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'IDOL' MADNESS BEGINS

Thousands of people hoping to be the next Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson or Sanjaya Malakar lined up outside Qualcomm Stadium on Monday as auditions began for the seventh season of American Idol.

Some brought makeup kits, Starbucks cups filled with throat-clearing saltwater and even karaoke machines. Others came before dawn, armed with sleeping bags and pillows.

"Why wouldn't I get here early? My No. 1 goal is to be on the program," said Lonnie Beatty, 20, who spent the night on a trolley platform just outside the stadium grounds in order to be one of the first in line.

Producers said they expected more than 10,000 people to show up for their chance at stardom. Would-be contestants began lining up at 3 a.m. They had already spent hours in line over the weekend waiting to register for wristbands to get into the tryouts: neon yellow for singers, slate gray for supporters.

Show executives said they hoped to winnow the contestants down to between 300 and 500 for the second round.

Six more auditions are set in the coming weeks in Dallas; Omaha, Neb.; Atlanta; Charleston, S.C.; Miami; and Philadelphia. The show returns to the air in January.

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