"It disoriented and threw everyone," Michaels told the gaggle, adding, "If they were more seasoned performers they'd have handled it better." He was pulled away before the reporters could ask him directly about whether "SNL" allows lip-syncing, or what's up with the backup track.
"SNL" alum David Spade, one of last night's Twain Prize performers, also was buttonholed to weigh in on the Ashlee Simpson Embarrassment.
Ashlee Simpson performs during the Radio Music Awards show.
(Ethan Miller - Reuters)
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"When I was there everyone had to be live, and that scared off some groups," he said. "There was something fishy going on there" Saturday, he added.
And here's something interesting we learned about pop music acts in the course of reporting this story. There's "live" and then there's "live-live."
No fooling. Many people we spoke to from Anonymityville yesterday made the distinction between "live" and "live-live" performances. Apparently "SNL" is "live" but not "live-live."
"Live" means the music act may be using a backup track or backing track -- lip-syncing to you and me.
Yesterday, Ashlee's father-manager Joe Simpson told Ryan Seacrest on L.A. radio station KIIS-FM that she used a backing track on "SNL" because her voice was hoarse. Ashlee, it appears, is a martyr to acid reflux disease.
"Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don't have to hear her croak through a song on national television," Daddy Simpson said, explaining that the ailment made her hoarse. "No one wants to hear that.
"Every artist that I know in this business has had vocal problems at some time -- from Celine on down," he continued. "So you've got to do what you've got to do."
He, too, insisted that Ashlee had never ever lip-synced before that one number.
Ashlee, in fact, has been quite snippy about pop music acts that lip-sync. She's been quoted saying adamantly that "If a show wants me to [lip-sync] then I won't do the show."
But yesterday, she sang a different tune, hahaha:
"I can't cancel something like 'SNL,' " she said in a posting to her official Web site, which some chatters there were discrediting as fake but which an NBC late-night rep assured us was real.
"You and I know that even if I synched on it or not, I'd still get seen by millions, maybe even make a few more fans," the posting said. "I'll hold my head high and say I think it was silly of me to do it, silly of me to blame the band, I was just so [Dick Cheney's unprintable word] embarrassed. But I don't think it did me much harm."