Reality show judges fired for ‘bullying’ a contestant

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If you thought Simon Cowell was mean, wait till you hear what this judging duo had to say on New Zealand’s spinoff of the popular singing contest “X Factor” on Sunday.

Married couple Natalia Kills and Willy Moon, who both were on the judging panel of the show, slammed the 25-year-old contestant Joe Irvine, after his rendition of Michael Buble’s “Cry Me A River.”

But it wasn’t how he sang that ticked them off.

“I’m disgusted at how much you’ve copied my husband, from the hair to the suit,” said Kills, referring to Irvine’s new makeover for the show. “You’re a laughing stock. It’s cheesy, it’s disgusting…you make me sick,” the British singer added.

Her husband Willy Moon called him “creepy” and likened him to Norman Bates, the killer in the horror film, “Psycho.”

Mediaworks, the owner of the New Zealand television channel TV3, which airs the show, has decided to sack the duo for their scathing remarks.

“Last night on X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable,” said Mark Weldon, Mediaworks chief executive.

“We no longer have confidence that Kills and Moon are the right people to perform the role of X Factor judges and they will leave the show, effective immediately,” Weldon said in a statement on TV3’s website.

Social backlash

The couple’s comments sparked outrage on Twitter. In just a day, 77,534 people signed a petition to kick the duo off the show.

TV3 was quick to respond, saying that it does not condone “bullying.”

Irvine, who handled the comments calmly on stage, tweeted a smiling photo and thanked his supporters.

Kills and Moon did not directly respond to the accusations, but Kills tweeted, thanking her fans for understanding her “passionate opinions.”

The native singer, Moon, who rose to fame after his song was featured in an Apple ad, was lambasted in the media earlier this week. He reportedly used abusive language at a woman in a bakery in Auckland over a parking space brawl. TV3 apologized on his behalf, saying he regretted the incident and his language, but Moon has distanced himself from the statement on social media.

Thankfully, it isn’t up to the judges whether or not Irvine makes it to the next round — voters will decide his fate on Monday night’s results show where fellow judges Stan Walker and All Saints singer Melanie Blatt will continue to appear.

Two new judges will be announced before next week’s show.

By Naomi Ng

Tim Hume contributed to this report.

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