Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bye-Bye Miss American Idol

I have no real problem with American Idol. Despite the fact that it's main-lined a near-overdose of musical mediocrity into our national conscience -- I mean, come on, Daughtry? -- it remains a mildly entertaining diversion, albeit one which automatically brings with it an annual frenzy of thoroughly undeserved attention. I understand the need for escapism, particularly during these troubled times -- after all, there's a name for someone who refuses to talk about anything but the frightening cloud of cabalist-view world events: Lyndon LaRouche. Somehow though, watching even the supposedly responsible news networks shift their coverage from, say, the nightmare in Iraq to this year's vast well-spring of overly-eager Idol contenders just seems a little wrong.

Every once in awhile though, Fox's cultural juggernaut actually does produce a newsworthy moment; it's of course at that point that certain news outlets drop the ball completely, look the other way, and prove in no uncertain terms Paddy Chayefsky's prescient 1976 assertion that corporate sponsorship would eventually kill truth and objectivity -- at least as it's beamed into your living room every night -- stone dead.

A couple of days ago, one of those moments happened.

During an interview with Seattle's Fox Q13 News, Paula Abdul -- whose constant, unbridled lunacy has assuredly become the stuff of legend by now -- took her reputation to lofty new heights by essentially being drunk off her ass on live TV.

I could spend a good couple of paragraphs describing her erratic behavior and the unquestionable conclusion to be drawn from it, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words -- or in this case, at least a fifth of Stoli.

See for yourself.

The fact that Abdul was so obviously intoxicated is flat-out hilarious.

The fact that the Tele-mannequins interviewing her -- Fox Q13's Lily Jang and Carmen Ainsworth -- were either too inattentive to notice, so inept that they're unable to deviate from a scripted interview, or worst of all, unwilling to (further) embarrass a celebrity in general and one who's attached to their network's biggest rain-maker in particular is reprehensible. Make no mistake -- the second that interview ended, Jang and Ainsworth exchanged uncomfortable chuckles and posed the question to each other that should've been leveled at Abdul herself: "WHAT IN THE HELL?" It's the equivalent of the old cliche' in which the two cops stand watching a burglary, then one says to the other, "Somebody should call the police." They pause for a minute, then comes the obvious punchline, "Wait a minute, we are the police." I doubt however that it crossed the minds of Jang and Ainsworth -- even for a moment -- that their guest was making news live on their air, second-by-second, and that they might want to actually do their jobs and ask an appropriate question or two.

It may take a few days for most of the planet to get to a computer and witness Abdul's three-minutes and thirty-seconds of unhinged glory, but once they do, you can count on every news organization in the country to immediately begin non-stop coverage of Paula-gate 2007, with everyone from Diane Sawyer to Larry King putting on their best "genuinely-concerned" faces to ask once again if Paula needs to get some help. It'll be overkill, and it'll be complete bullshit given the fact that all but a few media outlets have their own behind-the-scenes stories of Abdul-mania, yet for whatever reason have rarely chosen to make such compromising information known to the public. I can personally attest to the fact that five minutes before appearing on the network news-show for which I work, Abdul had locked herself in one of our office's bathrooms and was being desperately begged by a group of her handlers and our booking staff to please stop crying and come out. Our anchors knew none of this when Abdul pulled herself together at the last possible minute and took her seat in front of the camera.

The two "journalists" who sat there staring into Abdul's glassy eyes and listening to her slurred speech and Parkinsonian movements can't make that same claim.

They watched a typically innocuous celebrity interview turn into an actual news event right before their eyes, and they did nothing. They had access to the story before a PR-firm could grab hold of it and begin spinning it with laughable claims and ridiculous evasions, and they feigned ignorance.

They were on the front lines, and they didn't fire a shot.

Paula Abdul was trashed -- what was their excuse?


Schwa Love said...

There is no greater joy for a nation than seeing a celebrity trashed on national television, especially if it is a family-friendly news show, or perhaps children's show involving puppets on public television. Unfortunately, I don't think that Paul is drunk, she is merely suffering from Exhaustion. The two can look very similar, and in fact Exhaustion can take many forms, appearing like slurred speech and wobbly posture during an interview, or even taking on the appearance of a three week meth-binge involving a stolen ostrich and a dead thirteen-year-old Thai hooker*. So please, before rushing to judgement, realize that Paula has been under a lot of stress churning out pop stars on the latest incarnation of The Gong Show as well as making a live action movie about hydrocephalic tramps. She's probably just suffering from exhaustion and needs to check into a clinic for a few days where large, caring nurses can slap her around for a while until she's raring to go.

* - Ho ho... looks like some teenager got a little too much of that exhaustion herself!

VOTAR said...

You know it's a shame, I've always thought Paula Abdul is really hot.

Apparently I have a weakness for petite girls with serious and socially embarassing addiction issues.

Harris said...

C'mon, Chez. You know better than to think newsmuppets can handle actual news; that's not part of the job description. These women were hired because they have good teeth, good hair and the ability to read a TelePrompter. The don't have the traditional tools of a reporter --curiosity, a quick mind and a highly developed bullshit detector -- because they don't need them.

I'm no more disappointed these women were unable to ask tough -- or in this case, obvious -- questions than I'm disappointed that my cat can't do my taxes. I'm happy so long as he, and they, play with the string and shit in the box.

VOTAR said...

Another thought, to wax a bit more serious.

Knowing that an interviewee (is that a word?) is intoxicated or otherwise impaired during a live broadcast, what exactly is the duty of the interviewer to call them out on it in front of the audience? Wouldn't taking that detour in mid-interview, to make an issue out of the subject's state of mind, send the episode much further into the tabloid realm? Couldn't that risk a much more serious on-air melt-down? Sure, that'd make great headlines and boost the ratings temporarily, as people tuned in to watch the 100th repeated broadcast of it, but where along the way would that venture into the territory of "the news" inventing itself?

I want to assume that the anchors had someone in the booth talking them through this thing as it almost instantaneously began to disintegrate. "Let's just get through this, nice and clean. We've got three minutes to fill here. Easy...easy..."

It looks to me like the kind of experiences we've all had, where your date has had too much fun at the party, and you are trying really hard to stand up straight, keep a smile on your face in front of the other guests, and exit with some kind of dignity (saving your rage for the bitch-slap that will come later in the cab ride home...).

ROCCO "Michael says, if you can't take care of this, I have to."

FREDO "Maybe you'd better."

What also occurs to me is, what producer or show director, or whoever is in charge of such decisions ahead of time, saw how completely twisted Paula was, and let the interview happen anyway? I guess it came down to this choice:

"Do we risk offending her by calling her a drunk and cutting her off, or do we risk exposing her as a drunk and let the chips fall as they may?"

Anonymous said...

I don't think it should be a big deal and I like the fact that an unhinged celebrity doesnt hide the fact that she likes to party. Where did she really embarass herself? She answered all the questions completely. When it came to discussing her project, she was pretty clear with the details. Does every celebrity have to be in complete control a la Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric. How boring and sensible that we get worked up over this.

Anonymous said...

I guess this falls under Votar's question of "do we risk offending her" question, but I want to know why the idiots at Fox who put the satellite tour together didn't just cancel the tour once they saw Paula show up obviously smashed? They're publicists, they're used to lying - why not lie to her and tell her the whole thing is cancelled?

Chez said...

I could absolutely care less about Paula Abdul. Not a day goes by that I don't not think about her and whatever insane antics she's up to. My problem is with the two supposed journalists who basically abandoned their posts and pretended to ignore something about their interviewee which was so astonishingly obvious. If Paula Abdul had a history of self-mutilation and went on live TV with a giant fresh scar across the top of her arm, it would be the responsibility of the journalist to, at the very least, ask, "Hey, what the hell is that?"

That said, I agree with you that the world needs a few more un-PC celebrities, but Abdul isn't one of them because she hypocritically tries to have it both ways. She shows up obviously intoxicated to an interview, then has her PR-firm run interference for her by making up a story about how she wasn't drunk at all, she was just tired -- which anyone with an IQ greater than his or her shoe-size would know is complete bullshit (I'm not even going to get into how offensive it is that we've become so desensitized to being lied to that we're expected to actually give such nonsense even a modicum of creedence). Compare Abdul with, say, Danny DeVito, who admitted right off the bat during his appearance on The View that he and Clooney had been out boozing it up all night and that he was still drunk. Not only did I not have a problem with that -- I thought it was refreshing as hell. Once again though, you can't have it both ways. Either admit that you're partying, or pull it together long enough to do a three-minute, thirty-second interview for Christ's sake.

TheMadHattress said...

I am THRILLED these three women have managed to stay gainfully employeed and off the public dole. I have my own drinking habit to fund. I am JOYOUS over the fact i don't have to be concerned with theirs other than to be amused by it thru your blog... Paula looked DAMN GOOD for being soused you HAVE to admit...

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Not to put too self-serving a slant on this, but I'd like to think there are at least SOME reporters that would ask the questions. Chances are, however, they've been forced out of the industry.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

P.S. FYI, that video site I mentioned - - has 8 episodes of Firefly online.

TK said...

Holy fuck is she hammered. Actually, what is most disturbing is that it's the morning news show. It's 7:30 AM and she's completely in the bag. That, my friends, is what you call a problem.

That said, make no mistake Chez - those two mouthpieces are not reporters. They're not journalists. They were hired because they're relatively easy on the eyes, can laugh on cue, and, even in the face of crisis, default into that creepy rictus smile. But I don't think you can expect any more journalistic integrity from them than you could from your pool boy.

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, drinking (and thereby, getting drunk) is pretty much a glorified activity in our country. If Paula did that in a bar or in her home, nobody would care. Because she does it on TV, it's national news? Which is it, people? Is drunkeness something to strive for or something to be shunned?

Chez said...

Is everybody deaf?


It comes down to the simple dictum "There is a time and a place for everything."

If I showed up to one of my clients' homes or businesses to do a presentation while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and by the way demonstrated no ability to control or conceal my state of mind, I would be fired.

Publicizing American Idol is Paula Abdul's JOB. She is an employee of the show as a contracted celebrity participant, and as such it seems reasonable to assume a certain level of professionl responsibility during the times in which she appears in that capacity. I agree that seeing a celebrity remind us that he or she is human is actually quite refreshing -- which is why this lackadaisical jew gave Mel Gibson a pass, and why I don't care a whit what Michael Richards says or what Lindsay Lohan wears (or doesn't wear). But a celebrity knocking over a punch bowl at a private party is one thing, the same celebrity falling over and writhing in what looks like a meth seizure on live television is something else altogether.

Either one is still fun to watch though.

Robo said...

I'm sure you've seen this but I thought you'd be interested to know that Fox is saying that her "Performance" was due to Technical Difficulties.

[cough] BULLSHIT [cough]

Jennifer Sulkin said...

yeah, i'ma agree with harris n them, that journalistic integrity isn't exactly part of the job description of the morning fluff bimbos. while i think you're right, chez, that someone, HAD they spoken up, could have had their hands on an amusing story, it likely never entered their perfectly coiffed little heads.

quoth hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, its much more about the 'strategic application of lip gloss' and much less about covering actual news.