Breaking nearly a week of silence, Fox and the producers of American Idol came out swinging Tuesday at second-season contestant Corey Clark, who took his claims of an affair with American Idol judge Paula Abdul to book publishers and ABC’s Primetime Live.
ABC, meanwhile, issued its first detailed account of what the allegations will be.
Based on ABC's statement, however, there will be few surprises, since most everything has already appeared in print.
While Abdul’s status could come into question, it still looks uncertain what, if any, long-term damage the ABC report will cause to the Idol franchise.
While taking issue with Clark, Fox and the producers vowed nonetheless to check out any allegations raised by the ABC news magazine in a special airing tomorrow night.
"Disqualified American Idol contestant Corey Clark was removed from the show for failing to disclose his criminal arrest history," a Fox statement released to the news magazine states. "Despite documented procedures and multiple opportunities for contestants to raise any concerns they may have, the producers of American Idol, FremantleMedia, 19 Entertainment and Fox were never notified or contacted by Mr. Clark, nor presented any evidence concerning his claims.
"We will, of course, look into any evidence of improper conduct that we receive. In the meantime, 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."
Clark was abruptly removed from Idol during the finals when it came to light he had failed to inform the show that he had been arrested after a domestic dispute with his sister and an ensuing scuffle with police. Clark eventually pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of "obstructing legal process"; other charges were dropped.
Not to be outdone, ABC News broke its silence, laying out its Idol claims for the first time shortly after Fox released its statement.
ABC acknowledges the allegations did come from Clark, one of 12 finalists during the second season, and that other contestants raise "serious" questions about fairness on the popular talent competition.
Clark alleges that Abdul initiated an off-camera relationship with him while he was a contestant, in which she provided him with tips and assistance, even helping him to select what he would sing. Clark also claims that Abdul worked with him to improve his "look" by giving him money to buy expensive clothing.
He tells co-anchor John Quiñones that his relationship with Abdul, which was at first platonic, eventually became sexual. And he charges that, in recent phone conversations -- including an answering machine message that he played for Prime Time—Abdul implored him not to talk about her to the media or publish his memoirs.
ABC admits that Clark is using the special to promote a new song he recorded called "Fallen Idol," in which he discusses how his alleged relationship with Abdul is reflected in his lyrics.