Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cowell: Rosie Bashes "Idol" to Boost "View" Ratings

In the Jan. 29 issue of TV Guide Simon Cowell says that Rosie O'Donnell turned to bashing "American Idol" and Cowell's remarks about Seattle contestant Kenneth Briggs looking like a bush baby to boost her ratings on "The View," now that her headline-grabbing feud with Donald Trump has simmered down. (Of course, Cowell is a friend of The Donald, and attended his wedding to Melania Knauss in Palm Beach, Fla.)

Cowell told TV Guide the remarks “smacked of ‘I’ll have a go at Donald Trump—good for ratings. That died down so now I’ll do American Idol.’ Next week it will be ‘I don’t like the dresses on Dancing With the Stars.’” Cowell's advice to O’Donnell: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch,” he says. “End of story.”

Speaking to journalists at the TCA press tour in Pasadena, Cowell said the judges' bluntness towards bad-singing contestants is no tougher this season than in past years. He also said that contestants are warned ahead of time that they could be subjected to a brutal critique and are encouraged not to audition if they don’t think they can take it. “We do give them that chance to leave,” he says. “Nobody wants to leave. They all think they’re good.”

In fact, according to Reality TV World, the Special Olympics International organization feels that "American Idol should be commended for providing [Seattle contestant Jonathan Jayne, who sang "God Bless America"] Jayne with the same opportunity to succeed as any other contestant." Special Olympics International's public statement was released Sunday and published in Monday's Washington Post. "Whether on the stage of American Idol or on the field of competition for Special Olympics, people with intellectual disabilities don't want pity or special treatment. They want to be judged for who they are and appreciated for what they can achieve."

At TCA, Cowell also said, "To suggest that because somebody has done something like [participate in the Special Olympics] they shouldn't be allowed to enter the competition smacks to me of censorship, to be honest with you. I don't think that we should be censors on the type of people. And what we're trying to be, I think, on the show, more than anything else, is representative. A lot of the bad singers you are seeing -- trust me -- there are thousands that didn't make it through. And I think if you asked any of those thousands who didn't make it through, every one of them would say, 'I wish I had the chance.' "

In an interview with The Seattle Times, 21-year-old Jayne, from Renton, Wash., described his Idol experience as "absolutely wonderful" and added he did it with the hope of eventually becoming a DJ or talk-show host. Since his Idol audition aired, Jayne has appeared on "Access Hollywood," "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Today." Kenneth Briggs, the 23-year-old whom Jayne befriended while in line waiting to audition, accompanied Jayne on his ABC and NBC appearances.

"They've become celebrities," Cowell told USA Today. "They wouldn't have changed anything."

About rumors of imbibing on the set, Randy Jackson said, “Let me clear the air once and for all. In the Coke cups, it’s all Coca-Cola products. It’s water, diet soda.”

On Jennifer Hudson, Cowell said, he would welcome her back to the show and “she should come back and gloat,” adding “I was one of her major supporters at the beginning. If it hadn’t been for Idol, she wouldn’t have been picked for ‘Dreamgirls.’ The public voted her off, not me.” (Though Hudson was Jackson's wild card pick, and without him she never would have become a finalist).

All this stink about the judges being meaner this year is just more fodder for the Idol publicity machine. C'mon, Simon is just being Simon, and Paula is just being Paula (whatever that is). Randy? Yes, he's been more direct and eloquent this season, but it's nice to know his vocabulary consists of more than just "dawg" and "pound" and "yeah, yeah, yeah." He is also openly laughing at the freakazoid contestants, rather than covering his face with a piece of paper. But it's not as if he wasn't laughing before. It's all just part of the Idol game.

Meanwhile, Reality TV Magazine reports that in an interview aired by Fox 17 in Nashville, Tenn., Ryan Seacrest offered high praise for the contestants that showed up in Memphis (that segment airs tonight). Seacrest said, “So far we’ve seen a lot of golden tickets,” adding “The majority of them have made it through. I’ve seen tears. I’ve seen a grandmother that wanted to punch Simon, of course I encouraged it, and then he walked out, he smiled, and she hugged him instead of slugging him, so she let me down.”


Reality TV Magazine reports that Shyamali and Sanjaya Malakar weren’t the only brother and sister to win Golden Tickets to Hollywood in Seattle. Siblings Ethan Miller and his sister Lindsey Tucker were only shown for a brief moment waving Golden Tickets during the Wednesday night show and were not identified by name. The Spokesman-Review reports that Lindsey Tucker (who bears a striking resemblance to Paul McCartney's soon-to-be ex, Heather Mills) is from Post Falls, Idaho, and has three young children. Her brother Ethan Miller lives in Blanchard, Idaho. They both attended school at House of the Lord Christian Academy in Oldtown, Idaho, and they both sing and lead youth services at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho.

Celebrity Spider.com reports that Season 5 Idol winner Taylor Hicks is suing his former manager over allegations he is owed 20 percent of the singer's earnings. Hicks, who fired Jan Childs in September 2004, insists he doesn't owe him a cent because Childs was no longer in his employment when his career took off.

In a suit filed on Jan. 7 in Jefferson County, Alabama, Hicks claims their original contract stated that if he didn't get a recording contract during their first year of working together, he had the right to sack him. However, Childs insists their agreement was never terminated, according to MTV.

Still looking for tix to Taylor Hicks' LI concert? TicketsNow has some, but they're at premium rates.

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