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TV THIS WEEK | THE BIG THING

Abdul gets real

June 24, 2007|Mary McNamara

HAVE we learned nothing from Anna Nicole Smith? Apparently, because this week brings us the premiere of "Hey Paula," a reality show following the so-called life of former pop star and choreographer and current "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul. Long tabloid fodder for her occasional slurred speech and wacky opinions on "Idol" as well as regular public breakdowns -- she recently fired saintly publicist Howard Bragman -- Abdul has apparently decided to let viewers see the "real" her. Or as real as it gets when surrounded by a phalanx of stylists, publicists and small dogs.

It is not easy being Paula, as "Hey Paula" makes clear. Underlings constantly thwart you, Joan Rivers makes fun of you and movie producers conspire against you. But those heartfelt calls from QVC viewers make it all worthwhile.

If nothing else, Abdul is supremely comfortable in front of the camera even as she is ever aware of it. There are no real unguarded moments for the woman who takes being a celebrity so seriously; she seems to have nothing left to guard. But watching, you have to worry about where it will all end for our Paula. If she isn't quite as out there as Smith was, there is something disturbing about the similar zeal with which she reveals what little is left of herself. (Bravo, Thurs., 10 and 10:30 p.m.)

-- Mary McNamara

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