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Published: Thursday, 2/15/2007

'Idol makes the cut, leaving 24 singers to vie for prize


NEW YORK No more audition silliness. It s time to get serious on American Idol.

The Fox talent show trimmed down the competition Wednesday night, leaving 24 semifinalists 12 men and 12 women to vie for the Idol title and a record contract. The decision-making finale will be held in May.

Idol hopeful Marisa Rhodes broke down in the elevator after she was told she wasn t going through to the next round, saying I don t get it.

I wasn t expecting this at all and nobody was, Rhodes said later.

Things were better for curly-haired jokester Chris Sligh, who succeeded in winning over Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul even though he wasn t one of the strongest singers. Cowell even praised his great personality.

Next Tuesday, the top 12 male singers are in the hot seat, and, on Wednesday, the women follow.

The men are drumroll, please Sligh, Sanjaya Malakar, Brandon Rogers, Philip Stacy, Blake Lewis, Rudy Cardenas, Paul Kim, A.J. Tabaldo, Nicholas Pedro, Chris Richardson, Jared Cotter and Jason Sundance Head.

And the ladies: Melinda Doolittle, Gina Glocksen, Haley Scarnato, Jordin Sparks, Stephanie Edwards, Leslie Hunt, Alaina Alexander, Sabrina Sloan, Lakisha Jones, Nicole Tranquillo, Amy Krebs and Antonella Barba.

Their ages and hometowns were not immediately available.

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