Golightly didn't disclose that he'd had a music contract, a point on which all contestants are queried because singers with current deals are barred from competing, the person said. The person, who lacked authority to comment publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity.
It was Golightly's failure to mention the contract, not whether it was currently in force, that led to his expulsion, the person said.
Golightly, 25, a shoe salesman from Los Angeles, couldn't immediately be reached for comment because phone numbers listed for him were out of service. A Facebook page and Twitter account in his name did not immediately address his departure from "American Idol."
He was replaced by Tim Urban, a 20-year-old college student from Duncanville, Texas, when the last 17 of the semifinalists was revealed on Wednesday's show after seven were announced Tuesday.
A statement from Fox said Golightly was replaced because he was "ineligible to continue in the competition." No further explanation was provided.
Golightly is ineligible to return for another shot at "American Idol" next season because he was dropped at the semifinals stage of the contest, the person close to the show said.
The change was apparent to viewers, since Golightly was seen among the 24 semifinalists on stage toward the end of Wednesday's episode but was not in a shot of the 12 male singers who are advancing.
The curly haired Golightly joins a string of "Idol" contestants who emerged from the thousands to audition nationwide only to be disappointed when the show decides their work or personal history is a problem.
Last season, Joanna Pacitti was shown advancing to the top 36 after "Hollywood Week" but was later replaced by Felicia Barton. Pacitti released an album in 2006 and had ties to 19 Entertainment, which produces "Idol" with FremantleMedia North America. She was also deemed "ineligible to continue" in a Fox news release.
In contrast, the singing competition allowed past contestants David Hernandez and Antonella Barba to stay on after it surfaced that he once worked as a nightclub stripper and racy photos that appeared to be her leaked online. And Nikki McKibbin says she was upfront with "Idol" producers about her stripping past before she became a finalist during the show's first season.
The ninth season of "American Idol" moves on to live performances next week.
The group of male semifinalists revealed Wednesday include Andrew Garcia, 24, Moreno Valley, Calif.; Tyler Grady, 20, Nazareth, Pa.; Alex Lambert, 19, North Richland Hills, Texas; Joe Munoz, 20, Huntington Park, Calif.; John Park, 21, Evanston, Ill.; and Jermaine Sellers, 27, Joliet, Ill.
The female semifinalists were Crystal Bowersox, 24, Toledo, Ohio; Lacey Brown, 24, Amarillo, Texas; Michelle Delamor, 22, Miami; Siobhan Magnus, 20, Marstons Mills, Mass.; Paige Miles, 24, Houston, Texas; Ashley Rodriguez, 22, Chelsea, Mass.; Lilly Scott, 20, Denver; Katie Stevens, 17, Middlebury, Conn.; Haeley Vaughn, 16, Fort Collins, Colo., and Janell Wheeler, 24, Tampa, Fla.
The previously announced semifinalists were Didi Benami, 23, Los Angeles; Lee Dewyze, 23, Mount Prospect, Ill.; Katelyn Epperly, 19, West Des Moines, Iowa; Aaron Kelly, 16, Sonestown, Pa.; Casey James, 27, Fort Worth, Texas; Todrick Hall, 24, Arlington, Texas; and Michael "Big Mike" Lynche, 26, Astoria, N.Y.
The top 12 women will perform live next Tuesday with the top 12 men taking the stage live Wednesday. Viewer votes will determine which two women and two men will be eliminated.
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