The "American Idol" juggernaut rolled on Tuesday night, with the Memphis auditions producing several viable candidates for the finals -- and there are two hours of New York auditions coming up. Overnight ratings for the Fox reality hit were almost double those of its nearest competitor.
But the real news was that there were fewer barbs from the judges and a more coherent Paula Abdul. This stands in contrast to last week when the level of rancor was so high -- and Paula's behavior, so loopy -- that the question everyone was asking was, "Why is 'Idol' so mean?" and "What's up with Paula?"
And this week, "The Late Show with David Letterman" held a "Top Ten" contest. The subject? "Top Ten reasons why Paula Abdul is nuts."
The day after the Seattle auditions of "Idol" aired, Abdul found a way to keep audiences from dwelling on the city's tone-deaf, style-challenged contestants. In interviews with Seattle's Fox Q13 Morning News, "Good Day L.A." and Fox's KTVU, a disheveled Abdul swayed, slurred and jabbered nonsensically -- and loudly -- about the new season of "Idol," her odd relationship with fellow judge Simon Cowell and the upcoming "Bratz" movie.
Seattle's Fox Q13 Morning News asked Abdul what she was looking forward to this season, to which Abdul answered, "How about a lot of you coming in this season? It's a wild party where you are," while gesturing wildly and swaying back and forth.
When asked about Cowell's dreary assessment of Seattle singers, Abdul surprised and confused the morning anchors by saying, "I have to agree with Simon. But hey, you know what? It is what it is. And you know what? It was…It was brilliant!"
Just when it appeared that Abdul might fall asleep on the air, anchors asked how "Idol" has changed pop music. Abdul revived herself to say, "Let me put it this way to you: When the show started, the record industry said 'This show is going to rue the music industry…'"
Though Abdul appeared somewhat more clearheaded on Fox's "Good Day L.A.," simple sentence structure and facial control seemed to elude her. Sentences rambled and faded as she scrunched her face and rolled her eyes dramatically.
Anchor Steve Edwards asked Abdul if she could have imagined the success of the show, to which Abdul shouted "Yes! I'm going to say everything different than anyone else is…I predicted the biggest show in the history of television…a lexicon…the Americana…"
About a minute into KTVU's interview with Abdul, Ross McGowan finally asked, "Do you always wiggle around that much? You're just wiggling around there in New York City." Viewers were rewarded with a jumbled answer about being a dancer and some rather awkward, seated dance moves.
Clips of the interviews ran rampant on Internet blogs and YouTube, accompanied by headlines such as "Paula Abdul -- what is she smoking?" and "Paula drunk on TV?"
Though "American Idol" producers, Abdul and fellow judges could not be reached for comment, her publicist and Fox have denied the allegations in written statements, citing logistical issues with audio systems.
Friday's People magazine quotes Abdul: "Drugs? I'm not addicted to pills of any kind." And the New York Times quoted Abdul saying, "I've never been drunk. I'm not under the influence of anything."