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Syesha's Scrapbook: Deggans Tries His Hand at Photojournalism

Dscn0139 The Pulitzer committee doesn't need to be alerted just yet. But I had more fun -- and success-- than I expected shooting pictures of American Idol contestant Syesha Mercado's visit to the Tampa Bay area Friday.Dscn0140

Tracking the visit itself was like walking the Bataan Death March -- cruising to Tampa at 7 a.m., Sarasota by lunchtime, then back to St. Petersburg in rush hour traffic to hassle with the crowd at Tropicana Field so I could watch Syesha nail a national anthem she's sung at baseball games since she was 9 years old.

Dscn0147 A few things did stick out while I was shadowing the Last Woman Standing in TV's most popular singing contest:

-- Syesha pretty much admitted that she doesn't listen to the judges, telling reportersDscn0150 her vocal coaches have more impact on her creative decisions in the competition.

-- Syesha's dad Jose said he didn't mind the barbs directed his way by idol judge Simon Cowell because most of his criticisms are just a shtick, anyway.

Dscn0170 -- Idol is still a phenomenon, and huge draw locally for WTVT-Ch. 13. Still, it was a little surprising to see the amount of news resources the station devoted to covering her visit, including two remote trucks and their helicopter.

-- Sarasota's 70-year-old mayor, Lou Ann Palmer, reportedly did three handstands lastDscn0177 Tuesday, during a massive Idol party hosted by an area radio station at Mattison's restaurant.

-- When Palmer failed to hold a handstand on her first try during Mercado's visit to the Ringling Museum, the mayor cracked "I pulled a Brooke," in referenced to ejected Idol Dscn0182 Brooke White, who had two false starts while competing on the show.

-- Reality was rarely good enough for idol's camera crew; Mercado had to redo her entrance at WTVT twice and redo her departure from the stations three times beforeDscn0192 they got the footage the producer wanted. Palmer had to say the name of the song Randy Jackson picked for Syesha to sing Tuesday four times before she got it right. 

Dscn0194Here's a host of photos from my time Friday. Click on any photo to see an enlarged, more detailed display.Dscn0221

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:46pm]


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