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Justin Timberlake

THE BITCH IS BACK: As a middle-aged man, it’s not terribly difficult to ignore the career and pronouncements of someone like Justin Timberlake, but sometimes a celebrity, with the sort of shamelessness that comes with an ephemeral connection to the real world, will come out with a statement that glows with unlikely irony.

In an interview with Fashion Rocks, some sort of Vanity Fair offshoot, Timberlake revealed his mixed feeling about American Idol, the hyperkaraoke competition that rose to serve the market Timberlake and his ilk dominate like Saddam Hussein’s sons in a Baghdad disco. “I have a strange relationship with that show,” Timberlake said. “I despise it, yet I’m completely fascinated.”

Given that Idol showcases the sort of unremarkable talents — ciphers with voices, in essence — that dominate the Top 40 charts, at the expense of inspired, idiosyncratic voices, it’s not surprising that Timberlake probably regards Idol with the sort of sickening but rapt fascination you’d find in a possum mesmerized by oncoming car headlights. While Idol’s track record has mostly been a mixed bag, there’s no reason to imagine that some combination of malleable but adamantine ambition and passable singing voice, married to truly original, relentless marketing and clever production, might not emerge from the show and swamp Timberlake and other past-their-due-date superstars like sampans in the wake of the U.S.S. Nimitz.

As for Taylor Hicks, the latest winner of Idol, Timberlake is even less impressed. “People think he looks so normal, and he’s so sweet and he’s so earnest, but he can’t carry a tune in a bucket.” Given the digital assist Timberlake and other latter-day singing sensations have gotten from musical software suites like ProTools, this remark is richer than a round of triple cream brie washed down with a quart of buttermilk.

Nagged by an inner voice that told him his sound bite needed to be kicked up a notch, Timberlake got nasty. “If (Hicks) has any skeletons whatsoever, if God forbid, he’s gay, and if all these people in Mississippi who voted for him are like (in a thick southern accent), ‘Oh my God, I voted for a queer!’ It’s just too much pressure.” With that kind of effortless redneck/red state bashing, Timberlake should consider running for a senate seat in Connecticut. Perhaps Timberlake has Hicks confused with Clay Aiken, but you’ve got to wonder just what sort of personal experience he has with “too much pressure.”

BEHIND THE RUNWAY: According to an interview by movie actor and Project Runway fan Ralph Fiennes with his friend, Bravo US exec Andy Cohen, there might have been a humid off-screen hook-up during the last season of Project Runway. “There was a rumour last season that something happened in Nick, Andre, Santino and Daniel’s apartment,” Cohen said. “I thought that it was between Santino and Andre — but I can’t be sure.”

At what point, one has to wonder, did reality shows become the same sort of ripe gossip farms as movie sets, and given the alleged suspects, at what point did they discover discretion?

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