'American Idol' Top 12 Live: Dispatches from inside the dome

zap-lee-dewyze-top-12-idol-.jpg"Let's make a pact right now not to elbow each other in the stomach this time, OK?" one teenage audience member asks her friend as they join the throng of people clustered in "the pit" in front of the "American Idol" stage. "I had a really bad bruise last time!"

The excitement is in the air as we hit the "American Idol" Top 12 Rolling Stones week performance at CBS Studios in Hollywood. Wondering what goes on during commercial breaks or when the camera's pointed the other way? Zap2it has all the moments viewers at home didn't get to see!

The 11th hour pre-show preps:

  • Production assistants rush across the studio, carrying buckets full of ice and Perrier backstage.
  • The "warm-up host" conducts mini singing contests, giving audience members the chance to sing on the now-legendary Idol stage. He hands out iPods, new cell phones (AT&T, of course), and vouchers for free dinners, tacos, ice cream, and airport parking (random?).
  • We learn that the youngest audience member in the room is 7, and the oldest is 82. There are ten kids in the audience that weren't even born yet when Kelly Clarkson won the first season of Idol... we feel totally old.

Seacrest, Oops:
  • Ryan's spray-tan is kind of bordering absurd in person. "Hey Seacrest, Tropicana and Sunkist are on the line and they want their shade back."
  • During Tim Urban's performance of "Under My Thumb," Ryan has to run to get back stage in time. He trips, and almost completely face-plants before he catches himself.
  • We think we understand why Ryan connects so well with the teenage "Idol" fans. Besides sharing an affinity for Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber tracks, he's also about the same height as most of them standing in the pit around the host.

Kickin' it with with the C.F.O Idol ("Celeb Fans of Idol"):
  • Mark McGrath works the room before the show starts, venturing up into the stands to say hello to fans.
  • Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl) and Dianna Agron (Glee) hang out throughout the show, chatting and heading backstage together during each commercial break. They leave before Crystal performs "You Can't Always Get What You Want." You missed a great Bowersox moment, ladies!
  • Portia de Rossi gets up to talk to Ellen whenever possible, and they hold hands each time they walk off-stage together.  So sweet!

The Judges' Table Brief:
  • During every commercial break the judges head back to the greenroom, even if it's only for two and a half minutes. Meanwhile, a production assistant appears to make sure their ever-present Coca-Cola cups are neatly arranged.
  • Ellen and Randy seem close, as do Kara and Simon, who confer during performances and laugh together during downtime.  It could just be the placement of their seats but Ellen and Simon didn't speak to one another at all during breaks.
  • Ellen is by far the most popular judge with the fans in the "Idol' dome. Every time she stands up, the audience calls out to her and goes wild when she waves back.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Top 12:
  • The "Idol" contenders all seem incredibly supportive of each other: when they've got the chance to watch a fellow contestant perform from the side of the stage, they're always engaged, and enthusiastically applauding.
  • Though Paige Miles' lively performance of "Honky-Tonk Woman" gets the audience moving the most, Crystal gets the most applause by a long shot.
  • Despite his dismal reviews from the judges, Tim Urban gets a ton of support from the audience when they replay a clip from his performance.
  • When a clip from Lee Dewyze's performance of "Beast of Burden" plays, Crystal grabs his shoulders, making him turn to face the crowd as she eggs on the applause from his adoring fans.

Zap2It will be in the house at tomorrow's elimination, so be sure to check back in with us for all the behind-the-camera scoop on who gets voted off as well as special guests David Cook, Ke$ha, and Orianthi.  In the meantime, you don't want to miss our full recap of Rolling Stones week, including Zap2it's picks for who should go home.


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Related:

'FlashForward's' Jack Davenport is rooting for Andrew Garcia
'American Idol': Kara DioGuardi hedges her bets on 'The Tonight Show'
Zap2it's State of the 'American Idol' Union

Photo credit: FOX