Joanna Pacitti’s “close connection” to American Idol is the reason why Joanna was quietly removed from the competition last Thursday. That’s a reference to Joanna’s connection to two 19 Entertainment executives; 19 produces the series.
“Unfortunately, it was just a perceptional problem, that there [was] just too close a connection between [Pacitti and the employees], we felt. A replacement was made as a producorial and judge choice. Simple as that. I think it was handled correctly,” Fox’s president of alternative programming, Mike Darnell, told the Los Angeles Times.
Ryan Seacrest also commented, although he was slightly less specific. “The producers do the background checks right around [the] Hollywood [round]. 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,” he told Fox News. “It’s a sad thing to have to tell a contestant they can’t compete. But we have to play by our rules.”
At the opening of Disney’s American Idol Experience on Thursday, I asked Carly Smithson about Joanna because Carly was criticized for having prior experience during American Idol 7, just as Joanna was this year. Although my question was about contestants’ prior experience, Carly was immediately defensive, probably because so many other people had already asked her about Joanna, and said, “I’m not sure that’s why she was disqualified. I have no idea what it was about,” although she said that after insisting that they are “completely two different people,” which kind of suggests she has at least some idea. As to experience, Carly told me, “it just means that I pretty much worked my whole life to get where I’m at. I don’t know. It’s American Idol; it’s the American dream, of course everybody’s gonna want to follow it. I don’t think it’s a problem.” Then she returned to Joanna: “Two separate, separate things.”
Ryan Seacrest, by the way, talked to Fox at Disney, where he skipped nearly every journalist on the red carpet and talked instead to Fox, which meant I couldn’t ask him if he was sad they’d cast his part with an unknown cast member instead of replacing him with an audio-animatronic version of himself, or Brian Dunkleman.
Ryan Seacrest Says Show ‘Didn’t Want to Risk’ Joanna Pacitti Staying on ‘American Idol’ [Fox News]