At the 'American Idol 3' auditions
Disappointment, thrills and a lot of waiting
By Meriah Doty
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Laine Chiszar said she slept on the floor two nights in a row waiting for the opportunity to sing in front of "American Idol" producers.
"It was a lot of effort for 10 seconds of auditioning. ... I got really sick from cigarette smoke because I'm allergic to it and everyone was smoking there," the young woman said Wednesday.
A reported 5,000-plus people showed up at Atlanta's Georgia Dome with the hope of receiving a golden ticket to fame at the "American Idol 3" auditions.
And like the hopefuls who gathered at chocolate maker Willy Wonka's gate in the 1971 film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," the kids came in droves, all with stars in their eyes.
"I just want to get noticed. I want to be seen. I wanna be on TV!" April Burnhart exclaimed.
Twenty-four-year-old Janine Davis from Phenix City, Alabama, said, "I have the ambition and the determination to be a star." She sang Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" from "The Bodyguard" soundtrack.
Some people made the cut at initial "American Idol 3" auditions. Most did not.
Making friends, having fun
Kimberly Smith, who didn't make it, stuck around with her new friend, Naquan Williams. The two, who both appeared to be in their early 20s, met during a two-day campout that preceded Wednesday's auditions.
"[We slept] right next to each other. Had a nice time. Ate together. She partied," Williams said.
"He's coming back. I'm a reject. Just kidding," Smith added with a giggle.
But she was a good sport. "There was a lot of competition here. Everybody's so good, and everybody can't make it. I don't regret it. It was a fun experience. I'd do it all over again."
Williams, who was anticipating round two, said, "The nervousness is over. This morning I was really nervous."
The process, as Williams understood it, would continue through the week in Atlanta. "It's three [rounds] here, and the fourth one is in California. Just 30 [people] make it to California. That's when Paula [Abdul], Simon [Cowell] and Randy [Jackson] will be judging us."
Those who made it to the second round received a neon-pink piece of paper.
One seemingly exhausted girl sat holding her pink paper, which coincidentally complemented a few of her hair extensions. The diva-to-be declined to be interviewed, the only person asked who turned down the opportunity.
Others were happier to talk, if jittery. Kassy Kelly made it to the next round, but she admitted being anxious. "Nerve-racking. Big time," she said of the audition experience.
"It was an experience of a lifetime though. It was fun," Kelly said. "I'm nervous now for tomorrow [Thursday]. We have to be there at 8 a.m. in the morning, and we'll be there all day."
Tired moms show support
If most teens and twentysomethings seemed happy to share their experiences, their mothers were less captivated by the anxiety and endless waits, even if they wanted to support their children.
"I've been here since 7 o'clock this morning, and it has not been very fun. It's been very tiresome," said Margie McBee, accompanying her daughter.
"The reason why I'm here is because I have a family who loves my daughter very much, and it was under their concern that she attempt this because she has such a beautiful voice," McBee said.
Added a haggard Yolanda Foy, "I got here last night. ... We slept sitting up. I haven't had a lot of sleep.
"My daughter dragged me down here. She has a calling. This is her dream. I just want to fulfill her dream. I just said, 'Let's go.' "