‘Talent’ judge: Show did not exploit Susan Boyle

Scotland’s Susan Boyle gives new meaning to the term "overnight sensation." The "Britain’s Got Talent" contestant was expected to be something of a joke when she first sauntered on stage, but she absolutely wowed the audience, the judges — and then the world via the Internet — with her stunning rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream."

But like others who stumble upon sudden fame, she found the pressure and scrutiny to be overwhelming. “Talent” judge Amanda Holden and Dr. Drew Pinsky of VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” joined CNN’s Larry King Tuesday night to discuss Boyle’s hospitalization for stress and the toll the spotlight and media criticism might have taken on her mental health. They also discussed whether Boyle will develop the emotional stamina for a high-pressure singing career. The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity: Larry King: What do we know right now Amanda Holden: Basically, we’ve spoken to Susan’s brother. He, in fact, spoke on [CBS’ “The Early Show”] this morning to say that his sister was very keen to come home as soon as she possibly could and that she was resting up in a clinic in London and that she was very much looking forward to coming out and seeing what was available to her when she felt better. King: Is the show, Amanda, paying for the hospital bills and are they taking care of her Holden: I have no idea if they’re paying the hospital bills. I would imagine that they are. We’re a very loyal show. We love Susan very much. In fact, all the contestants that appear on our show are extraordinarily well looked after. King: Your fellow judge, Piers Morgan, has said that there was talk of taking her off the show because of all the pressures on her. Were you involved Were there any discussions like that

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Holden: I wasn’t involved in any discussions like that. And I think Piers has a slightly closer relationship with her. … The only thing I’m worried about with Susan Boyle is that she seems to have a crush on Piers Morgan. … I think that Piers kind of reassured her during the final that she was doing well and that she mustn’t pay any kind of attention to the press and all the other stuff that was going King: Despite all the tumult, there’s no disputing that Susan sang her heart out during the finale of the competition. I know the dance troupe [Diversity] was terrific. But, frankly, why didn’t she win Holden: Honestly, I can’t criticize the decision because it was the British public that voted in the end. I have no real idea, to be honest. I wonder whether it could be that Diversity was utterly fantastic on the show that night. They decimated the show. They really, really were amazing. And I just wonder whether maybe younger people voted and were quicker on the texts than the kind of people that were voting for Susan. But as I keep saying, if Susan is a loser, then surely she is the biggest and best loser that we have in the world. And coming second is no bad thing. Watch Amanda Holden discuss Susan Boyle » King: She came in, though, [as] a small-town amateur singer, [with] learning disabilities due to suffering oxygen deprivation at birth. Some say the program exploited her and her vulnerabilities. Do you agree Holden: I couldn’t disagree more. You know, she’s a grown woman who applied to come on a talent show. She enjoyed every second of every moment that I met her or saw her behind the scenes. She was very excited. She was very proud to be taking part in the show. I think the downturn in press in our country [Britain], I think, maybe stressed her out a little bit. And I think she was just quite upset about all the exaggerated stories and the kind of falsehoods that were being written about her. I think that everybody gets upset about bad press when you’re in this business. And she’s somebody that’s gone from anonymity to [an] absolute worldwide phenomenon. King: Yes. Holden: So how is she expected to handle that Nobody can handle that with the best will in the world. I’ve been in the business 15 years, and I’m still not media savvy. [Dr. Drew Pinsky joins the show] King: What do you make of this Susan Boyle thing Pinsky: The problem here is that here’s a woman that’s suddenly under the scrutiny of the spotlight who maybe has some developmental issues, who is under tremendous stress and [now] is in a psychiatric hospital. The question is, did the show harm her King: Did it Pinsky: It’s hard to say. This is the first time these kind of experiences have really been undertaken by people. People that come out of nowhere all of a sudden are international superstars. King: Should we be, Amanda, concerned about that Holden: First of all, I just want to say that Susan’s brother said on British television this morning that, yes, Susan has experienced learning difficulties. But in actual fact, when she was at school, she did as well as any of her other siblings. But throughout her childhood, always before an exam or anything else, she always got quite anxious. [Before the show], she was feeling nervous. But she went out there and she nailed it. You know, she did the best performance that we’ve seen. And let’s not forget, this is actually only the second or third time we’ve heard her sing. … She is in a place where celebrities go when they are burnt out. Now, I am obviously not a doctor. I have no factual information to give to you. I can only say to you her brother … has said she wants to come home within a matter of days, rather than weeks. Pinsky: That’s excellent. King: Would you guess, Dr. Drew, that she still has a career in front of her Wouldn’t you bet she does

Pinsky: Oh, I bet she does, absolutely. And she will learn to become accustomed to this kind of stress, I am sure. But let’s make sure she has the care she needs. And let’s be sure that … everybody that goes on shows like this has access to things that help them deal with the stress of these kinds of environments.