'American Idol' ousts Hollywood hopefuls and Symone Black drops
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/09/2012
The American Idol dream came to an end for dozens of the season's 309 Hollywood Week hopefuls during Wednesday night's Fox broadcast of the week's initial elimination round.
The contestants were split into two groups that performed for American Idol judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson over the first two days of Hollywood Week. Each hopeful was allowed to give a single a capella performance, after which the judges decided whether they would advance to the week's subsequent group round.
Sixty-eight contestants were cut by the end of Day 1 -- including Heather Youmans, a 19-year-old performer from Vista, CA; Sascha Julian, an 18-year-old student from Tacoma, WA; Candice Russell, a 19-year-old teacher's assistant from Tualatin, OR; Travis Orlando, an unemployed 18-year-old from Bronx, NY; and Jenny Schick a 24-year-old elementary school music teacher from Sterling, VA.
In addition, Johnny Keyser, a 23-year-old server from Fort Lauderdale, FL; Heejun Han, a 22-year-old non-profit organizer from Flushing, NY; Elise Testone, a 28-year-old vocal coach and musician from Charleston, SC; Baylie Brown, a 21-year-old nanny from Krum, TX; Hallie Day, a 24-year-old waitress from Baltimore, MD; Jen Hirsh, a 25-year-old winery employee from Agoura Hills, CA; and Lauren Gray, a 23-year-old waitress and musician from Hardy, AR, were also shown advancing to the next round.
However, the most eventful drama seemed to occur during Day 2 when Symone Black, a 16-year-old student from Rancho Cucamonga, CA, appeared to faint and fall offstage after performing her rendition of Otis Redding's "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay" for the judges.
Following her performance, Jackson asked the young vocalist why she chose to sing that particular song, and Black told him she wanted to "reach out to an older crowd -- an older audience" while grabbing her hair with her free hand.
Once Jackson cracked a joke about Black believing the judges were old, she blurted out a "no" in response and then began wobbling towards the front of the stage until she fell off the platform entirely in front of the judges' table. A cameraman appeared to dive out in attempt to catch the singer.
American Idol's Wednesday night broadcast concluded with show staffers rushing to Black's side on the theater floor, leaving viewers to wait until tonight's episode to find out her status and fate in the competition.
Numerous other members of the Day 2 contestant group were shown advancing to the next round prior to Black's collapse -- including Adam Brock, a 27-year-old creative arts director from Washington, PA; Shannon Magrane, a 16-year-old student from Tampa, FL; David Leathers, Jr., a 17-year-old student from Fayetteville, NC; Jessica Phillips, a 26-year-old receptionist from Brooklyn, NY; Angie Zeiderman, a 25-year-old waitress from Delray Beach, FL; Brittany Kerr, a 24-year-old NBA dancer from Charlotte, NC; Erika Van Pelt, a 26-year-old Mobile DJ and wedding singer from South Kingstown, RI; Creighton Fraker, a 28-year-old starving artist from Queens, NY; and Aaron Marcellus, a 27-year-old music teacher from Atlanta, GA.
In addition, Jane Carrey -- the 24-year-old daughter of Hollywood star Jim Carrey -- was shown getting cut during the Day 2 auditions.
"[Hollywood Week] is going to be extremely dramatic especially because of all the passing out. It really is. Where I sit -- I was right by Symone Black, who was the girl who fell off the stage, and it was almost like slow motion," Lythgoe explained.
"And when I watch it back -- because the cameras weren't expecting it, we just caught it on a wide angle, unfortunately -- it was like whoever was asleep on his camera went, 'Where did that girl go?' She just disappears below the frame."
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"But when she dropped, I watched myself walking towards the body as it were in slow motion, and the cameraman watched it happen just below the stage. She wobbled. She literally -- you see her wobble and her eyes drop into the back of her head and she falls," he added.
"The cameraman, bless him, tries to dive to catch her because he's on the floor on his knees, and he doesn't get there and knocks his camera -- it falls on top of him. So, it's a complete -- 'Oh my God! This is terrible!' I'm shouting for medics and it's scary, to be frank."