During last night’s episode of American Idol—which, thanks to its mansion location, had a weird sort of Joe Millionaire feeling to the proceedings—major-label refugee Joanna Pacitti was shown as making it through to the circle of 36 semifinalists, while Felicia Barton, a Virginia mom and “bar singer” who also sings in her church, got sent packing. But when the official press release announcing the semifinalists went out and Fox updated its official site, Pacitti was out and Barton was in, and Fox put out a cryptic note saying that the powers that be had deemed the “Let It Slide” singer officially ineligible for the competition. What happened?
A not-very-wise man told me over and over before I took this job that the music business is “all about relationships,” and it would appear that Pacitti had a couple of very close ones with some higher-ups at Idol production company 19 Entertainment. Star went so far as to call it “the biggest Idol scandal ever” during its breathless reportage:
An insider tells Star that Michelle Young and Roger Widynowski have very personal connections to the Idol hopeful, all of which we detail in our can’t miss story. How personal? Well, Joanna has referred to Michelle as her “manager” and “best friend,” and credited Roger with “helping me get where I am today.” Plus, the three of them even lived in the same L.A. apartment complex for several years.
Having two ins with Idol’s production company could give the 24-year-old wannabe star – seen as a shoo-in for the final 36 – an advantage that the rest of the contestants don’t have.
“It really seems unfair,” an insider tells Star.
And something did seem fishy about Pacitti making it through to the semifinals despite bluffing nearly every song featured in her Hollywood Week montage, while other worthy singers got the boot. (Never mind her calling herself “unemployed”—if she was really still an aspiring entertainer, wouldn’t she be trying to puff up her profile as much as possible?) The Los Angeles Times‘ Idol blog has a source saying that the producers wanted to avoid “the appearance of impropriety,” although I wonder if it’s a little too late for that.
Anyway, here’s hoping someone uncovers the dirt on why Tatiana Del Toro keeps making it through soon! Because she is seriously the worst.
Felicia Barton [MySpace]
Updated: Joanna Pacitti disqualified from ‘American Idol,’ Felicia Barton in [Idol Tracker]