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The process of weeding "American Idol" contestants down to the top 36 is already fraught with tons of drama, which was heightened this season by the decision to have some of the contestants vying for a coveted spot on the show compete in sing-offs to determine their fate in the semifinals.

But as pressure-packed as Wednesday night's pare-down was, the real fireworks came shortly after the show aired, when Fox announced that former "Annie" Broadway star and one-time professional major label singer Joanna Pacitti, who appeared to make the cut in the pre-taped show, had been disqualified from the competition.

"American Idol" season 8 contestant Joanna Pacitti has been disqualified from the show, apparently due to her past history in the music business."It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition," Fox said in a statement without further elaboration.

There's been a decent amount of controversy surrounding Pacitti's professional past, including not only her former record deal (with A&M/Geffen, which released her debut album, "This Crazy Life," in 2006), but also an opening slot on the last Nick Lachey tour (Lachey is signed to Jive Records, which is owned by Sony BMG, the company that awards a recording contract to the "Idol" winner) and dubious connections to staffers at 19 Entertainment, including Pacitti's former manager.

In addition, her songs have appeared on high-profile soundtracks such as "Legally Blonde" and later on albums by major pop stars, like Britney Spears.

According to the Los Angeles Times, an unnamed source close to the show said Pacitti was bounced to "avoid the appearance of impropriety." It has been reported that Pacitti had some close personal relationships to some of the executives at 19 Management, one of he companies that helps produce the show and manages some of the winners.

Though last year's finalists included a number of singers with music-industry ties, several of whom had released albums, Pacitti, 24, drew fire early on this year, thanks to her former deal with Geffen/A&M, which released her debut album, This Crazy Life, in 2006.

Several of her songs have appeared on soundtracks, including "Legally Blonde," "First Daughter" and "Bratz," which included her song, "Out From Under," a tune that Britney Spears covered on her Circus album.At press time, spokespeople for "Idol" were not available to provide further details of Pacitti's disqualification, or to answer questions about whether her ineligibility was determined before Wednesday's show aired.There were, of course, other emotional high points and some head-scratching decisions on the show, including the semifinal berth for comedian/multiple [article id="1604824"]personality singer Nick "Norman Gentle" Mitchell[/article], who seemed genuinely humbled to be on the show and promised to continue mixing his comedy with singing, as well as the passing through of emotionally unpredictable Tatiana Del Toro.With Pacitti gone, the top 36 semifinalists looks as follows: Female: Alexis Grace, Allison Iraheta, Ann Marie Boskovich, Arianna Afsar, Casey Carlson, Felicia Barton, Jackie Tohn, Jasmine Murray, Jeanine Vailes, Jessie Langseth, Kendall Beard, Kristen Mc Namara, Lil Rounds, Megan Corkrey, Mishavonna Henson, Stevie Wright, Tatiana Nicole Del Toro and Taylor Vaifanua.Male: Adam Lambert, Alexander Wagner-Trugman, Anoop Desai, Brent Keith, Danny Gokey, Jorge Nunez, Ju'Not Joyner, Kai Kalama, Kris Allen, Matt Breitzke, Matt Giraud, Michael Sarver, Nathaniel Marshall, Nick Mitchell, Ricky Braddy, Scott Macintyre, Stephen Fowler and Von Smith.Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.


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