Country music star John Rich, of Big & Rich, attacked American Idol at a press conference this morning. “American Idol infuriates me as an artist,” Rich said at NBC’s “All American Summer” Press Day in Pasadena, where Rich was stumping for his talent competition show, Nashville Star (which is moving to NBC after five seasons on USA). “You can tell when somebody’s comment was scripted. You can tell when a [competing] artist was told to wear this and sing that. That’s not going to happen in [Nashville Star].” Rich, who will function as a judge and mentor on Nashville Star, as well as produce the album of the NS winner, said he was especially upset when Paula Abdul commented Tuesday night on Jason Castro’s second song before the dreadlocked contestant had actually sung it. “Why don’t you just walk up on stage and slap them right across the face while you’re at it?” Rich said. “It’s not a problem of [a judge] being tough on somebody. You’ve got to be tough on people and be honest with them. But you’ve got to respect these people. This is their entire life hanging by a thread….I’m sure [Paula] is a fine lady, but I thought that was a very, very disrespectful thing.”

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