One of "American Idol" 's executive producers said Thursday (May 5) he is investigating Corey Clark's allegations against Paula Abdul, but that all of the judges ("even Simon") make song selection and wardrobe suggestions as contestants prepare their performances each week.
"When it comes down to it, the kids make their own choices," Nigel Lythgoe said on Ryan Seacrest's morning show on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles. "And I know for a fact that a lot of the contestants have got Paula's phone number and contact her and she contacts them. Paula's the den mother. ... I don't have a problem with that. She's been a star and now she can help them and that's more than Simon [Cowell]."
On a special edition of ABC's "Primetime Live" that aired Wednesday (see "Corey Clark Advertises Paula Abdul Affair, LP On 'Primetime' "), Clark said Abdul coached him while he competed on the show and that the two engaged in a sexual relationship.
Lythgoe said he needed time to "thoroughly and fully" look into Clark's claims, but that he was unimpressed with the evidence presented on "Primetime."
"The whole show was stretched out worse than one of our elimination shows," Lythgoe joked. "It was probably four or five minutes of content.
"I think it's pretty shoddy journalism, frankly," he added. "I think we have to question the motives behind it, both ABC's and Clark's. They would never have done that if we weren't the #1 show in America."
Lythgoe questioned why it took Clark two years to come out with the allegations and shot down his claim that he sent Abdul a secret message by singing "I owe it all to you" on the show. The serenade was choreographed by the producers, he said.
A statement released Thursday and credited to FOX and the various production companies behind "Idol" also questioned Clark's motives, but said an investigation is pending.
"We take any accusations of this nature very seriously, no matter their source," the statement said. "Upon recently hearing rumors of Mr. Clark's claims, we contacted him and requested that he detail his accusations to us. That has yet to happen."
Clark has said he has no intention of helping "American Idol" since the show was no help to him.
In their statement, "Idol" producers said contestants are contractually required to raise any concerns about the contest during the taping of the show. "Despite documented procedures and multiple opportunities ... we were never notified or contacted by Mr. Clark or any other individual, nor presented [with] any evidence concerning these claims," the statement said. Clark, however, denied knowing of any such requirements to USA Today on Thursday.
Sting7, the "Idol" expert at Reality News Online, believes Abdul should be fired.
"I don't believe everything Clark said, but I believe enough of it," he said. "There is enough evidence to strongly suggest that Clark got coaching from Abdul, and for that she should be fired. I think her objectivity will always be questioned by viewers if she stays, and that is bad for 'American Idol' overall. ... Seeing a popular contestant eliminated is enough to generate speculation with some viewers. 'American Idol' just can't afford to potentially alienate viewers by keeping Abdul on."
Sting7 thinks the producers will eventually agree with her. "And if 'American Idol' does let Paula go, I have no doubt it will weather this storm like all of the others," he said. "At the end of the day, it is the performers who are the stars. After the auditions, the judges are basically window dressing."
Abdul denied the allegations last week, but has not commented since "Primetime Live" aired. She was not available for comment Thursday.
Clay Aiken, who competed against Clark on "Idol's" second season, and Simon Cowell have spoken out in support of Abdul, as have the last two eliminated contestants.
Scott Savol, eliminated Wednesday, said Thursday morning he believes Clark made the allegations to promote his "mediocre product." "The best way to get into the limelight is to start a controversy," he said.
"It hasn't affected us at all," he added. "We're still a part of the #1 show on TV, whatever's came out."
Last week, Constantine Maroulis called Abdul, who cried when he was eliminated, a wonderful woman. "She had so much support and so much love in her heart and she's just been amazing through this whole thing," he said. "She has so much to offer us and teach us, that we just need to just shut up and listen because she's the bomb."
On Wednesday's "American Idol," the contestants gave the judges flowers and kisses for Abdul, although Savol denied it was a sign of support. "I think they just had some extra flowers in the back," he said.