Two with Tarrant ties among early 'Idol' semifinalists

American Idol revealed seven of this season's 24 semifinalists Tuesday night, and two of them have Tarrant County ties.

Casey James, who is listed as being from Fort Worth on the show and Idol's Web site, and Arlington's Todrick Hall, who is originally from Plainview, will both move on in the competition, which begins its live-performance shows next week.

James, who was shown doing a blues-tinged rendition of Colbie Caillat's Bubbly during the Hollywood rounds, actually hails from Cool, which he explained to the Idol judges is between Weatherford and Mineral Wells.

"I think it's pretty cool you're going through to the next round," judge Kara DioGuardi said when giving James the good news. The show has made a running gag out of DioGuardi's appreciation of James' sex appeal ever since she and guest judge Victoria Beckham encouraged him to let his hair down and open his shirt during his initial audition.

James, who has performed in Fort Worth, was told he'd never play guitar again after a motorcycle accident a few years ago. He is one of Idol's strongest early contestants.

"They're just gonna keep happenin' -- happenin' in 10-second intervals," he told Idol host Ryan Seacrest after learning he was a semifinalist, and then showed what "they" were: outbursts of "Yeah! Wow!"

James could face tough competition in the charismatic Hall, who performed with former Idol winner Fantasia Barrino in a production of The Color Purple and got such a quick "yes" from the show's four judges that he was almost taken aback. "I'm a dancer," he said during the show. "That's what I've been trained to do. I've never had a music lesson in my life." Hall credited his mother for supporting him in his career.

The rest of Idol's top 24 will be revealed during tonight's episode, which airs at 8 p.m. on KDFW/Channel 4. Although North Richland Hills' Alex Lambert was featured on Tuesday's episode, his fate wasn't revealed, and other contestants with Tarrant connections still stand a chance of making the semifinals.

ROBERT PHILPOT, 817-390-7872