Joanna Pacitti disqualified from the eighth season of 'American Idol'
By Steve Rogers, 02/12/2009
Fox has announced that controversial American Idol contestant Joanna Pacitti has been disqualified from the show's eighth season competition.
"It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition," the network stated in a late Wednesday night announcement released shortly after the conclusion of the West Coast broadcast of American Idol's pre-filmed "Final Judgement" episode in which Pacitti was shown advancing into the competition's semifinals.
Felicia Barton, a 26-year-old wife and mother from Virginia Beach, VA, will replace Pacitti in the season's Top 36 semifinals.
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. However last week, Star magazine had reported that Pacitti -- who had already previously made headlines for her extensive professional music industry experience, which included a 2006 debut album with Geffen Records -- allegedly has "connections" to two executives at American Idol's 19 Entertainment production company.
According to Star, Pacitti has "very personal connections" to Michelle Young and Roger Widynowski, two executives that work in 19 Entertainment's Los Angeles office. In addition to living in the same apartment complex as the 19 Entertainment executives for several years, Pacitti has also allegedly called Young her "manager" and "best friend" and credited Widynowski -- a former RCA Records publicist -- with "helping me get where I am today," according to the tabloid.
Unlike last season's similar situation in which the show didn't disclose Carly Smithson's prior major label recording deal during its seventh-season audition and Hollywood Week broadcasts, American Idol's eighth-season broadcasts had openly acknowledged Pacitti's professional experience.
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(American Idol only requires contestants to not have any current recording or talent management agreements when they audition -- not that they never have signed a professional agreement.)
"I'm from Philadelphia and I moved to L.A. on my own when I was 16. I wanted to do my thing and I wanted to write music and really give it my all," Pacitti said in an introduction clip that was shown before her audition aired during Idol's coverage of the eighth season's Louisville, KY auditions.
"I learned a lot and I think I grew up really fast and I actually really got a chance to see what singers and what artists do and how they struggle," Pacitti added. "It's much harder than anybody could ever imagine."
"I've lost a lot of confidence in the past year, but I'm got trying to calm myself down and focus and go in there and just show them what I've got," Pacitti said before she entered the room to audition for Idol's eighth season and was immediately recognized by new judge Kara DioGuardi.
"Wait a minute, weren't you on A&M Records?" DioGuardi asked Pacitti.
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"Yes, a while ago, yes," answered Pacitti.
"You were signed right?" wondered DioGuardi.
"Yes, I was," replied the Idol hopeful.
"This is Joanna Pacitti. I know this girl!" exclaimed the new Idol judge.
"So hang on -- what didn't go right?" asked Simon Cowell about Pacitti's previous recording contract.
"It just didn't work out," she answered.
"So it was their fault?" asked Cowell.
"I'd hope to say that, yeah," answered Pacitti, who then sang Pat Benatar's "We Belong" for the judges.
"I like her. I like you. There's something about you," DioGuardi said after the performance, prompting tears from Pacitti.
"Aw... it's been rough for you, I know," said DioGuardi.
"I'm definitely going to say yes too, based on the voice. You definitely got a voice," added Randy Jackson. "Welcome back to Hollywood - -you got quite a journey going on!"
In addition to her initial audition, American Idol had also acknowledged Pacitti's professional background during Wednesday night's "Final Judgement" episode.
"It's been a tough road for you, we've established how difficult this business is with you," Abdul told Pacitti as she met with the judges to learn whether she had made the eighth season's semifinals cut.
"Joanna, you've done this a bunch of times -- you've had label deals and all this stuff -- when is going to be that time, when is that time that you really step out and show us who you are as an artist?" asked DioGuardi. "That's my concern with you."
"I think the answer to that question is 'When somebody gives her a break' Kara," Cowell responded.