Ryan Seacrest has said it was something in one-time “American Idol” hopeful Joanna Pacitti’s background that led to the disqualification of the 24-year-old from the show’s top 36 on Thursday.
“Joanna Pacitti is a very talented singer. It’s sad to see somebody go from the show. Unfortunately, the producers that do the background (checks), something came up and she was disqualified,” Seacrest told Access Hollywood on Thursday in Orlando. “I don’t have a lot of details, but I know we just do the background checks around Hollywood Week.”
Seacrest said he found out the news Thursday morning, a few hours before the announcement that Pacitti, who previously had record deals with two different major labels, and a rumored professional relationship with a member of 19 Entertainment (which produces the show), had been axed from “Idol.”
“I’ve not spoke to any contestant since we all found out that Joanna was disqualified,” Seacrest said. “You know, it’s tough when you have to do something like that. It’s not fun. Nobody wants to do it. Rules are rules and you’ve gotta play by them.”
While Seacrest was up on the news as it broke, on the red carpet at the opening of the “American Idol” Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, Paula Abdul said she had very few details about Pacitti’s disqualification.
“I heard about it today as well. I’m sure I will find out what the reasons are, but I have no idea what it’s about,” Abdul said.
And it was news to dozens of the “Idol” alumni who turned out at the Orlando event, including recent Grammy winner, Carrie Underwood.
“Yeah, I heard little tidbits, but I don’t know what the story is,” Underwood said.
Though unaware of specifics, Underwood said that when someone is cut from the show it is tough on the axed contest and those left behind.
“You move out away from your family, away from your friends and you have this tight little network of people — that’s all you know, so it really is difficult to see somebody go home especially if it’s some sort of disqualification because you don’t know how far they could have gone,” she said.
Melinda Doolittle, who has been watching season eight whenever her busy schedule allows, was also surprised by the news.
“I can’t even imagine what (Joanna would) be going through. The Hollywood process and getting into the top 36, it’s kind of traumatic and it’s stressful and it’s tiring and then you gotta sing,” Doolittle said. “It’s one of those experiences that you don’t even know how to explain right, so I know she’s gone through a lot of stress to get to the position she’s in and so my heart goes out to her.”
But she had some advice for the exiting twentysomething.
“I would say to Joanna just keep doing your thing because the girl can sing. So, I think she’s going to be just fine,” Doolittle added.
Phil Stacey, a season six finalist, who has been keeping up on the “Idol” news for his Los Angeles Times blog, said despite Pacitti’s connections, he was surprised she was let go.
“It didn’t bother me that she had a record deal, even when I found out that she was friends with someone who is now high in 19 (Entertainment), that doesn’t bother me because they don’t count the votes, a separate company does,” he said.
While Pacitti is out, Stacey said he has high hopes for Felicia Barton, who was chosen as her replacement.
“I’m excited about the girl that’s replacing her. She was always great to me,” he said. “There’s something different about her. She’s got a really great voice. I think she’ll be a finalist. I know she didn’t make it to the first cut, but I can see her being a finalist.”