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Fans sing praises of American Idol

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POSTED January 14, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Brandy Perkins settled into her seat at the AMC Showplace cinema and picked a single piece of popcorn out of the American Idol-branded container sitting in her lap.

She’s been a fan of the show for years, drawing extra excitement about the way that Fox has reworked the judges for the upcoming season – the popular singing competition’s 13th – and the much-publcized lead-up to the premiere next month.

But the Lathrop resident has another reason to be a fan – her brother is one of the contestants.

Along with a handful of other superfans, Perkins got the chance to catch a behind-the-scenes preview at the Manteca Theater Tuesday afternoon. The event was sponsored by Sacramento-affiliate Fox 40. Perkins said she would likely have put in her RSVP regardless, but knowing that her brother Rico has a chance to win it all definitely changes the way she looks at the talent contest.

“He’s down at the premiere at UCLA right now,” she said, making sure that her four-year-old son stayed as wiggle-free as possible before the show started. “He’s so talented, and we’ve been saying that this is just his time – he’s tried to get on the show before but they told him, ‘no.’

“Now each time he would go before the producers or the judges he heard the word ‘yes’ and we’ll get the chance to see him performing on television. It’s kind of surreal. It’s been very exciting for our entire family.”

Alex Sanchez said that he sped all the way from Modesto to make sure that he got there right when the doors opened. The last thing he wanted to do was forsake prime theater real estate and the chance to get an early dose of a competition that he’s watched since the very beginning.

Much to his chagrin, seating was ample.

Sanchez said that he was somewhat hurt when he found out that R&B superstar Nicki Minaj wouldn’t be on the show this season – he’s traveled to see her perform in concern on her own, and drove down to LA last year for the season finale – but that it wouldn’t keep from watching.

The auditions, he said, are his favorite part.

“I like the judging, but it’s the early stuff that I like the most,” he said, clutching the American Idol popcorn container in his hand as a souvenir of the event. “I thought there would be more people here, but the show is in its 13th season. That’s okay though – I’m just happy to be here.”

Katie Kafton said she drove all the way from Linden to see the reformatted judging panel, which did away with Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj for Jennifer Lopez (again) and Harry Connick Jr. Australian country singer Keith Urban will return, and to hopefully see the framework of another country star like Scotty McCreery get laid down early in the competition.

“I’ve liked all of the seasons, and I definitely like the fact that Nicki Minaj is gone as a judge,” she said over the objection of her daughter. “I love JLo and Keith Urban as well. I just like the show.”

Those that RSPVd in time got the opportunity send questions in to show host Ryan Seacrest at the end of the session via Twitter for an interactive fan experience. Tuesday’s presentation aired in 20 cities nationwide.

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