Let the drama begin. As if the two-night Hollywood rounds finale weren't already filled with enough joy, heartache and tears, "American Idol" producers threw one last twist into the mix at the end of Wednesday night's program by pulling a top 24 switcheroo.
After picking seven of the top 24 on Tuesday night, the judges culled the herd down on Wednesday to carve out the remaining 17 semifinalists, which appeared to include curly-haired Chris Golightly, whom we met at the Los Angeles auditions, where he talked about bouncing around between 25 foster homes as a child.
Golightly was seen in the group shot near the end of the show — at which point only 11 boys had been chosen on screen. But during the traditional finalist introduction dance segment that closes Hollywood, he was inexplicably replaced by Tim Urban.
"It has been determined that Chris Golightly is ineligible to continue in the competition," read a statement from Fox. " 'American Idol' contestant Tim Urban has replaced Golightly as part of the Top 24."
A spokesperson for the show could not be reached for further comment at press time. Hours after the disqualification was revealed, show host Ryan Seacrest posted the same statement on his Twitter page, where he also announced that this year's contestants will have MySpace, Twitter and Facebook pages on the "Idol" hub. He did not elaborate on why Golightly was booted.
Golightly reportedly spoke to the "Idol" fan site JoesPlaceBlog.com on Wednesday night after the show aired and said that he had an old contract with a boy band that expired in June 2009. He said he auditioned for "Idol" in July, after the contract had expired, and when he made it to Hollywood he had to sign an "AI" contract that asked if he had any current contracts, to which he answered no.
After making it to the top 24 in January, Golightly said he broke the lease on his apartment and sold his car to pay off the lease fees, only to get a call a week ago from the person who held his previous contract telling him that he was still under that agreement. Chris said he was not under that deal anymore, but couldn't find his release. After a round of phone calls between the singer and "Idol" execs on Wednesday, Golightly was informed just hours before the Hollywood finale aired that he would be disqualified because he couldn't definitively prove that he was not bound to the previous contract.
Sadly, according to Joe's Place, the old manager later found the contract release and e-mailed it to Golightly, but it was too late, and because he made the top 46 this year, he reportedly cannot try out for the show again next year.
Urban, a floppy-haired 19-year-old Texas native who started playing guitar when he was 13, first popped up on many "Idol" watchers' radar when he sang a David Cook song during Hollywood Week. He has not been prominently featured so far in the audition rounds.
The last-minute disqualification mirrors a similar situation last year, when Joanna Pacitti was cut from the show due to unexplained conflicts after making the semifinals. At the time, it was reported that the former "Annie" star and onetime major-label signee had been tossed from the top 36 to "avoid the appearance of impropriety," an allusion to her alleged close personal relationship to some of the executives at 19 Management, one of the companies that manages some of the show's winners.
The Golightly/Urban drama comes as fans are wondering what happened to rumors that brawny new father Michael Lynche was also DQ'd during Hollywood after his father allegedly outed him as a semifinalist to a Florida newspaper, a no-no according to "Idol" rules.
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