American Idol finalist Casey James flew into Fort Worth to hobnob with fans (all captured by Idol cameras for next week’s show), and his long day began at 7 a.m. with a visit to the Fox Channel 4 news station.

One of the first questions asked was where he most likes to eat out in town.


Joe T. Garcia’s got the nod.

The staff is still buzzing this afternoon.

“I had a lot of calls from people telling me about it,” said an excited co-owner Zurella Lancarte.

She wasn’t aware that James considered Joe T’s his favorite Fort Worth spot, but now he’s got an open invitation.

“He could come over and ask for me,” she said. “I’d love to invite him and pick up the bill. We’re very excited for him.”

Some of James’ high school teachers were interviewed at the news station, including a coach who tried unsuccessfully to get James to try out for the football team. The school’s tennis coach had better luck at recruiting but didn’t give James high marks for talent.

“Casey started from zero — he started out and he was horrible,” he said. The coach quickly adding that James practiced and became “pretty good” but he didn’t seem very convincing.

Looks like James’ 4 p.m. parade in the Stockyards is going to be wet. It’s pouring down rain now and the parade is only three hours away. I get the feeling James would be just as happy if it got canceled. He is gracious and amiable in interviews but seems to be embarrassed by the furor caused by his mere presence.

Youngsters at the Fox news station were clamoring for an autograph and James obliged, but at some point a handler grabbed him, said it was time to go to the next public event, and pushed him toward a limo. James apologized to the kids who didn’t get an autograph, and they smiled and seemed happy just to meet him.

The older women were a different story. Middle-aged gals kept sticking papers and pens in his face, refusing to take no for an answer. James scribbled his name and kept backpedaling toward the limo.

Whether he’ll win the Idol competition or not is open for debate (he’s considered a dark horse).Regardless, he’s represented Fort Worth and Texans well throughout the process.