Potential patrons in search of stars at the Adler Planetarium have been out of luck for the last couple days, as the "American Idol" entourage took over the museum in search of their own kind of star.
The show has previously discovered finalists like Jennifer Hudson and Crystal Bowersox in Chicago, and based on judges' comments at a Wednesday press conference, the group likes its chances to find another phenom from the city. Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Ryan Seacrest were all on hand for the conference, sitting pretty in a glass-cased wing of the building, overlooking a view of the skyline that Seacrest called "incredible."
Jackson was the first to rave about the city, saying they had two amazing days of auditions: "It's really been quite an 'Idol' sort of time here in Chicago."
The new judges said the stories that the contestants offered struck them as much as most of the voices that sang their way across the stage. Both Carey and Urban said performers had left them in tears.
"I was literally in tears today. I think it's been a pretty emotional couple of days. The stories are beyond belief, and there are some amazing voices," Carey said. "So it's not just like oh, stories, great, and then you can't sing."
Urban said he became very emotional when a 20-something performer brought his parents in the room to hear him sing for the first time. Since he said his parents always supported him, it was "beautiful to see his parents watching him sing."
Minaj agreed that "Chicago brought their A-game," but Jackson pressed her for an odder, autographical anecdote.
"Nicki has signed a lot of autographs today," he said, before Minaj elaborated on her encounter with one woman and her breast autograph request.
"Tat's not the first boob I've signed. I sign lots of boobs," she said. "I sign left and right boobs, and that one was a really nice boob."
That was TMI for Randy, who let out a "whoa!" as Minaj continued. When the conversation veered back toward the city, the judges had a pretty simple reason for returning to Chicago.
Jackson said, "The deep-dish pizza."
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