LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “X Factor” host Steve Jones on Tuesday pleaded with angry fans to “chill out” after hateful online comments against judges who threw a 14-year-old singer off the TV talent show.
The British host also hit back at his own critics of his performance on the TV talent contest, defending himself against charges of rudeness and saying he hoped to be back for a second season next year.
“Hopefully I will be back for season 2. If I’m back, I’ll be overjoyed. If I’m not. I’ll do something else. It’s as simple as that ... It’s a dream job. I’d be back in a heartbeat for a second season,” Jones, 34, told reporters on a conference call.
As the U.S. version of “The X Factor” approaches its climax later this month, eliminations got heated last week when 14-year-old singer Drew Ryniewicz — a protege of British creator and judge Simon Cowell — was thrown out of the running for the $5 million prize and recording contract in a split decision by the four judges.
Drew’s exit left Cowell furious and speechless on last week’s live TV show, and led to a diatribe of vicious comments on social media, particularly against judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger.
One online posting said Abdul and Scherzinger should “burn in hell” for sending the tearful Drew home.
“I know there is a lot of money and a lot of fame at stake. But still, everybody just chill out please. It’s a TV show,” Jones told reporters on a conference call.
Fox said it had no comment on the remarks by fans, which some media outlets have characterized as death threats.
Five contestants — Melanie Amaro, Marcus Canty, Rachel Crowe, Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik — remain in the contest, whose winner will be decided on December 22.
Jones, a former model who is a new face on U.S. television, has also been the subject of speculation about his future after some critics and fans called him wooden, awkward and rude.
The host acknowledged on Tuesday that he was finding it a challenge to manage all the elements of the live show, and keep the TV broadcast within its time limit.
“It has kind of surprised me a little bit how hard the process is,” he said. “It is hard to come across as a fun person and as polite when you are steering such a beast, and with limited time.
“I am there to ask certain questions and move the show along ... It can be harsh with people calling me rude and not very nice, because I am not rude and I am nice.
“Critique my hosting skills, say I am not funny. I get that. But it’s been a bit harsh, the rudeness thing,” Jones said.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte