X Factor judges Natalia Kills, Willy Moon sacked
Controversial judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon have been fired from The X Factor NZ following their on-air tirade on last night's show.
Kills came under fire after harshly criticising X Factor contestant Joe Irvine, accusing him of copying the style of her husband and fellow judge Willy Moon.
She called it "cheesy" and "disgusting".
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Kills and Moon's absence was acknowledged at the beginning of Monday night's live show.
X Factor host Dominic Bowden said there had been a lot of controversy following Sunday night's show but MediaWorks had made the right decision in letting the pair go.
Bowden said two new judges would be appointed before next Sunday's show.
In the meantime, remaining judges Melanie Blatt and Stan Walker would step in to mentor the boys and the groups categories, previously looked after by Kills and Moon, as well as continuing to work with the girls and over 25s.
Blatt started the show by saying she wanted to focus the attention on the contestants rather than the controversy caused by Kills and Moon.
"It wasn't about the talent last night… I feel like we didn't talk about them enough."
Earlier Walker said it was time to focus on the contestants.
"The show is about them. Lets move forward [sic]. Justice was served!" he tweeted.
Bowden said there had been more than 50,000 comments across social media about X Factor since Sunday night's show.
An online petition calling for Kills to be fired drew over 70,000 supporters in less than 24 hours.
Earlier, in a statement to TV3 on Monday afternoon, MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon said Kills and Moon were no longer suitable for the role.
"Last night on X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable. While the judges on X Factor are expected to provide critiques of the performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges," he said.
"Contestants put their all into this competition and they should expect to receive feedback and criticism that is professional and constructive. We no longer have confidence that Kills and Moon are the right people to perform the role of X Factor judges and they will leave the show, effective immediately."
FremantleMedia Australia, which owns the rights to the X Factor brand in Australasia, said it was supportive of the decision to sack the pair.
"We are appalled at the very poor judgement and intention shown by Natalia Kills and Willy Moon," its director of programming, Jonathon Summerhayes, said
"We 100 per cent support TV3 and MediaWorks in their decision to remove them.
"The X Factor does not tolerate the behaviour they displayed last night."
New Zealand X Factor executive producer, Andrew Szusterman, said the show could now move forward. "We now need to move on, and give the contestants, and the public the competition that they deserve.
Two new judges will take over Moon and Kills' teams from next week, he said.
The Human Rights Commission welcomed the decision to sack the pair and stand up to bullying.
Human Rights Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said "bullying isn't acceptable" whether at work, at school or on stage at an X Factor talent show.
"I'm glad to see Mediaworks decided to not be a bystander and to publicly condemn bullying abuse.
"Many people across the country spoke out to support the young man who was publicly ridiculed on the show last night.
"I'd like to congratulate the thousands of everyday New Zealanders who took to social media to condemn this bullying behaviour, to stand up for someone else who was being bullied.
"Don't be a bystander, stand up to bullies," she said.
Conservative lobby group Family First said it applauded X Factor producers for firing Kills and Moon.
Family First director Bob McCoskie said the former judges' outburst was "playground bullying of the worst kind".
"X Factor is supposed to be a celebration and showcasing of Kiwi talent – not a demonstration of public bullying and humiliation. Constructive feedback is one thing. Moon and Kills' tirade was anything but constructive."
The show had set an "atrocious public example" at a time when schools and communities were working to prevent bullying and verbal abuse, McCoskie said.
Families should be able to enjoy the show with their children without fear of "objectionable content", he said.
JUDGES LASH OUT
Walker and Blatt both lashed out at Kills on Twitter on Monday morning.
In a tweet directed at Kills, Walker wrote "U think its alright 2 champion urself in ur disgusting actions with no remorse 4 being a bully. Wake up man & humble urself."
Blatt tweeted: "Ive tried to keep my cool and stay professional but really @nataliakills ? Sorry love , you're a twat".