American Idol contestants are under surveillance

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You see them every week on “American Idol” and it looks like a fun gig, right? They get to perform live in from of millions of people and possibly become huge stars. But there is also a grueling amount of work involved in being an AI contestant – learning a new song each week, cutting the AI compilation album, preparing for the tour, doing a flurry of promotional appearances, and of course learning the steps to an embarrassing weekly group number. But contestants on Fox’s juggernaut hit series also say that they are basically like prisoners to the network producers – albeit in a totally awesome gilded cage.

While the Fox network boasts about the luxurious lifestyle the “American Idol” finalists are enjoying in their opulent Bel-Air mansion, some contestants are complaining that they feel like prisoners!

In an effort to avoid a ratings-wrecking scandal, the show’s producers have beefed up security for this season of “Idol.” In previous years, the singing hopefuls have sneaked off to go drinking at Los Angeles nightclubs and have gotten into “all sorts of trouble,” said an insider.

“I feel like a bird in a gilded cage!” One pampered finalist whined, according to an insider. “Don’t get me wrong, the place is gorgeous, with breathtaking views. But we have no privacy!”

The $30 million mansion has a staggering 20 bathrooms, an indoor swimming pool and spa and a huge 20-seat theater, where the contestants can practice their performances. There is also a basketball court, a bowling alley, an outside pool, a gym and loads of other amenities.

Even with all this at their disposal, some of the finalists hate the place – because of the “Big Brother” -style cameras that watch them almost constantly, says the insider.

“There are security guards shadowing the finalists virtually from the moment they walk in the door until the moment they go to sleep,” one of the contestants told the insider. “And, if the guards aren’t there, there are security cameras all over the house – except in the bedrooms and in the bathrooms.”

The finalists have a strict 10 p.m. curfew and are not allowed overnight guests, with the exception of the mother of Allison Iraheta, because Allison is underage at 16.

Contestants are also forbidden to drive their own cars. They must be chauffeured by a driver hired by the show.

“It’s like a pricey prison,” said the insider. “The producers aren’t taking any chances.”

[From the National Enquirer print version, April 13, 2009]

Well, if the contestants don’t like being followed around all the time with cameras, they should get out now, because that’s what their life will be like if they win “American Idol.” I do wonder if the motives for monitoring the kids are really based on fear of scandals. All of the past scandals involving American Idol contestants happened before the kids were on the show, not during. However, making sure the contestants get rest and aren’t out drinking and partying can only help the show. There was a huge outbreak of influenza B among the cast a couple of weeks ago – can you imagine if they’d been out partying at LA nightclubs and spreading it everywhere? And finally – if the contestants are really that concerned about their privacy…maybe they shouldn’t have auditioned for a REALITY SHOW. Just a thought.

Here’s the American Idol top 12 at the ‘Top 12 Party’ in Los Angeles on March 5th. Images thanks to WENN .

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10 Responses to “American Idol contestants are under surveillance”

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  1. neelyo says:

    You sell your soul the second you enter that contest. I forgot where, but they had the agreement you sign when you enter the contest and you sign your life away.
    I’m not watching this year, but in the past it was interesting to see which contestants seemed to realize midway through the competition what they’d gotten themselves into.

  2. rbsesq says:

    I would have a problem with having cameras in the house. I can understand the security guards because producers don’t want them out running around, but once they’re in the house, why do they need surveillance? It’s American Idol, not Big Brother. Although it certainly sounds like Big Brother is watching.

  3. Lina says:

    Living in a 20 bathroom mansion? Having to suffer through watching movies in a 20-seat theater in the house? Having to be chauffeured? What an injustice!

    I wouldn’t mind a couple of cameras if it meant me having to live in a mansion. It’s not like the Real World on MTV where you do something embarrassing and it ends up on TV…I watch American Idol every week and I don’t see anything embarrassing/scandalous/etc going on…

    If my family was being given a mansion for a few weeks and they said that you had a 10pm curfew and there will be cameras I don’t think anyone in my family would object.

  4. Valensi says:

    They sound like a bunch of ungrateful little twits. I can understand the awkwardness of being seen at all times by a camera, but in reality, that’s just another aspect of being famous. At least those cameras don’t shout obscene questions at them about their younger sister’s alleged boob job.
    And I like how the article tactfully makes a specific reference to this fully-loaded mansion. I wouldn’t mind “loads of other amenities” in the least bit. And I wouldn’t be totally trashed for my performance the next morning, either!

  5. Hieronymus Grex says:

    They better get used to it, because if they actually become famous it’ll just get worse and their every move will be published, analyzed and criticized by sites like this one.

  6. yae says:

    Lina: Giving up privacy and freedom for a mansion? I’ll take my modest house and small garden and privacy. Surveillance is just one step away from being owned. IMHO

  7. astrocize says:

    oh, they have to stay in a virtual palace and be driven everywhere? aw. crap. I guess they have to wait until the contest ends to party like a winehouse. and isn’t drinking bad for your vocal chords anyway? those of us who actually have to work for our livelihoods tend to be in bed around 10 anyway so we don’t collapse on the job. try growing up, kids.

  8. for me, american idol this year is much better than the previous one.

  9. I just wanted to say thank you for such a great post. I’ll be visiting your blog again and adding you to my reader ! Thank you again :)

  10. It sucks that Jennifer Lopez couldn’t get to American Idol. It would are actually magnificent if she could have gotten there. Properly possibly she can get there next season.