American Idol boots off Joanna Pacitti

Controversial 'American Idol' contestant and former child star Joanna Pacitti has been booted off the talent show, apparently due to her past in the music business.

Pacitti, 23, was put through to the Top 36 in an episode of the show broadcast on Wednesday, but her name was missing from a Fox television news release late on Wednesday on the Top 36.

'It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition,' the statement said, adding that Felicia Barton had taken her place.

Pacitti has had Idol fans buzzing for weeks because of a previous record deal and a role in a professional production of 'Annie' that many thought was at odds with the talent show's bid to discover new talent.

Fox could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday but the Los Angeles Times quoted a source saying she was cut to 'avoid the appearance of impropriety.'

Tabloid Star magazine reported last week that Pacitti had more professional experience than initially thought.

Star also said that Pacitti had ties with two executives with 19 Entertainment, the company that produces 'American Idol.' Pacitti had credited one of the 19 executives on notes for her 2006 album 'This Crazy Life', Star reported.

Wednesday's 'Idol' episode was recorded several weeks before being broadcast.

The rules of 'American Idol', now in its 8th season, say contestants should not have a current recording deal or talent management agreements.

Several past Idol wannabes, including last season's Irish singer Carly Smithson, had past record deals or made independent albums in their struggle to break into the industry.

Pacitti was up front about her previous record deal and new judge Kara DioGuardi -- a record producer and songwriter -- recognized her when she first auditioned last year.

Starting next week, viewers will decide who moves forward in the competition when voting opens up to the public for the first time this season.

'American Idol' remains America's most watched TV show with about 23 million viewers this season, and is broadcast live or in tape delay to more than 100 nations.

Source: China Daily/Agencies