Idol gossip 

What does it take to bring 3,000 starry-eyed teens downtown to camp on the streets in the freezing cold, where annoying little Barbara Mandrells competed (all night) to see who could offer up the best rendition of Aretha hits? Hint: It looked like an ’80s queue for Michael Jackson tickets.

The answer, apparent to anyone who ventured near a television set this summer, is the Fox television network and its new “American Idol” talent search. The only Midwest tryout for the show’s second go-round was held Monday at Detroit’s Atheneum Hotel, around the corner from Metro Times’ world headquarters. Some 1,500 early birds were accepted by early Monday, according to a survey of stragglers, who informed us that another 1,000 hopefuls were turned away.

OK, so we didn’t exactly need to hear hundreds of Britney wannabes mangling “Amazing Grace” at 6:30 in the a.m., but we concede hosting the event was a good thing for image-conscience Detroit.

“I probably wouldn’t have come down here alone, to tell you the truth,” says Lauren Holcomb, 19, of Macomb Township, who ventured here in support of her cousin.

But Holcomb was apparently won over. She says she’ll come back when she’s old enough to gamble. When she does, News Hits intends to mug her.

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