St. Petersburg native Michael Lynche is among the top 24 semifinalists on Fox TV's blockbuster singing competition American Idol, according to relatives and two fan Web sites tracking the show.
If true, Lynche would be the second family member to do well on the show; his brother Marque Lynche Jr. advanced to the show's semifinals in 2004 but was cut from the competition before the final 12 performers were selected.
Lynche wasn't shown during Wednesday's Idol episode, centered on auditions in Orlando in the summer where Emmy and Tony award winning actress/singer Kristen Chenoweth served as a guest judge. Though the "cattle call" audition that drew thousands occurred weeks before Chenoweth and the show's other celebrity judges saw contestants, producers edited the episode to make it seem as if it all happened at the same time.
Several area residents were shown getting "golden tickets" to the next level of auditions in Hollywood. They included 19-year-old Kasi Bedford from Seminole, 24-year-old Janell Wheeler from Tampa and 28-year-old Seth Rollins from Lakeland, who brought along his autistic son.
Shelby Dressel, an 18-year-old food server from Avon Park, made it to Hollywood despite forgetting the words to her song and letting an expletive slip. Then there was 28-year-old graphic designer Jarrod Norrell, who took rejection so badly, he was handcuffed and arrested.
Lynche's father, Marque Lynche Sr., confirmed that his 26-year-old son had survived the "Hollywood round" of auditions filmed last week in Los Angeles — where singers plucked from the location tryouts are whittled down to 24 semifinalists.
Fox has declined to comment on the Hollywood auditions until footage of the tryouts airs in February — the first shows to feature newly hired judge Ellen DeGeneres. But Lynche's name was among the list of top 24 singers featured on two Web sites tracking rumors about the auditions.
Now living in New York City, Michael Lynche is a graduate of Gibbs High School and the son of former St. Petersburg Times columnist Michele Lynche, who died in 2004 of pancreatic cancer.
The singer's Web site describes his music as a cross between Gnarls Barkley, Outcast and R. Kelly, noting he earned a full academic and athletic scholarship to the University of Central Florida, where he played NCAA Division I football as a defensive lineman.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.