ABC’s Fallen Idol special airs tonight.

ABC’s Fallen Idol special airs tonight.
Tonight, ABC News airs its expose on the most popular reality television show in the US, American Idol. The special edition of Primetime Live airs at 10 p.m. ET, starting right after another American Idol 4 finalist’s dreams are crushed by their apathetic fans. This controversial saga began less than a month ago; here’s a chronological run-down of what we’ve learned over the past few weeks and what happened with Corey over the past few years:

  • March 31, 2003: The Smoking Gun breaks news that Corey was charged with battering his sister and will stand trial; FOX removes him from the show.
  • April 1, 2003: Corey apologizes on the show but denies the charges; it’s revealed that his name was misspelled and that’s why his arrest wasn’t caught by FOX.
  • April 15, 2003: The Tennessean reports that Corey said “producers knew about his arrest record all along and used it to boot him to add some drama” and that they “practically scripted what turned out to be [his] farewell interview.”
  • May 14, 2003: Producer Nigel Lythgoe says Corey’s “lying.”
  • April 8, 2005: Cindy Adams writes that Corey Clark is shopping a memoir that “describes [Paula Abdul's] Studio City Hills house” and also discusses “wild, drunken sex.” Adams doesn’t put the pieces together, however.
  • April 21, 2005: The dots are connected when MSNBC’s Jeannette Walls reports on a Globe magazine report about Corey’s book proposal; Walls says Corey “is claiming that he had sex with Abdul in the guest room of her house, that she paid some of his expenses and promised to fund his career to the tune of $2 million, and that she made him vow to keep their relationship a secret.” Also, Variety reports that ABC’s Primetime Live is planning “a potentially explosive expose” about the series.
  • April 27, 2005: FOX threatens legal action against ABC, while Paula’s spokesperson says Corey’s charges are “defamatory.”
  • April 28, 2005: It’s reported that FOX is looking into the charges. Also, a reporter is cut off when he tries to ask Constantine about judge/contestant relationships.
  • May 2, 2005: Matt Drudge says the special will include audio of phone calls and messages from Paula to Corey.
  • May 3, 2005: Reports say that Paula called Corey “urging him not to respond to media inquiries”; rumors spread that Paula will quit; Matt Drudge’s caps lock key breaks.

    Later in the day, ABC prematurely reports, revealing (all? some? part? of) the details from the special. Basically, it says Paula wanted to be Corey’s mommy, and says she helped him with song selection and style. A photo accomanying the story shows that he hasn’t changed his hair in two years (2002, 2005) and that Corey apparently likes clothes that resemble prison jumpsuits.

  • May 4, 2005: Today, The New York Times talks to season two finalist Julia DeMato, who says she didn’t see anything between Corey and Paula, but said producers favor certain contestants: “It’s very obvious behind the scenes who they gear their attention to. Certain people got more attention than others. Those people made it far. In that aspect, it wasn’t equal. … The stylist never styled me. Some people had custom-made outfits done. I never got that. It’s not fair,” she said. Clay and Ruben in particular, she says, got more attention.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.