Drew Carey and Brett Butler, two of the celebrity judges for last month's Las Vegas semifinals competition that determined the Top 10 contestants who will be competing on this summer's Last Comic Standing 2, are calling the selection process "crooked and dishonest" and noting that they "had NOTHING to do with" the selected finalists.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Carey told the service that "I thought it was crooked and dishonest." "It was like somebody at NBC cast the show ahead of the event in Vegas. And they had 1,100 in the audience (for the semifinals competition) who saw how blatantly it was cast. If this happened on Survivor or any other reality TV show, it would be a major scandal."

Butler, who joined Carey, Anthony Clark, and first-season finalist Tess Drake on the judging panel, agreed with Carey's remarks. In a posting on her website last week, Butler stated that "as panel judges, we can say that (a) we were both surprised and disappointed at the results and (b) we had NOTHING to do with them."

In response, NBC released a statement noting that while the judges' opinion in the rounds leading to the semifinals are taken into account, the final decision is made by the show's producers and NBC executives -- a point that also appeared in the fine print of the show's first season rules, but a distinction that Carey insists "misled" the judges as to the "nature of their roles."

"The casting decisions were made by NBC and NBC Studios in consultation with talent scouts and we appreciate their valuable input," NBC said in a statement. "Now that the 10 participants have been selected, the program will begin. As was the case last season, during the show, the comic elimination decisions will now be made by audiences who watch the comics perform without any input from NBC, NBC Studios or anyone else associated with the program."

The Reporter also notes that at least two clear conflicts of interest appear exist in the casting process, as Barry Katz, a Last Comic Standing executive producer, is also the manager of two of the performers who made the Final 10 -- the one-name comic Ant and Gary Gulman. Katz also serves as manager for series host Jay Mohr.