The slurred speech, the emotional rants, the talk of "technical difficulties" ... no wonder everything seems to be coming up Paula in the world of "Idol" dish these days. While the show winnows through wannabes, it's open season on Miss Straight-Up-Now-Tell-Me. Us Weekly went as far as to report that the show's producers were reaching out to Courtney Love to come onboard as a judge (a report the show's producers deny).
So while she still has a job, Paula may want to tidy up her public image to silence the nonstop jabbering. But beyond the blogs and tabs, the ultimate warning sign may have come six months ago, and may have come from Mr. Tact himself, Simon Cowell. What are we talking about? Check out Exhibit A.
"Huh?" you ask. "Why, that's a clip of Little Richard!"
Follow me here ... there's no arguing the "Idol" influence on reality-TV "talent" competitions and on pop culture in general. MTV News has even published stories about the trend to cast cranky British judges and lift some of the show's other key elements (see " 'American Idol' Imitators Find Success As Elusive As A Rave From Simon"). So, buying into that argument, one has to question exactly why Little Richard landed on "Celebrity Duets."
When "Duets" creator — Simon Cowell, Abdul's fellow "Idol" judge — set out to cast the archetypes, he knew he needed:
A) A Randy — a judge who doesn't have much of an opinion and offers little insight but can generally come off as someone who can construct sentences and finish thoughts (once you remove the "dawg" barks).
B) A Simon — a judge who "tells it like it is" but who has legitimate experience in the "industry" so audiences should tolerate his sometimes-painful remarks if they're able to look past the "villain" role producers like to play up.
C) A Paula — a judge so maternal and emotional that she's about as stable as a Jenga tower after 30 minutes of gameplay.
On the surface, it appears that Marie Osmond is the Paula judge. They both have lady parts, right?? Wrong. (Well, yes, they both have lady parts, but Marie is most certainly not the Paula judge.)
"You look good" = "You sounded terrible but I want to start my critique with something positive so I don't get booed."
"High-five" = "I want to appear hip to a young audience by speaking their language but will fail miserably because I'm using slang that was popular when Stacy Q. reigned."
"I worked with Randy Travis!" = Random, unintentionally hilarious name-drop that makes said judge sound even less "hip."
Add all those up, and yep, she's the Randy.
Then there's David Foster, no sweetheart himself. We know this from his "Blind Date" appearance with Andrea Bocelli on last year's "Idol" Love Song night, so no YouTube clip needed (plus, he's produced music for Celine, Barbra and the Corrs ... yet another knock against him). Cowell aptly plays the role of the judge we love to hate, and it's clear that Foster is doing his best Simon impression ... minus the accent.
And then there's Little Richard. Let us count the ways ...
1) He's sitting center square, like Paula. I like that they keep the wild card surrounded on these shows. I bet both outside judges keep tranq darts handy ... just in case.
2) He's acting like a delirious tranny (with apologies to Fast Hugs, which coined the phrase) ... again, just like Paula.
3) He's vaguely hitting on the contestants. (Ahem ...)
5) The contestants blatantly ignore his useless comments, thus dismissing him as, well, entirely nuts.
Let's frame it this way: If someone chose Dom DeLuise to play you in a film version of your life, you'd probably take it as a sign that you might want to hit the gym. When Simon picked Little Richard to play Paula, she might have wondered what Simon was exactly trying to say (i.e. "We need someone who is completely bananas!")
But, alas, she's still at it. While the whole new crop of "Oh no she didn't!" moments with the former Laker Girl might be entertaining, it would be great to see Paula deliver some more focused commentary and the attention of the "Idol" universe shift to some great performances.