The Sixth Season of 'American Idol' Premieres on Fox

The Auditions were held in the following cities:

Pasadena, California (billed as the Los Angeles auditions during the broadcast): Rose Bowl - August 6
San Antonio, Texas: Alamodome - August 11
East Rutherford, New Jersey (billed as the New York City auditions during the broadcast): Continental Airlines Arena - August 14
Birmingham, Alabama: Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex - August 21
Memphis, Tennessee: FedEx Forum - September 3
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Target Center - September 8
Seattle, Washington: KeyArena - September 19

Auditioning contestants were required to be between the ages 16 and 28 on August 6, 2006 (born between August 7, 1977 and August 6, 1990).

Structure of auditions

Auditions for the show were held in the seven cities shown above. As reported in The Los Angeles Daily News, the 2006 process was especially difficult: the 10,000 or so contestants waited in long lines, then were herded before two young assistant producers and given roughly 15 seconds to perform one song. At that point the large majority of them were summarily rejected.

Survivors of the first phase were typically seen then by Idol's executive producers, and only if surviving that cut (because they were especially good and fit what Idol was looking for, or especially bad in some novel way) were seen by Cowell, Abdul, and Jackson. The contestants then had one chance to impress the judges by singing a song of their choice a cappella. Then the judges each gave the contestant either a "Yes" or a "No" to continue to the next round. If the contestant received a majority of yeses, the contestant received a "golden ticket" and qualified for the "Hollywood Rounds". If rejected, the contestant returned home.

Many of the people who auditioned had trouble with the double doors, with many often going towards the wrong door on their way out; this was spoofed by Idol later in the season with "audition footage" featuring Tony Bennett. This did not seem to be a problem for the seventh season as both doors were accessible.