Top 24 finalists named; rejects may be restricted by Idol’s contract

American Idol 5 is down to its final 24, and the judges’ decision-making is over. The final group was narrowed not through another audition, but through some unknown process that involved the judges looking at their notes, probably to see which ones were the cutest or would make the best television. As Brenna said after being told she was in the top 24, “Let’s make good TV.”

The final 24 contestants are Ace, Ayla, Becky, Bobby, Brenna, Bucky, Chris, David, Elliott, Gedeon, Heather, Sway, Katharine, Kinnik, Kellie, Kevin, Mandisa, Melissa, Paris, Patrick, Stevie, Taylor and Will. The top 12 women compete Tuesday at 8, followed by the men Wednesday, with elimination on Thursday.

Those who were rejected last night, earlier in Hollywood, or during the auditions aren’t exactly free. TMZ reports that the contract signed by contestants bans them from signing “…any talent management agreement, talent agency agreement, recording contract, songwriting contract, acting contract, modeling contract, sponsorship contract, or any merchandising contract … until three months following the date of the first broadcast of the final episode announcing the winner of the competition.” They can, however, ask for “prior written consent.”

That three-month restriction in the contract is nothing new, but TMZ and the guy who signed William Hung seem to suggest, in a roundabout way, that “restrictions for season five contestants makes it extremely difficult for any of the rejects to catch fire,” as the site reports. In other words, it’s more than just semi-finalists this year. Last season, Mario Vazquez quit after making it to the top 12, and we learned that, about two weeks before the final 12 were selected, they had to sign a contract with the three-month clause.

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