Ashley Kauffman, a 19-year-old American Idol studio audience member, has claimed that she was kept from taking a front-row seat at a recent taping because a male studio employee told her that she was too fat. Kaufman says that she was kept from sitting with friends, who all arrived early to the show and were promised excellent seats.
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Manfred Westphal, a representative from FremantleMedia North America, the show's production company, has shot down Kauffman's claim, insisting that it is "simply untrue." The company says that despite what Kauffman has said, she did not sit alone or in the back of the theater, and in fact was seated in a row that included a VIP guest of judge Steven Tyler.
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Even Kauffman's friends question her insistence that she was being discriminated against by Idol staffers. Hannah Solarzano, a member of Kauffman's group, told the Associated Press that she was seated next to Kauffman and did not hear anyone insult her, and that the only person to mention Kauffman's weight was Kauffman herself.