Kyle Sandilands has addressed criticism of the new Australian Idol panel, after viewers slammed the talent show for hiring four white judges – including two American imports – and pair of white hosts.
The radio presenter, 51, who is returning as a judge and was involved in the casting process, spoke out on Thursday after former Idol contestant Emily Williams slammed Channel Seven for ‘whitewashing’ the franchise reboot.
Sandilands pushed back at the idea of diversity quotes and also revealed he’d spoken to several black artists, including 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg, about joining the panel but they couldn’t do it due to scheduling conflicts.
Speaking on The Kyle and Jackie O Show, he went on to explain how producers cast the net wide to find the right judges and ‘had fingers in many pies’.
‘You can’t say, “One judge has got to be a non-binary black person.” That’s not how the real world works. And it shouldn’t,’ he added.
‘It should be whoever is worthy of doing it – gay, straight, black, white, non-binary, whatever – that’s not taken into consideration and it shouldn’t be.
‘That’s how we went wrong in the first place. That’s how hate started. “That guy, don’t hire him, he’s gay.” That’s how hate starts.’
Sandilands added that ‘hate will continue to grow’ if race and gender quotas are reinforced, and ‘humans should be treated like humans’.
His co-host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson agreed, saying viewers often don’t understand what goes into casting for a television show.
Williams, 37, who placed runner-up on the third season of Idol in 2005, was upset to learn the reboot had an all-white panel including Sandilands, Amy Shark, Harry Connick Jr. and Meghan Trainor – the latter two of whom are American – while also being hosted by Scott Tweedie and Ricki-Lee Coulter, who are both white as well.
‘I look at the four judges and I’m like, “Okay, here we go again, straight and narrow.” There’s no room for change. It’s 2022,’ she told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.
The New Zealand-born singer added: ‘I was disappointed. Everybody is saying that it’s whitewashed. Absolutely, I agree. Does it look that way? Unfortunately it does. I thought at least one person would be gay or non-binary.’
Several viewers users agreed with her comments, with one taking to Twitter to write: ‘This is an epic and exciting opportunity to get judged by six white people. (To be fair there is some diversity, one has a hyphen in their name.)’
Another commented: ‘Channel Seven is very grateful for Meghan Trainor (American) being the token diversity hire for the Australian Idol reboot.’
‘Not sure why anyone is surprised about the Australian Idol judging panel – the other talent shows on our screens are just as bad. If they want diversity they always just have Mel B on,’ someone else tweeted.
Australian Idol will air on Channel Seven in 2023