Simon explains himself to E!, and producer Ken Warwick weighs in, after the jump ...
E!'s release is below. But right now (Wed. afternoon) Ken Warwick is holding a teleconference where the opening topic has been the eye-rolling. He maintains that Simon did not hear Chris's Virginia Tech comment and was rolling his eyes over the nasal-singing argument. Simon was "mortified" when told, after the show, that people thought he'd been reacting to the Virginia Tech statement. Simon "would be the biggest fool on television if he did that ... and he's not a fool," Warwick said. The judges' comments about Virginia Tech were preplanned, he said, with Ryan to deal with it in the cold open and the judges to address it at the end. And the situation will be addressed in tonight's recap.
The following was posted earlier...
Here's the release from E! about the controversy (which feels terribly overblown to me):
E! NEWS' Ryan Seacrest spoke exclusively with fellow Idol-ers Simon Cowell and Executive Producer, Nigel Lythgoe this morning, in response to accusations Cowell rolled his eyes during last night's telecast after Chris Richardson referenced the shootings at Virginia Tech.
After much debate backstage on whether or not to mention the shootings at all, producers decided to somberly open the show out of respect for the victims and their families. "We didn't want to ignore the mood of the country," Lythgoe told Ryan.
However, after Richardson's performance, controversy erupted. Cowell was seen rolling his eyes following a comment made by the Virginia native in reference to the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Blog and Internet websites lit up last night at the presumption that Cowell was being disrespectful to Richardson's heartfelt comments.
"I couldn't hear what Chris had said," Cowell told Seacrest. "My rolling of my eyes was to what he had said previously, that singing nasally is a form of singing." Simon went on to say that he wanted to clear this misunderstanding up due to the sensitivity of the situation in Virginia. "We wanted to set the right tone on the show last night and then something like this happens and it just starts fanning the flames…it's not right," Cowell said.
"He (Cowell) was reacting to his discussion and argument with Chris," Lythgoe explained. "It's very difficult to hear with the audience boos that accompany most of Simon's comments. It's terribly sad that this has been mistaken as disrespect and Simon has been misrepresented like this."
No word on whether or not this will be addressed on tonight's results show.
(E! will have more on its newscast tonight at 7 Eastern.)
More tonight in my results post, and in the podcast with Malcolm X Abram after the show.