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Potential ‘Idol’ contestants audition in line at United Center

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Updated: July 10, 2012 5:11PM

Thousands of “American Idol” hopefuls will try out for the TV show at the United Center on Thursday. But the auditions have already started, even before they belt out their first note.

“See that African-American woman over there, the one in the sunglasses?” asks “Idol” senior supervising producer Patrick Lynn on Tuesday morning, as he walks alongside the line of potential contestants waiting to register for this week’s auditions. “I like her look. Confident. She stands out.”

Lynn also likes the energy emanating from a bubbly girl in a polka dot dress. A Justin Bieber look-alike catches his attention, too. Lynn spots a mother and daughter in line together and speculates they might have an interesting story.

“What people don’t realize is we have producers walking up and down the line all the time, and we’re always talking to each other about what we’re seeing,” said Lynn, who’s been with the show since it started 12 seasons ago.

Armed with Flip video cameras and a keen eye for that “it” factor, Lynn and his team have been known to approach “Idol” wannabes before they sing in front of producers for the first round of auditions. They’ll record their names and faces and keep an eye out for them as they make their way through the cattle call.

“We’re looking for people that are outgoing, people that don’t shy away from the camera,” he said. “If I see somebody that’s got a crowd of people around them, I’m going to pay attention to that.”

An estimated 10,000-plus people are expected to register Tuesday and Wednesday for the chance to audition Thursday for season 12 of the popular TV show. Probably 300 to 500 will advance to the next round of auditions. That group will be winnowed down to around 120 who will get a shot to sing in front of the celebrity judges later this summer.

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