Oklahoma City's thriving downtown and Boathouse District will be featured for an audience of millions on Season 12 of “American Idol.” The show premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Fox.
In July, the show held auditions in the city for the first time, and an estimated 10,000 hopefuls came to audition at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Ryan Seacrest and the production crew of “Idol” narrowed the thousands to hundreds.
Callbacks were held in October and November in Oklahoma City's Boathouse District.
“The boathouse is wonderful isn't it? It's terrific,” said Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of “American Idol” in a media conference call. “Some very, very good talent, which we were pleased with. Oklahoma City was nothing how I imagined it.”
Mike Knopp, executive director of the OKC Boathouse Foundation, said the crew seemed very impressed with what they saw in Oklahoma City.
“They really wanted to have a very unique and iconic facility to showcase Oklahoma City and something that would look good on TV,” Knopp said. He was present during much of the filming in the Boathouse District.
This week's episodes of “Idol” will primarily focus on auditions in New York and Chicago. The show will continue on Wednesdays and Thursdays through Jan. 31 featuring auditions in Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Long Beach, New Orleans, and San Antonio.
Season 12's “Idol” judges came to the city for the Nov. 8 and 9 callbacks. Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban were filmed judging Oklahoma talent in the Ann Lacy Event Center at the Devon Boathouse.
Seeing the caliber of talent and production “American Idol” brought to Oklahoma City was impressive to Knopp.
“I think it was one more of those affirming moments. Who would have thought 10 years ago when there was no water in the river that we'd have superstars in the boathouses filming one of the top shows in television.”
Knopp said he's amazed at how far the Oklahoma City has come in such a short time, thanks to the investments of the public through the MAPS taxes and corporate and private sponsors.
“This is where you start to see what an incredible payout this is going to be for the city in the kind of exposure that we're going to receive.”
Who would have thought 10 years ago when there was no water in the river that we'd have superstars in the boathouses filming one of the top shows in television.”
Executive director of the OKC Boathouse Foundation