During last week's country-themed episode of American Idol, jolly giant Matt Rogers put his heart on the line, crooning the Lonestar ballad "Amazed." A day later, viewers gave him the cowboy boot right off the show. "Amazing!" you say? We agree. So TV Guide Online rang up the former University of Washington Huskies lineman to get his reaction to being sacked.
TV Guide Online: A man's man like yourself warbling a love song seemed like a surefire way to win over the female audience, yet here we are, doing your exit interview. Do you feel betrayed by the women of America?
Matt Rogers: I feel like the women of America turned their back on me. I'm very disappointed. And the funny thing is, it seems like I have more fans now than I did when I was on the show. Where were you guys a week ago? Jeez!
TVGO: It's always seemed cruel and unusual to me that the show makes the newly eliminated contestant sing the song that got them eliminated before they are allowed to call it a day. What are your thoughts?
Rogers: I think it doesn't matter, because it makes for good television. It's one of the hardest things that I had to do. First of all, you get kicked off the show, so your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is crushed and you're already sad about that. Then, they flash your life in front of your eyes, so to speak, and they play a little sad song in the background — it's basically like your funeral. And then, "Oh, by the way, sing for us!" I was telling Ryan Seacrest, "Dude, I can't. Don't make me sing." And he said, "You have to; America's watching!"
TVGO: Gee, that's helpful.
Rogers: Then I was like, "Okay, I don't want to look like a jerk in front of America!" They want you to just start bawling and sing horribly. But I flipped it on them! Simon tried to make me cry, but I made him cry!
TVGO: Serves him right. The guy picked on your freakin' smile, for Pete's sake. Is that supposed to be constructive criticism from an expert?
Rogers: I think he just ran out of stuff to say to me. I think he searches a lot for something to say, and when he can't find anything, he just picks on something [random]. When I did my Pasadena audition for him, I made it to Hollywood, and in those four days, the only thing he could do was rag on the hat that I wore and the way I was standing.
TVGO: Sheesh. Fox ought to start a mental-help program for Simon survivors.
Rogers: There should be one! I see myself smiling now, and I rearrange my face because it feels uncomfortable. I don't want to smile anymore. (Pause) I'm kidding. Simon actually gave me a hug after the show and said, "Thank you — that was the best ending to a show we ever had." He said, "I really liked you, and I'm going to miss you." I thought that was cool. [The asinine behavior] is just his character on the show. Off the show, his frown turns into a smile. He lights up his Kool cigarettes, gets in his Bentley and lives happily ever after.
TVGO: What about you? Are you going to live happily ever after, too?
Rogers: Yeah, I've already got things in the works. I'm making stuff happen. I've had a lot of help from Fox's [publicists]. They're putting me in touch with the right people. Today, I got The Best Damned Sports Show, so I was on there with Tom Arnold. I'm also doing something with ESPN and CNN. And then I just landed a correspondent job with Access Hollywood. So good stuff is happening. I'm trying to stretch my 15 minutes of fame to 30, and 30 to 45.
TVGO: Hey, and if there's one upside to being voted off so early on, it's that SmokingGun.com never had a chance to dig up any dirt on you — and there has to be some, right?
Rogers: I don't think so. Although there is one picture out there that they never got ahold of that I was happy about. I was a junior in college. Let's just say it happened on fraternity row. I'd just gotten back from a wedding.
TVGO: I'm not getting a very clear picture here, Matt.
Rogers: Have you ever seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert where they came out with nothing but socks on? That should give you a pretty good picture of what's going on in that picture, bud.