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American Idol auditions in Galveston are all about JLo: Lopez outshines Seacrest, Tyler & Co.

News_NEW HEAD SHOT_Heather Staible
News_American Idol_judges_Jennifer Lopez
With the Gulf of Mexico in the background, American Idol judges Steven Tyler, from left, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest held a press conference at the Galveston Convention Center Tuesday. Photo by Michael Becker/Fox

The Galveston Island Convention Center was the last stop for local American Idol hopefuls to learn if they were they were getting a golden ticket to Hollywood or left crying on the steps of the building while cameras rolled. It was also where American Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and show host Ryan Seacrest held a press conference Tuesday to chat about the 11th season and the impressive crop of female talent they found in Houston.

But more importantly, it was all about Jennifer Lopez. And not in the rumored, don’t-make-eye-contact kind of way either.

After the small (by any other city’s standards) press corp took our places opposite the judges tables, Lopez was first on set. She slipped into the room unannounced in a one-shouldered zebra print maxi dress that totally read Cavalli, except it was Kohl’s and from her namesake line. She mixed the low with a high pair of black Gucci heels and an entire sleeve of sparkling arm candy and jawdropping cocktail ring by Loren Ridinger.

I hoped some of her jewelry was also by Houston designer Liz Glanville, especially since Lopez has already been photographed for L'Oreal Colour Riche Le Gloss ad campaign in Glanville’s pieces, but her stylist said no.

Lopez's hair was pulled back tightly on the sides and left down in the back, her eyeshadow looked a light metallic blue and her skin was dewy.

In other words, perfection.

Lopez looked at me, surveying my black-and-white polka dotted dress, patent belt and cork and black patent leather wedges and gave me an approving smile and wink. It was kind of major.

 And while I was standing there on the opposite side of the room, waiting for the rest of the AI team to take their seats, Lopez looked at me, surveying my black-and-white polka dotted dress, patent belt and cork and black patent leather wedges and gave me an approving smile and wink. It was kind of major.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to bond with my new BFF because Tyler came in, with a walk that somehow combines a slink with a pop. He took his seat next to Lopez and I really was hoping he would let out his trademark scream-singing, but he was so well behaved and I was a little disappointed.

Jackson came in next, congenial, chatting with the press, joking with the crew. He’s the king for sure, but close behind him was the young prince. Seacrest is affable, adorable and immediately likable.

There was a strict no still photo rule, as well as a kibosh on personal questions, so we all knew to stick with Idol inquiries. Houston has yielded a good bit of female talent and even though press is not allowed to speak to any of the Hollywood-bound singers, there were lots of Idol procured post-audition interviews taking place around the convention center.

In fact, the whole building was a gigantic set, with “Quiet Please” signs on walls and doors. The ballroom where the judges held court was divided by cameras, computers and other large equipment, while the set was bathed in a soft purple glow and the quartet was framed by the Gulf of Mexico.

Only Simon and Paula really know how much they irritated each other, but the current panel seems to be happy together and as Jackson said emphatically, “We’ve got mad love for each other.”

He also still has affection for the original American Idol winner and Texas native, Kelly Clarkson, who he says proves that just because the judges are in the South, they aren’t expecting country. What they were hearing was a lot of Adele and Jessie J. The hope is a female singer who's got the “complete package” as Jackson says, will rise to the top.

“We are having fun finding great talent and we are working hard to get the guys voting on Idol this year,” Lopez said.

She wants more women to be in the running at the end, since most voters are females who vote for cute guys and leave the more talented members of the opposite sex in the cold.

The show debuts Jan. 22 on Fox and one thing’s for sure. Lopez has my vote.

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