Sam Woolf's legions of fans in Bradenton and around America had to be a little tense Thursday night.
It was the first live results show of the season on "American Idol."
Woolf, the 17-year-old Braden River High School student who has impressed judges with his singing and songwriting, was a semifinalist, one of 20 remaining contestants out of the 75,000 who auditioned.
The show started with host Ryan Seacrest announcing the contestants who had received the most votes from the public. Viewers could vote by phone or online after Wednesday's show. The 10 contestants receiving the most votes would go on to the finals. Judges would pick three more. The rest would go home.
Seacrest read the names of the top finishers, in no particular order. He called one name after another until all but a couple of the winners had been named. He didn't name Sam Woolf.
There was commercial break, and then it was time for the announcement of the ninth winner.
The camera showed the dwindling number of contestants sitting off to the side, waiting and getting visibly less confident and more anxious.
The ninth contestant to go on to the finals was still not Sam.
Seacrest dragged out the announcement of the last name on his list before exclaiming: "Sam Woolf!"
Bradenton's biggest celebrity took his seat among the winners.
The only bad news for Sam fans, besides a tense, seemingly interminable wait, was they didn't get to see him perform on Thursday's show. After the first 10 winners were named, the rest of the show was devoted to the other contestants getting one more chance to impress judges, or "sing for their lives," as Seacrest put it.
Sam will perform again next week. All finalists sing live Wednesday. The next night, Bradenton and America will find out if he'll survive to the next round. One contestant will be eliminated during a two-hour live results show.
Starting the following week, remaining contestants will perform on Wednesday night's two-hour show, and each week one will be eliminated in a half-hour results show on Thursday.
All shows start at 8 p.m. on Fox.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919 Follow twitter.com/martinclear.