"American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has slammed Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine's claims that the singing competition keeps its gay contestants in the closet.
"When does privacy stop in this country? ... I don't go into my dentist and say, 'Are you gay?' I don't say to contestants on 'So You Think You Can Dance,' 'Are you gay?' What does it got to do with me? What does it got to do with anybody?" Lythgoe, who is also an executive producer and judge on 'SYTYCD' asked Entertainment Weekly.
Levine is a host on "The Voice" and talked about the competition series in an interview with Out magazine, saying, "I can't [expletive] with 'American Idol'" and claiming that the show "masks" contestants' sexuality.
"If somebody wants to say they're gay, it's up to them," Lythgoe said in response. "You don't expect us to turn around and say, 'Are you gay?' Why would we do that? - 'By the way, he's a Catholic and he supports Obama and here's his sexuality' - what does that have anything to do with singing talent? Maybe it does for Adam Levine, but not for me."
"The Voice" had four openly gay contestants this season, which included finalists Beverly McClellan and Vicci Martinez. Levine's contestant, Javier Colon, ultimately won the competition.
Levine later said, "You can't hide basic components of these people's lives. The fact that 'The Voice' didn't have any qualms about being completely open about it is a great thing."
Perhaps the most famous example about what Levine is talking about is that of "American Idol" season 8 competitor Adam Lambert. Lambert came out on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine shortly after the finale, where he lost to Kris Allen.
However, prior to the finale, Lambert's sexuality was the subject of much speculation. He was even featured on the May 8, 2009 cover of Entertainment Weekly as "The Most Exciting 'American Idol' Contestant In Year... And Not Just Because He Might Be Gay."
Lambert skirted the issue in that interview when asked about his sexuality saying, "I know who I am. I'm an honest guy, and I'm just going to keep singing."
Lythgoe addressed the Lambert debate, claiming, "He must have come out before being on Idol, he just didn't talk about it on 'Idol.' And why should he? Is every actor going on television going to say, 'I'm only playing the part of a straight man, I'm really gay'? There's no reason that I would see why anybody that goes on television should start coming out with who they are, what they are, what they're sexuality is, who they're going to vote for or what their religion is."
While competing on "American Idol," photos surfaced online of Lambert kissing an ex-boyfriend. Lambert recalled the meeting he had with a publicist from Fox about the controversy in an interview with Out magazine in November of 2009.
"The publicist from Fox, [Jill Hudson]. She was like, 'You know, stuff like this has happened before, and this is usually what happens...' And I was like, 'Jill, I don't want to deny it, and I'm not ashamed of it. And I don't want to seem like I'm ashamed of it. Because that's not me. That's just not how I am,'" Lambert recalled. "'But, at the same time I really want this opportunity and I want to stay on the show as long as possible. So, I kinda have to come up with a compromise.'"
"And she was like, 'Well, is it a big deal to you?' And I'm like, 'No.' And she's like, 'Well, then let's not make a big deal out of it.' And that's what we did. She was like, 'You know, own it. Tell them who you are, and just move forward.' And that's what we did," Lambert said.
He later added he did not regret his decision. "And I'm glad that I handled it that way, because I think that had I immediately said the words and labeled myself -- you know, said 'I am gay" -- I think that it would've been more about that, initially, than anything else," he told Out in 2009. "And the fact that we didn't come out and make a big announcement or anything like that -- that doesn't make any sense to me anyway. It's not an announcement. It's just, it's part of who I am."
Fox had no immediate comment about the issue when asked about Levine's remarks.