American Idol, friend both deny woman was called fat and sent to back of audience

An American Idol audience member’s claim that crew members repeatedly called her fat and sent her to the back of the audience has been denied by both the show’s producers and by the friend who actually sat next to her.

Ashley Kauffman, who’s 19 and not all that overweight, told Radar that, when she and her friends were given tickets for seats, “One of us was not in a great outfit and the lady said ‘Oh, I don’t want shorts in front.’ Then she looks at me and goes, ‘Oh no, you’re just too big, too heavy to be in front!’” Ashley said she was seated in the back row: “My three other friends were right in the front row by the seated area near the judges. And we’re thinking we’d behind them. Well, the guy grabs my ticket and looks at it and goes, ‘this makes sense why you’re not with the skinny girls. You’re in the last row.’”

However, her friend Hannah Solarzano, who was wearing shorts and not allowed to sit in the front row, told the Associated Press, “Nobody started talking about the comment that was supposedly made to Ashley until she brought it up. I never heard those words except from her.”

A spokesperson for the show’s producer, FremantleMedia, told the AP her claims are “simply untrue,” and said she “did not sit alone or in the back of the house” as she alleged, FremantleMedia said. “In fact, she and her remaining party were seated just four rows behind their friends, directly in camera shot, in some of the best seats in the house.”

It seems that there’s a really obvious way to verify everyone’s claims: Look at the tape. Considering that the show has, in the past, recruited sororities to fill the mosh pit, it’s not unsurprising to imagine that producers select audience members who are more camera-friendly to be in more visible locations. But with her own friend denying her claim, and producers making a clear statement that could easily be proven with videotape, it seems like this is a non-story.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.