It’s hard to believe, but this month marks 15 years since Australian Idol first hit our screens in an unforgettable debut series of tears, tantrums and harsh truths.
Paulini’s infamous gold dress, judges Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson and Mark Holden’s public spat, and Shannon Noll’s What About Me song choice are just a few of the now memorable moments that kept the fans tuning in.
But it seems that after all this time, some of the music reality TV show’s famous faces are still hung up on the past. Rather than celebrating the talent show’s anniversary, they have started to turn on each other in what is becoming one of TV’s ugliest war of words.
Suffering vicious attacks from her Idol co-stars, Cosima De Vito – who bowed out of the competition because of serious health concerns – has come under fire from record producer Mark Holden, who accused her of faking an illness to escape the mounting pressure.
‘There are some people who when you shine a light on them they grow, and Guy [Sebastian] was one of those... Other people, the more light you shine on them, they shrivel and crack,’ he recently told E! News when asked about Cosima’s famous fall before making it to the finish.
‘I’ll be honest I was quite upset and even felt a little betrayed because I thought maybe after 15 years we could all put it behind us and I would get a little bit more compassion about what I went through,’ says Cosima in an exclusive interview with New Idea.
‘Clearly Mark will always think that I didn’t deserve to be there and his comments were cold.’
It was as she took to the stage for the show’s semi-final in 2003 that Cosima, now 41, shocked fans by announcing her departure and revealing her secret health concerns to the viewers. It was a move she maintains she wanted to do before that night, but explains she was made to wait to make the exit more dramatic.
‘Everyone, including Mark, knew the struggles I had with my voice,’ she says.
‘The judges knew what I sounded like from my first audition in Perth all the way through to the top 40 before I got sick. So to say that I left the show because I couldn’t handle the pressure is basically saying that I faked the nodules and there was nothing wrong with my voice. Why would I get so far just to pull out the week before? It doesn’t make sense. I wanted to leave earlier, but they made me wait to announce it on stage.’
But it seems it’s not just Mark who is still bitter about the way things turned out.
Fellow singer Paulini Curuenavuli, who came fourth in the competition, still harbours a grudge too, blaming Cosima for her own failure to win votes.
‘I knew she wasn’t feeling well. There were four of us left in the house. I was like, jeez why didn’t she do it on my week,’ Paulini told E! News.
Shocked by her former co-star’s scathing comments, Cosima is adamant she won’t sink to their level.
She blasts Paulini by saying: ‘The public voted for me to go into the top three and she still wishes I had left. So she would’ve been happy going through by default?
‘If anything I should feel ripped off. Why me? Why did I get sick? But I don’t because I don’t focus on what could have been I keep moving forward,’ she says. ‘It’s insensitive and hurtful and there is no reason for it because it worked out beautifully for her anyway.
‘She got the record deal, then went into the Young Divas. She just didn’t win.’
Having no regrets, Cosima says she merely put her ‘health before vanity’ and, while she has made some good and bad decisions growing up, she stands by her actions.
‘No-one but me and my family knows how hard it was for me to do that and after all this time I’m annoyed that I’m still being spoken about negatively.
‘Why, when given the opportunity to relive an amazing show and celebrate with Idol fans, would you purposely go out of your way to cast a black cloud over the show?’ she questions.
‘I don’t hold grudges and I have no animosity towards Paulini or Mark, but they clearly have unresolved issues with my exit from the show. I just wanted to defend myself and say that people should stop and think before speaking because it can hurt.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now.