TMZ.com reports that Pilgrim Films and Television (PFTV) has filed a lawsuit filed against Paula Abdul in Los Angeles County Superior Court claiming the Idol judge tried to screw them out of a show based on Paula's life. According to the suit, PFTV met with Abdul and her producing partner, David Russo, in 2004 and discussed a talk show featuring Abdul. After some false starts, the suit says, the concept evolved into a reality show titled "Hey Paula," based on Abdul's wacky life, but the project fell apart after Abdul demanded final editorial control over the final product.
But when PFTV tried to get the show back on track by selling it to Oxygen, Abdul allegedly came clean and told the production company "she had secretly taken PFTV's 'Hey Paula' project ... to Bravo." On January 12, Bravo announced "Hey Paula" will debut sometime this year on the cable network.
The suit asks for compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to an injunction prohibiting anyone from airing "Hey Paula." David Russo's lawyer, Bill Abrams, told TMZ, "The allegations are baseless." Paula told TMZ, "While I'm not going to respond to this baseless lawsuit, I will say that 'Hey Paula' is based upon my life and my ideas. Last I heard, I still own my own life."
IT'S MY LIFE, PART 2
According to AmericanIdol.com, Kellie Pickler's new introspective release, "I Wonder," is based on her life – from her childhood and her incarcerated father and runaway mother to the nurturing grandparents who raised her.
"It’s obviously a very personal song," said Kellie. "It’s about the relationship I have with my mother – there isn’t one. I haven’t seen her in years. She left me when I was a little girl and I’ve wondered where she is, what she’s doing."
As far as reunion with the mother who, according to the song, wasn't "around to cheer me on, help me dress for my high school prom like mothers do," Kellie says, "I haven’t talked to her, seen her or had any contact with her whatsoever, and I have no desire to. Maybe in the future, but not now. I’m not mad at her, I don’t hate her, I’m just hurt. My hope is for this song to be a testament for somebody who might be going through an experience like this and know you’re not alone. Just keep on believing and following your dream and the sky’s the limit. If I can make it, anyone can."
The second release from Pickler's debut album, "Small Town Girl," "I Wonder" was digitally sent to radio last week and quickly became the most downloaded song at country radio for the week. Apparently Pickler has a more maternal bent than her mom. You can see a short clip of her reading to an auditorium full of kids (or even watch the video for her first release, "Red High Heels") here.
GREEN WITH ENVY
People magazine reports that during a "Good Morning America" appearance to promote his work as a UNICEF ambassador, Clay Aiken forgot all about diplomacy and admitted to Diane Sawyer that, yes, he's green with envy over Jennifer Hudson's success.
"I'm so jealous, because I was considered the most successful Idol loser, and now I'm not," Aiken joked when asked whether he's spoken to the fellow AI castoff. "She has won a Golden Globe ... and she deserves the Academy Award, and now I'm second place again."
Aiken also dished about the audition process. "[The producers] actually told us they were looking for people who are feisty and had a personality so that they get that 'TV moment.' "
AND TALKING ABOUT THE JUDGING ...
Season 5 finalist Bucky Covington told The Associated Press that he’s grateful for Simon Cowell’s biting criticism on Idol. "Because of him being mean, millions of people watch that show," said Covington, who finished eighth last season. "So I say 'thank you' for being mean. You turned on a lot of people to this show, and because of that a lot of great things happened to me."
As far as the so-called controversy this season over whether the Idol judges are meaner than last season, Covington said, "I didn’t see them being really nice to me — no pushovers, you know. ... I never knew Simon to be nice. If you said, 'Hey, Simon is being nice this year,' you would have caught my attention. But being mean is just what I expect. It’s what he does. It’s his job," added the Rockingham, N.C., native who is currently on the Billboard Country chart with the first single from his self-titled album scheduled for release on April 17.
Covington said he got everything he wanted from his Idol experience. "I didn’t really think I was gong to win it. I wanted to be heard and get noticed," he said. "The most stressful thing for me was after this show is over, what’s next? Is it back to painting cars? Is it playing clubs? Or is it a career starter?"
I DON'T MEAN TO BE RUDE BUT ...
Meanwhile, Simon Cowell, who has occasionally shown contempt for Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks during this year's audition process, told Entertainment Tonight, "I still say Taylor Hicks was not THE best singer on 'American Idol 5.' I think he was the most popular, and at the end of the day, record sales will prove me right or prove me wrong. I think he was more popular as a person, and I think there were better singers, and I still stand by that."
On this season's contestants Cowell said: "To me it smacks a little bit of Season 1 where you can't spot an obvious one, so it could be a dark horse who's going to win, but I prefer that. When someone like Carrie Underwood walks in you just go, 'Okay, fine. She's won,' and it's not that interesting. I think it's going to be more like the first season."
On criticism about "American Idol": What I love about this show is it is politically incorrect. I think, thank God, most people in the world are politically incorrect. And I'm all for that, because otherwise, we're going to live in a very dull world, you know. If people don't like it, they don't have to watch it, but, luckily, I think people take it like I do, with a pinch of salt. They've got a sense of humor."
Carrie Underwood also chimed in about the judges "meanness" on AccessHollywood.com: "They've always been mean" and "each year the judges do the same thing." She says the contestants should know what's happening and they shouldn't be trying out if they don't like criticism.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The Arizona Daily Star reported on the careers of some former Idol contestants. Most of the information has been widely circulated, but here are a few things you might not have heard:
Nikki McKibbin (third place, Season 1) was dropped by RCA Victor after she refused to make a country record. She's made guest shots on reality shows, such as "Fear Factor," but is still working on her first solo record.
Tamyra Gray (fourth place, Season 1) was also dropped
by RCA after she wanted to write her own material. She re-emerged in a role on Fox's "Boston Public" and the 2005 feature "The Gospel," for which she also sang on the soundtrack. She recently married Sam Watters of Color Me Badd.
R.J. Helton (fifth place, Season 1) came out of the closet and put out a gospel CD.
Ryan Starr (seventh place, Season 1) suffered from a stalled career after RCA refused to let her make a rock record. She released her song "My Religion" as an iTunes download (where it topped the chart).
Jim Verraros (ninth place, Season 1) also came out of the closet and has been making dance records.
Kimberley Locke (third place, Season 2) has just released
the video of the first single from her sophomore release after her debut CD peaked midchart. She has a lingerie line with Lane Bryant and just signed on as a Jenny Craig spokeswoman.
Josh Gracin (fourth place, Season 2) earned three Top Five country hits and a gold album with his debut CD. The first single from his sophomore album, "All About Y'All," is currently on the Billboard Country chart.
Kimberly Caldwell (seventh place, Season 2) posed for a
men's magazine and works as a reality-show correspondent for the TV Guide cable channel. Her debut album, produced by Randy Jackson, is still unreleased.
Frenchie Davis (disqualified, Season 2), who was thrown off the show when topless photos of her surfaced on the Internet, took over a role in Broadway's "Rent."
Corey Clark (disqualified, Season 2), who was kicked off the show for failing to disclose a criminal record, in 2005 claimed -- in what many believed to be a publicity stunt to hype his soon-to-released private-label CD -- that he had an affair with "Idol" judge Paula Abdul during the time he was on the show. Fox's internal investigation cleared Abdul and Clark's CD sold a scant 2,500 copies.
Diana DeGarmo (second place, Season 3) released a CD that bombed, but has been playing the role of Penny Pingleton in the Broadway production of "Hairspray."
Jasmine Trias (third place, Season 3) also had a CD that tanked, but is big in the Philippines.
LaToya London (fourth place, Season 3) was dropped by her label after her 2005 debut CD only sold modestly. She dropped "LaToya" from her performing name and is writing songs for a second album, shopping for a label and headed into a Chicago run of the musical "The Color Purple."
Anthony Fedorov (fourth place, Season 4) finished second in a special reality-TV edition of "Fear Factor" and served as a judge on MTV's "Little Talent Show."
Mario Vazquez (resigned, Season 4) quit the show in the semifinals. His first post-"Idol" single got radio play but never caught fire.
Taylor Hicks (winner, Season 5) has his ghostwritten memoirs due to be published in April.
Kellie Pickler (sixth place, Season 5) has a TV sitcom in development.
Terrell and Derrell Brittenum (disqualified during Hollywood rounds, Season 5) were jailed on forgery, theft and weapons charges. They pleaded guilty in May 2006, were fined $1,000 each and placed on probation.
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