Feb. 28, 2007 | 05:00 PM EST

Simon Speaks Out on Antonella Scandal

Simon Speaks Out on Idol Scandal | Simon Cowell Photo by: Clark Samuels / startraks
Never one to hold his tongue, American Idol judge Simon Cowell has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the scandalous photos of Idol contestant Antonella Barba circulating on the Web.

"I think it's disgraceful that so-called friends would sell these pictures," he told PEOPLE at a Playboy Mansion party for the E! show The Girls Next Door and the launch of the new Ryan Seacrest-produced reality series Paradise City. "It's private property. I really, really have a problem with that – big problem." (Barba pal – and fellow auditioner – Amanda Coluccio has insisted that the most X-rated of the bunch aren't her friend.)

And Cowell has equally fiery feelings about this year's batch of competitors. "If you want to do as well as someone like Jennifer Hudson you've got to be great, and we're not seeing enough great, but they're getting better," he says. "We're going to weed out the bad ones."

Click here to see more news and photos of Simon Cowell.