'Idol' producer says Antonella Barba won't be disqualified over photos
By Steve Rogers, 02/28/2007
After several days of playing coy about the fate of Antonella Barba, American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe has reportedly announced that despite the emergence of numerous provocative photos, the sixth season semifinalist will not be disqualified 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 (and Simon Cowell girlfriend) Terri Seymour.
"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 The Star-Ledger 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.
"They were meant to be seen by one person and one person only," Coluccio told The Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper, in an article published in Monday's edition. "The really bad ones aren't her. I've studied them. It's not her nose. She's never had (acrylic nail) tips in her life. She's the least slutty person I know."
According to Coluccio -- who told The Star-Ledger that she's been talking daily with the sequestered Barba -- Barba believes that someone from Catholic University, the Washington, DC university she'd been attending prior to her Idol participation, broke into her personal computer and posted the pictures.
"She's been crying. She's horrified," Coluccio told The Star-Ledger. "She's most upset about what her parents think."
On Friday, Fox publicist Alex Gillespie had told The Associated Press that the network would have no comment on the photos or whether they might affect Barba's continued participation in American Idol's sixth season competition. Gillespie also confirmed that, per the show's standard policies, the network would not be making Barba or any of American Idol's other 20 remaining sixth season semifinalists available to the media prior to their elimination from the competition.
That same day, Lythgoe was only slightly more forthcoming on the subject, telling Entertainment Weekly that although the photos had already been circulating for at least a week, he had only just learned of them when the magazine contacted him to ask about them.