"These people haven't done anything illegal; that's their private life," Idol judge Simon Cowell told USA Today at a Tuesday night Playboy Mansion party to celebrate the upcoming Sunday night third season premiere of E!'s The Girls Next Door reality show. "[The photos should] not affect her standing on the show, and if the public wants to keep her in, they'll keep her in."
"Nobody's clean in the entertainment business," Idol judge Randy Jackson, who also attended the Playboy party, told USA Today. "There are definitely some moral things that go on with this show."
Although he claimed to have not yet seen the photos, Idol host Ryan Seacrest -- whose new Paradise City reality show will premiere after The Girls Next Door on Sunday night -- also voiced strong support for Barba. "[I would] absolutely let [Barba] stay on. If American Idol is a true representation of American youth, we're going to find imperfections, Seacrest told USA Today. "And it's OK to be imperfect."
According to Seacrest, the morals of the person who released the Barba photos should be the more unsettling issue. "It's just tacky, disgusting," Seacrest told the newspaper. "You've got a girl who's trying to make it on a show where she needs a vote, and someone's trying to tear that away from her."
Earlier on Tuesday, American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe -- breaking several days of silence on Barba's fate -- had revealed that the show had decided not to disqualify from the smash-hit Fox reality competition.
"Lythgoe [told] Extra he's not kicking the Jersey girl off, her fate is in the voters' hands," Extra co-host Mark McGrath reported during the syndicated entertainment news program's Tuesday evening broadcast.
"Without question, any competition like this is part popularity contest," Lythgoe told Extra correspondent (Cowell's longtime girlfriend) Terri Seymour during an interview that was presumably taped sometime on Monday or early Tuesday.
"It won't effect anything, Antonella is about her looks and her talent and that's the only thing that will effect her journey on American Idol," Lythgoe added in a second interview broadcast on Tuesday evening's Inside Edition.
Earlier this week, Amanda Coluccio, the Barba best friend who also made it to American Idol 6's Hollywood round but failed to make the season's Top 24 semifinalists cut, told her local The Star-Ledger newspaper that only some of the photos that have emerged online are actually of Barba, a 20-year-old Point Pleasant, NJ native.
According to Coluccio, the "tamer shots" -- including an American Beauty tribute photo that features a naked Barba covered by rose petals -- are legitimate and were taken as part of a calendar that she gave her boyfriend of several years but she is certain that the "lewdest" -- specifically the ones that allegedly show Barba performing a sex act -- aren't of Barba.
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