We track down 10 former ''American Idol'' wannabes

By EW Staff
Updated April 14, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

”I get paid to be goofy on stage,” says season 3 runner-up DeGarmo, 18, who’s now on Broadway as nerdy Penny Pingleton in Hairspray and will lead a national tour of Brooklyn the Musical this summer. ”Theater is very regimented, which I really enjoy.” She’s also grateful for the steady paycheck — and a breather from the music biz — after disappointing sales (164,000) for her 2004 debut album Blue Skies. Newly split from RCA, she’s planning an independent follow-up — which she promises will lean toward R&B-tinged pop. As for the current season of Idol? She’s too busy treading the boards each night to catch the show. Besides, she adds, ”it’s hard for me to watch.” — Jennifer Armstrong

Charismatic season 4 rocker Maroulis, 30, recently left grunge-rock act Pray for the Soul of Betty to go solo. So we asked for the scoop. ”I’d really rather not talk about it,” he says. Perhaps that’s because their debut album sold only 24,000 copies? ”I’m not commenting on that.” Well, we’ve heard he’s prepping an album. Wonder what that’ll sound like. ”What do you think it will sound like?” he asks. (Maroulis is also mum on a label, title, songs, or an expected release date.) What the hell will he discuss? Let’s try the ABC sitcom pilot loosely based on his life that’s currently in development. ”Hopefully it will go into production in the fall.” And hopefully he’ll be chattier by then. — Michael Endelman

Before Mandisa, there was Frenchie. Famously kicked off in season 2 when it was revealed she’d modeled lingerie for an adult website, the 26-year-old hasn’t stopped belting: She’s toured with Dreamgirls and now stars on Broadway in Rent. She also recorded a version of Patti LaBelle’s ”New Attitude” for the Mo’Nique film Phat Girlz and has an NYC cabaret act (”Just working for the gay boys ’cause they love me, and I love them”). So what’s going on with her solo career? ”On hold,” she says. ”It’s not easy for a plus-size girl.” But she’s not bitter about that premature exit. Or is she? ”Honey, I don’t think about it till people in your profession ask me about it.” To which she adds, ”I’m working.” — Raymond Fiore

A TV Guide Channel correspondent since 2003 and host of its Idol Tonight preshow, the perky (and polarizing) season 2 contestant has no qualms about reliving her past. ”It’s why I have a job,” reasons the 24-year-old. ”It’s really sad that people don’t embrace [that opportunity] and say, ‘That’s what got me there.”’ While she admits she has a ”knack” for hosting, music is still her priority, so she’s made time to pursue it despite that time-consuming day job. ”I’m recording an album with Randy Jackson and Diane Warren right now. We’re doing a country-rock thing.” Though they still need to finish recording before shopping the project to labels, count on Randy to plug his involvement any day now. — RF