'American Idol' reveals the eighth season's Top 36 semifinalists
By John Bracchitta, 02/12/2009
After three weeks of open audition broadcasts and two more weeks of episodes that gave viewers a look at the competition's Hollywood Round, last night's American Idol eighth-season broadcast ended with the mega-hit Fox reality show finally revealing the identities of this season's Top 36 semifinalists.
Eight of Idol's eighth-season Top 36 semifinalists -- which had already leaked online two weeks ago -- are teenagers, a lower percentage than last season's Top 24 semifinalists group that was one third teenagers. More than one third of the semifinalists are 25-years-old or older, which is more than double the percentage of the seventh season's semifinalist group.
Although Wednesday night's American Idol broadcast showed her advancing to the competition's semifinals, Joanna Pacitti will not be part of the semifinals after all.
"It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition," the network stated in an announcement released shortly after the conclusion of the West Coast broadcast of American Idol's pre-filmed "Final Judgement" episode.
Pacitti will be replaced in the Top 36 by Felicia Barton, a 26-year-old wife and mother from Virginia Beach, VA.
Fox's statement didn't specify why Pacitti, an unemployed 23-year-old who is originally from Philadelphia, PA, was deemed to be ineligible and a network spokesperson was not immediately reachable for comment.
Idol's eighth season is the first season to ever feature 36 semifinalists and the first season since the show's 2004 third season to utilize a "Wild Card" semifinals round. Idol had previously featured 24 semifinalists since its fourth season in 2005. Prior to that, Idol's second and third seasons had featured 32 semifinalists while its first season had featured 30 semifinalists.
Now that the semifinalists have been revealed, they will be grouped into three groups of twelve and perform during two-hour pre-taped Tuesdays at 8PM ET/PT performance episodes for the next three weeks. The results of each round's home viewer voting will then be revealed during live one-hour results shows airing Wednesdays at 8PM ET/PT.
At the conclusion of each results show, the male and female semifinalists who received the highest number of home viewers votes for their previous night's performance will instantly become a Top 12 finalist. In addition, another semifinalist that had received the next-highest number of votes after the performance episode -- regardless of whether he or she is male or female -- will also become a finalist.
Then on Thursday, March 5, Fox will air a special "Wild Card" performance episode in which each semifinalist group's highest remaining votegetter who didn't already automatically advance to the finals will get a second chance to perform along with several additional semifinalists that the judges will select.
After all the "Wild Card" semifinalists perform, the judges -- not the show's home viewers -- will immediately select three of them to complete the season's twelve finalists.
American Idol's 18 eighth-season female semifinalists -- and their Fox-released biographical information -- are:
Henson has been singing since she could talk and sang publicly for the first time in church. Her hobbies include horseback riding, acting, dancing and playing piano and guitar. She also takes classes at a junior college.
When Vaifanua was 2 years old, she and her family moved to Samoa and lived there for five years before returning to Utah. She is a junior at Hurricane High School, and her hobbies include sports, singing and dancing.
American Idol's 18 eighth-season male semifinalists -- and their Fox-released biographical information -- are:
Adam Lambert, a 26-year-old from San Diego, CA who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA
Lambert grew up in San Diego but currently lives in Hollywood. He began singing at age 10, and has been involved with musical theater for the past eight years.
MacIntyre earned his bachelor's degree from Arizona State University at age 19, and attended graduate school in London, England. He also plays piano, guitar and drums.
Stephen Fowler, a 26-year-old from Cleveland, OH who currently resides in Beachwood, OH
Fowler has been married for six years and has two sons. He has been singing his entire life, and began playing piano at 11 years old. He is a full-time musician who teaches piano at the Rainey Institute in Cleveland.
Von Smith, a 22-year-old from Kansas City, MO who currently resides in Greenwood, MO
Smith plays piano and is fluent in Spanish. His other hobbies include dancing, acting and songwriting.