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New 'save' goes unused

Judges don't invoke the just-added wrinkle that could have overturned

March 12, 2009|Richard Rushfield

The children of "American Idol's" eighth season experienced their first taste of entertainment mortality Wednesday night after a rare double elimination, which brought to an end the "Idol" careers of Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez.

The two were eliminated in an episode that featured the unveiling of a new rule in the "Idol" competition, granting the judges veto power over any elimination. As explained by host Ryan Seacrest, the judges will have a "save" option that they may exercise once for each contestant, if the judges unanimously agree that a singer deserves another chance. When the save is invoked, no contestant will be eliminated that week, with the following week then seeing a doubly suspenseful double elimination. The rule will be in effect until the season's Top 5 week.

The twist was introduced as a way to undo premature dismissals of talented contestants who may have merely stumbled temporarily. Cited as examples of this phenomenon were past favorites Tamyra Gray, Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry. (Although Seacrest pondered scenarios if Daughtry's dismissal had been overturned, the new rule would not have affected him, because he wasn't dismissed until the Top 4 week of his season.)

In the new rule's first week in effect, the judges declined to invoke their special powers, allowing the dismissals of Murray and Nunez to stand.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, March 13, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
"American Idol": An article in Thursday's Calendar section about "American Idol" stated that a new rule allows the show's judges to save a contestant from elimination and that they may exercise that option once for each contestant. In fact, the judges may use the "save" option only once during the entire season.

This week's double elimination came about after another twist -- when the judges decided to change the rules at the end of the Wild Card round and admit 13 contestants to the finals instead of the usual 12.

Both of those eliminated Wednesday delivered performances that earned them more favorable than unfavorable reviews from the judges in Tuesday night's Michael Jackson-themed show. But after a strong night with few obvious horrific stumbles, both performances failed to stand out enough from the crowd.

Murray, 16, was one of the show's two teen contestants, along with Allison Iraheta, also 16. A former pageant contestant, Murray was praised for her youthful charm, beauty and vocal skills. During Tuesday night's performances, she was criticized by judge Simon Cowell as "robotic."

Nunez, a 20-year-old Puerto Rico native, was an early favorite and was referred to as potentially the show's first great Latin heartthrob. His Tuesday night performance, however, was criticized as old-fashioned and ultimately forgettable.


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