On Wednesday, hours before ''Idol'' viewers learned that they'd voted bland crooner John Stevens off the show, judge Simon Cowell addressed last week's controversial vote, saying he was glad it had jolted fans out of their complacency. Reuters reports that he responded with ''a definite no'' to charges that last week's results, which saw the three African-American divas finish in the bottom three and low-finisher Jennifer Hudson leave the show, was either racist or rigged. ''There are a lot of passive viewers who complain about the results but don't pick up the phone or text a message. We needed a shake-up and I think it will change,'' he said. ''My gut feeling is we are going to attract five to six million new voters, and the better singers now have a chance.''
Cowell, speaking at a Los Angeles press conference to introduce a new Nokia camera cellphone loaded with ''Idol''-related content features, indicated who he thought those better singers are. ''I am going to predict La Toya and Diana to be the two finalists,'' he said. ''It's just who I'm guessing America will pick. If it was talent it would be La Toya and Fantasia, but I just don't think it will be those two.''
Interestingly, Cowell sang a different tune when he spoke to Entertainment Weekly for this week's cover story cover story, predicting that LaToya and George would be the final two. As they used to say in Hudson's hometown of Chicago, vote early and often.