Paulagate 2008: Ms. Abdul does some 'splaining on Ryan Seacrest's radio show

Paulacastro_dl"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”)

Comments (485 total) Add your comment
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  • mj

    It’ll be interesting to see how they address it tonight on the show. I don’t see how they can ignore it. And, if Jason is voted off, will there be any kind of backlash I wonder? From what I heard of the interview, she sounded very befuddled (as usual) and, you’re right, not at all contrite.

  • mark in nyc

    let me get this straight. She saw the dress rehersal, but didnt get pen and paper till the show….then made note on Jason’s first song AND what she saw during dress rehersal?
    Does that make a lick of sense to anyone?

  • econruth

    Having already read her David Cook comments (negative) as Jason’s critique why did she then go on to say that David was “fantastic”? It wasn’t addressed in the Seacrest interview…

  • Shan

    “She saw Castro (and only Castro) singing his second song” … well, that’s a mighty coincidence, isn’t it? Ugh. Just tell the truth. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? People will think the show is rigged? That’s never come up before.

  • Dave

    Right on Mark

  • Why oh why

    Her comments make no sense. Talking about “Castro’s second song”, she said it wasn’t enough to get him to top4. Then she said Cook was great. So there is no way she confused the two reading her notes.

  • Tim

    You know what? I actually buy this, after accounting for the quirkiness of Paula. I can see that, if she had seen Jason’s performance live during rehearsal, during the confusion of the show she might flashback to that. Yeah, it was weird and insane, but it does fit better than all the conspiracy theories.

  • Jason

    she hate me

  • Bill865

    My question is why wern’t Randy and Simon equally befuddled? If its that difficult because it hasn’t happened in seven years I wonder why she doesn”t have trouble chewing gum. No two ways about it, Paulas gotta go. She just doesn’t get it and whats worse she doesn’t pay attention or understand which way is up.

  • Tim

    As for saying it was “David Cook’s comments”, she was embarrassed and reached for some sort of life preserver. It didn’t work, but I understand why she would try and recover from her goof up.

  • Tad

    LIES LIES LIES!!! Paula makes no sense at all when on the air & makes no sense when trying to “explain” her mistakes! IT IS RIGGED NO DOUBT in my mind now!! We’re tired of the BEST SINGERS “voted” off, namely, CARLY & MICHAEL JOHNS, while Syesha & Brooke remain!!!

  • mscisluv

    I’m not a “conspiracy theorist,” but I do believe that Fox has a heavy hand in attempting to sway the audience (i.e. I think they probably make a conscious decision each week as to who they want to keep and who they want to leave, but I don’t believe they mess with the votes). And I think Paula’s explanation is total bull. It truly makes no sense why she would write notes based on what she saw in dress rehearsal, especially since that’s the only second song she (supposedly) was privy to. I don’t know what really happened, but I don’t buy anything she said in this interview. I also think that us fans of the show (even those who aren’t fans of Jason in particular) would have appreciated if she had shown some regret as to how it impacted Jason on a personal level.

  • Paula’s note to self

    Tonight — remember to take the pink pill, NOT the blue pill.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe a word of this. I can’t believe she had no apologies for Jason. She better apologize to him on the show tonight. It’s totally unfair.

  • tricky dick

    I am not a crook!
    Something about this show isn’t entirely above board.

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