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'Idols' on the road: We catch up with Michael Johns, in advance of Wednesday night's show at Arco Arena
[July 06, 2008]

'Idols' on the road: We catch up with Michael Johns, in advance of Wednesday night's show at Arco Arena

(Sacramento Bee, The (CA) (KRT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jul. 6--It's been more than six weeks since Season 7 of "American Idol" wrapped, with rocker David Cook -- in what some dubbed a shocker -- taking the title over teen crooner David Archuleta.

Since then, deals have been signed, and the "Idol" Top 10 have conversed with Larry King and Ellen DeGeneres, gone to Vegas, gone home, taken copious amounts of vitamins and caught up on their sleep.

But hey, it's time for a wake-up call.

The "American Idols Live" summer tour began Tuesday, and buses carrying the 10 finalists will roll into Sacramento for a 7 p.m. show Wednesday at Arco Arena. More than 10,000 fans are expected to pack the venue.

There's no hangover from the finale. In fact, those who say "Idol" has lost its luster should note that it was the No. 1-rated show for its entire run this season, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Sure, viewership dipped from the previous season (anywhere from 5 percent to 10 percent, depending on the week), but who's gonna turn up their nose at 28 million viewers?

Ticket sales for the tour have been brisk. The first two shows -- in Glendale, Ariz., and San Diego -- already appear to be sellouts.

It doesn't hurt that this season's "cast" is definitely deeper than last year's. And the "Battle of the Davids" put an intense spotlight on the show.

So to whet your "Idol" appetite, I spoke to finalist and Aussie fave Michael Johns just as rehearsals ended in Burbank and the finalists headed to Arizona to prepare for their first show.

Q: So how crazy has it been since the finale on May 21?

A: It's been fun, good fun. I've been doing so much -- Ellen DeGeneres, Regis and Kelly. I've sung with the "David Foster and Friends" show in Las Vegas that featured Michael Buble, Josh Groban and Brian McKnight. It was all honoring David's career in music.

Q: If there's any down time, what are you and the other "Idol" finalists doing?

A: Trying to stay healthy! We're really excited about singing for the fans who got us here, who put us on the map. I've also been in the studio writing and recording.

Q: The show has been fully choreographed and designed. What can we expect -- without giving too much away?

A: All 10 of us get to sing three or four songs. And there will be the medleys, of course. It will be like 10 mini-concerts in one. We have a good time. And, of course, they don't call me the "dance machine" for nothing.

Q: On the "Larry King Live" show, you were voted the "class clown" of this season. Is that a different version of the Michael Johns than the one we saw on "American Idol"?

A: There are two "me's." I'm actually laid back, but when I'm behind the microphone, it's all about the singing.

Q: Any restrictions on what you guys can perform on tour? Any other changes from last season?

A: No. We don't have to get everything cleared. We'll sing songs from the show and others the fans haven't heard. Trust me, there will be a wide range of music. And we're getting away from the costumes. There will be two changes -- one for the first half, one for the finale. There's a seven-piece band and backup singers. It's pretty unbelievable.

Q: Will your wife make it to some of the shows?

A: Definitely. Especially the cool cities with great shopping: Chicago, New York. The cities that are "hometowns" for me will be Atlanta and Fort Worth (Texas).

Q: How are the 10 of you dealing with all the media attention?

A: Fine. The most important thing is to get enough sleep, because we've got a chance to play in front of 10,000 people for 12 weeks. Not many professional bands have that opportunity.

Q: Have you heard any news about how the shows are selling nationwide?

A: I heard it's way better than last year. But it's hard, with the gas prices and the economy. I hope people will come, because it's well worth the money. And in particular for the Midwest folks, we'd like to show them some fun because of all they've been through with the floods. From what I hear, there are four or five shows in the New York area alone. Radio and TV stations say the tickets are really selling well.

Q: Any deals in the works for you?

A: For me, personally, if I look back at the chances I've had and the labels that have folded (before "Idol"), I'm 28 and I have another shot at a career in music. With "Idol," I can't get on a bigger platform. It's a huge honor.


WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Arco Arena

TICKETS: $37.75-$66.75 at or the Arco Arena box office, (916) 928-0000


OK, so there's no rest for the weary. The "American Idols" tour is under way just as the search for their replacements begins. Auditions for Season 8 will be held across the country, starting July 17 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

Interested? You can go to for more information. Here are the rest of the audition stops:

--July 21: Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky.

--July 25: Arena in Phoenix.

--July 29: Energy- Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City

--Aug. 2: Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico (a first!)

--Aug. 8: Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

--Aug. 13: Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.

--Aug. 19: IZOD Center at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J.

--Leigh Grogan

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