On Feb. 14, the day American Idol announced its top 24, fans of contestants like Melinda Doolittle and Sanjaya Malakar could click on their MySpace profiles to see candid photos, read personal bios, and learn about their favorite music. But on Feb. 15, those same profiles contained little more than a simple message: ''Thanks for checking out my profile. Catch American Idol Tuesdays and Wednesdays on FOX.''
A network rep insists the move is about fairness voters should judge contestants based solely on their appearances on the show but really, Fox might as well try to dam the ocean. As Idol's industry cred increases, more semiprofessionals and unsigned pro backup singers like Doolittle and Brandon Rogers are making the cut. And keeping their earlier musical efforts away from Idol's Web-savvy fans may not be easy. (Songs from season 5 victor Taylor Hicks' 1997 album, for instance, were widely leaked last year.) At press time, a cursory search turned up live MySpace pages featuring original music from top 24er AJ Tabaldo and the bands of his fellow contestants Rudy Cardenas and Chris Sligh; Rogers' self-released album is still available on CDBaby.com. Fox which, like MySpace, is owned by News Corp. and Idol's producers were unavailable for comment about these sites, but chances are they'll disappear soon after you read this (if they haven't already). Of course, given the risqué photos of top 24 finalist Antonella Barba that caused an online stir last week, it appears that Idol will never really keep a net around the Net.