As “Britain’s Got Talent” producers prepare for the UK television hit’s finale Saturday, they’re scrambling to avoid a scandal that would bring into question the integrity of the whole competition.
Media mogul and oft-cranky competition judge Simon Cowell, along with his production company Syco, have denied allegations that they have been grooming one of the most favored contestants to win the competition for the past two years.
Twelve-year-old Ronan Parke is considered to be this year’s frontrunner, but according to an anonymous blogger claiming to be a Sony Music executive, Parke has had a management deal with Syco since 2009 that allowed him to be styled and coached to be a surefire tween sensation – one that would dominate the 2011 “BGT” contest.
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The blog post has since been taken down. According to The Guardian, the firm issued a statement saying, “Ronan first came to Syco/Sony’s attention when he entered this year’s competition.” The statement continued by saying the company “will not hesitate to take whatever legal action is appropriate to prevent further publication of these unfounded allegations.”
The Hollywood Reporter says that Cowell’s lawyers have reported an instance of “malicious communication” to Scotland Yard, who are expected to look into the case.
Execs at ITV, the network that airs the program, are standing by the production company. An ITV spokesperson told THR, “We’ve spoken to Syco and they have assured us that there is absolutely no truth in the story.”
As for Cowell, he appeared unflustered as he took his seat as a judge on Thursday night’s live broadcast, and he made no mention of the accusations on air.