AMERICAN IDOL is coming out of the closet for its 12th season.
An eccentric, transgender singer is one of the show’s top hopefuls this year — advancing past the show’s famous boot camp, Hollywood Week, last week, on-set sources reveal.
And he has some real on-the-job experience.
Before auditioning for the world’s biggest singing competition last summer, Josh Jada Davila was a semi-finalist in Chicago’s “Windy City Gay Idol.”
“Androgyny is everywhere we turn,” Davila, a 26-year-old cosmetics salesperson, told an LGBT Web site in June. “We just don’t see enough of it in the media. So, that’s where I come in.”
Openly gay contestants are going to be in the spotlight for the first time when it returns Jan. 16.
At one point during Hollywood Week, new judge Nicki Minaj even tells one act to “turn the flame down,” according to an insider.
“Idol has been labeled for years as being homophobic, which I don’t understand,” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe revealed last week. “We just didn’t make an issue of [contestants’ sexuality]. Never have.”
But competing talent shows have made an issue of contestants’ sexuality, often trading on sob stories of being bullied or difficulty coming out.
Now “Idol” — faced with sagging ratings and increased competition from THE VOICE and THE X FACTOR — appears to be pulling out some of the old stops.
This year’s crop includes a stutterer whose impediment disappears when he sings and a Middle Eastern vocalist Lythgoe calls “The Turbanator.”
But most of this season’s watercooler moments will likely come from freshman judges Minaj and Mariah Carey.
Minaj has been the harshest on the new crop of hopefuls, say sources who have seen the early taping sessions.
But Lythgoe believes it will be longtime judge Randy Jackson who may shock viewers the most.
“He will say ‘give up singing.’ It’s no longer ‘you are pitchy.’ It’s ‘Just give up. Don’t do it,’ ” Lythgoe says. “He is the most cutting.
“It is — as much as it can be — constructive criticism” that the panel is handing out, Lythgoe believes.
“At the same time, when someone comes on and is delusional and says they are going to be the next ‘Idol’ and then sings like William Hung, you have got to smile.
“You have got to enjoy that moment. That is as close to cruelty as we come. We can’t help but laugh at these foolish people whose loved ones have lied to them all these years.”
Carey, insiders reveal, often prefaces bad news with disclaimers like, “Don’t blame me if you don’t get picked. I like you.”
“I think Mariah, probably of the entire panel, finds it most difficult to say no,” Lythgoe confirms.
It remains unclear how much of the tension between Carey and Minaj is being played up to keep the show in the headlines.
In October, the dueling divas brought “Idol” auditions in North Carolina to an abrupt halt when Minaj was caught on tape threatening, “I’m gonna knock you out.” Carey later accused the “Starships” singer of threatening to shoot her.
“Passions do run high,” says Lythgoe, whose other series “So You Think You Can Dance,” was just renewed for a 10th season.
“We don’t control their emotions. If they are passionate about something, they will argue.
“But you are still going to get ‘American Idol,’ ” he insists. “It is still going to be about the contestants. We are not doing ‘The Real Idols of Beverly Hills.’ ”
This story originally appeared in The New York Post
Latest posts by Sean Daly (see all)
- Sherri Shepherd: I Will Never Go Back To ‘The View’ - January 18, 2017
- ‘This Is Us’: NBC Renews Its Best Drama For Two More Seasons - January 18, 2017
- ‘My Kitchen Rules’: Lance Bass Wants His Own Cooking Show - January 16, 2017