Ex-'Idol 2' semifinalist Frenchie Davis crying foul over Antonella Barba
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/06/2007
Former disqualified American Idol 2 semifinalist Frenchie Davis is crying foul over the fact that Idol's producers are allowing sixth season finalist Antonella Barba to remain in the mega-hit Fox reality competition series despite the emergence of numerous provocative photos of the 20-year-old Point Pleasant, NJ native.
"I couldn't help but notice the difference between the manner in which [Barba] was dealt with and how I was dealt with," Davis toldThe New York Post on Monday. "I think it's fantastic if Idol has evolved and I think it's fantastic [Barba] won't have to go through what I went through four years ago."
During the second season of Idol in February 2003, the then 23-year-old Davis was disqualified over nude pictures she posed for at the age of 18, in which she simulated solitary sexual activity for a kiddie-porn website. Despite a petition to reinstate her into the competition, Fox stood by its decision to disqualify Davis.
"If the rules have changed, I believe there should be something to make up for the fact that I was humiliated needlessly," Davis told The Post. "I was up-front about those photographs and I had taken them five years before I was on Idol...It's not something I'm proud of, but not something I regret either."
A protest in support of Davis -- which was organized by Project Islamic Hope, civil rights activist Najee Ali, Idol first-season producer Tarvenia Jones, and others -- was scheduled for today at 11AM PT in-front of The Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, CA. According to EURweb.com, participants will be rallying that Davis be brought back for another try at Idol and also hope to bring an end to the "double standard" they claim exists on the series.
"We feel a coalition of leaders [should] meet with Fox and American Idol producers to set some guidelines down because they can't have a rule for white contestants and have different rule for black contestants," Ali told EURweb.com. "It's obvious that it's a racial bias ... when you have a situation where a black contestant is punished and a similar situation happens to a white contestant and there is no punishment and they're allowed to continue on the show."
Despite the emergence of the Barba photos on the Internet, she has remained as one of the Top 16 finalists on the sixth season of American Idol. Producer Nigel Lythgoe revealed last week that the show had decided not to disqualify Barba from Idol, and she's also received support from the series' host and judges.
"When I learned that pictures had surfaced of this young lady, I didn't really think anything of it," Davis told EURweb.com. "But when it came out that they had decided they were not going to kick her off the show, that -- to say the least -- raised an eyebrow."
Following her disqualification from Idol 2, Davis said she stopped watching the series and "tried to avoid even speaking about or thinking about what happened." But she added she "couldn't help but overhear what was happening with [Barba]."
"I couldn't help but notice the manner in which she was dealt with was the complete opposite of how I was dealt with," Davis told EURweb.com. She said she "exposed" that piece of her past to Idol producers during casting for the second season, and she's unsure if Barba did the same.
"It happened and I was honest about it... and weeks later they decided to kick me off the show. They said it was because of the photographs, but my photos certainly weren't sexual," she told The Post. "I'm willing to say maybe the rules have changed, and I think that's great. But it was a very painful experience for me and it was humiliating for my parents."
The Post reported Fox officials had "no comment" about today's rally. When asked if she wanted an apology from Idol producers, Davis told The Post, "I'm willing to come to the table. It's open for discussion. I wish no one ill. I've never bad-mouthed Idol and never will."
Davis could only appear at the rally via telephone because she's currently in New York bringing an end to her four-year Broadway run in Rent, which she is leaving on May 24. She landed the role on Broadway almost immediately following her ouster from Idol.
"It's been a wonderful four years and I've made lifelong friends in [Rent], but it's time to go," she told The Post. Davis added she plans to "take a little break" after her Rent run wraps, but will continue speaking out about the injustice she feels was dealt to her by Idol.
"This is my career and this is what I want to do long term," she told EURweb.com. "I'm certainly not interested in pissing people off, but this is an unfairness that can't be ignored."