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Sexy shots of 'American Idol' singer stall MaximOnline

Several news reports trumpet existence of years-old photos, sending avalanche of traffic to magazine site.

The steamy, belly-baring photographs of "American Idol" contestant Becky O'Donohue, which have ignited a miniscandal, have also hobbled MaximOnline.com.

The Web home of men's magazine Maxim was overwhelmed at times Thursday after several news sources ballyhooed the existence of the photos, in which O'Donohue poses with twin sister Jessie, according to a marketing executive with the magazine's publisher.

The executive added that engineers were working to correct the problem. The site never crashed, but pages were slow to load. Sometimes a note would appear for would-be visitors, saying the site was overloaded.

Credit: MaximOnline
One of the infamous photos.

In the afternoon, MaximOnline changed the presentation of the photos, presumably to make downloading easier. Instead of posting all the photos on a single Web page, which is the company's favored method, MaximOnline moved each image to its own page.

As if they were exposing a closely guarded secret, several news reports presented the photos and a minute-long accompanying video of the sisters. But Becky and Jessie, 25, posed for Maxim almost two years ago, and none of the images include nudity.

Becky is a vocalist who's competing with 23 other semifinalists to be dubbed "American Idol"'s most talented performer of 2006. Throat surgery prevented Jessie, who like her sister is an aspiring singer and part-time model, from trying out for the show.

The hubbub has generated enough attention to send flocks of "Idol" fans, and likely lots of Becky-admiring males, to MaximOnline--more proof of the old Hollywood adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity.