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Published: Saturday, 5/10/2008

David Archuleta's dad loses 'Idol' backstage pass

ASSOCIATED PRESS
American Idol contestant David Archuleta, and his father, Jeff Archuleta, celebrate before a performance at David's high school Friday in Murray, Utah. American Idol contestant David Archuleta, and his father, Jeff Archuleta, celebrate before a performance at David's high school Friday in Murray, Utah.
KENNY CROOKSTON / AP Enlarge

LOS ANGELES - Backstage meddling has caught up "American Idol" favorite David Archuleta's dad, who's been banned from rehearsals, a person working for the TV talent contest said Friday.

Jeff Archuleta was told this week by producers that he can no longer join his 17-year-old son David as he prepares for the show, the person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person wasn't authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The show's action was first reported Friday by the online Web site TMZ.

David Archuleta of Murray, Utah, is one of three contestants left as the top-rated Fox show heads toward the May 20-21 finale. The fresh-faced teenager with the big voice has consistently been deemed a front-runner by the judges and been a consistent fan favorite.

Jeff Archuleta's intense backstage involvement had become a source of concern for the series, the person connected with "American Idol" said but it was a lyric change on Tuesday's show that pushed producers to act.

Despite a warning, Jeff Archuleta insisted on altering "Stand by Me," one of two songs his son sang on the show Tuesday. By adding a verse from Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls," the father incurred additional costs for "American Idol," the person said.

Fox declined comment. Attempts to reach Jeff Archuleta for comment were unsuccessful. A phone number listed under his name in Murray, Utah, was no longer in service, and Fox did not immediately respond to a request Friday evening for help in contacting the family.

Earlier Friday, David Archuleta was honored at a hometown celebration held at his high school in Murray, during which Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman declared "David Archuleta Day."

The singer and his family declined to be interviewed at the event, but David Archuleta did speak with the Salt Lake City Fox affiliate, KSTU-TV. "Wow," he exclaimed as he viewed the cheerleading squad outside his stretch limousine.

The other finalists left in competition for the "Idol" title and a record contract are David Cook and Syesha Mercado. Cook, a native of suburban Blue Springs, Mo., had his own homecoming celebration Friday in Kansas City, while Mercado was feted Bradenton, Fla.



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