- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007

Web site riles ‘Idol’

A scrappy little Web site run from suburban Chicago is giving “American Idol” and fans fits, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

That’s fine with the owner of VoteForTheWorst.com. The David-and-Goliath goal of the site, says owner Dave Della Terza, is to persuade people to vote for the worst singer every week. It has become the second-most-popular “Idol”-related site — right behind the show’s official site — and is inspiring death threats and promises of lawsuits against its owner.

It’s also getting noticed. Two weeks ago, Mr. Della Terza, 24, chatted on Howard Stern’s Sirius Satellite Radio show. VoteForTheWorst.com also has served as fodder for morning TV chatter. On CBS’ “Late Night With David Letterman,” “Idol” judge Paula Abdul called the site “just terrible.”

Support from Mr. Stern’s fans and “Idol” bashers appears to be helping contestant Sanjaya Malakar, the 17-year-old Washington state singer with the bouncy hair and reed-thin voice. Before the March 20 show, the site pleaded, “If we can move him one more week into the top 10, he’ll go on tour.”

It worked.

Mr. Della Terza received 1,000 e-mails the day after Sanjaya got another VFTW-related reprieve. Many were nasty. “I get so many creepy e-mails from people,” Mr. Della Terza says. “They’re like, ‘I’m gonna hunt you down and kill you.’ ”

VFTW may already have helped produce an “Idol.” Last year, the site backed Taylor Hicks. He won.

Afterward, fans of both the singer and the site went to a Hicks concert with a VFTW T-shirt. The “Idol” victor merrily posed with the shirt for a photo.

That picture is the first thing you see at VoteForTheWorst.com.

“I’m glad Taylor understands it was a joke,” Mr. Della Terza says. “The thing I like about him and some of the contestants is they get the show is cheesy and corny.”

Still, Mr. Della Terza, who attended Northern Illinois University, swears his mission isn’t to destroy “Idol.”

“We do want to expose the show,” he says. “It’s definitely a very manipulated TV show, and people don’t get that.”

Mr. Della Terza claims Fox once issued a cease-and-desist order demanding that he take copyrighted “Idol” material off his site, a move Fox confirms, but Mr. Della Terza is undeterred. “They’re as dumb as the 12-year-olds that write to us,” he says.

“All we’re doing is getting people to watch their show. … You’re idiots. We’re [earning] you money for the sponsors.”

Restaurant row

Actor Jeremy Piven reportedly has been banned from America’s Nobu restaurants after paying a waiter’s tip with a DVD, the Internet Movie Database reports.

According to the Web site, the Emmy-winning co-star of HBO’s “Entourage” was dining at celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s restaurant in Aspen, Colo., during the recent U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. When the bill came, Mr. Piven reportedly paid up and left the waiter a copy of his “Entourage” series DVD as a tip — prompting the outraged server to throw the DVD at the celebrity.

A fellow diner told the New York Daily News that Mr. Piven “came in with a large group of 12 or more without reservations and asked for a table. It was a very busy night, but a table, although cramped, was provided. On his way out, he made a nasty comment to the manager: ‘Thanks for nothing.’ ”

Mr. Piven is playing down the incident. “I’m such a fan of Nobu and all of his restaurants. I had a great dinner at the Nobu in Aspen. As always, the meal was excellent and the service was great.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Kelly Jane Torrance from staff, wire and Web reports

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