Paula Abdul’s loopy TV interviews blamed on exhaustion, insomnia, the flu, audio problems

The first half-hour episode of Hey Paula introduced us to both Fun Paula and Diva Paula, but the second episode–which was not screened for critics–reintroduced us to Loopy Paula. It included footage of Paula’s disastrous live TV interviews she did before American Idol 6.

If Paula truly never has been drunk before, there’s clearly something else going on. Paula and her entourage work hard in interviews to blame her behavior on a lack of sleep and exhaustion, but it’s not convincing. Stumbling through an award acceptance speech, she tells us later that the speech was placed in front of her upside-down and out of order, but that doesn’t explain why she was largely incoherent. Paula adds that she has suffered from insomnia, although considering she gets coffee at Starbucks at 2:30 a.m., she’s not exactly trying to sleep.

The day of the interviews, her publicist, Jeff Ballard, tells us that now “she has the flu, she’s not feeling well, she hasn’t slept.” He also says, “She’s just not paying attention.” Any other excuses we can pile on? Let’s not forget “technical difficulties”, and those are mentioned, too.

In the studio doing those live interviews, she tells us she’s just “fidgety” when she’s staring into a camera lens, and adds that she’s also stuffed up. All these excuses would be funny if they weren’t so sad. To their credit, the producers showed us the media storm that followed, including the accusations that she was drunk and/or doing recreational drugs. Next week, she breaks down as a result of the criticism, insisting again that she hasn’t been drunk or done recreational drugs (always that qualifier).

During the interviews, Jeff Ballard tells us, “You worry about technical things, not her.” That’s heartbreaking and tragic, because it’s Paula that everyone should be concerned with, but that no one really seems to really care about.

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.