As this article was published, Fox released a statement confirming that Felicia Barton is, indeed, part of American Idol‘s top 36.  “It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition,” it said.  Sources have told the Los Angeles Times that the decision was made to “avoid the appearance of impropriety”; tabloids have reported of a private relationship between Pacitti and executives of 19 Entertainment.

So here I am, reeling from watching American Idol.  It’s almost eleven in the evening, but I’m still up downloading photos of the top 36.  I’m frustrated that the slideshow I did went the wrong way—the last slide’s out first—and that the new photos have arrived as I finished updating the profiles.  But it gives me a rush, and it excites me, although I have this urge to pull my hair out.  Maybe I’m overwhelmed.  It’s not the right time to defer a haircut, it seems.

Slideshow: American Idol 8: The Official Top 36

American Idol 8: The Top 36 Revealed, Live Thoughts

I’ve downloaded 35 photos, and I was very frustrated that I can’t find the last one.  It’s Joanna Pacitti, the contestant who’s apparently had a record deal before joining the show.  Kara DioGuardi definitely remembered her during her audition.  Watching the Hollywood auditions, it felt that she was a shoo-in to the semi-finals—she definitely has the talent, and the presence to back it up, too.  The experience has obviously come to help, and now, she’s got another chance to make it big, perhaps bigger—controversy or otherwise.

Turns out, Joanna’s photo really is nowhere on the Fox press site.  In its place is a photo of an unknown—a certain Felicia Barton.  The photo is very ordinary, really—it’s not a publicity photo, but a photo that’s taken from one of the show’s auditions last year.  The caption says she’s from Virginia Beach, so I guess she auditioned in New York.

Maybe it was just a mistake on their part, right?

I have a reason to believe that it isn’t, though.  There is also a collage on the website, and Joanna’s face isn’t one of the 36 placed there.  Look closely at the upper-right corner, and there’s a photo that seems to be from the Hollywood auditions at the Kodak Theater.

It looks strikingly similar to… that certain Felicia Barton.  I decided to send my colleagues an email.

Two minutes later, Oscar Dahl forwarded me an email that the folks at Fox always gives out to the press.  We even sent each other an email at the same time, but that’s beside the point.  He’s thought the same thing, apparently.  There’s no photo of Joanna Pacitti, and instead, a photo of this Felicia Barton.

I thought I was reading too much into what could possibly be technology failing me again, but the question now goes like this: where is Joanna Pacitti?  Did her old record deal catch up with her?  Did she back out for health reasons?  For personal reasons?  Did anything go wrong?

And who is Felicia Barton?  We’ve not seen her in any of the Idol episodes so far.  Where did they get her?  Why didn’t they get any of those who actually made it to Hollywood?

This feels like a case of good old detective work, only it’s on American Idol.

-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: Los Angeles Times
(Images courtesy of Fox)

Henrik Batallones

Staff Writer, BuddyTV