photo: FoxOnly a couple weeks ago, Jermaine Jones, the "gentle giant" of "American Idol," was brought back to the show as a 25th surprise bonus contestant, after the judges supposedly had a last-minute change of heart. Jermaine managed to survive the semifinals and even make the top 12 via public vote, but now TMZ is reporting that he will be disqualified this week, for allegedly concealing his violent criminal past.
According to TMZ, Jermaine was arrested and charged with two crimes--one of which was violent--in 2011. TMZ reports that last year, Jermaine was charged with public nuisance and obstruction of justice stemming from a fight at a Howard Johnson Hotel in New Jersey, and was later charged after a separate incident for hindering apprehension and giving false information to avoid self-discovery. He was also supposedly arrested for having four outstanding warrants (three for driving on a suspended license, one for disorderly conduct with an open container). Jermaine allegedly gave fake names to the police in both cases.
Apparently Jermaine failed to disclose these outstanding warrants to "Idol" producers, so as a result, TMZ says he will now be eliminated from "Idol," in what is sure to be a dramatic moment on Wednesday's episode, since footage of producers' confrontation with Jermaine will reportedly be shown on television.
This is hardly the first time an "Idol" contestant has been disqualified mid-season. In Season 2, Corey Clark was dropped for concealing his own arrest record, and Frenchie Davis was kicked off for appearing on a pornographic website. Season 8's Joanna Pacitti was dismissed due to supposed ties to "Idol's" 19 Entertainment, and Season 9's Chris Golightly was disqualified right after making the top 24 semifinals because of his existing record contract. However, producers' confrontations with those ousted contestants were never broadcast on the air. So this is definitely a first.
That being said, Wednesday's expected announcement won't be quite as dramatic as (conspiracy theory alert!) "Idol" producers might have hoped, since Jermaine has already let the cat out of the bag on Twitter. On Tuesday night, Jermaine tweeted from his official "Idol" Twitter account, @JJonesAI11, "Awww I will no longer b on the show," not long after TMZ teased that a still-unnamed top 12 contestant would be disqualified. That tweet was later deleted, and now Jermaine's entire @JJonesAI11 Twitter account has suddenly vanished.
Of course, the crafty conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this was a ratings ploy all along: You know, bring Jermaine back for the semifinals to create some drama and buzz, then create even more drama and buzz later on, when his criminal-past bombshell leads to his "shocking" disqualification. I just find it a little hard to believe that "Idol's" staff would not have been able to uncover Jermaine's (very recent) alleged crimes via a standard background check, and it seems fishy that the one contestant that was given a last-minute reprieve is now the one getting the boot. Is it possible that by bringing back a contestant who was already set up for an early disqualification, the show's producers had sneakily hoped to generate headlines and boost "Idol's" flagging ratings, without jeopardizing any actual worthy contestants' future chances? We'll never know.
But if so, then I beg to differ on that last point: Bringing Jermaine back to the show and playing up his public-vote-garnering sob story just may have stolen a legitimate spot in the top 13 from one of the show's other promising male semifinalists who could have gone farther, like Reed Grimm, Creighton Fraker, or Aaron Marcellus (or any other bonus contestant the judges could have elected to reinstate, such as David Leathers Jr.). While Jermaine's short "Idol" stint may have made for some good television--and Wednesday night's show will be dramatic indeed--it may have negatively altered Season 11's outcome in the long run.
Now it remains to be seen how, in the short run, Jermaine's dishonorable discharge will alter this week's results. Will there be no elimination this Thursday? Will a previous castoff be brought back to replace Jermaine--and if so, who will that be? I am certainly interested to find out, so perhaps "American Idol's" masterminds will get what they probably wanted all along, in the form of a big ratings spike this week.