General News

New book uncovers American Idol saint

By:
Jan 21, 2011 | 4:00am EST

Longtime Idol critic Richard Rushfield has chronicled the history of the TV talent show in his new book American Idol: The Untold Story, and admits one of the most fascinating characters behind the scenes on the show has nothing to do with the programme.

The Los Angeles Times and Daily Beast contributor's research led him to a Christian ministry that raises funds for Idol contestants and their families.

He tells BlogTalkRadio.com, "This woman Leesa Bellesi from Orange County, California claimed while she was recuperating from a surgery that she got a call from God that she says told her to go backstage to American Idol.

"She had no connection to the show and she was not part of Hollywood, so it seemed to her at the time a bizarre direction. She opened herself up to it and through coincidence wound up backstage at American Idol, and then one of the contestants wandered into her church one day. And she ultimately won tickets (to the show) on a radio show.

"She ended up starting this ministry to work with Idol contestants and their families to give them counselling and sustenance. She provides for their material needs as well for the contestants' families who find it hard to find the money to come out and be there with their kids. Through the congregation she raised the money to get them plane tickets and let them stay in her house.

"The ministry started during season seven and there were three different families of Idol contestants living with her during the course of the show."

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