ABC’s morning show says ‘no thanks’ to Adam Lambert after AMA performance

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ cancels Lambert

NEW YORK — Adam Lambert’s racy American Music Awards performance cost him a gig on “Good Morning America,” but he will perform live instead on ABC’s morning rivals at CBS.

Lambert was to sing Wednesday on “GMA,” but the network said Tuesday it was canceling the openly gay singer because “we were concerned about airing a similar concert so early in the morning.”

While singing his new song, “For Your Entertainment,” at the awards program on Sunday, Lambert kissed a male keyboardist, fondled a dancer and had another dancer briefly stuff his face in Lambert’s crotch. The performance prompted many complaints to ABC, and the network cut out the brief oral sex simulation for its West Coast broadcasts.

“Obviously, I respect their decision — they gotta do what they gotta do,” Lambert said Tuesday in an interview with Ryan Seacrest. “It’s too bad — I think there were a lot of fans who were excited to come see me.

“They probably had a lot of pressure coming at them from certain people who weren’t happy about it,” he said.

ABC News’ top management made the decision to cancel Lambert, spokeswoman Cathie Levine said. She said there was no pressure from ABC’s parent The Walt Disney Co.

CBS had invited Lambert before the “GMA” cancellation, and when ABC balked, the singer’s management turned to “The Early Show” and they gratefully accepted. Lambert will be interviewed, perform live and answer questions from audience members, said Zev Shalev, the show’s executive producer.

Shalev said he expected no problems with the performance. Lambert won’t sing “For Your Entertainment,” but will perform two other songs instead.

“We spoke to them about who our audience is and our expectations,” Shalev said. “He’s a very smart, sophisticated performer,” he said.

While women have often crossed the threshold regarding sexually provocative appearances on television — think Madonna kissing Britney Spears — Lambert’s performance was perhaps the first time it has been done by an openly gay man. The singer said before Sunday’s show that he was hoping to accomplish just that.

“There are a lot of double standards as far as that goes,” Lambert said backstage, a few days before the awards show. “We’ve seen female pop and rock performers do that for the last 10 years. They’ve been very provocative, owning their power and sexuality. You just don’t see men doing it very often. And I’m hoping to break down that double standard with this number.”

Said Alicia Keys when asked about Lambert’s performance, “I don’t know. You make different choices as a performer. It’s all about opinion. It’s all about what works for the performer.”

ABC said it felt burned because Lambert went further on the air with sexuality than he did in rehearsals — including the kiss. But the man putting his face to Lambert’s crotch was included in a rehearsal, according to an Associated Press reporter who attended the rehearsal. It was that sort of unpredictability that bothered ABC, particularly on a morning show with many young viewers watching.

Shortly after ABC’s cancellation, CBS quickly announced Tuesday that Lambert would appear on “The Early Show” Wednesday morning both to perform and discuss the reaction to Sunday’s appearance. Lambert is also appearing on David Letterman’s “Late Show” Wednesday, which was scheduled weeks ago.

The morning news ratings leader, NBC’s “Today” show, did not consider Lambert because it already has a Bon Jovi concert scheduled for Wednesday, said its executive producer, Jim Bell.

The “Good Morning America” Web site was flooded with comments from viewers about the Lambert cancellation. Some applauded ABC for taking a stand against vulgarity, while others suggested the network was being homophobic.

ABC News representatives spoke to members of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination about the decision to cancel Lambert and assured the group that Lambert’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with it, said Richard Ferraro, a GLAAD spokesman. Ferraro said GLAAD was also told that ABC’s “Good Morning America” will work with Lambert and other gay and lesbian performers in the future.

Still, “it is disappointing that ‘Good Morning America’ did not give Adam Lambert the opportunity to tailor his performance to their audience, as he did in August,” said Jarrett Barrios, GLAAD president.

Meanwhile, the conservative Culture and Media Institute of the Media Research Center criticized CBS for allowing Lambert’s “brand of raunch” on the air.

“Rather than back ABC’s decision to temper such trash, CBS is compounding the problem and rewarding Lambert with not one but two TV appearances,” said Dan Gainor, the group’s vice president.

The glam rocker finished second on “American Idol” this spring. His performances on the reality singing contest were not as provocative, but he was among the show’s most colorful competitors with a voice compared to Queen’s Freddie Mercury. After the competition, he came out publicly as gay.

“For Your Entertainment” is the first single from Lambert’s new album, which went on sale Monday.

The “Good Morning America” cancellation was first reported on TVNewser and Hollywood Life Web sites.

Associated Press Writer Mark Kennedy and Entertainment Producer Mesfin Fekadu in New York, and AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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