published Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Lost backpack almost doomed ‘Idol’ homecoming video

The "American Idol" Final Two: Lauren Alaina, left, and Scotty McCreer
Michael Becker / FOX.
The "American Idol" Final Two: Lauren Alaina, left, and Scotty McCreer Michael Becker / FOX.

Fans almost never got to see some of the footage shot during “American Idol” finalist Lauren Alaina Suddeth’s homecoming visit last weekend because of a misplaced backpack.

Last Saturday evening as crews were cleaning up at Coolidge Park, Friends of the Festival talent and production coordinator Joe “Dixie” Fuller noticed a backpack lying on the ground.

“I figured it was one the rigging guys’ and put it in the back of the Riverbend box truck to give to [crew member] Chris Keene later,” Fuller said.

Later, he moved it to the bed of his own truck and drove home. About 11:30 a.m. Monday, “Idol” producer/director Brian Robinson called Fuller.

“He said, ‘Dixie, Man, I’ve got something really, really important to ask you.’ He said, ‘I’m sitting here watching footage of the show at Coolidge and I can see a backpack sitting on the stage so I know it exists, but we can’t find it.’”

Fuller said he asked Robinson to describe the backpack. When told it was orange and black, Fuller said, “It’s sitting right here on my desk.”

“That has about 50 percent of the footage we shot,” Robinson said, according to Fuller. “I need that yesterday.”

Deciding to overnight it to Los Angeles, Robinson told Fuller to box it up and that he would arrange for a courier to pick it up.

“I went on about my business, but by 5 o’clock, they still hadn’t picked it,” Fuller said. He called Robinson, who spent a few minutes discussing his staff’s competence before asking him to ship it, Fuller said.

At 7 a.m. Tuesday, Robinson called Fuller to ask if it had been shipped because he did not have it. Once he had the routing number, he tracked it to a corner of a guard shack at Fox Studios where a guard had signed for the package.

Footage from Suddeth’s emotional return to storm-ravaged North Georgia, her appearance at Coolidge Park and her first pitch at AT&T Field ultimately were shown on “American Idol” Thursday night.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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