- Associated Press - Monday, July 26, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ashley Taylor knows the drill. In her third shot at TV stardom, the 27-year-old LaRose, La., resident stood serenely amid the nervous twitter of thousands of American Idol hopefuls lined up for auditions Monday.

“I’m not nervous at all this time,” the petite blonde said. “I am just concentrated on what I have to do to stand out. I know the drill now.”

Mrs. Taylor made it to the fourth round in her last audition.

Mrs. Taylor’s husband, Joshua, a commercial fisherman who has been out of work because of the BP oil spill, stood beside her holding a sign saying the oil spill had killed their way of life, “please don’t kill Ashley’s dream.”

For many of the thousands lined up around the Superdome, their only touch of fame came early as television crews and American Idol cameras worked the crowd.

Courtney Jovan, 22, who had been standing where the line formed since midnight, traveled from Ft. Walton, Fla., to audition. Before she got inside a television crew had her belt out several verses of Chrisette Michele’s “Blame it on Me” for their morning show.

“I have been singing all my life,” Ms. Jovan said. “It’s just in me.”

Mardi Gras masks were popular with the would-be stars.

Autumn Jones, 18, who drove 10 hours from Boiling Springs, S.C. for the auditions, wore purple and silver mask and beads.

“Purple is my favorite color,” said Ms. Jones, who planned to sing “Purple Rain.”

More than 6,000 people had registered to audition by 6 a.m., said supervising producer Patrick Lynn.

“We don’t have a quota,” Mr. Lynn said. “But probably about 100 people will move on from here.”

The last time American Idol held auditions in New Orleans was just before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Mr. Lynn said.

All contestants would get a chance to audition, Mr. Lynn said. Producers would decide who returned for a second round of auditions later, which is judged by executive producers.

The show’s main judges — including Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres — visit during a third round, which is expected in late August or September.

Talent was everywhere, Cody Joe Tillman, of Dallas said. Tillman, who made it to the third round of “America’s Got Talent,” said the song is not as important as people think.

“The main thing you need to know is how to play the game,” Mr. Tillman said. “You gotta given them all the stuff they want besides the song.”