NEW YORK — Elton John thinks there’s something “incredibly racist” about viewer voting on Fox TV’s “American Idol.”
John — who rehearsed with the show’s wannabe pop stars during a recent week in which they performed his songs — said three performers he was really impressed with “happened to be black, young female singers and they all seemed to be landing in the bottom three.”
“These three girls would have the talent to be members of The Royal Academy or Juilliard,” the British singer-songwriter told reporters. “They have great voices. The fact that they are constantly in the bottom three, and I don’t want to set myself up here, I find it incredibly racist.”
Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said Wednesday the network had no comment.
John made the remarks in response to a question during a news conference Tuesday to announce his July 13-18 concerts at Radio City Music Hall. The concerts will feature students from London’s Royal Academy of Music and The Juilliard School of New York.
Last week, black vocalist Jennifer Hudson was voted off the show, and the other two singers grouped in the bottom three of the remaining “American Idol” contestants were black singers La Toya London and Fantasia Barrino. They’d been praised by the show’s judges and had become known as “The Three Divas.”
The New York Post reported it was deluged with calls complaining that the voting was racially motivated. (The Post is owned by News Corp., which also owns Fox TV.)
Even series host Ryan Seacrest chastised viewers following the tally in which contestants who gave marginal performances were the top vote-getters.
“You cannot let talent like this slip through the cracks,” Seacrest said.
London and Barrino are still in the competition, as is George Huff, who is black. For the contestants, a recording contract and instant career are at stake.
“American Idol,” unlike other reality shows featuring competition, is more popular in black homes than white homes. For the current season, the show is watched in 19 percent of all black households, compared with 15 percent of white households, according to Nielsen Media Research.
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