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Simon Cowell responds to Elton John's accusation of racism in American Idol tally

Simon Cowell responds to Elton John's accusation of racism in American Idol tally

American Idol judge Simon Cowell on Wednesday predicted that La Toya London and Diana DeGarmo would be the final two in this year's TV search for a new pop singer and dismissed suggestions that voters were racist or that the results were rigged. Cowell, the British judge whose withering criticism is key to the Fox TV show's runaway success, said the shock exit last week of black diva Jennifer Hudson had given the competition a much needed shake-up. Despite being widely considered the strongest wanna-be pop star, Hudson, along with fellow African-Americans London and Fantasia Barrino, ended in the bottom three in some 20 million votes telephoned in by viewers across the United States a week ago. The result led out British singer Elton John to comment on Tuesday that the American viewing public was "incredibly racist." Cowell responded with "a definite no" to the racist charge and added that votes are audited by an independent company. "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.... My gut feeling is, we are going to attract 5-6 million new voters, and the better singers now have a chance," Cowell told reporters at the launch of an American Idol cell phone based on the show. "I am going to predict La Toya and Diana to be the two finalists.... 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," he said. The American Idol camera cell phone offers fans exclusive text and photo messages from contestants, "Simon ring tones" that promise to "make listeners cringe," and ticket offers and promotions.

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