American Idol
Auditions: New Jersey

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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James Franco in the Mouth Area

Imagine, if you will, the combination of one of the cinema films from the Saw franchise with a really long trailer for an Iron Man movie, and maybe you will understand the grave import of what Ryan is about to tell you. After a whole blissfully short summer, full of breakups and makeups and Paula Abdul starting shows or a donkey farm, Ellen DeGeneres having a nice glass of pinot with Camille Grammer.

And then Ryan Seacrest, Mr. Hough as they call him, gets everybody -- all of us; I am there, you are there, too -- into this dark stadium somewhere, Beatlemania running down our faces, staining our clothes, and says the most important thing we are likely to hear in our lifetimes. The frantic not-knowing of the crowd, scratching at their clothes and pulling on their hair and the hair of their nearest compatriots, desperate to know! Who are the new judges of this show? And then with much ado, he reveals the answer:

RANDY JACKSON.

And I mean pandemonium. With a capital puke. The screaming that you can do when they say his name, well you wouldn't believe it until you are standing there, in the heat of the crowd. Our beloved fuckin' Randy. And so but who will be joining the Dawg in ushering in a newer more transparent era of the dark machinations behind this show? Only the standard-bearer of legitimacy in all its forms, late of the Block and the 6, only that person so much less ridiculous and so much more real than Ellen herself, that person to whom being legit is -- memorably -- just "like breathing"...

JENNIFER LOPEZ.

One lady walked right up a motherfucking wall. It was like gravity was nothing. It was like she was wearing magic Louboutins. Up a wall like Lionel Richie was in charge, flipped herself over, trotted right back to screaming like Oprah was taking her to Australia. No big deal. And then when you're still reeling, pomp gushing from one ear and circumstance shooting from under your fingernails...

STEVEN TYLER.

A poodle gave itself a makeover. Typewriters all over the country got stuck going !!!!!!!!!!!! and then a breath and then !!!!!!!!!!!!, just like that, for a long, long time. Arctic shelves and the sides of glaciers pinched their noses closed and dropped out into space, crashing into the waves below, screaming his name. Isaiah Washington called up T.R. Knight and they went out for a soda pop, talking about Aerosmith well into the night.

Then the three of them, with gleeful Ryan standing by, made a human pyramid and then began a slow acrobatic show. Steven ascendant, hitting screechy notes and looking like something a drug-addicted baboon coughed up and flinging scarves; Jennifer Lopez tossed up into the moonlight like a diamond-bright jewel; Randy Jackson doing some kind of cake-mixer move with his arms, over in the corner. Doing the Hustle. Jennifer Lopez quickly uncoiled a rope and somehow, I couldn't see the wires, climbed up it, unsupported as it was, into the sky.

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American Idol

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