Fox says it is continuing an investigation into allegations American Idol judge Paula Abdul had a relationship with a contestant, but said she will continue as a judge if the process is not finished prior to Aug. 18, when auditions for next season are set to begin in San Francisco.
Speaking at a session with television critics Thursday dominated by questions about the Idol situation, Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori stopped short of giving any details on how the outcome would affect the former pop star’s position on the show.
“We want the inquiry to be thorough rather than expeditious,” he said. “The credibility of this competition to us could never be underestimated.”
Liguori would not reveal the name of the independent counsel conducting the investigation, only saying that the person was hired by Fox, Freemantle Media and 19 Entertainment and is “someone who is independent and not tied to any of the entities.”
Liguori also said the point of the investigation is to determine, “Is in fact a judge or any of the producers affecting the outcome of the show?”
The investigation was sparked by a May ABC special featuring an interview with former Idol contestant Corey Clark, who alleged Abdul had helped him, which Liguori not surprisingly took issue with.
“It seemed a little thin, a little suspicious that it was on during sweeps," he said. "ABC made its decision, we’re all living with it, and we’ll move on.”