Paula Abdul dishes on Antonella Barba, 'Idol,' and her media portrayal
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/14/2007
Throughout her 21 year career, American Idol judge Paula Abdul said she's "never had so much bulls**t" written about her as what's currently circulating in the media. But during a interview published on Entertainment Weekly's website on Friday, she revealed at least one other person who's had it worse -- Antonella Barba.
"I can't imagine how it feels for someone who's not used to it. I do sympathize with [Antonella Barba]; I don't look at that crap," Abdul told Entertainment Weekly about the recent scandal the 20-year-old Point Pleasant, NJ native went through as a semifinalist on Idol 6. "Today you remove people from pictures, you can move them around. [That's] the beauty of the Internet... you can put my head on any body."
Abdul said she knows a thing or two about being dragged through the mud. While she described herself as "the squarest dork there is," Abdul said for some reason the American public and media seems to think she's sipping something other than pop from her omnipresent red Coca-Cola cup.
"Nobody, [including] my friends and my family, has seen me drinking, partying... ever," Abdul told Entertainment Weekly. "Maybe somewhere I'm making a toast, but I've never been drunk in my whole life. I don't do recreational drugs. I have the hardest job -- mid-sentence I have to think of what I'm going to say, [and] sometimes I have to talk fast because I don't want to be edited. I have to think about what I'm going to say because I might not particularly care for [a contestant's] performance. How [can I express this] so they leave with a little bit of dignity and grace?"
During another interview that appears in the March 19 issue of TV Guide, Abdul said she doesn't drink or do drugs because she's "someone who wants to be in the moment and aware of what I'm doing." So what's in the cup?
"Sugar-free Red Bull or Diet Coke," she explained to TV Guide. "The whole thing with the cup..."
While she said she feels like the sixth season of Idol is her "best so far" as a judge, Abdul added it's difficult to have her job.
"I can't just say what I want. If anything, I hold back," she told TV Guide. "I can't say 'You suck' or 'You deserve to be on a cruise ship.' It's not like I don't notice bad performances. I just wouldn't say those things. I come from a place of being a [solo] artist. [Fellow judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson] don't. They haven't a clue. They will never know what it's like to be like an open wound."
Abdul might have told TV Guide she thinks America's voting is right "for the most part," but she told Entertainment Weekly there are always a few surprises.
"I was openly shocked with Sundance [Head] leaving and I said, 'You are one of our most gifted singers.' And I [also] said, 'Sanjaya [Malakar] no disrespect to you, congratulations to you,'" she told Entertainment Weekly. "And for someone [like Sanjaya] at 17 to have such a smooth older-than-his-years tone... but experience-wise, vocally, there was no comparison [to Sundance]. But I understand how parents and young girls would love [Sanjaya]."
Abdul countered by adding that she can also be surprised in a good way.
"Jordin [Sparks] being 17, she has probably the most natural self-assuredness [for someone so young]. Paris Bennett, Lisa Tucker, we have had great young kids, but there's something about Jordin that is older than her years," she told Entertainment Weekly. "She's naturally gifted, she's not trained -- she's an artist that I think could be around for a long time. I love Blake [Lewis], I want him to follow his beatboxing with reckless abandon because that's his unique gift, and continue to work on his vocals."
Life isn't all about Idol for Abdul, who will also star in her own reality seriesHey Paula!, which is expected to premiere on Bravo some time later this year.
"It's not going to be the type of reality show that's a goof," Abdul explained to TV Guide. "There won't be a created episode on 'Paula Goes to the Grammys.' It's going to show the many hats I wear, that I'm one helluva hardworking woman. I'll get back to the roots of my dancing and cheerleading days. People forget that I've sold over 53 million records. They'll see some of the charitable stuff I'm doing, my dogs, me on QVC [selling her originally-designed jewelry line, the Paula Abdul Jewelry Collection]."
Like they were with Barba during her photo scandal, Abdul said Idol's producers stand behind her "100%," adding she pays little attention to the rumors that she's being replaced as a judge on the Fox mega-hit.
"People start rumors all over the place," Abdul told TV Guide. "Honest to God, there's no way [production company] Freemantle or Fox would destroy our chemistry."
Having been a firsthand witness to what Barba went through, Abdul is hoping that footage from a video camera she keeps by her bed at night is never leaked on the Internet.
"I'll think of choreography, and I'll get-up and film myself, which is hysterical," she told TV Guide. "Forget sex tapes! If those tapes got out, that would be the worse blackmail. It's enough with rumors that I must be drunk or drugged (laughing). If they saw me dancing in the middle of the night with my hair all over the place, they would definitely think that!"