The wait for spoilers seemed like forever before yesterday’s performance show. When the call finally came, my source was slightly hysterical, describing a scene that seemed straight out of a disaster movie. I could hardly believe what I was hearing.
UPDATE: Read a first-hand account of the mishap HERE. Part of the problem was No Doubt’s rehearsal running long. If the rehearsal had begun on time, they might have had time to clean up the stage and resume rehearsal.
When the big arm started to fall (I was standing in the pit underneath it), Ryan and others on stage yelled at the crowd in the pit to move, move. Get away. ¬ The only place to move was the lower stage in front of the judges table. Well, there are stairs there, so the people in the pit were tripping up the stairs. Several people fell or were pushed. It was kind of a mad-house. There were at least 6 or 7 people laying on the stairs or the lower stage as a result of the crowd surging in that direction. There were several children who were in the pit. That was scary too.
Two completely unrelated mishaps shut down yesterday’s performance rehearsal. The first involved Idol’s beloved stage manager Debbie. According to Entertainment Weekly’s On-the-Scene report:
At the start of dress rehearsal, beloved stage manager Debbie Williams stood at the top of the massive glowing staircase. The first three steps are fixed, but the rest roll out from under the band deck; as she followed Seacrest down the stairs, she was caught in the gap when they began to prematurely retract. Observers told me she slipped, then grabbed onto the railing and dangled for a moment before falling the 20 or so feet to the ground. She suffered a severe cut on her leg — amazingly, according to one crew member, no broken bones — and was taken to the hospital by paramedics.
It’s amazing there were no broken bones.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, another completely unrelated mishap occurred. What were the odds of that?
Dress rehearsal continued, at which point the spinning Idol gyroscope atop the stage right tower came unmoored, showering the stage with glass and causing them to evacuate the theater. Given the way they pack the kids into the “mosh pits, ” it’s a genuine miracle more people weren’t hurt. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the preshow, as they struggled to re-seat the audience and tape the contestants’ performance clips before airtime.
One of my sources was in the moshpit, and she says the globe exploding was absolutely terrifying, and that there was quite a bit of chaos afterward. As Ryan Seacrest worked to calm the crowd down, he announced that after the crowd was evacuated, and the stage cleaned up, they’d be let back in the studio, and dress rehearsal would resume.
But I guess he wasn’t looking at the clock. In the end, the crowd was evacuated, and dress rehearsal was cancelled.
My source was still a little shaken as she stood outside the studio describing the scene to me over the phone.
After the studio was evacuated and cleaned up, they had 25 minutes to seat the live show audience:
The line for Idol stretched farther down the street than I’ve ever seen it stretch, and at 4:20, when we finally passed through the gates, I overheard the guards referring to some sort of “incident.” I met up with a journo colleague, and the two of us strode past the hundreds of people on the holding benches outside and walked right into the studio and up the stairs to find what was clearly the fallout from said “incident”: a giant hydraulic lift was in the “mosh pit, ” and crew members were working on the gyroball atop the stage right fang, which was clearly askew. We sat in our seats — the only audience members in the studio — until a large member of the security staff kicked us out, then hovered beneath the seating risers until about 4:35, when the crowds outside finally began to make their way in.
After everybody grabbed a seat, with only 15 minutes to go, each of the Idols had to tape short snippets of their songs, for the recap package:
“Ignore your tickets! Grab the first seat you see!” a page yelled as people haphazardly wandered down the aisles. “No tickets! No tickets! Just grab a seat!” The audience seating process usually takes a good hour or so, and they were having to do it in 25 minutes; families were wandering aimlessly throughout the studio, dragging signs and small children behind them., With 15 minutes to go, Cory appeared (in a jaunty scarf!) and, skipping his usual antics, began to plead with the audience to sit down. “Just be accomodating if you can, ” he asked, then explained that since dress rehearsal was cancelled, they needed to tape short snippets of the Final Four’s performances for the recap package at the end of the show. If ever there was a time to make the argument that this practice of taping dress rehearsal is ridiculous, given the ability of pretty much everything everywhere ever to utilize instant replay technology, this would be the time — but tonight was so fraught with hysteria I just don’t have the heart.
Danny’s recap clip was sh*teous, I couldn’t believe the producers would air the worst part of his performance–that horrible scream. It turns out they didn’t have much choice:
I grabbed my friend’s shoulder. He aimed for the note, landed in a neighboring county, trailed off. With four minutes to go, they started his snippet again. He aimed for the note again, and this time landed four states to the south, but there was no time to be precious about it..Danny added a little doo-doo-doot between choruses one and two — which he didn’t do in dress rehearsal, meaning the clip they’d pre-taped was now essentially useless — and then he went for The Note.