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'American Idol' Finds Superstar Talent in the City of Champions

Judges of the hit Fox reality TV show—Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler— as well as host Ryan Seacrest, have been in Pittsburgh since Wednesday.

The City of Pittsburgh is known as the City of Champions sports-wise, and the "American Idol" judges said there's a good chance they might find the 11th season's champion here.

"This is the City of Champions, the perfect spot to find our new superstar," said Ryan Seacrest, the show's host.

Judges of the hit FOX reality TV show—Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler—as well as Seacrest, took a break from the audition process on Thursday afternoon to hold a press conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

The concept of the series is to find new solo recording artists.

Tyler said they've put about five or six people through to the Hollywood audition round-where the top 24 finalists are determined—who are top 12 material.

The Idol crew has been in town since Wednesday for the second round of auditions. Idol hopefuls first had their shot to impress producers in July where tens of thousands of people tried out.

Wednesday in Pittsburgh was "one of the best days we've had," according to Jackson.

The judges and crew have been exposed to the Pittsburgh staples, Tastykakes, Terrible Towels and Primanti Bros. sandwiches—or "that weird sandwich," as Randy referred to them.

Contestants also seem to channel the spirit of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, Lopez said.

"In the City of Champions, a lot of these contestants won't go down without a fight," she said. "We had a lot of fighters."

Jackson said he also has some similarities to the Steelers.

"I'm kind of like the Steelers in a way," he said. "I'm hard to penetrate—a steel curtain, if you will." 

This season promises to be a good one. Seacrest said a female contestant, who made it through to Hollywood, planked—the fad of lying face down in an unusual location—outside and then during her audition. 

Jackson said the judges have seen a lot of people with "quirky" talent in different genres.

"That's exciting to us," he said.

American Idol faces competition this year from FOX's "The X Factor"—where
former Idol judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul now judge-and NBC's
"The Sing Off," but that's not a problem, Jackson said.

"They do our thing, we do ours," he said.

Idol ultimately is about this new set of judges helping contestants pursue their passion and giving them a chance.

"This is that kind of outlet where we get to work with other artists and watch them grow and help them with the benefit of our experience," Lopez said. "It's great to be able to do. It's a nice exchange because in return they wind up teaching us."

Tyler agreed. 

"Everybody can sing, but we're looking for that simple song sung in a specific way that changes somebody's life," Tyler said. "And it's out there."

This season of American Idol is expected to premiere on FOX in January 2012.

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