Five thousand seekers of fame and fortune camped out on Wall Street Thursday morning and braved temperatures in the '30s for a chance to appear on the second edition of the Fox television show "American Idol."
The producers held a cattle call at the Regent Wall Street Hotel, and would-be songbirds and belters began to line up Tuesday morning for a chance to follow in the footsteps of the first "Idol" champion, ex-cocktail waitress Kelly Clarkson.
Shawn Roberts, 22, came to New York City from Bowie, Md., on Tuesday and received a wristband that held a spot in the auditions. He said he would wow the judges with a rendition of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."
Visions of fat royalty checks aren't Robert's chief motivation.
"I want to sing professionally, that's it," he said. "Sure, the money would be a perk."
Clarkson, a 20-year-old Texan, received a $1-million recording contract and is now on a nationwide tour with other "Idol" finalists.
Justin Guarini, who placed second on "Idol," began with a New York tryout last year.
"Idol" senior producer David Goffin said the first 1,800 wannabes, ages 16 to 24, were given wristbands for tryouts Thursday, today and Saturday. More than 3,000 were turned away.
Some of the 1,800 will be selected to meet with producers on Sunday, Goffin said, and if they pass muster, will show their talent to judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell on Monday.
The next "Idol" installment will begin on Fox at the end of January.
Michael J. Woods is a staff writer at Newsday, a Tribune company.