LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert on Wednesday admitted he got carried away during his racy American Music Awards performance, as furor over his singing and dancing stoked a wider controversy in the U.S. gay community.
More than 14 million people watched the gay, glam rocker close the live AMA telecast on Sunday with a performance that included Lambert kissing a male keyboard player and pushing the head of another performer into his crotch.
Complaints poured in to the ABC TV network that aired the show, and it canceled the Lambert’s appearance on its “Good Morning America” news and chat show set for Wednesday.
Yet rival network CBS put him on its “The Early Show” program, where Lambert claimed he had not intended to provoke audiences but declined to apologize, saying: “I’m not a baby-sitter. I’m a performer.”
“I admit I did get carried away, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. I do see how people got offended, and that was not my intention,” he said.
“If it had been a female pop performer doing the moves that were on the stage, I don’t think there’d be nearly as much of an outrage at all,” Lambert added. “I think it’s because I’m a gay male.”
The “Early Show” also ran video footage that blurred Lambert’s male kiss, and doing so caused the network its own problem. Gay rights groups accused CBS of hypocrisy by also playing unedited video of a kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears at 2003’s MTV Video Music Awards.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said the CBS decision “reinforces an unfortunate double standard that is applied to openly gay performers.”
CBS said it had thought hard about the issue. “The Madonna image is very familiar and has appeared countless times including many times on morning television. The Adam Lambert image is a subject of great current controversy, has not been nearly as widely disseminated, and for all we know, may still lead to legal consequences,” a CBS News spokesperson said.
The broadcast of material deemed obscene or indecent can leave U.S. TV networks open to fines.
Some members of the gay community also scorned Lambert.
Jennifer Vanasco, editor in chief of website 365gay.com, said his performance hurt the cause of gay marriage in the eyes of mainstream Americans “who think gay life is exactly what (he) portrayed on the American Music Awards.”
Lambert, 27, took a flair for showmanship, powerful vocals and sexual ambivalence all the way to the finals of top-rated U.S. TV show “American Idol” in May.
But his weekend performance at the AMAs has drawn mixed results. ABC received more than 1,500 complaints, but sales of Lambert’s debut album “For Your Entertainment” are strong.
Released on Monday through Sony Music Entertainment, “For Your Entertainment” was No. 3 on the iTunes U.S. album chart by Wednesday night. Music industry sources told Billboard magazine it is outperforming expectations and could sell about 225,000 units in its first week.
Additional reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Vicki Allen