American Idol Hits Sour Note in the Bronx
A 16-year-old American Idol contestant ignites a firestorm, talking about his rough upbringing in the Bronx in New York City.
Ryan Secrest asked contestant Travis Orlando, "Tell me about growing up in the Bronx?"
"It was tough. There were gangs, drugs, violence. You have robberies. You have killings. Anything you can possibly imagine," said Orlando.
The show's depiction of Orlando's hometown is sparking outrage from Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr.
Diaz Jr. says he's upset at Idol's bleak and gritty look of the neighborhood, with footage of open fire hydrants, ambulance sirens and a sidewalk candle memorial.
"It seemed like perhaps, maybe the producers wanted to over-sensationalize this poverty, and over-sensationalize violence for ratings, and we're not going to tolerate it anymore here. We're not going to allow for people to continue to portray us in a negative light. The Bronx is booming. The Bronx is beautiful," said Diaz Jr.
Grand Concourse, the street shown on Idol is just a few miles away from where new Idol judge Jennifer Lopez was born and raised. The Bronx borough president says he's especially angry that J. Lo didn't come to the defense of her hometown.
"Here we have Jenny from the Block. Jennifer Lopez from the boogie down, who grew up in Castle Hill, a working class neighborhood, a working class family, and did not stick up for us," said Diaz Jr.
Travis Orlando got the golden ticket and trip to pursue his Idol dreams in Hollywood.
But Ruben Diaz says Idol's Bronx tale did damaged to his hometown, saying, "In a minute-and-a-half, the images that they portrayed painted 1.4 million people in a beautiful borough in a negative light."
And there was a lighter moment on Thursday night's Idol. One hopeful with quite a crush on Lopez, perfomed a little strip tease, and her fellow judges Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson jumped in on the act, lifting up their shirts.