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TELEVISION & RADIO

War in Iraq is an 'Idol' threat

A finalist on the show might have to join his Marine Corps unit, if it's called to active duty.

March 26, 2003|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer

"American Idol" finalist Joshua Gracin wowed the show's frenzied audience last week with his rendition of the Aerosmith hit "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." But the war with Iraq may force the singer to miss the rest of the season.

Gracin, 22, is with the 1st Service Support Group of the U.S. Marine Corps, and he is on 24-hour notice to leave the show and return to Camp Pendleton if the unit is deployed for active duty, giving up his position among the final 10 "American Idol" hopefuls vying for stardom and a recording contract.

"Joshua has been very upfront with us from the very beginning that he might have to leave us," said Ken Warwick, a co-executive producer on "American Idol."

"He's in contact with his commander, and he might have to go. He's got a lot to lose."

It's a cloud that has hung over Gracin, considered one of the favorites among the finalists, since the second season of "American Idol" started in January.

But so far, the chances of Gracin's going off to war are relatively slim. Marine officials said Gracin belongs to a section of the support group that might not be deployed.

"Within each unit is a section that might not be called up, and Joshua belongs to one of those sections," said Staff Sgt. Chad McMeen of the Marine Corps television and film liaison office.

But producers have told Gracin that if he is called for duty, he can return next season and automatically be placed among the 10 finalists without having to undergo the "American Idol" audition.

If the Marines don't yank Gracin, "American Idol" viewers still might. Gracin, who was scheduled to perform along with the other finalists Tuesday, could be voted off by viewers tonight during the series' weekly elimination round.

If he is, he will return to his unit.

However, Gracin isn't likely to get pulled tonight. The contestants last night performed in a country-rock style, which is Gracin's specialty.

The Marine, who is married and has a young daughter, is living with the other finalists in a luxurious secluded location and could not be reached for comment.

He has said that if he doesn't make it on the show, he will return to the Marine base and "continue to work on my music career."

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