FOX’s “American Idol” visited in July.

And FOX’s “The X Factor” will be there April 14.

So “America’s Got Talent” executive director Jason Raff hopes “there’s plenty of talent down there to go around” when the NBC show’s auditions reach New Orleans Friday and Saturday.

The tryouts will run 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd.

“The amazing thing about the show is it’s open to any age and talent,” Raff said from Los Angeles Tuesday.

In addition to singers and dancers, the reality competition which airs as a summer series, has featured jugglers, magicians, comedians and more.

“Anything and everything,” as Raff put it.

“I had someone come into the room and do an up-do hairstyle for me and that was their talent. That is the fun part of the show.”

While in New Orleans, “Talent” hopefuls will perform for producers, who will make decisions on which auditioners will advance to perform in front of the judges — Sharon Osbourne, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern — when the judges travel to New Orleans this spring for the second phase of auditions.

“We’re looking for someone who’s talented, different, interesting, unique,” Raff said. “We’ll let people send in videos also and we get a lot of video submissions, and we do find people that way, but there’s nothing like going to a town and meeting people and being able to talk to them, and seeing their personality. You know when they enter the audition rooms, you can tell a little bit about their personality, their star quality, and that goes a long way in making these decisions.”

Raff said producers had just finished auditions in New York, a yearly stop for “Talent.”

“We’ve seen a lot of people who’ve come in for their first audition ever in their life, and I think we’re a fun way to do it. At the very least, if all goes horribly wrong at least you have a story to tell,” he said. “It’s low risk and it’s high reward because some of these people that we find in New Orleans, by the spring they’ll be performing in front of a couple of thousand people at a venue in front of the judges, and by this summer, they’ll be performing live on TV in front of millions and millions of people. So it’s amazing how quickly things progress, and how, it’s cliché, but how lives can change with a show like ours.”

With the show for all eight seasons, Raff couldn’t single out the weirdest act he’s seen. “The ‘oddies’ are things we celebrate on this show. It’s hard to say. I’ve seen a lot of weird things, some of which we haven’t put on TV. Like the guy that got down in his Speedos and smeared peanut butter on himself, and then I think feathered himself, I believe, to someone who actually broke melons with her breasts.”

The element of surprise is a good component when auditioning for “Talent,” the executive producer said.

“When someone comes into your room, and does something you’ve never seen before, that’s always exciting.”

Raff said when the judges visit New Orleans they will see about 100 acts, some of whom auditioned in other cities, as producers go to a lot more cities than the judges.

Raff attributed the show’s popularity to its diversity.

“It harkens back to the old days of variety TV, where you could see a little bit of everything. I mean, it’s not just a singing competition, it’s not just a dance competition. The fun thing when I do these auditions is you don’t know what’s going to enter your room next, the judges don’t know what’s going to end up on stage next, and the audience doesn’t know what’s going to end up on TV next.”

Raff’s advice for those auditioning was simple.

“Be original, maybe dress up, stand out from the crowd a little bit, be a little fearless, and just give it a shot.”

After all, there’s $1 million and a headlining Las Vegas show awaiting the winner.


Show features BR case

The missing person case of Tameka “Kesha” Anderson will be examined on TV One’s “Find Our Missing” at 8 p.m. Monday (cable Channel 216).

Anderson, a 25-year-old mother living in Baton Rouge, disappeared in February 2010 while out to purchase a new car. After withdrawing $1,000 from the bank, Anderson supposedly rode to the Galvez area to meet the seller. She called and spoke with her sister-in-law while waiting for the seller, but has never been heard from or seen again.

According to the Black and Missing Foundation Inc., African Americans make up 13 percent of the population yet account for 33 percent of missing persons.

“Find Our Missing,” a documentary series hosted by S. Epatha Merkerson, is designed to put names and faces to people of color who have disappeared without a trace. Each episode tells the story of the missing person or persons, beginning with the day they vanished and the frantic searches by loved ones and investigators to find them, delving into the mystery surrounding the disturbing circumstances with the goal of sparking new findings in these cold cases, a news release from TV One said.

Hyde on Discovery

Southeastern Louisiana University historian Samuel C. Hyde Jr. addresses the historical role of the Ku Klux Klan in the Lower Mississippi Valley region on “Fatal Encounters” at 9 p.m. Sunday on Discovery Channel (cable Channel 46).

Southeastern’s Leon C. Ford Endowed Chair of Regional Studies, Hyde is interviewed for the episode titled “White Hot Rage.” He discusses the case of Cynthia Lynch, who went to Mississippi several years ago to join a KKK group based in Washington and St. Tammany parishes. During her initiation into the group at an isolated area in the Pearl River swamp, Lynch changed her mind and was subsequently murdered by the Klansmen.

Hyde said he provided details on the first, second and third Klans as they appeared in the post-Civil War era and again in the 1930s and in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s.

“During each phase, the Klan displayed unique attributes,” said Hyde, who is the director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies at the Hammond university. “I discuss the motives that would cause people to join such paramilitary organizations in the rural South, as well as what induces people to resort to violence to resolve their grievances.”

Edwards’ show delayed

The premiere for “The Governor’s Wife,” the upcoming A&E reality series about former Gov. Edwin Edwards, and his wife, Trina, has been moved to 9 p.m. March 13 (cable Channel 39), Eileen Fitzpatrick, listings editor for A&E Networks, confirmed last week.

The series will follow the couple “as they redefine a ‘new normal’ in the new South,” according to A&E.

‘Wild Kratts’ screening

Louisiana Public Broadcasting will hold special screenings of “Wild Kratts: Lost at Sea” and “Dinosaur Train’s Submarine Adventure” from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at BREC’s Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center.

In addition to the screenings, which will alternate each hour, the center will have live animals at the event along with their animal exhibits and educational presentations about Louisiana wildlife at the swamp’s pavilion. A swamp tour will also be available where families can see numerous species of birds which live in Louisiana during the winter along with the other natural flora and fauna. LPB will have goody bags with “Wild Kratts” and “Dinosaur Train” items for kids to take home.

For directions and admission prices, go to For more information, email or call (225) 767-4276.

‘Swamp’s’ 4th season

History’s “Swamp People” debuts its fourth season at 8 p.m. Thursday (cable Channel 47).

This season will have the alligator hunters battling through Hurricane Isaac, during which they lost five days of the short alligator hunting season. Also, Glenn Guist tries to figure out his life in the swamp without his brother and hunting partner Mitchell Guist, who died of a heart attack last May. Viewers will see his friends rally around him as they work to fulfill Mitchell Guist’s dream and an unfinished project.

And, of course, Troy Landry is back for more, and has a rusty partner, his oldest son, Brandon Landry, who hasn’t been in the swamp for 10 years.

Worth a look

BAR RESCUE: 8 p.m. Sunday, Spike TV (cable Channel 41). The third season starts out in New Orleans, where nightlife expert Jon Taffer work to save Turtle Bay on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The bar has fallen on hard times and faces closure, and Taffer and his crew try to make Turtle Bay stand out among the many bars on this famous street.

FRONTLINE: 7 p.m. Tuesday, WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12). In the installment called “Cliffhanger,” PBS takes an in-depth look at the political battle surrounding America’s fiscal cliff and debt ceiling crisis.

SILVER RUSH: 9 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery Channel (cable Channel 46). The new, three-part series follows deep-sea recovery team Odyssey Marine Exploration as it recovers a record 48 tons of silver bullion from the SS Gairsoppa. Mike Rowe narrates.

HOARDING: BURIED ALIVE: 8 p.m. Wednesday, TLC (cable Channel 48). The show returns with a new episode featuring single mom Karen, who’s not just struggling to save her home — but also her children. For Karen’s sons Joseph, 14, and David, 12, their four-bedroom house in suburban New Jersey is anything but a safe haven as it is overrun by filth, clutter, electrical wires and garbage. Karen’s hoarding problems are rooted in tragedy, as by the age of 54, she had lost two husbands and a child.

ADVENTURE TIME: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 18, Cartoon Network (cable Channel 33). The saga of Fionna and Cake continues with the new episode, “Bad Little Boy.” Featured are the voices of actors Neil Patrick Harris and Donald Glover.

UPLOAD WITH SHAQUILLE O’NEAL: 9:30 p.m. Feb. 21, truTV (cable Channel 51). The former LSU and NBA basketball star hosts the new series which spotlights funny videos found online. O’Neal and co-hosts/comedians Gary Owen and Godfrey will comment on the videos and also make their own viral videos, pull pranks and create parodies of current pop culture stories.

The SLU Public Information Office provided an item for this column. Television stations with news about programming, on-air reporters or personalities should fax information to Judy Bergeron, (225) 388-0351, or email