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Gay Rights Group Blasts American Idol

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Questionable comments to contestants from American Idol judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson are bringing accusations of homophobia from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

On last Tuesday’s season premiere, which attracted a staggering 35.5 million viewers, Cowell advised one male contestant auditioning for the show to “wear a dress,” while Jackson asked another, “Are you a girl?”

“The real offense here was in the producer’s decision to add insult to injury by turning a contestant’s gender expression into the butt of a joke,” said GLAAD spokesman Damon Ramine on the group’s Web site.

On Monday, Ramine updated the GLAAD statement: “We’ve spoken with FOX and have entered into what we hope will be a productive, ongoing conversation about the show’s representation and discussion of sexual orientation and gender expression.” A spokesman for American Idol said Monday that the network had no comment, the Associated Press reports.

In related news, GLAAD has announced the contenders for its 17th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Among the movie nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Transamerica and Capote; for TV, Out of Practice and Commander in Chief, The Amazing Race 7, Nightline, USA Today, two episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Spanish-language nominees Hoy, TV Notas, Sin Fronteras and Noticiero Univision.

The GLAAD Media Awards will be televised on Logo on April 15 and the following night on VH1, which is broadcasting the event for the first time.