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Paula's fabulous lonely world

When your best friends are your stylists and your publicist, it's time for a reality check.

June 26, 2007|Mary McNamara | Times Staff Writer

"Hey Paula," the Bravo reality series following the "life" of "American Idol" judge and frequent tabloid fodder Paula Abdul, begins with its subject telling the camera that she may seem like a fabulous famous person, but like everyone else she has good days and bad days and is really just a normal everyday gal. The proof of this, she says, is her best friends, whom she proceeds to introduce: her stylist, her publicist, her other stylist and her four cushion-reclining Chihuahuas.

And that, dear viewers, is all you really need to know. If you are looking for a depiction of anything even remotely resembling normal, you need to look elsewhere. But you probably knew that already. Abdul has lived most of her adult life in the tabloids and, more lately, on the Internet, where her often-questionable deportment on "Idol" is balanced only by her questionable deportment in life. So what "Hey Paula" offers, with great zeal, is a window into the high-pressure, histrionics-plagued and very lonely life of an already overexposed celebrity.

See Paula spend four hours getting ready for the Grammys (which she attends apparently dateless) in the hopes that for once everyone won't make fun of her dress. See Paula (just a normal everyday gal) hug her housekeeper as a thank-you for picking up all that dog poop. See Paula make less than tasteful jokes about poop in general. See Paula wander the streets of L.A. in search of her limousine. See Paula almost miss her plane because her stylist (and very best friend) packed the wrong tennis shoes.

The pilot follows Abdul through her pre-Grammy preening to a next-day appearance on QVC, where she hawks her jewelry line. In between, much is made over her clothing designs, which are "being incorporated" into the upcoming live-action "Bratz" movie. "I understand that movie; I know that movie," she says, with no apparent attempt at irony, of a film based on a line of dolls who look like Barbie with a bad 'tude.

She yells at her stylist, she yells at her lawyer, she yells at her publicist (not the venerable Howard Bragman, whom she recently, and publicly, fired) even though they are all her very best friends. Destined to be what was once referred to as a camp classic, "Hey Paula" attempts to show the hard work it takes to be Paula Abdul. In this, it succeeds. Few will watch her days unfold with envy. But what Abdul may think makes her look wacky in a lovable and artistically driven way instead creates a portrait of a tightly wound, isolated woman who clearly thinks she is a much better version of what she actually is.

It's not so much a question of watching "Hey Paula" as it is rubbernecking. That the show has Abdul's full and enthusiastic support may relieve some of the guilt of watching this clearly troubled woman have a hissy fit over the wrong pair of sneakers, but it doesn't do much for the queasiness factor. Which remains very high.


`Hey Paula'

Where: Bravo

When: 10 to 11 p.m. Thursday

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