'Hey Paula' Recap: An Open Letter To Paula Abdul From MTV News' 'American Idol' Expert

'It's one thing to let cameras follow you. It's another to give your permission to air an episode like this at all. ...'

Hey Paula,

I know it's been a rough couple of years, what with the rumors and the manicures from hell and the Dr. Phil "Why Can't I Find A Man" primetime specials. No doubt you're fed up with the public's perception of you as an eccentric, unstable whackadoo with an affinity for costume jewelry and new-agey platitudes.

So I guess I understand why you would agree to have TV cameras follow you around for a reality show. "This'll show 'em who I REALLY am! [seal clap]"

Unfortunately, the reality of reality TV is that "reality" bites. Big time.

Just ask Valerie Cherish. (The four of you who watched Lisa Kudrow's brilliant-but-cancelled HBO series "The Comeback" know exactly what I'm talking about.)

But in this day and age, you should have known better.

(Watch Jim Cantiello's " 'Hey Paula' In 60 Seconds" recap right here.)

By now, it's common knowledge that reality producers can and will take things out of context. In post-production, a capable editor can make you say practically anything. (Did you catch this week's "Hell's Kitchen?" The producers strung together words to make it sound like a hot blond contestant said, "I love to put things in my mouth."

Therefore, not surprisingly, Thursday night's two-episode premiere of your Bravo reality show "Hey Paula" was a less-than-flattering portrait comprised of out-of-context moments carefully edited to maximize each awkward second to the fullest.

Throughout the first 30-minute episode, I could smell the desperation. Like Valerie Cherish, you seemed perfectly aware of the camera at all times. Each laugh was a tad too hearty, each quip sounded rehearsed and you even made a point to hug your housekeeper despite her obvious distaste for being on screen. If only we could access thought-bubbles during the broadcast, closed-caption-style. Your bubble there would definitely say, "This will make me look like a nice person. I'm telling my housekeeper that I love her!" (I don't doubt that you're a loving person who appreciates your home staff, but I'm not so sure you would have gone out of your way to shower Marina with affection if Bravo weren't aiming cameras at you.)

Even when you chewed out your two bumbling assistants for not packing your luggage correctly, there was a whiff of self-editing, albeit unsuccessful. (Quick note for future episodes: turning your back to the camera does not render you invisible. The mic picks up everything you say and/or whisper, and just because we don't see your face doesn't mean producers won't broadcast that footage with subtitles. Am I the only one who remembers the implied sex scene from "Joe Millionaire?" I still have nightmares about the "slurp, slurp" caption.)

Any chance in resetting your public image was shot to hell thanks to the spirit-crushing second episode. Your sleepless trip to New York was so harrowing and trippy it would have sent Hunter S. Thompson to rehab. The firm "I'm a warrior" facade quickly melted away to reveal a babbling, childish, hot mess of a woman who suffered from "insomnia" thanks in part to guzzling venti-sized Starbucks drinks at four in the morning. In a sharp contrast to episode one, you were oblivious to the camera, looking as lost and confused as 50 Cent at the BET Awards (see [article id="1563712"]"50 Cent Explains BET Awards Mishap: 'I Just Wasn't Concentrating' "[/article]). There wasn't much the producers could do to make the footage any more or less damning.

Which brings me to my final point. It's one thing to let cameras follow you. It's another to give your permission to air an episode like this at all. I'm sure you had final say in what ended up in the show. (You had a nifty production logo in the end credits, suggesting you were more than just a passive participant in the production.) I can't imagine what made you look at this and say, "I want America to watch me slur through an interview, crawl around a perfume plant and profess my love for Dunkin Donuts while I nod off in the back of a car!" Either you're that desperate for the spotlight now that "Idol" is on hiatus, or you actually think America will drink your "I go wacky when I'm overtired" Kool-Aid. Either way, it makes me really, really sad.

Perhaps most depressing is knowing there are four more episodes of this televised train wreck yet to air. There's only so much I can take before I jump ship for a more stable unstable reality show character.

I hear Mary Murphy from that dancer show is pretty wacky. What night is "So You Think You Can Dance" on again?


Jim Cantiello

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