It won't be of any help to anyone hoping to compete on next season's American Idol 5, but Idol's FremantleMedia production company announced yesterday that it has signed an American Idol 6 licensing deal that will allow a media and event company to conduct an additional optional round of 500-person Idol 6 open casting call auditions in fifty cities across the country.

Having already recently reached an agreement to license the rights for an online version of American Idol, FremantleMedia has now partnered with Glowcast Ventures to create The Idol Auditions Tour. Scheduled to launch in August 2006 take place at local malls and similar sites around the country, each of The Idol Auditions Tour's fifty stops will give up to 500 qualified American Idol 6 contestants the right to perform live in front of passersby. Glowcast anticipates that the tour will allow about 20,000 additional contestants to audition for American Idol 6.

While Idol judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul are not expected to be present at the new tour tryouts, the same types of casting folks that determine which of the tens of thousands of singers that attend each of American Idol's 6-8 traditional regional audition stops get to perform in front of the judges will be at the tour stops. And based on their decisions, the winners of each local tour stop will "fast-tracked" directly to one of the regional audition stop's later rounds.

Although Glowcast's announcement of tour cited the desire to improve the contest pool's quality and bring the tryouts closer to applicants who couldn't afford to travel to one of American Idol's normal regional audition stops, the media company's motivations are obviously not completely altruistic. While the tryouts themselves will be free, the tour will also feature fan-friendly experiences and interactive exhibits presented by various tour sponsors.

In the meantime however, the show's traditional mass cattle call tryouts will be the only audition option available to contestants interested in competing on next season's American Idol 5. Although the audition dates for Idol 5's regional tryouts have also yet to be announced, the auditions are scheduled to be held in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Memphis, and San Diego.