Idol attracting record wannabes
American Idol has a shortage of judges at the moment, but it's doing fine with would-be contestants.
Nearly 50,000 people have turned out in the first four cities where try-outs have been held, according to series producers. Auditions for the singing contest's 10th season started on July 15 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The crowds of 16,000 in Nashville and 17,000 in East Rutherford, NJ, are among the biggest the show has ever seen - eclipsed only by the 22,000 that auditioned in Washington DC, for season four, a show spokeswoman said.
Earlier this year, American Idol expanded the pool by lowering the age eligibility a year, from 16 to 15 years old. The maximum age to audition remains 28.
Host Ryan Seacrest suggested another reason for the enthusiasm.
"I think people are sensing that season 10 is a historic moment, and they all want to take a shot at being the 10th American Idol," he said at the New Jersey audition earlier this week.
The final auditions are set for Austin, Texas, on August 11 and San Francisco on August 19.
Nigel Lythgoe, the So You Think You Can Dance judge and co-creator who is rejoining American Idol as an executive producer, told Fox News he thinks there is more talent to be discovered and hopes to "find the next Michael Jackson".
He's also ready to have attention shift from judges to singers, Lythgoe said.
"Really, we should be talking about the contestants, and that's what I want to see happening again. Focusing on their talent. Even if it's Sanjaya (and) we're talking about his ... hair, for goodness' sake," Lythgoe told Fox, referring to former contestant Sanjaya Malakar's eye-catching hairdo parade.