Donnie Williams sang “Happy Birthday” to normally surly “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, but in the end, the judges decided to give Williams a present. Williams, booted from last season’s “Idol,” will get a second chance.
According to the Oakland Tribune, Williams has advanced from the auditions in San Francisco to the Hollywood portion of the upcoming fourth season of FOX’s “American Idol.”
“Idol” fans remember Williams as the contestant who advanced to last season’s Round of 32 only to be removed from the show after a February DUI arrest.
“We wish Donnie the best during what must be a difficult time, and once these issues have been resolved, he is welcome to try out for the show again next season,” a FOX statement said at the time.
Williams was replaced by George Huff, who went on to earn a wild card berth into the “Idol” Finals. Huff ended up as the top male in the competition, which was won by Fantasia Barrino.
Around 6000 singers turned out for the San Francisco auditions, which last year yielded such high profile belters as William Hung. Williams wasn’t the only contestant to recognize Cowell’s 45th birthday, but he was the only one whose celebratory crooning yielded a golden ticket to the next round.
“Another singer did the same thing, and I booted him,” Cowell said. “Donnie was chosen for his singing ability. All it took was the first few words out of his mouth, and I didn’t have to hear anything more.”
The next level of “Idol” cut-downs will begin in Los Angeles on Nov. 9 and the fourth season of “Idol” is expected to rescue FOX’s struggling schedule in January.