American Idol gets serious: Tampa's Janell Wheeler tonight and St. Pete's Michael Lynche Wednesday
With the field cut down to 24 semi-finalists, those who find the emotionalism of the Hollywood Round auditions and the humiliation of cattle call tryouts can now relax a bit. Idol is about to become a bit more of a talent competition.
And the Tampa Bay area has a few folks to root for. To preview the Wednesday performance of St. Petersburg-raised singer Michael Lynche, I spent some time with his former teachers and friends from the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. They all mostly used the same adjectives to describe him: loyal, naturally talented, and a funny, gentle giant of a guy.
Semi-finalist Janell Wheeler, who also got a fair amount of exposure during the Hollywood tryouts, was born and grew up in the Orlando area, though she moved to Tampa not long before her Idol auditions. She also set the record straight about rumors she might be dating former Florida Gators Quarterback Tim Tebow.
Though she attended the University of Florida and the two hung in the same circle of friends "he is definitely not my boyfriend," she told the Orlando Sentinel. She joins the other female contestants performing tonight, with an hourlong results show planned Thursday.
And another top 24 contestant, Todrick Hall, is expected to compete with the Lynche and the rest of the Idol's 12 male semifinalists, despite the resurfacing of a controversy from last year, when Hall, tried to organize a series of theater productions of a show he wrote called Oz, the Musical across the country.
Several dance studios in the Tampa Bay area wound up participating in the event, where young students auditioned for bit parts and were charged $50 if they passed the audition. But when money for the show dried up from producers, Hall scrambled with a local dance studio to present a different show at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg.
Some parents, who say they didn't get their money back and didn't participate in the show, are still angry. But Fox, which declined to comment specifically on the issue, said Hall is expected to perform Wednesday.
And all this, before the live competition even gets started tonight. Looks like another interesting Idol season is upon us.