American Idol 8: The Pacitti/Barton Swap Post-Mortem--So What Happened?
The dust has finally settled, and the initial frenzy—not at least from me, or so I'd like to think—has died down.  Slowly, but surely, we're living with Joanna Pacitti's disqualification from American Idol, and the entry of Felicia Barton into the top 36.  If things went differently, she could be back in Virginia Beach reliving her close call—she was, as I realized days later, in the so-called overly-dramatic “final judgment”—and Joanna could be prepping for her performances.  But, alas, things have gone differently, and the past has gone to catch up with both of them.

Idol host Ryan Seacrest did confirm to Fox News that Joanna was tossed because of close relationships with two of the reality search's producers.  Tabloid reports in the past few weeks have pointed towards 19 Entertainment producers Michelle Young and Roger Widynowski, and the former Idol contestant attributes the two to her (equally controversial) previous success in the music industry.  Young was described as her “manager” and “best friend”; Widynowski, of helping her “get where I am today.”  (It must be noted that the show only requires contestants to not have a current record deal, which is why Carly Smithson got into the top 12 despite having released an album before.)

American Idol 8: Top 36 Power Rankings Slideshow

So why did the disqualification happen just after the top 36 was announced?  “The producers do the background checks right around [the] Hollywood [round],” Seacrest explained.  “When they see something that stands out, they have to address it.  And they saw something, and there was apparently some sort of a link that, somewhere along the line, could be construed as one that's close to the competition, and they didn't want to risk it … we have to play by our rules.”

Felicia Barton received news of her sudden inclusion to the top 36 in a pretty dramatic fashion.  A blog entry—since taken down, probably on orders from producers—by her husband Loren detailed how the 26-year-old mother got the news.  It was, he says, during a screening organized at their church back at their hometown.  By then, of course, she knew the outcome would be disappointing—and quite quick to miss, in some cases.

“Sure enough, smack dab in the middle of 150 viewers that were gathered … to watch the show, [Idol executive producer] Ken Warwick called Felicia's phone,” he wrote.  “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!”

It was weird, considering that he noticed Felicia almost well up before the screening, knowing all too well the results.  Even weirder, perhaps, was what they had to do next.  “We had to [pretend] as if she never got the call!” he wrote, as they waited until the show finished airing on the West Coast—and the news of the Joanna-Felicia swap was officially announced.

So, how's Joanna dealing with the events?  “Whew-craziness!” she wrote in another entry on her Facebook page, which was since taken down, presumably for the same reasons.  “[Everything] happens for a reason.  Still not giving up… you guys know me better than that.”  Apart from the fact that she doesn't have to keep secret her relationship with Dancing with the Stars pro dancer Mark Ballas—a fact that her mother was happy about—we can expect her career to get a little boost in the coming days, if not because of the somewhat negative ending to her Idol hopes.  But, as they do say, every cloud has a silver lining.

-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

Sources: Fox News, The New York Post
(Image courtesy of Fox)