Felicia Barton learned about 'Idol' return during Top 36 broadcast
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/16/2009
As home viewers were learning Felicia Barton would not make American Idol's eighth-season semifinals, she was apparently receiving news to the contrary.
The 26-year-old mom from Virginia Beach, VA learned she would be replacing Joanna Pacitti as a Top 36 semifinalist via a phone call from Idol executive producer Ken Warwick during Wednesday night's East Coast broadcast of the "Final Judgment" episode which revealed the season's semifinalists, her husband Loren reportedly posted on her Facebook page over the weekend.
"Sure enough, smack dab in the middle of 150 viewers that were gathered at [Freedom Fellowship church] to watch the show, Ken Warwick called Felicia's phone," Loren wrote in the since-removed Facebook post, according to The New York Post.
"She ran into the girl's bathroom to take the call, and she was bouncing off the walls when Ken told her to pack her bags, because she was now in the Top 36!"
After surviving the initial Hollywood Week rounds, Felicia was informed by the Idol judging panel during the pre-taped "Final Judgement" that she would not be moving onto the semifinals.
"As the show began, I could see Felicia's eyes watering up as she sat, prepared to relive her Great Disappointment," Loren wrote, according to The Post.
Despite eventually learning that her fate was better than what was being shown on Idol, Felicia had to keep the good news on the down-low until after the conclusion of the West Coast broadcast of the "Final Judgment" episode.
"We had to [pretend] as if she never got the call!" wrote Loren, The Post reported.
Minutes after the West Coast broadcast concluded, Fox released a statement that Pacitti had been determined to be "ineligible to continue in the competition" and Felicia would be her replacement.
The news presumably didn't go over so well when Pacitti was notified of her disqualification, which Fox reality chief Mike Darnell has since acknowleged was due to her previous relationships with two executives at one of Idol's production companies.
However Pacitti apparently took the news in stride.
"WHEW-craziness!" wrote Pacitti in a Facebook message that has also since been taken down, according to The Post.
"But everything happens for a reason. STILL NOT GIVING UP... you guys know me better than that."
Pacitti's mom also reportedly tried to get her daughter to look at the silver lining of the situation by posting a note that pointed out that her daughter could "now finally go public" with the fact that she's also dating Dancing with the Stars professional Mark Ballas, according to Billboard.