Carmen Rasmusen is sort of a nervous wreck right now. And she couldn't be happier about it.
The 17-year-old Woods Cross High School senior got a second chance to become the "American Idol." And she still can hardly believe it.
"After I got cut I was, like, 'OK, I just have to go on with my regular life,' " Rasmusen said. "And then they called back and I was, like, 'What? This is so crazy!' "
Of the tens of thousands who auditioned, Rasmusen was one of 78 chosen to travel to Hollywood and audition again on the hit Fox TV show. She was not, however, one of the 32 who advanced to the next round of competition.
Lo and behold, however, judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson chose her for Tuesday's "wild card" show (7 p.m., Ch. 13). She and eight others will be given a second chance to perform, and four will go on to the final 12.
(Rasmusen won't be the only Utahn going for fame and fortune on a TV talent show this week — 12-year-old David Archuleta of Sandy eked out a victory in Friday's edition of CBS's "Star Search" in the "young singers" category and advanced to the next level of competition, which airs Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Ch. 2.)
Although the "American Idol" judges — at least Simon — have a reputation for, well, meanness, Rasmusen said, "They're really nice. They're nice people and I like performing in front of them."
And she's still overwhelmed that that second-chance call came. "I was so excited. I was just screaming and jumping up and down in the bathroom with my mom. My mom answered the phone. The only thing she said was, 'You're going back to Hollywood!' And she was yelling."
This will be Rasmusen's second chance at "American Idol" but pretty much her first shot at TV exposure; she was only briefly glimpsed in previous episodes. But on Tuesday, she'll perform on national TV for the judges and the viewers, and on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., Ch. 13), she'll be back to hear the results.
"It's kind of nerve-wracking, because instead of performing just in front of the judges, I'm performing in front of the whole country," Rasmusen said. "I just can't even imagine, oh, that I'll be in front of the whole country."
Win or lose, it's the kind of exposure most young singers can only dream about. "Even people who haven't made it to the top 10 or whatever, (producers) have heard them on the TV and said, 'Hey, I want to sign you.' It's great exposure."
A career in music is something Rasmusen has been dreaming about for a long time. "I knew that I always wanted to become a singer, it's just that there aren't a lot of big (music producers) in Salt Lake City or anything. You have to go to L.A. or Nashville. So I was just kind of going to school and performing at fairs and every little thing I could do. And then all of a sudden this came up."
And at sort of the last minute. "My very first audition was a videotape that I sent in for (Salt Lake TV station KSTU) Fox 13, so that was local. And my dad called me at the last minute and said, 'Carmen, you have to hurry and get this video in.' And I was in my pajamas and I had a broken foot and I was in a cast. Little did I know that that little tiny audition would land me a spot on national television." (She has since recovered from the broken foot, the product of a piggyback-riding accident.)
Rasmusen has spent the past few days in Los Angeles, rehearsing, going to school (for three hours a day, as required by law) and shopping for something to wear on TV. "Oh, yeah. We went shopping and picked out all these funky outfits to wear. It's amazing shopping in L.A. Basically, we do things on our own. But if it's totally, absolutely hideous, then the fashion designer would say, 'OK, no, no, no.' "
At least shopping gave her a chance to take her mind off her impending appearance on "American Idol." "The first couple of days, I was like, 'OK, I'm here. I made it this far. It's really exciting.' And now it's just like, 'OK, I'm going to be on TV in a couple of days and I'm so nervous.' I have to remember the lines of my song. It's so stressful and so nerve-wracking and yet it's so exciting. It's a dream come true."