'American Idol' Contender Joanna Pacitti Comes Under Fire

Joanna Pacitti has starred on Broadway, recorded an album for Geffen records and has dated a former professional winner of “Dancing With the Stars,” but she still felt she needed to give her career a boost by auditioning for Season 8 of “American Idol.”

Pacitti came under fire after last night, when it was revealed she was allowed to audition and put through to “Idol’s” Hollywood round on Thursday night’s show.

The 24-year-old joined the cast of Broadway’s “Annie” at the age of 11. But, she and her family ended up suing producers after Pacitti was replaced in the show after she became sick with bronchitis. Her mother filed suit for $50 million, but settled with producers out of court.

Pacitti later moved to Hollywood as a teen, signing to A&M records. She eventually released the 2006 album, “This Crazy Life” on Geffen.

She has appeared on the soundtrack for “Legally Blonde,” where she sang “Watch Me Shine,” and “Out From Under” from the “Bratz” movie. In fact, “Out From Under” was re-recorded by Britney Spears on her new CD, “Circus.”

But while plenty of former “Idol” contenders have had record deals prior to their “Idol” experience — including Season 7’s Kristy Lee Cook and Carly Smithson — Pacitti’s experience is considered, by some, to be much broader.

The brunette, has dated “Dancing With the Stars” professional Mark Ballas, according to his manager.

“They have known each other for a while and are really good friends, who have also been on a couple of dates together,” Ballas’ manager told Access Hollywood. “They also performed at a charity benefit together a couple of months ago.”

And Pacitti has already been a part of reality TV. She was featured in one of MTV’s “True Life” episodes, which followed her as she worked on increasing her success. She was also featured in another documentary, following singers on the rise.

While a number of fans thought her audition was great, a host of posters on “Idol’s” official forum suggested she should be disqualified because of her background and suggested she may have an advantage if she makes it to the public vote.

“The point is that because she is a ‘semi-pro’… she already has a built in fan base and voting block. That skews the competition in her favor, especially in the early rounds,” forum member Marcdamon wrote.

Another forum user suggested Pacitti has already had her chance at fame and is hoping it leads to an “Idol” competition rule change.

“They need to change the rules to only allow for untapped talent. Joanna has already been on 2 major labels, has had a cover done by Britney and 3 songs on 3 different movie soundtracks,” Davesnay wrote. “She is taking valuable space away from somebody who hasn’t already had 5-6 chances.”

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