"We all love the fact that [American Idol] is live," said Ryan Seacrest by way of introducing Paula Abdul’s appearance on his morning radio show on Los Angeles’ KIIS FM. The Idol judge was calling in, of course, to explain what happened during last night’s telecast, when she critiqued both of Jason Castro’s songs after he had only sung just one. Here’s a breakdown of what we learned:
Before Paula explained her side of the story, Ryan gave a detailed explanation of what happened in the moments leading up to what’s now been dubbed Paulagate. He said that:
1) The judges first learned they were only going to give their critiques after the Idol contestants’ second songs when Ryan said as much live on air at the top of the show.
2) Halfway through Syesha Mercado’s first song, exec. producer Nigel Lythgoe appeared backstage. He informed Ryan and stage manager Debbie Williams that head of Fox reality programming, Mike Darnell, had just called to inform Nigel he wanted the judges to give their comments on all the contestants’ first songs at the half-way point of the show.
3) Ryan told Nigel that he was under orders from Darnell to make sure Idol didn’t run long, as it would eat into Fox affiliates’ evening news shows — and at that point, the show was running three-and-a-half minutes over schedule. Nigel said he understood, but the round-one recap/critique was what Fox wanted, so out Ryan went, just as Syesha was finishing her final note.
Paula then stepped in to explain, in her typically non-linear style, that (as best we can parse back into a linear timeline of events):
1) She saw Castro (and only Castro) singing his second song, "September Morn," during dress rehearsal (after she dropped off some friends and family to watch it).
2) During the live show, the judges asked for pen and paper to write down their comments as Castro sang his first song, "Forever in Blue Jeans," so they were a bit distracted from his performance.
3) When Ryan threw the second curve-ball at the judges and brought out all five Idols for the first-half recap, Paula said, "I got lost in my notes." Basically, she was confused about what she was supposed to be talking about, and since she had seen Castro sing both his songs, she went ahead and critiqued both of them.
4) She also mentioned that she had written her notes about David Cook on the same sheet of paper as her notes about Jason Castro.
5) Simon, of course, gave up on taking notes before he’d even really begun. "It was crazy for us," said Paula. "In seven years, we’ve never had to do that."
6) She did not once express any remorse or concern about what her comments may have done to Castro’s chances in the competition, and his confidence when he finally did get to sing "September Morn" live.
Ryan then went on to state emphatically that none of the Idol judges have any of their comments pre-scripted, a comment that Paula then seconded. The two went on to commiserate over the sometimes on-the-fly nature ofthe show, before Ryan tried to wrap things up with this promise toPaula: "I’m going to hug you and squeeze you until I make you want metonight." But then Paula said, almost offhand, "I’m telling people, ‘I was just doing what I was told, and I did see Jason Castro in the dress rehearsal sing part of his song.’"
It seemed like she meant that she thought she was told to critique the Idols’ performances, not just round one. You can listen to the entire exchange on KIIS FM’s website here. Check it out for yourself, PopWatchers, and then weigh in below: Does Paula’s explanation hold water (especially in light of the fact that she told Entertainment Tonight, in an interview that’ll air tonight, that she mixed up her critiques for Castro and Cook)? Or is it all wet?
addCredit(“Abdul: Sam Jones; Castro: F Micelotta/Getty Images”)