A week into its sixth season, "American Idol" already has garnered its largest premiere audience in history and more than its share of controversies surrounding judge Paula Abdul. On Saturday, Abdul and her fellow judges, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, appeared with host Ryan Seacrest and executive producer Ken Warwick to face the music before the television media in Pasadena.
Abdul, who has been confronted with drama almost since the talent competition show premiered on Fox, has recently faced allegations by the media and bloggers that she appeared to be drunk or drugged during a series of television interviews to promote the show. "The View's" Rosie O'Donnell also took her to task, saying: "Paula was very thirsty last night. Did anyone else notice? Every shot, that woman was sipping the 'Coca-Cola' in her cup." O'Donnell added a wink during the words "Coca-Cola" that seemed to indicate Abdul wasn't sipping a soft drink. "Toward the end of the show, one eye was wandering," she said.
During the session at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa, Abdul and her colleagues defended her behavior, denying that she was intoxicated. She said that during the satellite media tour, she had awoken at 3:30 in the morning, and during the many interviews had experienced "a couple of glitches." In the instance that ended up broadcast around the world, she was unknowingly answering questions coming from two different cities. She also didn't know, she said, that people could see her swiveling in her chair.
Abdul said: "When I was watching it myself, I was going, 'Oh my God.' I've been in this business 20 years. I've done these every single year, practically. I really am a veteran in doing this. I was waiting in between. Once I knew there was a glitch. I was talking. I didn't know who I was talking to, but I was answering questions.
Cowell: I can remember last year there was all this controversy because Paula started talking about moths and melons. The truth behind that was, on the show, Paula said to me, "I genuinely don't know what I should say." So I said -- I did make it up -- "Use a Chinese proverb I use: The moth who finds the melon will eat the cornflake."
I publicly apologize.
Abdul: You've never done that and I love you for that because you have caused me for the past year and a half the worst ... you know what, I love you first of all. He's kept this going and I've taken the blame. "What's wrong with Paula? She's drunk, she's drugged? She's not making sense." The moth and the melon ball. He did this to me!
(Now Jackson interrupts)
Jackson: Let me clear the air once and for all. In the Coke cups, it's all Coca-Cola products. It's all water or diet soda. You guys are thinking [that there is] something in those cups. Are you kidding?
(On how Abdul feels when she reads that she appears to be drunk or drugged on the show or during interviews)
Abdul: It's really fun. (Pause.) You know what? I have been in this business 20 years. But I'll tell you this much, I've never had to weather the storm of publicity, controversy. It's this show. It's huge. It's a blessing. Having a music career and selling over 50 million records or having been the best choreographer during my time, it's almost like it never it happened. It's insignificant because I'm a judge in the world's biggest show. And I love it, but it's often daunting. But, yeah, sometimes it's very, very frustrating.