Is ''American Idol'' bending the rules? -- The show is receiving flack after the controversial appearances of three contestants

By Raymond Fiore
Updated February 07, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

What would a new season of Fox’s American Idol be without some off-key controversy? The Internet’s already buzzing about two auditions, the first involving the 27-year-old Boyz II Men-lovin’ Molfetta twins, who owe their screen time to an age-limit increase from 24 to 28. Apparently, Rich and J.P. released an R&B/ pop album, When the Smoke Clears, in 1998 on an indie label. But wait, isn’t the show supposed to be for amateurs only? ”The rule is that you cannot currently be signed to a management or recording contract,” says a rep for the show. ”Whatever they’ve done in the past is a moot point.” So what about recent reject Robert Solomon (a.k.a. the Lonely Projectionist)? He claims on his personal blog, http:// poodleface.livejournal. com, that he actually sang his ear-splitting rendition of ”Dancing in the Street” in front of two British producers — not Simon Cowell & Co. Yet on the Jan. 25 episode, Cowell seemed to be panning the number in person. ”The performance that aired was part of Robert’s audition process,” say producers. ”Each contestant goes through several filmed auditions as they advance.” A reply that doesn’t quite make our cut.