We're almost three weeks away from the start of Hollywood Week (February 17), but it appears that "American Idol" has already lost one of its top 24 contenders. Word has been circulating for days that St. Petersburg, Florida, singer Michael Lynche — who auditioned in Orlando — allegedly made the cut but was then dropped after his dad, Marque Lynche Sr., told a local newspaper about the event.
In keeping with their veil of secrecy about internal goings-on, spokespeople for "Idol" could not be reached at press time to confirm whether Lynche has made the top 24 or has been dropped from it. But the St. Petersburg Times reported last Wednesday that Lynche — whose mother works for the paper — may have made the top 24. It was reported that Lynche's dad had confirmed the information about his son.
Michael's brother Marque Lynche Jr. made it to the semifinals in 2004 before being cut prior to the final 12.
The Times followed the story up on Monday, pointing to several "Idol" blogs that reported on Lynche's ejection from the show over the weekend, citing a confidentiality rule that bars contestants and their families from speaking to the media or divulging information about the show during its run. As of Tuesday, there was still no confirmation on the story, but the Times noted that Lynche Sr. had disconnected his home phone in Sarasota and would not comment on the reports. Lynche's Golden Ticket interview from the Orlando auditions is still available on the "Idol" site. In it, "Big Mike" shows off his huge guns, brags about his arm-wrestling skills and divulges that he has used only one brand of deodorant since age 12.
If Lynche's disqualification is true, it would be the second year in a row that a top 24 contestant washed out before getting a shot at making it to the big show. Last year, Joanna Pacitti, who once had a major label recording deal, was kicked off after making the top 36 when producers said it had been determined that she "is ineligible to continue in the competition." No further explanation was given for Pacitti's departure. She was replaced by Felicia Barton.
One former contestant, who insisted on anonymity for obvious reasons, told the Los Angeles Times that the confidentiality rules are pretty ominous. "You couldn't say anything to anybody," the former "Idol" contestant said. "It was sort of understood that you could tell family if you made it, but they put the fear of God in you with all kinds of fines and hefty 'breach of contract' fees." Those fees reportedly run into the millions.