So, there we were ... giving one of our awesome TMZ Hollywood Tours this week ... when we spotted this dirty, hippie-looking dude playing a guitar on the side of the road with a giant stuffed gorilla.
And then we realized ... the beatnik was former "American Idol" finalist Casey Abrams.
The whole encounter was kinda strange ... a shoe-less Casey scatted his way through a song ... and then laid down on the ground with his giant blue stuffed animal, while waving to the people on the bus (totally nice guy).
We're guessing Casey is pulling the stunt to promote something ... then again, maybe he really did go full Joaquin Phoenix.
Casey Abrams didn't plan on revealing to the world he was dealing with ulcerative colitis when he became a contestant on "American Idol" -- but then he became hospitalized, and saw himself splashed all over TMZ, and decided to speak out.
Abrams recently announced he's the spokesperson for a national disease awareness campaign called IBD Icons, designed to let people know that living with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) isn't the end of the world.
Abrams tells TMZ he didn't know how to handle his disease when he went on "Idol," which landed him in the hospital -- and he read all about it on TMZ. He told us, "It's kind of funny that right when I went to the hospital and checked TMZ, the headline was 'Casey Abrams Hospitalized.'"
Now he's using his "Idol" fame to raise awareness about the disease, telling us, "I want people to send in their stories of how they overcome
it. I don't have the best speaking skills, but people know
who I am and I feel they might listen to a familiar face. I feel I have a responsibility to step up and talk about
this really graphic disease."
IBD Icons is encouraging people to submit their stories about how they are living with their disease at IBDicons.com.
"American Idol's" top 11 finalists are set to make bank over the summer -- because TMZ has learned they'll each get paid $1,000 for EVERY show they perform during the American Idol Live Tour.
TMZ obtained a copy of the contract all Idol finalists had to sign before the show -- which spells out exactly how much dough they'll pull in if they're invited to participate on the international tour.
In addition to the $1,000-per-concert -- the documents show each finalist will share in merchandise profits from the tour ... and will also receive $50 in spending cash for non-concert days.
Finalists are also guaranteed to stay in "Marriott/Hyatt style" hotel accommodations while on the road -- and will fly coach between tour stops.
According to the contract, the tour will kick off immediately after the Season 10 winner is announced on May 25 -- and will go until the end of September.
"American Idol" reject Casey Abrams has been out of the running for less than a week ... and he's already throwing his support behind one very "special" finalist ... his rumored GF Haley Reinhart.
Sources close to Casey tell TMZ ... Abrams has been telling his friends, family and hometown supporters in Idyllwild, CA to stay united ... and use their votes to send Haley through to the next round.
Casey has denied being in a romantic relationship with Haley -- but last week, he referred to her as his "special musical friend." So ... yeah, they're totally dating.
And we're told Casey ain't too bummed about America's rejection either -- sources tell us, he can't wait to kick it with his jazz band next week at his old stomping grounds, Café Aroma ... the same place that named one of their rooms in Casey's honor.
"American Idol" finalist Casey Abrams may not win the title, but he'll always be able to get a warm meal back home -- because dude just got a restaurant lounge named in his honor!
Cafe Aroma in Casey's hometown of Idyllwild, CA just renamed a section of the joint ... the "Casey Abrams American Idol Lounge."
Employees tell us, Casey's such a big shot at the restaurant -- which features belly dancers -- they've even put his name on his favorite dish ... "Casey Abrams Gnocchi Alfredo" ... 6 meatballs included.
Belly dances cost extra -- though we're thinking they'll give Casey a deal.
"American Idol" contestantCasey Abrams -- who got voted off the show Thursday and won a save from the judges -- was so overwrought with emotion after the show, he began hyperventilating and then fell to the floor in the hallway.
We're told "A.I." staffers helped Casey up and put him in a chair so he could calm down.
Ironically, his song choice Thursday was "I Don't Need No Doctor."
Our "Idol" spies tell us ... Casey felt horrible that the judges used their save for him, saying "I feel really bad that other [contestants] might have to go home now because they [the judges] used the save on me."
Casey had a rough day Thursday. He got a blood transfusion in the morning because of ongoing problems with internal bleeding.
"American Idol" finalist Casey Abrams missed the top 13 results show today -- after he was rushed to the hospital for the SECOND time in three weeks ... for severe stomach pains.
Ryan Seacrest announced Casey's absence at the top of tonight's live 'AI' episode -- telling the audience, "You'll notice that Casey is missing from the group. He is unfortunately sick and in the hospital right now. So everybody wave to him."
Seacrest then addresses Casey in the hospital, "Feel better ... Get back here soon" -- so, it doesn't sound like Casey's getting the boot tonight.
UPDATE: Seacrest just announced ... Casey is still in the running.
Casey Abrams ... the "American Idol" finalist who was hospitalized Wednesday ... will stay on the show ... TMZ has learned.
As we first reported, Casey was hospitalized Wednesday after complaining of severe stomach pains. He received a blood transfusion at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center this morning, and was released about an hour ago.
Casey has now done two rehearsals for the taping tonight -- featuring the top 12 male finalists.
A source connected with the show tells TMZ Casey will not have to return to the hospital.
Casey Abrams -- one of the top 24 finalists on "American Idol" -- was rushed to a hospital moments ago after complaining of severe stomach pains ... TMZ has learned.
Sources connected to the show tell us ... 19-year-old Abrams was rehearsing at CBS Television City when he began to feel sick.
We're told Abrams was taken to a nearby hospital -- where he's expected to stay overnight ... possibly longer.
And it gets worse -- now that Abrams has made the top 24, he's scheduled to tape a performance on Friday ... along with the rest of the top 12 men. But if Abrams is not well enough to take the stage on Friday, we're told he will be eliminated from the competition.
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