American Idol is known for the savage put-downs former judge Simon Cowell directed at contestants, but now the Fox show is under fire for insulting a spectator. Ashley Kauffman, 19, attended an Idol taping last week, and later told Good Morning America that a member of Idol's production staff told her she couldn't sit in the front row because she was too fat. Representatives of the show deny Kauffman's claims. Could she really be making this up, or does Idol owe her an apology?
Shame on you, American Idol: "Is this really what has become of American prime-time TV?" asks Emily Abbate at The Stir. There's no way to confirm with 100 percent certainty who said what, but it's clear that the show's staff split up Kauffman's group, putting girls it deemed more telegenic front and center. And it's hard to believe "any 19-year-old would build up the courage to talk about her weight on national television without proper cause." The show's producers ought to be ashamed of themselves.
"American Idol says fan is too fat for the front row"
Idol didn't mistreat this griper: Kauffman wasn't banished to the back of the studio, says Manfred Westphal, a spokesman for Idol producer Fremantle Media North America, as quoted by the Associated Press. She and two other members of her party were seated four rows behind their friends, "directly in camera shot, in some of the best seats in the house." She was in the same row as a VIP guest of judge Steven Tyler, which hardly seems like shoddy treatment.
"American Idol denies barring audience member from seat due to weight"
The show should still apologize: Sure, TV shows split up big groups all the time, says Whitney Jefferson at Jezebel, but the producer's seating policy is not the issue. It appears that a woman who works for the show insulted Kauffman's weight — Kauffman says she was told she was "too big and too heavy" to sit up front. "All she really wants is an apology from Idol." Is that really so much to ask?
"Girl deemed 'too fat' for American Idol's front row"