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American Idol: Alleged Abdul Affair Scrutinized

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Allegations probed for probity and judicatory ramifications.

FoxTV and the producers of American Idol, Fremantle Media and 19 Television, have hired an independent counsel, experienced in “this type of inquiry,” to look into allegations that judge Paula Abdul had an affair with Idol contestant Corey Clark during the show’s second season, and gave him tips on singing and appearance.

Abdul has consistently denied Clark’s allegations.

Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori told a meeting of the Television Critics Association Thursday, “Any allegations against this show we take quite seriously,” he said, and called the competition’s credibility “extraordinarily important to us.”

Abdul, Clark — who was disqualified from the show in 2003 for failing to report a prior arrest — and “corroborating witnesses” have been questioned, Liguori said. He also said upcoming show auditions in August would not rush the investigation. “I’d rather be able to come to a conclusion with the independent counsel and our production partners and come out with a definitive answer and conclusion for you, rather than race to have a conclusion before production starts.”

Though Ligouri stressed the seriousness of the situation, he also tried to put it in perspective, stating that “it’s America that decides who moves forward” on the show via viewer voting, and noting the series’ rules about fraternization focus on whether a judge or producer affects the show’s outcome. He also said, “We’re talking about a piece of entertainment here.”

Therefore, he seemed to imply, as long as the alleged affair didn’t alter the outcome of the show: no harm no foul.

Fox’s actions seem to back up this interpretation. Abdul was hired to judge another Fox talent contest airing this summer, So You Think You Can Dance; and, while Liguori was appearing at the critics’ group in Beverly Hills, Abdul was filling in as an anchor on a local Fox news show. “Look, the audience loves Paula,” Liguori said. “She continues to get support, she continues to light up our online site, our message board.”

In other words, America decides and America has already decided.

Both Clark and Abdul have been busy this summer. Clark released his first album, and charges against him for a public food fight in June were recently dropped; also last month, unhappy manicure consumer Abdul spoke passionately in favor of legislation before the California Senate Business and Professions Committee that would establish safety standards for manicure and pedicure equipment.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Alec

    Did she or didn’t she? That’s the question on everyone’s lips in regards to Paula Abdul. Problem is, it’s the wrong question. The real scandal here might not be one of sex but one of hype.

    Consider this. Fox wants to get the new season of American Idol off to a good start, right? OK … so the Fox Network PR people pick up the phone and put in a conference call to Corey Clark and Paula Abdul.

    “How would you two like to make a lot of money?” they ask. “Here’s the deal. Corey, you make a public statement saying that Paula had sex with you. Paula, you make a public statement denying it. Then, our PR team will get in gear and make certain the story is on everyone’s lips. Heck, we’ll even go so far as to appoint an investigative body to check things out.”

    “Cool,” say Corey and Paula in unison.

    “Great. That way, with all the hype going around, American Idol is guaranteed to draw a big audience right off the bat. Corey, you go away with a wad of cash. Paula, we’ll keep you on because we all know the whole story is bogus … and we’ll give you a wad of cash, too.”

    Really … this whole scenario SMACKS of a publicity stunt. And, I can’t be the only person who sees this as a possibility.

  • Eric Olsen

    always a possibility, but why involve ABC (where Corey told his story)? And this story broke last season, not now.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Paula’s a train-wreck, but she’s our train wreck.

    They’ll keep her as long as she doesn’t break the law and as long as the ratings stay strong. If the ratings dip a little bit from ungodly numbers this year, of course she’d be the first thing to go about the show.

    More importantly, Carrie Underwood should not be doing Hershey’s commercials wearing her “up with people” T-shirts and looking a lil too thick to be pitching chocolate. She’s got a nice smile and is kinda pretty and all, but those ads are taking away from her time at the gym to get hot. How’s she gonna get Bo Bice to do her so she can dump Anthony Federov unless she gets hot like Bo’s mom?

    That is all.

  • Eric Olsen

    words of wisdom all the way, BAB – imagine a thin Carrie: smoking. Now is the time

  • Alec

    Eric Olson wrote – “always a possibility, but why involve ABC (where Corey told his story)? And this story broke last season, not now.”

    Actually, I’m surprised they didn’t involve NBC and CBS as well. It was already news on the FOX channel … but not everybody watches FOX.

    True, the story broke last season. But why is it making such big news RIGHT NOW? A good publicist would let the scandal pot simmer over the summer break — then bring it up to a boil just before the fall season hits the air. The timing couldn’t be better than right now.

  • Eric Olsen

    well, maybe that’s what the “independent counsel” announcement is about

    and it’s OlsEn