Paula’s gaffe now blamed on her rehearsal observation; Idol hits a five-year ratings low

Ratings for American Idol 7’s Neil Diamond night Tuesday, when Paula Abdul’s well-publicized gaffe occurred, were down yet again.

They “fell to another five-year low,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, as 24.4 million people watched. Interestingly, Hell’s Kitchen 4’s ratings increased 12 percent despite its lead-in’s decline, which the paper calls “impressive” and “beyond the influence of its usual ‘Idol’ boost.”

Meanwhile, there’s now yet another official explanation for Paula’s screw-up, and it’s what I first suspected: Producers admit she based her critique on dress rehearsal, although they insist she didn’t have notes from that rehearsal, which apparently makes that better.

“The judges occasionally watch the rehearsals, which they’ve acknowledged before in various press interviews, as well as on-air during the broadcast,” executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz told The Hollywood Reporter. “While this gives them an idea of what the contestants are going to perform that night, it does not influence their comments for the actual broadcast performance. Paula’s comments were based on her acknowledgment that she had seen a small portion of the rehearsal. The judges do not use ‘rehearsal notes.’”

If you’re keeping track on your Paula Abdul excuse scorecard, that’s now reason number three: Paula first said her notes confused her, and Ryan Seacrest said—and Paula agreed—that she just accidentally said “second song”, even though she also said “first song” and “the two songs.”

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