The night he serenaded Paula Abdul from the "American Idol" stage during an elimination round, Corey Clark claims a mysterious woman gave him a slip of paper with the "American Idol" judge's home number on it. The nervous singer waited until midnight to call Abdul from a payphone before being taken in a cab to her Hollywood Hills home for the start of what he alleges was a three-month love affair.
During that affair, not only did Abdul help Clark with his look, she helped him pick a song she knew would appeal to fellow judge Randy Jackson, seemingly clearing Clark's path to becoming a finalist on the 2003 edition of the talent show. These are among the allegations made by Clark in Wednesday night's sweeps-timed special edition of "Primetime Live" entitled "Fallen Idol."
After making it to the "Idol" round of 32, Clark — wearing the designer clothes he claims Abdul bought for him and sporting the haircut he contends she paid for — performed the Steve Perry song "Foolish Heart" at Abdul's alleged urging, trying to secure a spot in the final 12. In archival tape, Jackson was seen boasting of having worked with Journey singer Perry on the song and footage was shown of Jackson onstage performing with Journey. When Jackson brought up the Perry connection following Clark's performance, the singer responded, "I didn't know that."
During the hour-long "Primetime," Clark produced the slip of paper with Abdul's number on it, pages of phone records showing lengthy phone calls from Abdul and receipts from the upscale Fred Segal clothing store that the perpetually broke singer said he would not have been able to shop at without Abdul's help. Clark also kept the bottle of prescription cough medicine Abdul gave him to ease his throat pain and the cell phone she insisted he use to call her in order to keep their affair secret.
Also interviewed were two friends of Clark's who corroborated his story of a close relationship with the show's ebullient judge, observed during a night out at a club with the couple. They said that during the outing, Abdul repeatedly placed her hands on Clark's thigh and arm. Clark described nights spent lounging with Abdul at her home, soaking in the hot tub while watching music videos and "Idol" and sleeping in her guest room, which he claimed had a ramp to assist her three miniature dogs onto the bed.
The program also featured repeated plugs for Clark's upcoming debut album, which features the song "Paulatics."
"Your possibilities have gone to the top/ And if you breathe a word you will be dropped," Clark was shown singing in a studio, along with the lines "Your personality at first seemed to be so sweet/ But then I saw the you that they'll never show on TV."
One minute after the "Primetime" special ended, Clark's tell-all book about his Abdul affair, "They Told Me to Tell the Truth, So ... (The Sex, Lies, and Paulatics of One of America's Idols)" was made available online. Anyone buying the e-book also received a copy of Clark's first single, "Wiggle & Shake."
Abdul has released a statement calling Clark "an admitted liar and opportunist who engages in unlawful activities" (see "Paula Abdul Denies Affair Allegation As 'Idol' Producers Investigate"). Three months into their affair, Clark was booted from the show for failing to fully disclose his arrest record, which included charges of resisting arrest and assault on his sister (see " 'Idol' Dismisses Corey Clark After Battery Charges Surface"). He pleaded no contest to a charge of obstructing legal process in June of 2003 and was sentenced to six months unsupervised probation and had two other charges dropped.
During the "Primetime" program, Clark played a voicemail he claimed to have received from Abdul several weeks ago when news of his tell-all book broke in the tabloids. In it, someone who sounds like Abdul is heard saying, "if the press are trying to talk to you, say absolutely nothing." Clark claimed Abdul — who he had not spoken to in two years — kept him on the phone for over an hour that night trying to convince him to keep their affair secret.
Clark's parents were also interviewed by "Primetime" and expressed their distaste for the affair with the woman two decades their son's senior. "Stick to the script," Clark's father said in reference to Abdul. Clark's mother claimed that Abdul also begged her to not speak to tabloid reporters if they called asking about the scandal.
The producers of "Idol" have protected themselves from this kind of scandal in the past by having contestants sign contracts that discourage them from discussing backstage goings-on, according to The New York Times. But many of the contracts from the first few seasons have expired.
Another finalist from 2003, Julia DeMato, told the Times that she didn't see any obvious favoritism toward Clark from Abdul, but that judges did seem to show subtle preferences. She claimed that the second season's eventual winner and runner-up, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, got much more vocal coaching, wardrobe and hairstyle assistance than she did.
On Tuesday, "Idol" producers issued a statement in which they criticized Clark for not coming to them with his concerns first and vowed to investigate his claims (see "'Fallen Idol' Corey Clark Claims Abdul Gave Him Backstage Help"). They added, "We recommend that the public carefully examine Mr. Clark's motives, given his apparent desire to exploit his prior involvement with 'American Idol' for profit and publicity."