Idol holds firm af­ter tragedy

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

Ajudge Si­mon Cow­ell says the ap­par­ent sui­cide of a for­mer con­tes­tant hit the show’s staff ‘‘like an ex­press train’’.

But he says the tragedy will not stop crit­i­cism of per­form­ers in fu­ture au­di­tions.

The body of Paula Goodspeed— de­scribed as an ob­sessed fan of judge Paula Ab­dul— was found last month in a car near Ab­dul’s Los An­ge­les man­sion.

Goodspeed, 30, had au­di­tioned in front of the judges in 2006 with a ver­sion of that Ab­dul said left her speech­less, adding: ‘‘That’s not a good thing.’’

Cow­ell then made a com­ment about her braces, re­mark­ing he didn’t see how any­one could sing with ‘‘that much metal in their mouth’’.

‘‘What hap­pened was aw­ful,’’ Cow­ell says. ‘‘My re­gret in all of this is we didn’t know how trou­bled this per­son was. I wish we could have spent time try­ing to help her.’’

Cow­ell says there is lit­tle screen­ing of con­tes­tants at open au­di­tions and a min­i­mum of seven se­cu­rity guards are in the room, though un­seen by the au­di­ence, when hope­fuls sing for the judges.

Cow­ell in­sists be­ing hon­est with those who try out is part of the process and it won’t be chang­ing.

‘‘You as­sume that every­one who en­ters

knows the score,’’ he says.

For­mat changes for the new sea­son in­clude the ad­di­tion of song­writer Kara DioGuardi to the judg­ing panel and the elim­i­na­tion of the char­ity cru­sade. Cow­ell felt ask­ing peo­ple to do­nate for char­ity seemed in­ap­pro­pri­ate given the frail state of the econ­omy.

Fox­tel’s FOX8 chan­nel launches the new sea­son of

on Jan­uary 14, with episodes air­ing within hours of their US broad­cast.

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