Simon Cowell

delivered a halfhearted apology Saturday for calling a contestant on

American Idol

a "bush baby."

"If he's offended," said Cowell referring to Seattle contestant Kenneth Briggs, seen on Wednesday's show, "then I apologize."

American Idol and Cowell have endured a flurry of criticism since the show returned last week for what many feel is an increasingly nasty tone.

Fellow judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson stuck up for Cowell. "It's what happens," Jackson said. "It's who he is."

The sixth season premiere of American Idol attracted a record number of viewers last week.

- New York Daily News

Screech vs. Arnold in a swag-off?

At the Sundance Film Festival, one never knows what to expect. On Saturday, the second full day of the annual indie film orgy, Hollywood players like Anthony Hopkins and Kevin Bacon mingled with the masses to promote various projects.

Meanwhile, fest-goers navigated the throng of corporate sponsor booths as they angled to get into the best screenings, parties, concerts and gift lounges in town.

"I'm not in a film out here," said Dustin "Screech" Diamond. "Gary Coleman is here with a film crew doing the celebrity gift thing, trying to get swag and stuff. And the reason I'm out here is I said I'm going to outgift him ... we're going to get more swag and better swag than he gets."

- E! Online (www.eonline.com)

The comedy Little Miss Sunshine was the surprise best picture winner at the Producers Guild of America awards Saturday, making the low-budget film a contender heading into the Oscar race.

The other nominees for the guild's feature honors were Babel, The Departed, Dreamgirls and The Queen.

While the other movies are expected to dominate when the Academy Award nominations are unveiled Tuesday in Beverly Hills, Little Miss Sunshine's PGA win is likely to raise its profile.

The Producers Guild of America has predicted the eventual best-picture Oscar winner 11 times in its 17 years of voting.

- Reuters

The dance flick Stomp the Yard retained its top spot at the box office for a second week, but a handful of small films were boosted by their success at the Golden Globes.

The Fox Searchlight film The Last King of Scotland was the biggest beneficiary. The movie took in an estimated $1.8 million over the weekend.

Forest Whitaker was named best actor in a drama for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He is considered a favorite for an Oscar.

Babel increased its ticket sales 500 percent from last weekend after the film, featuring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, won best drama honors at the Globes.

The Miramax drama The Queen also got a huge lift, jumping 233 percent from last week to the ninth spot after its star, Helen Mirren, won two Golden Globes - one for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, and as Queen Elizabeth I in a TV miniseries.

Stomp the Yard, which focuses on a step competition between rival college fraternities, earned $13.3 million, narrowly beating Night at the Museum with $13 million. The comedy starring Ben Stiller has made about $206 million.

The only film to open wide this weekend, the horror movie The Hitcher, came in fourth.

- Associated Press

Crikey! A talking Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin action figure that has his recorded voice reciting his signature phrase will go on sale nationwide next month.

Irwin had recorded the voice for his action figure, dressed in khaki shorts and shirt with hiking boots. The doll describes a crocodile rescue, sprinkled with funny phrases in his thick Australian accent.

"Holy Guacamole!" it says at one point. "Do you see that? It's a giant golden orb spider and she's built her web right across our path!"

Irwin died Sept. 4 from a poisonous stingray barb piercing his chest. His final documentary, called "Ocean's Deadliest," aired yesterday on Discovery.

- Associated Press

Contact "SideShow" at sideshow@ phillynews.com. Inquirer wire services contributed to this column.