February 11, 2009 | 11:50 pm PT
American Idol Top 36 Revealed!
Auditions ended tonight for the eighth season as the Top 36 semi-finalists were revealed by Simon, Paula, Randy and Kara. It's now up to America to decide who advances in the competition and moves one step closer to become the next American Idol. The 36 hopefuls will be split into three groups of 12, and for three consecutive weeks, one group will perform each week. The live performance shows air Tuesday, February 17 8/7c, Wednesday, February 25 8/7c and Tuesday, March 3 8/7c on FOX.
At the end of each performance show, viewers will be able to vote for their favorite contestants for at least two hours in their region.В Fans can use the branded toll-free telephone numbers until 12:00 AM ET/PT (11:00PM CT/MT), subject to time zone restrictions.В Additionally, for two hours at the end of the show in their region, AT&T Wireless subscribers can use their cell phones and text the word "Vote" to the four-digit short number representing the contestant of their choice.
Then on the weekly live results shows airing Wednesday, February 18 8/7c, Thursday, February 26 8/7c and Wednesday, March 4 8/7c, Ryan Seacrest will announce the three semi-finalists -- the top male, the top female and the next top vote-recipient -- America has chosen to move on in the competition.
On Thursday, March 5 8/7c, the special "Wild Card" episode will feature the judges' favorite remaining contestants battling it out live for a coveted spot in the next phase of the competition.
The Top female seminfinalists are:
Ann Marie Boskovich
Tatiana Nicole Del Toro
The Top male seminfinalists are:
(Note: It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition. Felicia Barton has replaced Ms. Pacitti as part of the Top 36.)
the singer wasn't exactly the amateur she claimed to be, in violation of Idol's rules. And, perhaps worse, reports surfaced in recent days that she was extremely close to show producers.
Joanna Pacitti, Felicia Barton John M. Heller/Getty Images, Fox
For one, Pacitti had signed to A&M Records when she was 16, released a single, "Let It Slide," and some of her songs were even featured in the soundtracks to such movies as Legally Blonde, Bratz and First Daughter.
Of course, there have been other contestants who had lots of pro experience, notably last year's finalist Carly Smithson, who released the album Ultimate High on MCA Records in 2001.
But there was more to Pacitti's backstory than modest musical success.
There was, according to Star magazine, what appeared to be a serious conflict of interest. Pacitti reportedly resided in the same apartment building as 19 executives Roger Widynowski and Michelle Young and even once called Widynowski her "best friend."
Hoping to stanch the controversy, producers opted to bring back Barton, who was eliminated with a definitive "no" by the judging panel but deemed the most deserving of the 86'd contestants.
While Pacitti could not be reached for comment and the network declined to elaborate on its statement, a person close to the production told E! News that the decision was made to avoid any appearance of impropriety.