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Left out but still in: Duncanville's Tim Urban a virtual mystery guest among Idol's Top 24

Fleeting glimpse: Unmentioned either verbally or on-screen, an otherwise happy Tim Urban of Duncanville was merely No. 89416 until the closing minute of Wednesday's American Idol. Photo: Ed Bark

American Idol's Season 9 Top 24 is unprecedentedly thick with Texans, numbering six among the Fox juggernaut's semi-finalists.

Four are from North Texas, with Alex Lambert, 19, of North Richland Hills and 20-year-old Tim Urban of Duncanville joining Tuesday night's previously announced Todrick Hall, 24, of Arlington, and Casey James, 27, of Fort Worth via nearby Cool, Texas.

Add Lacey Brown, 24, of Amarillo, and Paige Miles, 24, of Cypress, who got their go-aheads Wednesday. Do the elementary math and that's one-quarter of the Top 24 hailing from Texas.

Urban was a virtual no-show -- obviously not by his choice -- during Wednesday's selection of 17 more semi-finalists beyond the seven revealed on the previous night. He was the only contestant, on either night, to go completely unidentified during the selection process.

Anyone keeping count knew that Idol had come up one short of its Top 24 after the final rejection left a bawling Thaddeus Johnson out and a jubilant Andrew Garcia in as the supposed last of 12 males.

Only very vigilant viewers -- and it took a playback for me -- would have spotted Urban with a blink-and-you-missed-it big grin on his face while surrounded by fellow conestants. But Idol didn't name him as a member of the Final 24 until the closing montage of semi-finalists. So really, who knew until then?

Given the oft-redundant retelling of some contestants' back stories -- and the judges' meandering verdicts -- it's odd that Idol ended up making no room at the inn for Urban. He'll now go into next week's first live sing-offs and evictions as the edited-out Mr. X of the competition.

Previous exposure can be important in building a fan base during the show's impressionable early viewer voting. But several hearts 'n' flower, sob story washouts got almost infinitely more face time than Urban, who was treated as a rural outpost Wednesday night. We'll see if he pays a price or survives his snub when the first four semi-finalists are punched out on Thursday of next week.

THIS JUST IN VIA A LATE NIGHT FOX PUBLICITY RELEASE -- The network says that Urban belatedly was named to replace previously selected Top 24 finalist Chris Golightly, 26, of Orange, Calif.

"It has been determined that Chris Golightly is ineligible to continue in the competition," Fox said without elaboration.

Early reports say he had an old, now expired recording contract that he neglected to tell the show about.

That explains a lot about Urban's invisibility Wednesday night. Still, Idol needs to do a much better job of coming clean on the program itself rather than leaving viewers mystified as to why the show's Top 24 finalists only added up to 23 until Urban somewhat magically appeared as the closing credits rolled and the 12 chosen males each danced for a few seconds.