Twin Cities singer Patty Peterson could only watch as protegee Casey Carlson was skewered by Simon Cowell & Co. Her run ended Wednesday.
Patty Peterson shifted to the edge of the couch, turned up the volume on the television and blurted: "This is going to be a long two minutes."
Her eyes were fixed on Casey Carlson, 20, the "American Idol" competitor from Eden Prairie whom Peterson, one of the Twin Cities' better known pop/jazz singers, has coached for the past four months.
"C'mon girl," Peterson urged in her Edina living room as Carlson stepped into the spotlight in "Idol's" Hollywood TV studio Tuesday. But two nerve-wracking nights of watching her student on television would not have a happy ending when audience voting was announced Wednesday.
"Right on," Peterson purred as Carlson got off to a good start Tuesday on "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police.
As Carlson got to the "yeah yeah" part, Peterson coached, "C'mon, get angry" -- clenching her fist at her pupil halfway across the country.
The two minutes actually went by fast. "Yeah girl, you did it!" Peterson exclaimed.
But now it was time for the judges to speak.
"Everything about that was wrong," Randy Jackson started.
"You don't touch those songs," Kara DioGuardi said of the Police.
Even pollyannish Paula Abdul ripped her. Then Simon Cowell asked Carlson what she thought.
"I had a lot of fun," she said. "Good girl," said Peterson.
Then came the slam: "You couldn't have picked a worse song," Cowell said. "It's karaoke. ... You had one massive opportunity, and you just threw it away."
"Ouch!" said Jordan, Peterson's 16-year-old son.
"What do you say to that?" Peterson said. "She exuded grace."
Suddenly the phone started ringing: Peterson's friends and family, checking up on her.
"I felt like she wasn't comfortable with that song," the coach said, fretting that Carlson had been ill during their final rehearsal of the song, which Carlson said was chosen at the prompting of "Idol" staffers.
Rehearsals began at Peterson's home and ended up in the Edina recording studio where one of Carlson's own idols, Janet Jackson, recorded many hits with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Carlson, a 2006 graduate of Eden Prairie High School, was among the final 36 contestants on "Idol." So is Jesse Langseth, 26, of Minneapolis, who will compete next Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Peterson was more like a thoughtful, nervous parent than a concerned coach. She didn't have to wait long: Carlson was the first singer eliminated. Peterson groaned. "I'm proud of her grace. Ah, poor kid."
What will Peterson say to Carlson when they next chat?
"I'm not sure," Peterson said. "I'm going to tell her I'm proud of her and I love her. Just because the audition is over, that doesn't mean the coaching is."
Jon Bream • 612-673-1719