NEW YORK – A little lie turned wannabe pop star Delano Cagnolatti's American Idol dreams to stone last night.
Cagnolatti, a semi-finalist on Fox's hit reality show, was booted off the this week after a background check revealed that he was 29 years old — not 23 as he originally told producers.
The rules of American Idol stipulate that contestants must be between 16 and 24 years old.
Cagnolatti doctored his driver's license when he applied to be on the show, officials said.
Last night's edition of Idol showed producers confronting him last Thursday.
Cagnolatti appears upset, lies again, but finally admits his age and leaves the set.
"If I trip and I fall, I dust off and I keep walking, that's the kind of person I am," he told TV Guide after his embarrassing exit. "So I don't have anything to say about American Idol anymore, ever."
Cagnolatti's spot on the show will be filled by 20-year-old EJay Day from Atlanta.
Fox officials declined to comment.
Cagnolatti's disqualification spans two of TV's halls of shame: those who lie about their backgrounds but get found out, and the relatively tiny fraternity of reality-show rejects who have been exiled from their shows for bad behavior.
The latter includes Justin Sebik, 26, from Bayonne, N.J., whose antics on Big Brother 2 included holding a kitchen-knife to a co-contestant Krista Stegall's throat, kissing her and asking if she would be upset if he killed her.
Stegall laughed it off, but Sebik, it turned out later, had been arrested several times.
Cagnolatti's lie puts him more in line with a long Hollywood tradition of actors and writers who've lost work after being caught lying about their background.
One famously notable 1998 debacle surrounded a "19-year-old" writer for Felicity named Riley Weston (a.k.a. Kimberlee Kramer).
She lost her job and a lucrative writing deal with Disney when it was learned she was actually a thirtysomething divorcee.