“American Idol” contestant who was among the show’s top 36 was disqualified.
In its press release issued Wednesday night announcing the 36 contenders, Fox TV said that Joanna Pacitti was “ineligible to continue.” No reason was given by Fox.
But a person familiar with the decision said Thursday that Pacitti was dropped to avoid any appearance of business impropriety. The person, who did not elaborate, spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized by Fox and the show’s producers to talk about the dismissal.
Felicia Barton of Virginia Beach, Va., replaced Pacitti, a Philadelphia native, in the top 36.
The show announced the semifinalists Wednesday night, then later released an update saying it had cut Pacitti loose and subbed in Barton, a 26-year-old married mom.
Pacitti, 23, could not immediately be reached for comment.
A few of the contestants in Tuesday night’s episode, including Pacitti, flubbed the lyrics but made it through to the next round.
Pacitti, who auditioned in Louisville, Ky., entered “Idol” with a show-biz resume. She had a record deal with Geffen and released an album in 2006. Billboard reports it sold more than 16,000 copies. “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi recognized Pacitti when she auditioned in Louisville, Ky.
She also on the soundtracks for the movies “Legally Blonde” and “Bratz.” Britney Spears’ tune “Out From Under,” from her latest album, was first performed by Pacitti on the “Bratz” soundtrack.
All that experience was enough to draw complaints from viewers who thought she was too polished for the top-rated show, which purports to pluck raw talent out of nowhere and turn them into stars.
However, eight seasons in, “Idol” has selected singers who have spent time in the recording studio.
Pacitti’s situation echoed the controversy over last season’s finalists, Carly Smithson and Kristy Lee Cook, who had previous record deals.
Smithson had recorded an album for MCA Records, while Cook once had a deal with Arista Nashville. Other experienced seventh-season singers include Robbie Carrico, who was in the pop group Boyz N Girlz United, and runner-up David Archuleta, who won “Star Search” in 2003.