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'American Idol' EP Fires Back at Adam Levine Over Gay Comment

August 18, 2011, 1:49 am GMT

Responding to the Maroon 5 frontman's complaint about the way 'Idol' treats gay contestants, Nigel Lythgoe says, 'I didn't understand why we're talking about contestants being gay or not gay.'

Nigel Lythgoe

Nigel Lythgoe has come in defense of "American Idol" against the criticism recently made by Adam Levine. Firing back at "The Voice" judge/mentor who critized the FOX reality show for allegedly masking gay contestants, the executive producer of "Idol" tells Entertainment Weekly, "To be frank, I didn't understand why we're talking about contestants being gay or not gay."

The judge of "So You Think You Can Dance" goes on stating that a contestant's sexual preference does not affect the way he values his/her talent. "What does that have anything to do with singing talent? Maybe it does for Adam Levine, but not for me," he says.

"I don't go into my dentist and say, 'Are you gay?' I don't say to contestants on 'So You Think You Can Dance', 'Are you gay?' " he explains his point. "What does it got to do with me? What does it got to do with anybody? When does privacy stop in this country? If somebody wants to say they're gay, it's up to them."

When asked why there have not been openly gay contestants on "Idol", Lythgoe mentioned Adam Lambert. Although the runner-up of season 8 actually never spoke about his sexuality when still participating on the competition, the executive producer believed, "He must have come out before being on Idol, he just didn't talk about it on Idol."

"And why should he?" he added. "Is every actor going on television going to say, 'I'm only playing the part of a straight man, I'm really gay'? There's no reason that I would see why anybody that goes on television should start coming out with who they are, what they are, what they're sexuality is, who they're going to vote for or what their religion is."

Previously, Levine blasted "Idol" for not allowing gay contestants to go public. "What's always pissed me off about 'American Idol' is wanting to mask that, for that to go unspoken," he claimed. "You can't hide basic components of these people's lives. The fact that 'The Voice' didn't have any qualms about being completely open about it is a great thing."

In another "Idol" news, FOX has confirmed Lythgoe's statement that all three judges of season 10 will return next year. "Having both Jennifer [Lopez] and Steven [Tyler] return to Idol in 2012 alongside Randy [Jackson] is such a positive reflection on what was a wonderful and hugely successful season last year, and everyone is delighted," creator and executive producer Simon Fuller said in a statement released on Wednesday, August 17.

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