Chaotic Scene Unfolds at 'American Idol'

Photo: Sam Jones/FOX

Rock Night got off to a very rocky start on American Idol Tuesday when, less than two hours before the live performance show, stage manager Debbie Williams fell from the lighted retractable staircase when it moved too quickly. One of the large towers on the show’s set inside CBS Television City studios also toppled over, leaving shattered glass all over the stage.

FOX, FreemantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment released a joint statement, saying, “During rehearsal today a crew member had a mishap on set and was immediately taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. We have no further information at this time.”

But a crewmember tells PEOPLE, Williams suffered a “very deep gash down to the bone” in one leg that required stitches. Williams, who’s Idol host Ryan Seacrest‘s right-hand at the show and who keeps the live telecasts humming along, “will probably be back here tomorrow,” the staffer joked.

Just after the broadcast wrapped, Seacrest posted to his Twitter page, saying Williams “is doing much better.”

Viewers will remember Debbie the stage manager from last year’s Idol Gives Back special at the Kodak Theater. She made a rare, on-camera appearance to help Brad Pitt with his microphone.

No other injuries were reported and the show went on without a hitch — on the air. In a chaotic scene just before showtime, however, audience members were not allowed into the studio until 20 minutes before show went live. Staff at the show tried to seat the crowd as quickly as possible, yelling, “Ignore your tickets. Just grab a seat wherever you can!”

With just minutes to spare, the four remaining Idol contestants — Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey and Kris Allen — were brought out to sing 30-second snippets of their songs. The pre-taped segment, a regular part of the show’s production schedule, airs during the performance recap at the end of the night. The segments wrapped two minutes before the live show began.

By the time the show ended, Idol‘s light-up staircase was secured. In fact, Gwen Stefani walked down the setpiece while singing “Just a Girl” for a pre-taped performance set to air Wednesday on the results show. — Monica Rizzo and Shawna Malcom

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Sam Jones/FOX

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