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 .