'View' hosts says series is 'sexist and weightist'
This article was updated at 4:35 p.m.Ready for the next blown-out-of-proportion media feud? No? You’re gonna get it anyway. Get set for Rosie O’Donnell vs. “American Idol.” An admitted fan of the Fox singing competish, O’Donnell has nonetheless taken the show to task this season for how it depicts wannabe contestants in tryouts stage — and for the irrational behavior of judge Paula Abdul. O’Donnell has now stepped up her criticism, this week calling the show “sexist and weightist.” “The View” host was referring to zaftig season two contestant Frenchie Davis, who was booted from the show when it was revealed that racy pictures of her existed. This season, semi-nude shots of contestant Antonella Barba have emerged on the Internet (some real, some photoshopped fakeries), but Barba has remained. O’Donnell’s comments on Tuesday’s “The View” (which she repeated on Wednesday) set off “American Idol” exec producer Nigel Lythgoe, who released a statement even as he admitted he didn’t want “to add to the obvious self-promotion of Ms. O’Donnell.” “I feel as though I must refute her absurd and ridiculous claims that ‘American Idol’ is racist and/or weightist,” he said. (When did “weightist” become a word, by the way?) “Ms. O’Donnell has, once again, spoken without thought or knowledge. Viewers need only look at the show tonight to realize that ‘American Idol’ constantly confirms to America that talent has nothing to do with weight or color.” Indeed, the show has championed both minorities and plus-size singers through the years — some of whom, including season two winner Ruben Studdard, were both. That doesn’t answer the Frenchie Davis question. Davis complained to the New York Post this week that “if the rules have changed, I believe there should be something to make up for the fact that I was humiliated needlessly.” In response, Fox said in a statement, “Fox and the producers of ‘American Idol’ have no desire to revisit history and sully the reputation of Ms. Davis … We have never discussed the specifics of why Ms. Davis was eliminated, nor will we now.” O’Donnell’s comments probably won’t help “The View’s” attempts to secure “American Idol” clips while talking about the show. The “View” hosts brought up the clip ban on Wednesday, with Joy Behar wondering, “What do they care what we say anyway? They’re so very popular.” Barbara Walters, however, defended the Fox skein and said she understood why Fox and “Idol”s” producers weren’t willing to clear clips for the chatfest: “Everybody cares. People don’t want to be insulted. They don’t want to be hurt.” “It doesn’t matter,” O’Donnell responded. “We’re going to watch anyway.” Now, go enjoy the next 24 hours of breathless “Rosie and ‘American Idol’ are feuding” coverage.