Ryan Seacrest dropped the hammer immediately. Right at the top of Wednesday's American Idol, before even introducing the judges he announced, “With the cooperation of law enforcement we discovered information that left us with no choice but to eliminate one of our finalists from the competition.”
Then, of course, this being Idol, which has made a religion of “make the audience wait”, he didn’t identify the expelled contestant until nearly 50 minutes later when he said “I can now tell you that person is Jermaine Jones.“
We were then shown a tape from Tuesday evening of Jones being confronted by Idol’s executive producers who informed him that he had placed them in “a delicate position”.
Jones’s explanations were rather disjointed. When asked about an arrest for fighting, he insisted, “It wasn‘t a fight. I wasn‘t fighting. What happened is I fell down the stairs carrying my bags. The police and paramedics were called because I couldn’t walk. I have screws in my foot.”
The producers informed Jones that his four outstanding arrest warrants were grounds for automatic and immediate expulsion.
Though Seacrest made us wait for the confirmation, the identity of the disgraced contestant did not come as a surprise. It followed days of reports about Jones’s previously unrevealed criminal background in the state of New Jersey which includes two arrests in 2011. On both occasions, the 6’8” singer from Pine Hill provided a false name during booking
Contestants who make it past the Hollywood round of eliminations on Idol are required to sign an affidavit for Idol’s producers swearing that they have provided complete details of any and all past transgressions. Jones clearly lied on his form.
Sources on the show are saying that Jones brought the scrutiny which lead to the discovery of his crimes upon himself. Several times last week he told stories to the producers about an absentee father suddenly seeking him out. Apparently it was a misguided attempt to gain sympathy but it misfired.
Jones’s version of his past was quickly revealed to be a fabrication and sparked further questions about his veracity.
This is not the first time an Idol finalist has been tossed for concealing a criminal record. In the show’s second season, Corey Clark was sent home after it was discovered he had previously been arrested on a battery charge. Even before his dismissal, Clark was controversial for what some felt was the inappropriate enthusiasm judge Paula Abdul displayed towards him.
On Wednesday, Seacrest insisted that a contestant would be still be eliminated on Thursday’s show. That may or may not happen because Jermaine Jones reduced the field without even singing.