon's mistakes, 'The Green Mile,' curfews, F-bombs and more 'Idol' secrets.

As “Primetime Live” proved, nothing gets attention quite like “American Idol” secrets.

Well, MTV News is no Corey Clark (see “Corey Clark Says Paula Abdul ‘Told Me She Loved Me’ “ ), but we do like to gather things “Idol” fans might not know about the show.

Last year, for instance, we revealed that the producers decide the order of the finalists each week and try to alternate male/female and choose upbeat songs to go first and last. And that in the auditions, preliminary judges narrow the field down first, and Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell see only about 15 percent of the singers (see “Think You Know Everything About ‘American Idol’? Think Again” ).

With another finale fast approaching, we thought it’d be a good time to dish out some more secrets. So put on your copy of “Paulatics” and read away:

  • Singers who auditioned for past “American Idol” seasons and didn’t make it to the finals remain eligible, although co-executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz said the judges saw only about 10 repeat offenders. “We had some who came back and made some progress and were still not good enough, and we had some that came back and they’ve taken all the constructive criticism and made it to Hollywood,” she said.
  • Simon and Paula’s big fight in the “Hollywood” rounds was actually over a different contestant than the one shown standing onstage during the broadcast. “Other than that, it was exactly as it happened,” Abdul said.
  • After watching the earlier shows again, Cowell admits he made some wrong decisions on who advanced. “The fact that we make mistakes due to tiredness or whatever is part of the human process you go through on the show,” he explained. “Otherwise, you’ll just have computers acting as judges. You get it right and often you get it wrong, but that’s what a real-life audition process is.”
  • After the final “Hollywood” round, the judges had just one day to deliberate on who would advance to the final 24. “Simon had to leave the country that night, so we had to make our final decisions that day,” Abdul said.
  • In choosing the semifinalists, the three judges each got one vote and the producers of the show got a fourth. Simon Cowell decided when it was a tie.
  • The producers nicknamed the long walk the contestants had to take to hear their fate at the end of the “Hollywood” rounds “The Green Mile,” even though there was no green in sight. “It was a reference to the movie,” co-executive producer Ken Warwick said, as if being eliminated was like facing the electric chair.
  • While the judges heavily criticized 17-year-old Janay Castine, one of the last semifinalists who was eliminated for singing Blu Cantrell’s slightly raunchy “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!),” Castine actually auditioned with that same song and said the judges loved it. “They actually didn’t show that part on TV, so I figured why not show it to America?” Castine said. Oops!
  • Before he made the final 12 and then quit the show, Mario Vazquez recorded vocals for flamenco guitarist Cesar’s album Worlds of Change. It did not, however, make him ineligible to compete. “The only rule is that they are no longer represented or have a recording contract,” co-executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said.
  • For the first time, the contestants lived in apartments with one or two roommates as opposed to being together in one house. But there was a shared living room where they often ate together and watched the West Coast airings of the Tuesday shows. “We had security there and stuff, so we would all just have a good time,” Lindsay Cardinale said.
  • While competing on the show, contestants had to abide by a curfew of 10 p.m. on evenings before live shows and 11 p.m. all other nights. That included the 29-year-olds.
  • The contestants have Internet access at the apartments, and some do check “Idol” chat rooms. “The first time I looked, the stuff written about me was so hideous I never went on it again,” Mikalah Gordon recalled. “It was heart-wrenching.”
  • On the Wednesday show in which Gordon was eliminated, the singer was seen (not heard) on TV mouthing the F-word when Ryan Seacrest went to commercial just before announcing the votes. “I didn’t think that I said it, but I got off that stage and they were like, ‘Mikalah, you said the F-word onstage.’ … I mean, people say it, and if I did, then I just happened to say it on national TV. I mean, the phone number guy makes mistakes, I make mistakes, what are you going to do?”
  • Throughout the finals, the show’s hairstylist, Dean Banowetz, has urged Bo to trim his hair. He has never obliged.
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