Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hey Paula!!

What happened to Paula Abdul? My partner and I once wrote a sketch for THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW that she choreographed. She was great. A few years later I sat next to her at a Bar Mitzvah reception. She was friendly and chatty and at no time did I think “Hey, this woman is nuts!”

But then something happened. Was it gradual over time or did she just snap like Reverend Jim? Somehow, some way (Drugs? Alcohol? Fame? Sleep deprivation? Sniffing perfume? Sexually abused by the cartoon cat?) Paula Abdul became daft. The Paula I knew never would have said she was tired “of people not treating me like the gift that I am.”

Say what????

In a futile attempt to show America that she’s just a normal everyday person like you or me she’s starring in her own alternate-reality show, HEY PAULA (Thursday nights on BRAVO). The point is for us to see her in a new light, to empathize with her plight, to understand that it’s hard to be a rich famous pampered celebrity with no real skills, surrounded by toadies and bootlickers.

Just like every other grounded person, Paula has her best friends. Her stylist, her publicist, her other stylist, and her four little dogs. During the course of the show we see her screaming at “her best friends”.

In episode one, we watch Paula need four hours and a staff of thousands to get her ready for the Grammys. She claims “tonight is crucial” because (and this alone is cause for institutionalization) she actually cares what Joan Rivers thinks.

I now wonder, how many hours did she spend getting ready for that Bar Mitzvah just to sit next to me?

I’m sure another reason for this series is to dispel the rumors that Paula has an alcohol problem and an eating disorder. So who were the sponsors? Bicardi (drink responsibly), NutriSystem, and a doctor offering gastric surgeries.

After the Grammys Paula had to take the redeye to Philadelphia to hock her jewelry on QVC. Paula is also a businesswoman. Besides the bling, she has her own line of perfume, and is a fashion designer. I’m sure these manufacturers came after the “Global Superstar” because of her artistic genius not just to capitalize on her name.

In a further display of how Paula’s life mirrors every average American, she had meltdowns because her assistant didn’t pack sweat pants for her to travel in, and handed her the black tennis shoes instead of the white ones. Your stomach churns because you yourself know what an absolute nightmare that is.

In episode two, Paula was in New York getting an award for something. She didn’t appear too sure she knew what it was for either. Her publicist (one of her best friends… now fired, by the way) hands her the speech, she reads it over but has trouble pronouncing one of the words. That word is “honored”. Guess you can’t add scholar to her list of many "gifts".

We see her in a Starbucks in the middle of the night. Again, just like you or me, she has no idea how to order and only realizes after she’s handed the coffee that she has to pay for it. Who among us doesn’t walk out of the house without a single penny in our pocket?

How many bracelets do you have to sell on QVC to afford a Latte Grande?

We learn that it was sleep deprivation not thirty tequilla shooters that caused Paula to be so loopy last January when she did those morning Fox affiliate interviews to promote AMERICAN IDOL. Next week is the fallout. In the previews we see Paula screaming at her PR people. Yeah, like it was THEIR fault. I hope she didn’t punish the little dogs.

Jerry Lewis once had a short-lived talk show and this was his nightly sign-off: “The greatest thing I could wish for you is that you have show business people as your friends.” Maybe, if you’re really lucky, that could include Paula Abdul. Although, after this show, you won’t think of her as a show business person. You’ll just think of her as the gal next door… who lives in Norma Desmond’s house.

26 comments:

The Crutnacker said...

Anyone remember the first episodes of American Idol? These were the auditions, when I'm sure that Paula figured her career had jumped an aquarium full of sharks. If memory serves, she was plainly dressed, and looked a bit disgusted to be there with this fat guy who claimed to be a producer/musician, and a cranky Brit.

In short, she'd hit rock bottom. Then the show became a hit, and Paula went back into Straight Up mode and was a bigger star than ever.

My guess is that Paula's fame has wacked her out, and that if it isn't drugs or alcohol, it's a reaction to some sort of psych drug she's taking.

The truth is that she could be replaced on that show by a trained chimp with little adverse effect. Maybe she knows that.

Will Teullive said...

In reality, Paula's fifteen minutes should have ended fifteen years ago just as the video shoot with the cat wrapped.

Having her judge musical talent is like having Rosie judge women's Olympic gymnastics.

I felt so bad when she verbally abused that poor British bellhop at the Waldorf in Manhattan during episode two.

But then I realized it was Simon working a summer job and I didn't feel so bad.

DodgerGirl said...

How did Paula go from reasonably normal to loopy?

Two words: Oxy. Contin.

Jerry Lewis really doesn't like the average American very much, to wish that kind of friendship upon us.

Ian said...

"The truth is that she could be replaced on that show by a trained chimp with little adverse effect. Maybe she knows that."

She is a bit chimpy already, wouldn't you say?

Adam said...

My friend created this: Who said it? Winston Churchill or Paula Abdul?

http://defamer.com/hollywood/gifted-orators/paula-abdul-and-winston-churchills-personal-philosophies-virtually-interchangeable-272938.php

Mary Stella said...

I'd like to know why the American Idol producers picked her in the first place. Sure, her long ago hits were cute, pop dance tunes, but her videos launched her because she could show off her dancing and choreography. It isn't as if she's had a stellar performing career for the last 20 years. I wonder if she was their first choice or the celeb for which they had to settle.

RAC said...

Is Paula the new, um, what's her name - you know the blonde gold digger who had a baby in the Bahamas and then died? How soon we forget.

If Paula could hook up with Bobby Brown and Dr. Phil, maybe we'd get to the bottom of what's wrong with show business.

Special Sam said...

I bet a lot of people forget Paula's singing career altogether. Pretty much everyone associates her with that terrible show, American Idol - which I happen to watch for some reason.

Dante Kleinberg said...

What sketch did you write for Tracy Ullman? I loved that show when I was growing up.

Oh, and I love these posts because it allows me to be aware of terrible reality TV without the indignity of actually watching it. Thank you for what you do!

CJB said...

Paula Abdul had a period in the late 80's/early 90's where she had a string of hits.

She's perfect to judge American Idol...a streak like that is the best these karaoke singers should be able to hope for.

A chimp on the panel would simply be one more poop flinger joining in the fun with the other judges, the host, the contestants and most of the audience.

Mr. Hollywood said...

I watched the two Paula Abdul reality shows on Bravo and sat there stunned. Following the hour the previous night between Larry King and Paris Hilton (with their combined IQ's not breaking double digits), I have come to the conclsuion that viewers will now sit and watch paint dry. Oh, wait a minute ... that's more interesting.
It is staggering that this pathetic no-talent allows a camera crew to follow her and document her nothing life. She signed off on this shit! Oy!
And please, will someone explain to me what talent Paula Abdul has, and while you're at it, include Whoopi Goldberg in that mix.
Excuse me while I watch some paint dry now...

robert said...

Confession: I had a bit of a crush on her way back. That went sour when I found out her hair and make-up for the video Rush cost $15,000! My God! She must be hideous under all that paint, I thought.

Thing is, she is qualified to judge karaoke because she did indeed have lots of success, not just in her own career, but in choreographing lots of other stars' videos. (i.e. Janet Jackson among many many others.)

If you want a celeb with much more experience than that in the music industry, I think you're going to have to look very hard. The cast of Surreal Life doesn't qualify and Madonna, Sirs Paul, Elton and Mick have far better things to do.

I don't watch AI because I think the premise for the show is mean and too many performances unwatchable. I won't watch Paula Abdul's reality show because you've told me all I need to know on this blog. (Thanks for the timesaver.)

Somebody once said that television allows you to have people in your livingroom you would never actually allow in your livingroom?

robert said...

That is a galactic mystery. She's been a comic, but not remotely funny. Yeah, I don't get Whoopi's success, either. There are some things man is just not meant to know, Mr. Spock!

Oh, waitaminute. She did popularize "Don't go there" the time she hosted the Oscars. I know, more reason for seething befuddlement.

donna said...

Any woman trying to be constantly beautiful in our society is eventually driven crazy. You can never be pretty enough, thin enough, whatever enough, to stave off all criticism.

Unlike Paula, those of us who do grow up seem to learn that what is truly sick is our society, and not us. Maybe if those in the industry would do a real "reality show", allowing women to appear as they actually are without all the makeup and styling and the rest of the garbage, we would all know what we really look like and get beyond the fantasies that drive us mad.

But that's way too much to actually hope for from "reality television".

There's a reason I never watch any of this tripe.

Fosco Gamgee Whitfurrows said...

Chances are you'll never read this, Ken, but its great to have found this blog. I remember you fondly from your stint as Mariners anouncer and its often that I recite Levine's Law to my friends and family while watching a game.

"The leadoff walk always comes around to score, except when it doesn't."

Great stuff.

jasyjen said...

I heard rumor she was being replaced on American Idol by Courtney Love. The day that Courtney Love is your replacement in ANYTHING is a sad day.
jasyjensthoughts.blogspot.com

Matthew said...

Have they run out of people to make reality shows about?

Soon, they'll be turning to the phone book: "Tonight at 8.. Aaron Aabec's World."

Tallulah Morehead said...

"You’ll just think of her as the gal next door… who lives in Norma Desmond’s house."

And redecorated it in even worse taste.

Darlings, ever since Paula moved in next door, I haven't had a wink of sleep. Those shrill little mutts of hers yip and yap all night long. I'd love to feed them to my Great Dane Baskerville, but he has better taste.

Worst of all, when her minders get their annual day-off, she comes over and verbally abuses MY staff! She's scares the hell out of the poor Headless Indian Brave! He's smarter than she is, and he doesn't even have a head!

Listen closely on her Unreality Show, you can hear me faintly in the background, yelling "Hey Paula, SHUT UP!!! I can't even hear myself drink!"

Cheers darlings.

tb said...

And then a contestant will inevitably perform one of Paula's songs in a blatant ass-kiss. Groan!
Oh, yeah, they're BIG FANS...

Anonymous said...

Ken, I really enjoy your writing. I'm an ex student of Fred Rubin's and I look forward to your oscar and emmy reviews every year. And send them on. You've got a big following. Keep it up-

Beverly
leomonkey@earthlink.net

Paul Duca said...

Ken, I know this is off target...but your collaborator on the legendary Army Reserve reenlistment musical, Joel Siegel (who went on to be the movie reviewer for GOOD MORNING AMERICA), has succumbed to colon cancer at the age of 63.

Anonymous said...

Paula Abdul has a nice ass. That is the beginning and end of her "talent".

D. McEwan said...

Do you know what I just did? I just spent an hour of my life I can never get back (Like all the other hours of my life) watching the Saturday replay of the first 2 episodes of HAY PAULA. (Isn't that how it's spelt? I assume they're announcing the dinner menu for the dumb old nag.) Fortunately, any Bravo Unreality show gets played a minimum of 87 times each week.

Thursday it wouldn't have ocurred to me to waste an hour doing this, I was busy watching cute young people "Dance for their lives". (Apparently not a joke. Baby-oiled-midriff Jessica danced herself into an irregular heartbeat, and was hospitalized. When she bravely came back to dance a day late with unbearably hot Russian partner, the judges cut her. Cold.)

Now, thanks to you, I'll be spending the next week telling people "I never approved that indentation."

CURSE YOU KEN LEVINE, AND YOUR DAMNED ENTERTAINING RECAPS OF CRAP SHOWS!

Now PLEASE don't start recapping PIRATE MASTER, which is SURVIVOR for obsessive Robert Newton fans. It's the new water-cooler experience. Every Friday, all across America, people gather to trade stories about how they didn't watch it the night before. It is truely a show that makes you go "Aaaarrrrggghhhh!"

Anonymous said...

They really needed to show that unbelievably HIDEOUS outfit she wore, while "singing" on the Grammy's I think?

There she was - being carted out by shirtless muscle dudes, and I actually remember watching it live, and thinking: This girl's career is SO over right now.

Anyone who would AGREE to wear what looked like a bedazzler-encrusted get-up (bought at a from dominatrix's yard sale?), has no business claiming to be a star. Tell me she looked in the mirror and said "Yeah - this'll work! Cart me out!"

She looked like a 5-foot baked potato in rhinestones and leather. And it made her look like a blimp - sparkling or not.

Not to mention wearing hair extensions, pulled back a la Madonna during her cone-bra period.

OMG - HI-DE-OUS!

rachel riot said...

many people believe that paula is going throug a rough patch. I think its for attention. When it begings to decrease, you want it MORE. it depends on the person, and i think Paula is kinda the same.

Michael Powers said...

Paula Abdul suffered from a neck injury and chronic pain will drive the strongest person over the edge. I had a similar problem almost 20 years but it healed 100% fine; perhaps Miss Abdul wasn't quite so lucky, I don't know, but I do strongly believe that's what initially derailed her career for a while. If she's still in pain, she deserves to be cut some slack. And she is quite talented, of course; she gave us some superb recordings when at her height. As for the reality show, I haven't seen it but it could be that she's trying to make it interesting to watch with over-the-top behavior. The trap of doing something like that is that you have to make it compelling to behold somehow (sensibly normal day-to-day life won't stay on the air a week), and god knows what her producers and so on are saying to her. She may be playing tantrums for comedy, I don't know.