'Idol' Gets the Finger, Dumps Matt

03/25/2004 AT 10:00 AM EST

Simon Cowell is crude, but he's not that crude.

That's the claim from the "American Idol" judge that everyone loves to hate. On Tuesday's competition, Cowell was filmed with his face leaning against his hand and extending his middle finger. Some viewers thought it looked as if the fiery judge was flipping off cohort Paula Abdul, a charge Cowell vehemently denies.

"I certainly would never make a gesture like that toward Paula or on national television," Cowell said. He added that he sometimes leans on his index finger, sometimes on other fingers, and that he had not thought much about it, Reuters reports.

As for this week's competition, the roster of finalists was narrowed to 10, as Californian Matthew Rogers got the boot.

Tuesday's show featured the remaining 11 contestants in a country-music hoedown. In a contest that ranged from bountiful to bland, the would-be Idols tackled a variety of country and country-rock standards ranging from 16-year-old crooner John Stevens's cover of the Roger Miller classic "King of the Road" to Camile Velasco's lackluster version of the Eagles' "Desperado."

A rousing take of the Dixie Chicks' "Sin Wagon" by Amy Adams led Paula to claim that the magenta-haired Adams is a country-star natural, while Simon confessed to "not get" country music.

But Simon understood the genre well enough to pan the performance of "Amazed" by the 25-year-old Rogers, calling it the blown opportunity of a lifetime. Viewers agreed, and after 19 million votes were tallied, Rogers was eliminated.

MORE ON: Simon Cowell

From Our Partners