Reality Check: Welcome to Hollywood

So we made it through the first round of "American Idol" auditions, which means that all the people who thought “You’re coming to Hollywood” might be the last words they’d hear before their imminent stardom had their dreams shattered all across the Orpheum Theater.

When the judges sent home six decent-sounding hopefuls but OK'd saucy Shakira-wannabe Perla — who’s actually more reminiscent of Charo than of the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer — you knew we were going to be witnessing some incomprehensible decision-making, or at least some serious drama.

Surprisingly, we didn’t get it from Ashlyn — the beautiful girl who seems to lead a dramatic life even compared to Paula Abdul — because she was sent home without incident.

Luckily, there were plenty of other drama-providers, such as Matt, a baby-faced boy whose mother’s love seemed to be wholly dependent on how he was doing in the competition, and Nicole, who after capitulating to her mom in her song choice and getting sent home brought Mom into the auditorium to help explain the situation to the disinterested judges.

Is it me or has the “American Idol” soundstage replaced the therapist’s couch as the place to work out family dysfunction?

The real excitement, unsurprisingly, came from the group auditions. Watching people pick groups on reality TV is always going to provide a combo platter of hurt feelings and evil behavior, and someone’s always going to end up on the outs.

In this case, there were lots of someones on the outs, including Perla, who seemed to irritate her entire quadrant by being tone-deaf (though, really the three should have taken that up with the judges and not with little Charo, who was, if you think about it, simply an innocent victim here).

Even more cutthroat, however, was the power struggle that went on among Antonella, Amanda and Baylie. While Antonella and Amanda went into the competition as best friends, it looked like that status surely would change when the three girls struggled to find cohesion and Amanda flirted with the boys instead of practicing.

But then Baylie blew it during the audition by apparently forgetting every last word she was supposed to sing and the best friends were attached at the hip again.

Amanda even went so far as to snottily speculate that they’d made it and Baylie hadn’t because “God likes good people” — a statement that seemed especially apropos when she was cut later in the show.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins. E-mail her at

"American Idol" airs on FOX, which is owned by the parent company of

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