- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Simon: ‘My bad’

An annoyed look from “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell as a contestant expressed sadness over the Virginia Tech shootings was drastically misinterpreted, Mr. Cowell and the show said yesterday.

Mr. Cowell rolled his eyes and raised his eyebrows as contestant Chris Richardson of Chesapeake, Va., followed his performance on Tuesday’s show with a comment about the 32 persons killed on the campus by a student.

“My heart and prayers go out to Virginia Tech. I have a lot of friends over there. … Be strong,” Mr. Richardson said onstage. The camera then caught Mr. Cowell’s expression and showed him tapping his hand once, in apparent impatience, on the table in front of him and fellow judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. In contrast, Miss Abdul could be seen nodding in approval, Associated Press reports.

The show went into damage control yesterday, with Mr. Cowell — known for his acerbic comments — and a series producer denying that he had heard what Mr. Richardson had said. Instead, he was talking to Miss Abdul about Mr. Richardson’s contention that he deliberately sang “Mayberry” in a nasal tone, Mr. Cowell told “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest on Mr. Seacrest’s radio show yesterday.

Mr. Cowell, a British record company executive, said he supported Mr. Richardson’s comments.

“I did want to clear this one up because, you know, this is a very, very sensitive subject. The irony is that we did want to try and set the right tone on the show. And then something like this happens, and it just starts fanning the flames,” Mr. Cowell said.

Although the Internet was abuzz, the network said it had received few complaints about Mr. Cowell. One Fox affiliate forwarded two e-mail complaints to the network, which declined to identify the station and its city.

However, the Fox station that serves Blacksburg, Va., where Virginia Tech is located, hadn’t received any complaints as of yesterday, WFXR station manager Dave Bunnell said.

Lending his voice

That wild and crazy guy is taking on a new role.

Actor-writer Steve Martin will narrate a film by the National Gallery of Art that will accompany an exhibit of works by revered American artist Edward Hopper (1882-1967) that’s scheduled to open at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston May 6 and at the NGA on Sept. 16.

Mr. Martin — a noted art collector who will have several Hopper pieces that he owns in the show — was chosen in part because of his affinity for the artist and also because he has “one of the best American accents of anyone I can think of,” says Carroll Moore, the producer of film and video productions in the NGA’s Department of Exhibition Programs.

Mr. Moore also directs and writes the NGA films and videos that are made in-house and seen by the public in conjunction with most major exhibitions.

The Hopper show, a new comprehensive survey of some 90 works, is a collaborative effort by the NGA, the Boston museum and the Art Institute of Chicago, where it will travel next February.

The show will be on view at the NGA through Jan. 21.

XM: Bob to return

Bob Dylan’s award-winning XM music show, “Theme Time Radio Hour,” will return to XM with all-new episodes in September, representatives of the satellite network announced yesterday.

The new season will feature the show’s signature eclectic mix of songs related to a specific theme, along with entertaining stories about the music and topics of interest.

The place to be

Once again, Bloomberg News has the bash to crash after Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner in D.C., the New York Daily News notes.

Most of the town’s star lawmakers and journalism hotshots are expected as well as rocker Sheryl Crow, supermodel Petra Nemcova, actor Bill Paxton (HBO’s “Big Love”), actress Teri Hatcher (ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”), supermodel-turned-talk-show-host Tyra Banks, comedian Larry David, country music superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and newly minted “Today” show correspondent and former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber.

Compiled by Ann Geracimos and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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