Ryan Seacrest Says Show 'Didn't Want to Risk' Joanna Pacitti Staying on 'American Idol'

Published February 13, 2009

| FoxNews.com

Singer Joanna Pacitti was disqualified from the final 36 "American Idol" contestants on Wednesday amid allegations she had close relationships with two of the show's producers.

Now "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest confirms to FOXNews.com that the controversial singer's ties may have been a factor in her dismissal.

“The producers do the background checks right around [the] Hollywood [round]," Seacrest said. "When they see something that stands out, they have to address it. And they saw something, and there was apparently some sort of a link that, somewhere along the line, could be construed as one that’s close to the competition, and they didn’t want to risk it."

Seacrest, who was attending the opening of the new American Idol Experience themed section at Disneyworld, said it was a shame that Pacitti had to be disqualified after she had made the show's first big cut.

"It’s a sad thing to have to tell a contestant they can’t compete," he said. "But we have to play by our rules.”

Pacitti, who had been dubbed "the ringer" because of her past music industry experience, has been replaced in the Final 36 with also-ran Felicia Barton.

Last week, Star reported two producers at 19 Entertainment, which produces "Idol", Michelle Young and Roger Widynowski, had connections with Pacitti.

Sources told Star that Joanna had called Young her "manager" and "best friend," and that Widynowski helped her "get where I am today."

The singer was previously criticized for even being on the amateur talent show because of her previous record deals with A&M Records and Geffen.

But former finalist Carly Smithson, who also had a record deal before competing on "American Idol," said that should not have disqualified her from the competition.

“Having experience just really means that you’ve worked really hard and you really want it,” Smithson told FOXNews.com.

"Idol" only requires contestants not have a current record deal.

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http://www.foxnews.com/story/2009/02/13/ryan-seacrest-says-show-didnt-want-to-risk-joanna-pacitti-staying-on-american