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Idol Sparks New Controversy (Former Contestant from Last Season Says She Won't Watch Show)
Access Hollywood ^ | January 18, 2006 | Laura Saltman

Posted on 01/19/2007 11:01:04 AM PST by meg88

Idol" Sparks New Controversy on Access Hollywood

By Laura Saltman

The show is only back two days and already "American Idol" is sparking controversy. Today the buzz all around my office is about how mean-spirited the show is during the audition rounds. While I was out having dinner, an email came over my blackberry from our music producer, Nancy Harrison, who was on the east coast watching the show, "I must say tonight's episode was quite disturbing. Two of the Seattle contestants--Kenneth and Jonathan--were clearly limited... and the judges still poked fun of them. I found this to be in really poor taste and can't believe this show would sink this low for ratings." My first thought, having not seen the show yet was, "old news." The show has done this throughout its first five seasons on the air. The fact of the matter is that snickering at people who clearly can't sing or telling people they are "too fat" or "not the right look" to be the next American Idol is nothing new here. That's what the audition shows are all about each and every year. They poke fun of bad singers and everyone laughs.

Then I got home and watched the show and realized what the outrage was over. I want to share this email I got from our show's Senior Producer, Claudia Eaton, who was watching with her son, David. As a parent, I'm sure her sentiment is something being felt all over households today: "Last night's programming was uncomfortably entertaining ... painful to laugh at ... I had to explain to my son on more than one occasion how inappropriate these adults were. And, as a budding thespian, had to convince him that it would in fact be ok for him to try out for the school play. What does bother me as a newcomer to the Idol craze is how cavalierly the public seems to accept the way Simon talks to people to their faces about things as basic as how they look or talk ... PLEASE let them hurry up and get to the finals ... where hopefully truly talented people will truly entertain people with talent ... and we do NOT laugh at people for being "ugly," "odd," "tall," or just plain different."

While I don't think the format of the audition shows has changed, what I think has happened is that the judges are acting more and more like catty school children with each passing season. Simon is the bully on the playground and Randy and Paula are his underlings. Someone says something mean and the others either laugh or play along. It's like watching the movie, "Mean Girls." Every once in awhile Paula and Randy will scold Simon but in a laughing manner, never to the point where someone is saying 'you know what, this is inappropriate.' Do I think it's their fault? Partially. Only partially because Idol is a reality show and therefore the producers must create situations. That means they must put bad singers in front of the judges to make the auditions interesting. After seeing thousands of people who are either playing it up for the cameras to get on TV or just plain delusional about their talent it has to get frustrating for the judges.

Having said that... you, America, are the ones who have allowed this type of behavior to go on. 37 million of you were watching on Tuesday night while the insults were flying... up 2 million from last year. If people were truly offended, well then they should have tuned out last night. Not the case though. Another 37 million watched the Seattle auditions. In fact, the audition shows always get a higher audience then the performance shows. This morning I talked to Katharine McPhee, who did not watch the audition shows this week but heard about the controversy on "The View." On the subject, she told me, "There crosses a point I think where you start actually being mean about people's appearances and I think that kind of really is just wrong. I've never liked that part of the show. So, that's why I don't really tune in for the early part of it."

Last night's outrage I'd say was mainly over the way 21-year-old contestant, Jonathan Jayne, and 23-year-old Kenneth Briggs were portrayed. Obviously, a little different than others, Simon's calling Kenneth a "bush baby" just went to far. We talked to Jonathan this morning who truly was just happy for the chance to be on TV. His only complaint wasn't about how he was portrayed on TV but that Randy was chuckling during his audition, " I just think that he was trying to make television at that time. He didn't really mean it." He did however get very upset about the way Kenneth was treated, "They treated him horribly. I just didn't like what they said about him. That really made me kind of ticked off that they were treating him like that."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: americanidol; idol; katharinempcheever; paula; randy; simon
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1 posted on 01/19/2007 11:01:05 AM PST by meg88
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To: meg88

If you can't poke fun at the mentally challanged, who can you make fun of?? (Don't get all crazy, I am just kidding! OK, so don't send me indignant msgs.)

Can someone post a picture of matt Dillon in Something About Mary? "I love that goofy bastard!"


2 posted on 01/19/2007 11:05:45 AM PST by Holicheese (Beerfest could be the greatest movie ever made!)
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To: meg88

I always wondered why some of these obviously bad contestants don't have at least someone, anyone, listen to them first...?


3 posted on 01/19/2007 11:06:24 AM PST by pnh102
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To: meg88
Obviously, a little different than others, Simon's calling Kenneth a "bush baby" just went to far.

I saw that episode - some cruel, unwarranted comments about the way contestants look in what is supposed to be a singing contest. The bad singers portion of American Idol is the only remotely interesting part of the show, but it's produced some very ugly moments this year - from the judges.
4 posted on 01/19/2007 11:07:19 AM PST by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: meg88

Well, I'm glad I've never watched this show.


5 posted on 01/19/2007 11:08:23 AM PST by bcsco ( Is there a doctor of flatulence in the house?)
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To: meg88

It no different this year than any other. The freaks come out of the woodwork for this part of the show, and viewers eat it up.


6 posted on 01/19/2007 11:09:01 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: bcsco

Does anyone have the offending footage from youtube or something?


7 posted on 01/19/2007 11:10:36 AM PST by meg88
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To: Holicheese
It is not "mentally challaenged", but "mentally defecative"
8 posted on 01/19/2007 11:11:33 AM PST by GSlob
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To: meg88

if someone is going to get on a television talent show w/o talent, they should be aware that they are potentially up for extreme commentary. If they are goofy looking, even more so.


9 posted on 01/19/2007 11:11:56 AM PST by ilgipper
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To: pnh102

I always wondered why some of these obviously bad contestants don't have at least someone, anyone, listen to them first...?
-------
The first episodes of the show are for pure entertainment. No one can fault the fiscal results of this show and how it is aired. Simon alone takes home $35 MILLION a season for his work and share in the show. It is all about money, and if putting on the unbelievable misfits that they do works for the audience, so be it :-) ----

The show is so successful, that dozens are copying it. That is a credential in itself. What is really scary, is that some of those auditionees can actually vote. I always joke with my wife that I can easily spot the Hillary voters....

God help us --- :-)



10 posted on 01/19/2007 11:13:30 AM PST by EagleUSA
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To: pnh102

I always wondered why some of these obviously bad contestants don't have at least someone, anyone, listen to them first...?

Dang dude, your voice sounds awesome, you otta try out for AI. And you look really smart :-)


11 posted on 01/19/2007 11:13:42 AM PST by showme_the_Glory (No more rhyming, and I mean it! ..Anybody want a peanut.....)
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To: Wolfie

I wish Katharine McPheever was back this year.


12 posted on 01/19/2007 11:13:52 AM PST by meg88
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
I saw that episode - some cruel, unwarranted comments about the way contestants look in what is supposed to be a singing contest.

American Idol is not just a "singing contest". These contestants have to have the "entire package" to be considered an "idol". Good singers are a dime a dozen. Having good looks and talent is necessary to become a performer that people will pay to see. Ugly people that can sing get jobs as backup singers and such.
13 posted on 01/19/2007 11:13:53 AM PST by LetsRok
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To: meg88
I tried watching this show for a few minutes once, just to see what all the fuss was about. That's 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

This country is in decline, in more ways than one.
14 posted on 01/19/2007 11:14:14 AM PST by LIConFem
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To: meg88
Does anyone have the offending footage from youtube or something?

Not me. I'm sure it's out there, though.

15 posted on 01/19/2007 11:14:14 AM PST by bcsco ( Is there a doctor of flatulence in the house?)
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To: GSlob

"were clearly limited" How PC is that?
Honestly, if you are going on that show and have zero talent, you are going on for one reason, to get famous for being bad. The more that they bash you and make fun of you, the better.
All these people can not, not, know they absolutley stink.
Can you imagine having to sit through 10,000 of these idiots?
The girl that sounded like Chewbaca that was from Minn. was so funny. She was so aweful I felt uncomfortable for her.


16 posted on 01/19/2007 11:16:08 AM PST by Holicheese (Beerfest could be the greatest movie ever made!)
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To: ilgipper

Kenneth 'Gollum' Briggs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDrHaHqM4nQ


17 posted on 01/19/2007 11:16:08 AM PST by meg88
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To: meg88
We talked to Jonathan this morning who truly was just happy for the chance to be on TV.

And this is all that matters to any of the talentless, not-ready-for-TV people that got their feelings hurt. They knew what they were getting into when they showed up. No way in heck, I would go on that show and I am the perfect contestant to make fun of. Like Eastwood said, "A man's got to know his limitations."

18 posted on 01/19/2007 11:16:35 AM PST by rabidralph
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To: meg88

Hmmm. Katherine McPhee. Would someone please jog my memory with picture?


19 posted on 01/19/2007 11:16:46 AM PST by duckworth (Perhaps instant karma's going to get you. Perhaps not.)
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To: pnh102
I always wondered why some of these obviously bad contestants don't have at least someone, anyone, listen to them first...?

they did. that's part of the reason why the judges are so harsh. there are tons of kids that royally suck that have their mommies that tell them how great they are, and their friends do the same. or they always sing with the radio cranked up so loud that they can't tell how bad they are.
20 posted on 01/19/2007 11:17:33 AM PST by absolootezer0 (stop repeat offenders - don't re-elect them!)
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To: pnh102

I always wondered why some of these obviously bad contestants don't have at least someone, anyone, listen to them first...?
_____

They do have someone listen to them first. My son's girlfriend auditioned in NY a couple of months back for this season.

Those who are poked fun at are picked specifically for that reason, to be made fun of.


21 posted on 01/19/2007 11:18:11 AM PST by dmz
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To: meg88

I don't know. I think a little dose of reality will only help these people in the long run. Once they realize they are never going to be rock stars, maybe they can concentrate on the things they can do. That Kenneth fellow thought he was just like Justin Timberlake.


22 posted on 01/19/2007 11:18:26 AM PST by lady lawyer
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To: lady lawyer

Jonathan Jayne http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHzS964u7GM


23 posted on 01/19/2007 11:19:30 AM PST by meg88
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To: meg88
You can check out the controversial audition here at 1:43 into the video.
24 posted on 01/19/2007 11:19:47 AM PST by DigitalVideoDude (It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit. -Ronald Reagan)
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To: Holicheese

The lemur eyed one and his sidekick have been spoonfed the self esteem garbage and believed they were contenders.

They have been lied too since birth.

Reality is tough.


25 posted on 01/19/2007 11:20:37 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. .... It's spit on a lefty day.)
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To: duckworth

26 posted on 01/19/2007 11:21:15 AM PST by meg88
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To: meg88
Two of the Seattle contestants--Kenneth and Jonathan--were clearly limited.

I didn't see that they were "clearly limited". I would expect, as a 45 year old, overweight male with a less than perfect (much less) singing voice, that if I went on American Idol wanting to be the next American Idol that I would be treated just the same.

What they do is sometimes hard to watch, but they really are doing people a favor. They are telling them honestly that they don't have what it takes to be a "star" in the business today. They will either realize the judges are right and quit with no regrets because at least they tried and now know, or they will determine that the judges are crazy and will try harder next time or will try a different path to fame.

27 posted on 01/19/2007 11:25:23 AM PST by DouglasKC
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To: bert

I did not think the heavier of those 2 guys was insulted. He was just told he could not sing. The guy with the big eyes had his looks insulted by Simon but that is nothing new. People who try out for the show must know what they are getting in to.

It is true that the show is a popularity contest. They are obviously looking for people who look good on camera and have appeal in addition to being able to sing well.

As far as nutty guys go, the one who wanted to be another Taylor Hicks was pretty scary too. He actually thought he could approach the panel with some hair gel and they wouldn't throw him out physically? Not a good move.


28 posted on 01/19/2007 11:26:09 AM PST by TNCMAXQ
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To: DouglasKC

Simon kinda crossed the line with the Bush Baby crack. Both of the other judges loved him!


29 posted on 01/19/2007 11:26:25 AM PST by meg88
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To: meg88
Simon's calling Kenneth a "bush baby" just went to far.

That guy sounded almost exactly like "Jimmy" on South Park, and looked rather like him, too.

The best--I mean the absolute best--thing about American Idol is when deluded, tone-deaf people show up with their infantile dreams of stardom, only to have their noses rubbed hard in their own incompetence. It's cathartic. It's healthy.

The same goes for the bush-baby, too. It's generally bad form to humiliate someone for his looks, but when someone is literally applying for the position of "Idol", he deserves to be told in no uncertain terms why worship is not owed to him.

30 posted on 01/19/2007 11:26:46 AM PST by Physicist
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To: meg88

Those contestants had way too much self-esteem and families and friends without the ball* to tell them don't do it.


31 posted on 01/19/2007 11:27:19 AM PST by Ellesu
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To: LetsRok
These contestants have to have the "entire package" to be considered an "idol".

Here's one former winner whose "package" appears to have picked up a few bulges and creases.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

32 posted on 01/19/2007 11:28:14 AM PST by relictele
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To: meg88
"Two of the Seattle contestants--Kenneth and Jonathan--were clearly limited..."

I didn't see the show. What is "clearly limited"? Their voice range was limited?

This PC crap is really bugging me. Speak your mind, people! You're not communicating with the reader, people!

Clearly.

33 posted on 01/19/2007 11:29:11 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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To: Physicist

Paula Adul said he was adorable and awesome. I enjoyed the performace for completely different reasons like Randy


34 posted on 01/19/2007 11:29:12 AM PST by meg88
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To: pnh102
I always wondered why some of these obviously bad contestants don't have at least someone, anyone, listen to them first...?

Two decisions get made: 1) screening auditions prior to seeing Simon, Paula, and Randy. They put through the serious contenders and the worst of the worst. Then, 2) during editing, they exclude the majority of the serious contenders and focus on the worst of the worst. The "they" in both cases are producer-types that work behind the scenes. The majority of the kids in the finals were never seen by the public in the audition shows.

I'd like to see more of a balance between great, mediocre, and awful contestants.

The judges do lay into the mediocre and not-so-awful with catty barbs, it just doesn't make it into the final edit. This is evidenced by the montages of kids' comments about what the judges said about their audition. Also evidenced by previous years' audition shows where we got a better mix. By excluding the good and mediocre to such a degree, it makes it seem like all the judges do is make fun of people who have bad teeth, or height/weight issues, or identity issues, etc.

If there's backlash for these decisions, I lay it at the feet of the producers.

35 posted on 01/19/2007 11:29:38 AM PST by Lil'freeper (You do not have the plug-in required to view this tagline.)
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To: showme_the_Glory
Dang dude, your voice sounds awesome, you otta try out for AI. And you look really smart :-)

LOL! I have heard more than one "freaky" contestant say (in so many words): "My co-workers told me I should try out for this show, cuz they said I sound just like (insert famous singer here)..."

Sounds like there are some pretty convicning practical joker co-workers out there!

36 posted on 01/19/2007 11:29:55 AM PST by dave k (Unplug the spin machine...)
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To: meg88

My wife makes me watch it occassionally. She says that she watches my stupid shows (Heros is not stupid!). She threatened to tie me to a chair and make me watch it. :o)

I was busy so I was in and out and looked at it occassionally. For the 15 minute stint I actually sat, I was embarrassed. I felt sorry for the contestants. It was actually painful to watch. I could not imagine what I would be able to say to the "performers" to critique their talent.


37 posted on 01/19/2007 11:31:03 AM PST by Tenacious 1 (No to nitwit jesters with a predisposition of self importance and unqualified political opinions!)
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To: meg88

In my moral and ethical point of view, they could easily employ lesser figures to do all the auditions leading to those who will go to Hollywood, and not televise those early auitions at all.

The principals, Simon et al, could review the audition tapes and add to those selected to go to Hollywood.

Then they could televise the rest of the process without looking like a singing-audition version of Jerry Springer.

But of course, then Fox and Simon would not make as much money.


38 posted on 01/19/2007 11:31:18 AM PST by Wuli
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To: LIConFem
I agree. That show is a massive waste of time. 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

It just teaches people to be rude and exploit people.

39 posted on 01/19/2007 11:31:33 AM PST by MooseMan
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To: Wuli
William Hung sold like 200,000 records, some of these 'gonna-bes' as they call them have potential to sell like Tiny Tim.

That is what Simon is missing

40 posted on 01/19/2007 11:34:10 AM PST by meg88
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To: Holicheese

I'm sorry... but the bad auditions and comments are why people watch the preliminary shows. I've watched several seasons and I like this part of it. Most of these people must realize how bad they are! I think it's the whole reason they come out by the thousands -- to get on national TV for a few minutes. It's a game fur cryin out loud. If ya don't like the game, pick up your marbles and go home.

The comment by one of the two now infamous auditioners was that he knew people would vote for him... and why would that be? The pity factor?


41 posted on 01/19/2007 11:34:36 AM PST by myrabach
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To: meg88

Old story. Alan Funt. People are Funny. 25 years of entertaining people by humiliating and making fun of others. The American mass audience loves watching someone they can feel superior to. Idol's just the latest incarnation.


42 posted on 01/19/2007 11:35:07 AM PST by ArmstedFragg
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To: Holicheese
"Clear them out of your life as the scandalous and evil-living lot they are"
Michelangelo Buonarroti
And the old man clearly knew what he was writing about, and must have had them, and their kind and ilk, in mind. Thus do the mental prophylactics and do not watch the trash. For every idiocy watched, the viewer's IQ declines by a fraction of a point.
43 posted on 01/19/2007 11:38:25 AM PST by GSlob
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To: relictele
Wow, makeup and photoshop make all the difference in the world!


44 posted on 01/19/2007 11:38:56 AM PST by meg88
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To: bert

No child left behind...


45 posted on 01/19/2007 11:40:33 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: ArmstedFragg
Apparently no one remembers 'The Gong Show.' I'm sure Gene the Dancing Machine was limited in some capacity, probably by diabetes!


46 posted on 01/19/2007 11:41:39 AM PST by meg88
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To: meg88

That jogs things other than my memory...


47 posted on 01/19/2007 11:43:51 AM PST by Dr.Deth
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To: Dr.Deth

Mcpheever or Clarkson?


48 posted on 01/19/2007 11:46:21 AM PST by meg88
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To: Tenacious 1
Embarrassed for the contestants and painful to watch about sums it up. Train-wreck television at its finest.

At first, I could agree with those who say that Simon was over the top with his criticisms, but after a few of the really bad ones, I looked forward to his reaction. He is reality. Most of those so-called contestants would get savaged if they tried out at a karaoke bar. That they chose to go on tv without knowing what was going on or suspecting what might happen is ludicrous.

49 posted on 01/19/2007 11:47:13 AM PST by GBA (God Bless America!)
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To: meg88

Heck if I know. I'm a guy. Names are superfluous ;)


50 posted on 01/19/2007 11:47:14 AM PST by Dr.Deth
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