The American Idol round 2 of Portland auditions took place this past Saturday and Sunday bringing the full panel of judges, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest to the Rose City!
Ever since the official announcement that JLo would be back for Season 12 of Idol, I have been on the edge of my seat. Things couldn’t be more perfect, My Idol in My City? Are you kidding me? The opportunity was too great to miss! – Turns out, I along with 4 lucky fans would be invited to hang out on set and share a moment with Jennifer!!
See pictures, watch press conference footage, and find all the details of our incredible experience after the jump!
We were asked to show up at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion Hotel at 2PM on Sunday. Here, we were to meet someone from the Idol crew who would escort us to The Place! As we reached the lobby we met with the ‘head of security’ and were immediately taken past the main lobby and down a hallway closed off to the public. He asks us to hang out for a bit, as they’d just broke [filming] for lunch.
It doesn’t take long to realize this area is exactly where the contestants walk out with, or without, the precious “golden ticket” to Hollywood! We’re close to the main ballroom and Idol staff is buzzing in and out of the doors in front of us. The other ladies in my group and I take a minute to touch up in the restroom nearby. We try to shake off the nerves that race through all of us! Knowing that I can share a moment like this with others, who admire Jennifer as well, is immensely huge to me – so, I reassure them that all will be well. That they should expect the unexpected, but above all, to enjoy the ride!
We walk back out to the hallway where we spot Jennifer’s ‘Glam Squad’ – fashion stylist, Rob Zangardi, hair stylist, Lorenzo Martin, and make-up artist, Mary Phillips making their way back from lunch and into the staging area. Not long after, we are told that it will be just a few more minutes, and that it may be a very short visit with Jennifer since they are gearing up for the press conference soon. Trying not to let this disappoint us, we opt to stay optimistic and determined to make the best out of our time here!
Next, we get a chance to chat with Rob Zangardi!
By now, he and Mariel Haeen, the other half of the ‘Rob&Mariel’ styling team, are well aware of the love we have for their work with Jennifer over the past year – and this isn’t a ‘fan’ only thing, the masses have fallen in love with Jennifer’s ‘Idol’ style! Blog posts and regular features on InStyle.com about Lopez’s outfits quickly became the norm after each Season 10 ‘American Idol’ episode.
It was such a pleasure to have a moment to chat with Rob about his Portland visit. He shared that he “LOVED” the food they had the night before at a restaurant near the hotel they stayed at, and that he really liked the city! Unfortunately, Mariel was not around for the visit; she is currently in Paris for Fashion Week.
Before posing for a picture with us, I couldn’t pass up sharing that, as a true devotee of JLo’s fashion style, I was wearing head-to-toe, Jennifer Lopez for Kohl’s collection! – Ha ha! I just had to!
[singlepic id=2181 w=320 h=240 float=center]
Things started happening VERY quickly after this! We are now asked to come into the ballroom – HERE WE GO!!!
We follow closely behind our escort, then he suddenly stops and asks us to hold on – it’s Ryan Seacrest! Ryan nods and walks past us. We are then lead into the waiting area where the Idol contestants eagerly await their time in front of the judges! We have a seat and wait a few more minutes. There is only a curtain separating us and the ‘Judges Lounge’!
Minutes later, Ryan walks back into the ballroom. I wave and motion him to come over. We hand him an issue of ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ featuring him and the Idol judges on the cover, which he graciously autographs. Meanwhile I ask, “How’s Portland looking?” He replies, “Good!” During our wait in the hallway, a security guard estimates 20 “golden tickets” have been given out today alone – definitely promising news!
[singlepic id=2182 w=320 h=240 float=center]
We thank Ryan and he walks towards the curtain area. Would you believe the Sharpie pens I bought the same day would act up and not write at that very moment? – UGH!
As we’re trying to figure out the pen situation, from behind the curtain walks out, Randy Jackson! He looks at us and yells out, “Fam!” We wave.
It doesn’t take long for him to come back to the ballroom. I motion him over and ask if we can have his autograph. His response, “Of course, are you kidding??” Then, says “Aww, you have a rose for me!” – AWKWARD!
SO sorry Randy the rose was for Jennifer! – I tell him that he’ll have to share it with Jen! He laughs.
[singlepic id=2180 w=320 h=240 float=center]
As he fights with the Sharpie pen, we hear Steven Tyler’s distinct voice drift out from behind the curtain. He’s calling out for Randy.
Earlier in the day I posted the following on Twitter:
Although we’d have no actual Steven ‘sighting’ – there was no mistaking that voice! So, I stand firm on my forecast – Ha!
Seconds later we’re motioned to follow our escort – IT IS TIME!
We hurry behind and follow past the area where the Idol hopefuls wait for their auditions before stepping onto the main stage and in front of the judges. The next room we go into is a huge open space scattered with lighting equipment, fold-up chairs, crates, and cables – we are now in the area ‘behind’ the Idol stage.
And standing in the back of this room is – JENNIFER LOPEZ!!
Her flared gold mini skirt immediately catches my eye, along with all her necklaces! She sparkles and glows standing next to a huge black curtain. She looks SO BEAUTIFUL standing there waving at us. So tiny and delicate, looking like a doll!
She yells out, “HellooooOOo!” Jen shakes each of our hands as we approach. I tell her I’ve brought some guys from ‘The Club’ – Beyond Beautiful that is. Her response fills me with joy, “Thank you… Thank you for all that you do!” She is so sincere in letting us know how appreciative she is of her JLOVE?RS and this website!
We’ve come prepared with a few goodies for her to sign. I pull out the magazine Ryan and Randy signed earlier. While she autographs a few things for us, I ask how the auditions are going, her reply: “Good! Very nice!” – How I wish I would have reminded her that this year’s ‘Best New Artist’ Grammy award winner, Esperanza Spalding, is FROM Portland, and that they should look out for the next winner here! Ahh! So, much to say, too little time!
I do make sure to tell her how good it is to finally have her in my hometown – later in the press conference she will confirm that this is her very first time in Portland! – She smiles big and says, “thank you for coming to see me!”
There is no denying that there is a rushed and tense vibe, Jen is ‘on the clock’ after all and the press is waiting in the next room. Then almost on cue Nigel Lythgoe, the show’s producer, comes storming through a door and shouts, “I NEED Jennifer!!” — Still, Jennifer makes sure to get to each of us!
Now it is picture time! We shuffle about and just as we are posed for a group picture there is NO ONE to take the shots. Jen signals her crew to get moving and help with the pictures. Two others, along with Nigel, grab the cameras and snap away.
Just as I thought we were done with the pictures, we’re asked to hold for ‘one last shot!’ – And we do. I notice this photo is taken with a Blackberry phone. I did not recognize this phone, and no one in our group had one except me, but mine was in my purse. This ‘last shot’ would make me wonder for moments long after we’re gone.
We say our “thank yous” to Jennifer and get a tight hug goodbye. We gather our stuff and make our way out. Then, inches past the front door I realize one thing; I have forgotten to give Jennifer the freshly picked long-stem rose I had for her! – FAIL!
So, Jennifer, if you noticed this rose in my hand and happened to wonder why I was carrying a rose around – just know it was for you!
We all head out to a Happy Hour spot to celebrate and recount the events of the last hours. It has been an emotion filled day! I listen to the others gush about what just happened. They can’t get over how much more beautiful Jen is in person and how sweet and welcoming she was to everyone even while under pressure to join the press conference. Everyone agrees that although short, it was an incredible experience. As we sit and look over all the photos, I get a text alert of a new tweet from Jennifer – my jaw promptly hits the floor!
The photo Jennifer has just tweeted is THE “last shot” photo I wondered about! This is HER photo and along with it, an incredibly sweet message pointing out a fact I didn’t have the chance to tell her directly – that I was wearing her Kohl’s collection!
Special thanks to Rob if you tipped her off! 😉
Check out footage from the press conference that took place following our meet & greet: