WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Husband and wife "X Factor" judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon were removed from the New Zealand version of the show Monday after their comments on a contestant's appearance were seen as bullying.
Kills said she was "disgusted" at how much singer Joe Irvine had copied her husband in the clean-cut style of his hair and dark suit. She called him a "laughing stock" and said she was embarrassed to sit in his presence.
Moon joined in the tirade, saying it felt cheap and absurd and "like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother's clothing."
The audience mostly booed the judges' commentary, which Irvine handled well, saying he thought "he looked good."
Mediaworks, which owns broadcaster TV3, posted news of the firings on its website, describing the comments as "completely unacceptable."
In remarks attributed to CEO Mark Weldon, the broadcast owner said "X Factor" judges are expected to provide critiques of performances, but "we will not tolerate such destructive tirades" and that Kills and Moon were leaving the show immediately.
TV3 tweeted a statement saying: "TV3 does not condone bullying and are currently on-site with Joe who is doing well."
New Zealand's Human Rights Commission welcomed the media company's response. "I'm glad to see Mediaworks decided to not be a bystander and to publicly condemn bullying abuse," Commissioner Susan Devoy said in a statement.
The show aired Monday night with two of the four judges' seats empty, and fans voted to retain Irvine on the show.