Published March 13, 2003
Vanessa Olivarez, the outrageous Georgia native with the pink hair, last night became the first contestant booted off American Idol 2.
"You haven't seen the last of me," a smiling, gracious Olivarez, 22, said on live TV after learning that she'd been voted off the Fox reality show.
"I'm fine . . . and I'll be back," she said.
AI2 host Ryan Seacrest noted that more than 13 million people voted for their AI2 favorites after Tuesday night's show, in which all 12 finalists performed for the first time, each of them choosing a Motown-flavored song.
Olivarez got the least support. Julia DeMato and Kimberly Locke, who finished just ahead of Olivarez in the vote, survived-at least for one more week.
Meanwhile, the big guy from Alabama, Ruben Studdard, has emerged as a favorite to win.
Studdard, whose heart appears to be as big as his golden singing voice, has become one of the most beloved contestants among the finalists on the hit reality show.
"I think Ruben is a favorite just because he's got a silky smooth voice and doesn't fit the stereotype . . . of what the last 'American Idol' was about," Broadway star and ex-teen pop queen Deborah Gibson told The Post.
"I think Ruben represents real people . . . I think women would line up to hear him sing, because he can really sell a ballad."
Gibson also favors Clay Aiken, the beanstalk boy from Raleigh, N.C., who judge Simon Cowell originally said looks too much like Howdy Doody.
"If he doesn't win this he's got a future in theater," Gibson said.