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Relief efforts halt ‘Idol’ auditions in Memphis

Producers cancel so city officials can focus attention on helping victims
/ Source: The Associated Press

Auditions for “American Idol” scheduled for Monday have been canceled, with producers citing the extensive Hurricane Katrina relief efforts being coordinated in the city.

Fox publicist Alex Gillespie said the auditions planned at the FedEx Forum won’t be rescheduled so the city “can focus public safety efforts on the victims.”

Auditions are still scheduled for Denver on Sept. 11 and Chicago on Sept. 16. The next season of “American Idol” will begin in January 2006.

Paul Sloan, vice president of creative services at local Fox affiliate WHBQ-TV, said producers made the decision Thursday afternoon. He said he raised the idea of coordinating the auditions with a fundraiser for victims, but it was ruled out.

“Obviously we’re disappointed like everyone is,” Sloan told The Commercial Appeal. “But I think everyone would agree that we didn’t want to do some happy ‘Hey look “American Idol” has come to town!’ while covering hurricane victims.”

City officials estimate more than 10,000 Katrina evacuees are in the Memphis area, staying at hotels or with friends or relatives.

Producers said they hoped auditions could return to Memphis next season. Another audition city for this season will be announced shortly.