ROSIE IN NEW FEUD -- THIS TIME WITH IDOL JUDGES
Rosie O'Donnell has taken aim at a new target -- two of the judges on American Idol. Setting aside her feud with Donald Trump, O'Donnell expressed outrage over judge Simon Cowell's remark to one audition contestant on the talent show's premiere. On Tuesday night, Cowell told the contestant, Kenneth Briggs, "You look a little odd. The dancing is terrible. The singing was horrendous and you look like one of those creatures that live in the jungle with those massive eyes. What do they call them? 'Bush babies.'" On The View Friday, O'Donnell laid into Cowell. ""I don't think America likes to watch people be ridiculed, made fun of, and called ugly monkeys," O'Donnell said. Such remarks, she said, were utterly unacceptable. "Isn't that what America thinks is entertainment? To make fun of someone's physical appearance and then when they leave the room laugh hysterically at them? Three millionaires, one probably intoxicated." The final zinger was aimed at judge Paula Abdul, whose odd behavior of late has provided fodder for numerous gossip columnists and websites. On Saturday, Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori defended Cowell, saying that contestants on the show "know what to expect. They have to appreciate the spirit in which that commentary is given." He denied that Cowell was growing more caustic in his comments. "This season has just been a continuation of what has been a very successful formula," he said. He also defended Abdul, saying that she may be showing stress after putting in long hours promoting the show. At the TV critics press tour in Pasadena, Abdul herself maintained, "I've never been drunk. I'm not under the influence of anything." And Cowell commented, "If [Briggs is] offended, then I apologize. I might never call anyone a bush baby again." He then quickly added, "If you don't want to hear that, don't show up [for the auditions]."
COOPER IS $4-MILLION MAN AT CNN
Anderson Cooper has signed a new contract with CNN guaranteeing him at least $4 million per year, the Hollywood Reporter reported today, citing no sources. Cooper receives an additional fee as a contributor to CBS's 60 Minutes. The trade publication said that CNN declined to comment directly on the report but issued a statement saying, "Anderson Cooper is an exceptional journalist, and his dedication in going after important stories wherever they occur makes him a natural fit for CNN. We look forward to more of his groundbreaking work in the years to come."
STORM SUBSIDES OVER U.K. REALITY SHOW
Bringing to an end one of the stormiest affairs in British broadcasting history, a contestant on the reality show Celebrity Big Brother has been ousted by a vote of 82 percent of British viewers. The remarks by Jade Goody to Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty last week had resulted in more than 49,000 complaints to OFCOM, the British television watchdog, and Channel 4, the outlet for the show. Told for the first time of the uproar her comments had touched off, Goody responded in the British weekly News of the World, "I can't dignify myself because that video footage of myself is nasty. ... I'm not going to sit here and try and justify myself. Yes, I said those things and they were nasty. I am not a racist, and I sincerely ... apologize to anybody I've offended out there."
JAMES MURDOCH TO MOVE UP IN NEWS CORP RANKS?
James Murdoch, regarded as the heir apparent to his father, Rupert Murdoch, at News Corp, may be about to move into the higher ranks of the organization. The London Mail on Sunday reported that the younger Murdoch will step down as CEO of BSkyB, the British satellite distributor, to join his father at News Corp's headquarters in the U.S. The paper said that he will be replaced by Tom Mockridge, head of Sky Italia, the Italian satellite company controlled by News Corp. Reuters reported on Sunday that BSkyB dismissed the report as "just speculation."