LOS ANGELES (AP) – Fox’s “American Idol” is down to a dozen would-be superstars.

The starmaking game show announced the last four finalists Wednesday, setting two months of song-and-dance competition that will culminate in a new musical favorite in May.

The four “wild card” candidates included one selected by an audience vote: Jon Peter Lewis, a 24-year-old Idaho resident whose dance-happy rendition of an Elvis Presley song had voters rooting for him.

The other three finalists were picked by the show’s judges.

Randy Jackson selected Jennifer Hudson, 22, a cruise line singer from Chicago whose voice has impressed the judges, even if her fashion sense hasn’t. Paula Abdul tabbed Leah LaBelle, 17, of Seattle.

Cranky Simon Cowell chose George Huff, 23, a music education major who has performed in many churches in Louisiana.

The four join the already selected finalists, including Fantasia Barrino, 19, High Point, N.C.; Diana Degarmo, 16, Snellville, Ga.; Camile Velasco, 18, Haiku, Hawaii; and Matthew Rogers, 25, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Other finalists are La Toya London, 24, Hawthorne, Calif.; Amy Adams, 24, Bakersfield, Calif.; Jasmine Trias, 17, Mililani, Hawaii, and John Stevens, 16, East Amherst, N.Y.

The group will perform March 16 in a two-hour live show, 8-10 p.m. EST. The top four finalists will be announced on May 5, with the series finale May 25-26.

More than 70,000 people turned out at “American Idol” tryouts nationwide for the third season, according to Fox.

Past “American Idol” winners include Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard, who both had top 10 releases. But the biggest Idol is 2003 runner-up Clay Aiken.

Studdard returned to perform his latest recording Wednesday, and even made Cowell nostalgic.

“I will pay you to re-enter,” Cowell told him.

AP-ES-03-10-04 2203EST



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