Finalist David Hernandez from Glendale, Arizona poses at the American Idol Top 12 party honoring the finalists in the "American Idol" television reality series in Los Angeles, California March 6, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
David Hernandez, the "American Idol" contestant with a reported history as a male stripper, was eliminated on Wednesday from the competition on the hit American TV talent show, leaving 11 aspiring singers to vie for the "Idol" title and a record contract.
More than 29 million viewers cast votes for their favorites this week as the series entered the home stretch of its seventh season, moving from three nights a week to two.
Voters chose Syesha Mercado and Kristy Lee Cook to continue competing. The two singers, along with Hernandez, were the bottom finishers among the 12 finalists.
Hernandez, 24, from Glendale, Arizona, performed the 1960s Beatles hit "I Saw Her Standing There" for the Lennon-McCartney songbook-themed show.
Idol's judges concurred with viewers' choice of the bottom three finishers. "I think America got this absolutely spot on," said famously blunt judge Simon Cowell on the live broadcast.
But Hernandez, who according to news reports has appeared as a male stripper in a Phoenix nightclub and performed lap dances for a mostly male clientele, was unfazed by his loss.
"Honestly, things happen for a reason," he told host Ryan Seacrest. "We all have a plan, and on top of that you'll see me at the top. This isn't it for me."
"American Idol" pits singers against one another in a months-long competition. Past winners including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have gone on to music stardom. The weekly show draws nearly 30 million viewers, making it the most-watched program on U.S. television.
The other remaining finalists include: David Archuleta, 17; Jason Castro, 20; David Cook, 25; Chikezie Eze, 22; Michael Johns, 29; Ramiele Malubay, 20; Amanda Overmyer, 23; Carly Smithson; 24 and Brooke White, 24.
In the audience and appearing briefly on stage on Wednesday was actor and comedian Jim Carrey, who engaged in a blatant plug for his new animated film "Horton Hears a Who!" by wearing an elephant suit.
(Xinhua/Agencies March 13, 2008)