Voice

'Idol' exec: Who cares about contestants' sexual orientation?

Aug. 17, 2011 at 2:24 PM ET

Dan Steinberg / AP /
Nigel Lythgoe doesn't think sexual orientation has anything to do with contestants' skills on his shows.

Maroon 5 frontman and "Voice" coach Adam Levine shared some harsh words with Out magazine for "American Idol" when he blasted the show for not letting its contestants be openly gay.  

"You can’t be publicly gay? At this point? On a singing competition? Give me a break," Levine said in the Out interview. "You can’t hide basic components of these people’s lives."

"Idol's" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe isn't letting the criticism slide. In an interview with James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly, Lythgoe said he doesn't understand why contestants' sexual orientation is even an issue.

"I don’t go into my dentist and say, 'Are you gay?' I don’t say to contestants on 'So You Think You Can Dance,' 'Are you gay?' What does it got to do with me? What does it got to do with anybody? When does privacy stop in this country?" Lythgoe told EW.

"If somebody wants to say they’re gay, it’s up to them. You don’t expect us to turn around and say, 'Are you gay?' Why would we do that? — 'By the way, he’s a Catholic and he supports Obama and here’s his sexuality' — what does that have anything to do with singing talent?" Lythgoe continued. "Maybe it does for Adam Levine, but not for me."

Former "Idol" contestant Adam Lambert may disagree a smidge with Lythgoe. On the Aug. 7 episode of "Behind the Music," Lambert revealed that he wasn't exactly allowed to address the rumors of his sexuality while he was on the competition. "It was hard for me because I wasn’t able to talk," Lambert said on the VH1 program. "Technically, being on 'Idol,' you can’t do any interviews individually until you’re out of the show. So I was sitting there going, ‘I can’t really put in my two cents.’ It felt out of my control."

But to be fair, Lythgoe wasn't working on "Idol" during season eight, when Lambert was a contestant. Lythgoe was the executive producer from 2002 to 2008, and returned this year.

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