Paula Abdul


APAULLED, APAULLING: It’s one day before the debut of the new season of American Idol, and the Paula Abdul Complete Frigging HellaMeltdown Watch has begun in earnest. Abdul gave to TV interviews last week, talking to a affiliates in Seattle and Oakland live from a New York studio in what appeared to be that merry state of inebriation that just precedes a tearful meltdown at a fraught family reunion or a nerveless face plant into the peanut shells on the floor of a bar.

Jeff Ballard, Abdul’s spokesman, excused Abdul’s performance on the Seattle station by blaming technical difficulties. "The sound dropped not once but twice," said Ballard. "She was totally distracted by the whole thing."

The last technical difficulties I had that resulted in the same sort of slurred speech and aggressive non sequiturs involved generous helpings of absinthe and grappa, and involved a brief period of blindness after I managed to forcibly eject the remnants of every meal I’d eaten since I was in grammar school. Still, you’ve got to admit that – for me, at least, as I’ve been sentenced to doing Metro’s running commentary on this season of Idol – it makes for the prospect of a pitiful but compelling train wreck playing out on Fox and CTV for the next few months.

In related news, US Bravo has announced its slate of new reality shows, which includes a style makeover show starring Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn, a Runway-style competition for hairstylists called Shear Genius, to be hosted by former Charlie’s Angel Jaclyn Smith, and a reality show featuring Abdul, tentatively titled Hey Paula. According to a story in Broadcasting & Cable magazine, the show will feature "the choreographer/singer/perennial worst-dressed candidate at work and with friends," and is loosely scheduled to debut later this year.

In an interview with Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, Bravo US president Lauren Zalaznick tried to explain just what possessed her to turn the cable network’s cameras on Abdul, in what has to be one of the most mystifying quotes I’ve ever read from an entertainment executive.

"I have a theory that people judge their own paths from their post-adolescent music experience to the present in comparison to the track of a pop star that was resonant to them. I kind of feel like Paula Abdul is up there," Zalaznick said. "This show is to take her in a slice of time right now and draw your own conclusions - where are you and where is she?"

Well, I’m sitting in my office in my pajamas, and I’m pretty sure Paula is passed out in a New Jersey tattoo parlour getting Simon Cowell’s face etched onto the top of her feet ("So’s I can see him when I look down, dammit!"), so I guess that answers that question. The one we’re all asking – "Just how crazy is Paula?" – will hopefully be answered starting tomorrow night.

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