It was a moment that had the audience and viewers at home gasping. During last Thursday’s American Idol, host Ryan Seacrest told a completely caught-off-guard Michael Johns that he was going home.

His elimination came as a shock to some, who felt that Seacrest made light of the moments leading up to it and even went out of his way to make it seem as if Johns was in the clear — so much so that when Ryan announced John’s elimination, the audience began booing.

But now Seacrest is responding to those critics who say he was too harsh on the Aussie crooner, telling Extra he feels Johns was "one of the brightest contestants that we’ve ever had."

"Before I said it, and I really like him, I think he’s really clever, really cool, and I think he’ll be very successful… I gave him a look as if to say, ‘I’m sorry I have to say this,’ " Seacrest explained.

On Monday in New York, Johns told Extra about the seconds leading up to his boot from the show, saying, "I don’t blame Ryan. He gave me a look…we just made eye contact… You don’t really see it on camera… and he goes ,’Buddy, I’m so sorry.’ "

But Johns admits he was baffled for a couple of moments after he heard he’d gotten the axe, thinking, "Was I just punk’d? What’s going on?"

The latest Idol castoff also reveals he has some famous fans now, including Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and Dolly Parton. "Dolly Parton, I heard, reached out and wants to do a song," he says. "That would be great!"

Sound off in the comments below!

Join the conversation