By Michael Slezak
Updated December 04, 2008 at 10:48 PM EST

For the last seven seasons, I’ve kept myself in a tightly sealed cocoon when it comes to American Idol spoilers. But every year it gets harder. I mean, it’s not as if an Idoloonie like myself can avoid must-visit Idol news sites like MJ’s Big Blog, so if I want to read about, say, what’s happening with the underrated Blake Lewis, then I have to [SPOILER ALERT!] accept that it comes with a side order of news about Idol wannabes who’ve advanced to Hollywood week, about the fact that Idol might have 36 semifinalists this year (instead of 24), and that new judge Kara DioGuardi falls closer to Simon than Paula in the critique department.

Interestingly, this season is rumored to have its share of contestants with connections to past Idols and other famous folks, as well as the typical smattering of almost-famous types who no one has actually heard of, but who’ll generate oodles of outraged “that contestant’s a ringer!” chatter once the show starts airing (Jan. 13, in case you missed the announcement). Among the alleged hopefuls generating internet chatter: Michael Castro (younger brother of season 7’s awesome Jason Castro); David Osmond (nephew of Donny & Marie); Anna Kaelin (daughter of the vocal coach of season 7 runner-up and current chart sensation David Archuleta); Danielle Roundtree (AKA Miss New York, USA 2008); and former Geffen recording artist Joanna Pacitti.

I’ve posted a couple of polls regarding these reported contestants (after the jump) but before you go there, how’s this for an idea? To avoid heinous spoilerization of the 24 (or 36) semifinalists, how about Idol turns the semifinalist announcement episode (where contestants take the elevator of death up to the scary table where the judges sit) into a LIVE broadcast? Think of the heightened levels of suspense, the clenched jaws, the whitened knuckles, and the frayed nerves? And that’s just for the viewing audience at home, to say nothing of the contestants! Who wants to start the petition?

addCredit(“Jason Castro: Frank Micelotta/FOX; Marie Osmond: Bruce Gifford/FilmMagic; David Archuleta: Jeff Vespa/WireImage”)