Music Student Could Be Next "American Idol"

Thousands of people wish they were in music major Joshua Reiff's shoes this week as he travels to California to begin taping the Fox television program‚ "American Idol 2." The reality TV contest auditions singers around the country to compete for a $1 million recording contract. More than 1‚500 people auditioned for the show; fewer than 100 have been selected for the trip to California.

Georgia (Dec 9, 2002) — Thousands of people wish they were in music major Joshua Reiff's shoes this week as he travels to California to begin taping the Fox television program‚ "American Idol 2." The reality TV contest auditions singers around the country to compete for a $1 million recording contract. More than 1‚500 people auditioned for the show; fewer than 100 have been selected for the trip to California.



Reiff‚ who is more accustomed to the Broadway and classical styles generally studied by vocal majors‚ wasn't sure he should try out for the pop−focused show. However‚ in years past‚ he had performed at Six Flags Over Georgia with vocalist Ejay Day‚ who was one of the 10 finalists during this summer's "American Idol" contest.



"Ejay told me I should do it‚" Reiff says. Reiff decided his Broadway background could work well on some Motown classics and he began preparing for the Atlanta auditions. He had one other problem‚ though — a few too many pounds. All of the finalists this summer were sleek and beautiful‚ so Reiff started working on that‚ too. He dropped 35 pounds before his audition and another 25 since.



On the first night of the Atlanta auditions‚ Reiff sat outside all night. Then he sang The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud" for the show's producer. Then‚ he sang Marvin Gay's "I Heard it through the Grapevine" for the executive producer‚ before finally getting his shot in front of "American Idol 2" celebrity judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson.



"It was a bit intimidating‚" Reiff says‚ perhaps because the show's third judge Paula Abdul‚ renowned for being nice to contestants‚ wasn't there.



Jackson said he was impressed with Reiff. "You're one of the best we've seen all day‚" he told him.



But Cowell‚ who has earned a reputation for his downright nasty comments to singers‚ pulled no punches. "You could stand to lose some weight."



Reiff didn't let the curmudgeonly Brit intimidate him. "They were going to cut me until I told them how much I'd already lost."



Now‚ Reiff is in L.A. preparing for an emotionally and vocally grueling few weeks. If he's lucky‚ he'll miss the holidays and his January birthday (he'll be 22) as the contestant pool narrows down for the show's Jan. 21 premiere.



"Luck" is a two−edged sword‚ though. Succeeding in the competition means missing another once−in−a−lifetime experience: the birth of his son Joshua Lawson Reiff Jr.‚ due on Jan. 13.



"I didn't know what to do‚" Reiff says‚ but his new wife Melissa urged him not to pass up the opportunity. If her support counts for anything‚ she and Little Josh will watch him make it big and‚ maybe‚ fly out for the show's finale.



"It's a shot in the dark‚" Reiff says. "It's up to the judges whether I make it to the top 30. After that‚ the public votes and you can't control what they want."



You can follow the show's progress online at www.idolonfox.com.





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