Friday, March 04, 2011

With twist, `American Idol' down to 13 contestants

NEW YORK – The Hollywood stage became a little less crowded Thursday as "American Idol" cut its contestant pool from 24 to a lucky 13 finalists.

Four of the final contestants are from California, two are from New York and two are from Nashville, Tenn.

Ten of the finalists made it to the next round of the Fox reality show through online and phone votes from viewers. In a new twist, judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler picked six of those left out for a wild-card competition, choosing three of them to go forward after they auditioned with a song.

The three to benefit from the judges' extra chance were Ashthon Jones, 24, of Nashville; Naima Adedapo, 26, of Milwaukee; and Stefano Langone, 21, of Kent, Wash.

"This is the toughest night ever," Jackson said.

Five men and five women were chosen by the viewers. They are Casey Abrams, 20, of Idyllwild, Calif.; James Durbin, 22, of Santa Cruz, Calif.; Jacob Lusk, 23, of Compton, Calif.; Scotty McCreery, 17, of Garner, N.C.; Paul McDonald, 26, of Nashville; Thia Megia, 16, of Mountain House, Calif.; Haley Reinhart, 20, of Wheeling, Ill.; Karen Rodriguez, 21, of New York; Pia Toscano, 22, of Howard Beach, N.Y.; and Lauren Alaina, 16, of Rossville, Ga.

Jones, given her second chance, stalked the stage and confidently sang "I'm Not Goin'." She was right.

The three judges had some suspiciously convenient indecision following the wild-card competition. Coming out of a commercial break, Lopez said they needed a few more minutes to decide — just enough time for Fox to air the world premiere of Lopez's new music video as the six competitors waited nervously onstage.

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