'X Factor New Zealand' Judges Sacked After 'Bullying' Contestant
New Zealand's version of X Factor discovered something unique…the cruellest pair of judges ever seen on a TV talent show. And now they've been sent packing.
Mediaworks, the owners of TV3, has sacked Natalia Kills and Willy Moon after the married couple unleashed a tirade of abuse on the contestant Joe Irvine.
"We have decided Natalia Kills and Willy Moon are no longer suitable to judge The X Factor NZ and have been removed from the show," the network wrote on its Facebook page.
TV3 had said it had received "a huge amount of feedback about comments made by our judges," and the media company had reportedly come under "extreme pressure" from sponsors to fire the pair after their withering attack on Irvine. TV3 described the incident as "bullying" on its Facebook page, and many viewers agreed.
Independent broadcast funding agency New Zealand on Air had put pressure on producers and urged viewers to lodge a complaint. "We have advised TV3 we are disappointed that the focus has been taken off the music. We do not condone bullying."
Following the double dismissal, fellow judges Stan Walker, a former winner of Australian Idol, and British singer Melanie Blatt of the All Saints, will step-up their duty as mentors, with Blatt taking over Moon's groups category and Walker overseeing Kills' boys, according to the NZ Herald.
Blatt had intervened when Kills and Moon launched their abuse. Kills had blasted Irvine for having "copied my husband," and went on to say: "You're a laughingstock. It's cheesy, it's disgusting. I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence having to even dignify you with an answer of my opinion... You make me sick."
Moon's comments were just as harsh. "It's like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother's clothing. It's just a little bit creepy," said the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter, referencing the central character in Psycho. "I feel like you're going to stitch someone's skin to your face and then kill everyone in the audience."
X Factor has since issued the straight-forward release: "MediaWorks has removed Natalia Kills and Willy Moon from The X Factor NZ judging panel."