You'd be forgiven if you thought you'd mistakenly flipped on a rerun of "American Idol" on Wednesday night instead of the live girls' performance round. Because, while the rest of the world was thinking about, talking about or downloading those risqué pictures of New Jersey-born "Idol" hopeful Antonella Barba this past week, the show made no mention of the controversy at all.
The closest anyone came to commenting on the flap was when judge Randy Jackson referred to Barba — dressed in a body-hugging, satiny mini-dress — as a "drop-dead gorgeous, beautiful girl" before telling her she just didn't have a big enough voice to tackle the Celine Dion ballad "Because You Loved Me."
An "Idol" spokesperson declined MTV's requests for comment on the growing scandal — which was exacerbated by some X-rated pictures that Barba's friend Amanda Coluccio has said are fake (see " 'Idol' Hopeful Antonella Barba's Pal Says X-Rated Pics Are Fake") — but producer Nigel Lythgoe told "Extra" that he's not planning to kick Barba off the show. "Her fate is in the voters' hands," he said.
And, at a party at the Playboy mansion on Wednesday, judge Simon Cowell told People magazine that the photos should "not affect her standing on the show, and if the public wants to keep her in, they'll keep her in ... I think it's disgraceful that so-called friends would sell these pictures. It's private property. I really, really have a problem with that — big problem."
On Wednesday night's big broadcast, though, no one was talking, especially not about the half-nude pictures of Barba posing in front of a World War II memorial. And even though the judges pretty much eviscerated her spotty performance — with Simon saying she was even worse than last week — the architecture student went with judge Paula Abdul's comments.
The ever-perky Abdul looked on the bright side and said that "less than 1 percent" of singers can sing like Dion and that Barba's performance was a big improvement over last week's.
And besides, Barba quipped, Simon was "wrong about Jennifer Hudson."