Monday, May 02, 2005

Controversy=Buzz=Ratings


If controversy is the heart of American Idol, the people there have got to be pleased this week.

Seems ABCNews is throwing out bread crumbs about its planned Wednesday night Primetime Live "expose" which, they say, will blow the lid off American Idol. And rumors are circulating that the explosion may result in at least one casualty.

After promising to respond to specific questions by the end of business Friday, executives at FOX have now, it seems, officially refused to respond to allegations that there was a personal, physical relationship between judge Paula Abdul and a male contestant, presumably Corey Clark, during the height of season two competition. Clark also alledges that Abdul promised "personal coaching," including song selection and tips on how best to endure the rigors of the competition.

Drudge is reporting that ABCNews, after being threatened with a lawsuit, has in its possession voice mail/answering machine messages, apparently recorded by Abdul and, between the audio evidence and the video evidence, has enough to easily pass court scrutiny. Juicenewsdaily is reporting that she may resign, as early as this week, her seat in the middle of the judging panel.

I do not know what behind-the-scene conditions are put upon the four primary on-screen Idol personalities, the three "judges," who, all cynical commentary aside, do nothing more than offer on-the-spot critiques of the contestants' performances, in an attempt to enlighten the voting public, and Ryan Seacrest, who offers a shoulder to lean on and a tie to cry into, but otherwise merely carries out the wishes of the writers and producers. It's widely known that the judges and the contestants interact off camera, and that Paula is, of the three, the most contestant-friendly, offering each one of them a trinket and a snippet of encouragement before each show.

Now, if there is a non-fraternization policy within their contracts, and these allegations are true, Paula's gotten herself in a boatload of trouble. But is it enough of a bombshell to, in one hour, cause the longtime viewer to jump ship? It's a breach of contract issuebetween the network, the show and the cheerleader. And Gladys Knight would be a terrific replacement.

However, if there is no such clause, and the allegations, even if proven, are contained to a sexual relationship with the promise of professional assistance, can it bring down the top-rated show?

Maybe I'm just not getting this, but, of the three "judges," Paula is, without a doubt, the least influential. She rarely strays from her "you were the best ever" script, regardless of the disaster she just witnessed. The only time her critique merits any attention is when the disaster was so immense that even she feels the need to turn her thumbs down. One Paula "it was boring" remark can be louder than fifteen Simon "hideous" ones.

So what if she offered him $2 million to build his career. It's her money. And, if we're talking her providing off-screen advice, what gives? This is Paula Abdul. This is not Madonna, for goodness sake. This is Britney Spears before there was a Britney Spears It's doubtful that music moguls interrupt their lunches to take her call. Now, if this had been Simon in the same, ahem, position, I would be predicting the imminent cancellation of the show, and selling all of my FOX stock. But it's not Simon.

I'm not even concerned about Corey Clark's believability at this point. My opinion of him has been documented, and his allegations have been put into question by other season two contestants. I don't care if what he says is true. I just don't understand why ABCNews is devoting an hour of primetime just to delve into trash that used to be the exclusive domain of Jerry Springer and the tabloids, in an obvious and single-minded attempt to put a dent into the money machine that ABC refused to even consider five years ago.

What happened to the era where the networks kept themselves out of the gutter?

The whole thing reeks of vengeance. It reeks like
The Globe.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

It may not be so much a case of ABC trying to bring Fox down as ABC trying to cash in on Fox's golden goose.

Anything on TV that says "American Idol" sells; it's the 500 pound gorilla of prime time. I'm sure that despite the indignation they're espousing in public, privately the Fox execs are laughing all the way to the bank.

The other networks would like to get into the act, so what better way to do it than under the guise of "news"?

I think Corey Clark is just a guy who is trying to sell a book. However, if he puts in writing that he had an affair with Paula Abdul, then he'd better be at least close to being in the right or I'd expect her to sue the pants of him.

I don't think that any sort of exposé will hurt American Idol; short of proof that the competition is fixed, the only thing that can stop AI is AI itself.

10:48 AM, May 03, 2005  
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