'American Idol' Rejects: Where Are They Now?

by AOL TV Staff, posted Jan 22nd 2010 7:00PM
William HungFor a few contestants, being rejected on 'American Idol' is not their last flirtation with fame. If the audition is weird enough or the judges' reaction memorable enough, it's possible to parlay 'Idol' rejection into a secondary career, a bizarre extension of the 15 minutes of fame they would probably never have had to begin with. We dug up both those attention-seekers and the ones who avoid the spotlight to find out what happened to 'Idol''s most notorious contestants.
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American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

For a few contestants, being rejected on 'American Idol' is not their last flirtation with fame. If the audition is weird enough or the judges' reaction memorable enough, it's possible to parlay 'Idol' rejection into a secondary career, a bizarre extension of the 15 minutes of fame they would probably never have had to begin with. We dug up both those attention-seekers and the ones who avoid the spotlight to find out what happened to 'Idol''s most notorious contestants.

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

Derek Stillings - Season 1
Then: This sweatband-wearing New Yorker set the rejection bar high by sputtering through his own song. Simon dubbed him "the worst singer in America."
Now: Stillings' viral video made him an early 'Idol' non-celebrity. Eight years later, Stillings, in his late 20s, keeps a low profile, avoiding catch-up interviews whenever possible.

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

Keith Beukelaer - Season 2
Then: Using head snaps and epileptic dance moves, the Georgia native sang 'Like a Virgin' and 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody.' "When you said 'interesting and unique,' you said a mouthful," quipped Randy.
Now: Beukelaer's singing career didn't soar, but 'Inside Edition' and People magazine featured him. On a 2008 Fox Reality webisode, he said he doesn't sing anymore -- and still watches 'Idol.'

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

William Hung - Season 3
Then: The UC Berkeley civil-engineering student shot to 'Idol' reject fame with a spirited, remarkably tone-deaf take on Ricky Martin's 'She Bangs.' Simon's horror aside, Randy and Paula found him spunky.
Now: Hung's odd fame is a brand, what with three CDs, guest shots on late-night talk shows and sitcoms and reaping fees for personal appearances, like a 2008 celebrity mahjong gig in Hong Kong.

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

Jacqueline Roman - Season 3
Then: Zaftig and perky, Roman was dubbed "Scat Girl" for singing a screechy 'Route 66' that caused Randy to raise his hands for salvation.
Now: Invited to participate in 'American Idol: Uncut, Uncensored and Untalented,' the seemingly unfazed New Yorker sang the Pointer Sisters' 'Neutron Dance.'

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

Mary Roach - Season 4
Then: Claiming a "pop-rock meets Broadway meets jazz and R&B" voice, Roach sang 'I Feel the Earth Move' and moved the judges -- including guest Mark McGrath -- to fear for her mental stability.
Now: She appeared on 'Extra' with McGrath,and, in an interview, said her persona was actually an act. She's still pursuing stand-up comedy and performing.

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

Rhonetta Johnson - Season 5
Then: For her Greensboro, NC, audition, the ample Johnson, in tube top and napkin-size skirt, muttered some songs and then erupted after her rejection, directing her fury toward Paula Abdul.
Now: Thanks to an arrest before her 'Idol' audition and another one two months after, Johnson got the fame she wanted. She's still working on her CD, releasing songs on her MySpace page.

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

Paula Goodspeed - Season 5
Then: An eerie Paula lookalike, Goodspeed sang an open-throated 'Proud Mary' from a mouth full of braces -- perfect fodder for the merciless Simon.
Now: Goodspeed turned out to be Abdul-obsessed. After 'Idol' rejection, the 30-year-old's life went due south, and she overdosed outside Abdul's home in November 2008.

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

Ian Benardo - Season 6
Then: The Bronx-born 'So You Think You Can Dance' contestant butchered Laura Branigan's 'Gloria.' Simon proclaimed it "rubbish," then Benardo demanded to see Simon's work visa.
Now: He's busy! The 30-year-old promoted a single ('I'm Better Than You'), co-hosted an Internet program ('The Better and Bestest Show'), appeared on 'Larry King Live' and now is developing an eponymous TV gig of his own.

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

Steven "Red" Thoen - Season 6
Then: Into Seattle auditions walked a low-key redhead whose epic-fail rendering of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' made Simon liken it to "a 1-year-old singing."
Now: Living (ironically) in Auburn, Washington, Thoen received some unwanted post-'Idol' publicity when his mother gave an interview claiming her son had "mild mental retardation."

American Idol Rejects: Where Are They Now?

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