More racy Antonella Barba photos surface, Fox declines comment
By Steve Rogers, 02/24/2007
Will the recent release of provocative photos of sixth season American Idol semifinalist Antonella Barba result in Fox disqualifying the 20-year-old Point Pleasant, NJ native from the network's smash-hit reality competition? Fox isn't saying.
New, more explicit photos of the already beleaguered Idol semifinalist appeared to surface anonymously on the Internet on Friday, including several that alleged to depict Barba engaged in a sex act. Other new photos -- apparently taken late at night -- also allege to show a partially undressed and water-soaked Barba posing erotically both in front of and within fountains in Washington, DC's National World War II Memorial (according to her Idol biography, Barba attends Catholic University in Washington, DC).
The new photos followed last week's emergence of more than a dozen pictures showing Barba posing topless with other women, grinding with people at what appeared to be a club, flipping the bird, consuming alcohol, sitting on a toilet, and appearing in various states of undress.
Despite the growing controversy, Fox publicist Alex Gillespie told The Associated Press on Friday that the network will 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 will 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.
American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe was only slightly more forthcoming, telling Entertainment Weekly that he had only learned of the photos when the magazine contacted him to ask about them. "We have really good background checks on everybody, and we deal with that every season," Lythgoe told EW in a report published on the magazine's website on Friday afternoon. "It's sad, isn't it, that your best friends are the ones that come forward with information that will go to [The] Smoking Gun or put your photographs on the web?"
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Although Idol's judges panned her Wednesday night semifinals performance, Barba managed to survive this week's initial round of viewer voting and was -- as of the end of Thursday night's live results show broadcast -- scheduled to once again perform in next week's "Top 20" semifinals round.
Should Fox decide to remove Barba from the competition, she wouldn't be the first American Idol semifinalist or finalist disqualified due to non-Idol activities. During Idol's second season, semifinalist Jaered Andrews was disqualified over (later acquitted) charges of committing an assault that led to a man's death and then 23-year-old semifinalist Frenchie Davis was disqualified for having previously posed for faux "kiddie porn" photos. Later that same season, Corey Clark, one of the season's nine remaining finalists, was dismissed for failing to disclose pending battery charges.