Critics at TCA’s American Idol panel wasted no time asking the question on every Idol fan’s mind as the show returns tonight: When will Paula Abdul and new judge Kara DioGuardi throw down? (Click here for complete TCA coverage.)
For her part, DioGuardi said her role is not to “take care of Paula,” as one critic suggested. “I was hired to give my opinions after working with best in the music market and internationally,” she said. “I’m opinionated, feisty and strong. I think you’re gonna see that this year.”
Opinionated? Feisty? Good signs!
But Paula dismissed any tension, dashing any hopes for a primetime catfight.
“I was never quoted saying I had any problems hiring Kara,” Abdul said. “She was a stranger I met in New York and moved her into my home in Los Angeles and introduced her to publishers. She was the best roommate I ever had. She walks in her sleep. It was one of the most hysterical things. We were partners in crime. It is the ironies of all ironies that she was hired. It’s fantastic. We’re great friends. We have a great history. And it bothers Simon to no end.”
And if Simon’s bothered, that’s good news for the show.
Abdul also addressed reports that she’s upset with Idol producers over an incident last year in which former contestant and obsessive fan apparently committed suicide near Abdul’s home in Los Angeles.
“I didn’t have any confrontation with any of the producers at all,” she said. “I was not quoted saying anything disparaging at all. I am a big fan of the show. I am blessed to be on the show. It’s the greatest show on television.”
She did, however, confirm that she told producers that the woman, Paula Godspeed, was a stalker: “That is true. I can’t talk about it anymore. It’s an ongoing police report.”
Executive Producers Ken Warwick and Cecile Frot-Coutaz also addressed questions about adjusting the show’s musical choices in response to last season’s more youthful audience.
“We do have to service our demo, which on a show this size is absolutely huge,” said Warwick. “We have to educate a lot of listeners. So, it’s a difficult balance each year to find what everyone’s gonna know. We had a kid who didn’t know Stevie Wonder. The younger demo dropped. We are addressing it this year.”
As for speculation there would be fewer theme nights and more guest mentors, Warwick said, “There are a lot of people who have been approached. At this moment in time I can’t say who or what will be on.”
Added Frot-Coutaz, “There are the same number of theme numbers. The question is about the mentor that comes with theme nights. In terms of our storytelling, we don’t want the focus to be off of the journey of the contestants. It’s about the kids and their journey. That’s what we meant by that.”