What happened to Paula Abdul? My partner and I once wrote a sketch for The Tracey Ullman Show that she choreographed. She was great. A few years later I sat next to her at a Bar Mitzvah reception. She was friendly and chatty and at no time did I think "Hey, this woman is nuts!"
But then something happened. Was it gradual over time or did she just snap like Reverend Jim? Somehow, some way (Drugs? Alcohol? Fame? Sleep deprivation? Sniffing perfume? Sexually abused by the cartoon cat?) Paula Abdul became daft. The Paula I knew never would have said she was tired "of people not treating me like the gift that I am."
In a futile attempt to show America that she's just a normal everyday person like you or me she's starring in her own alternate-reality show, Hey Paula (Thursday nights on Bravo). The point is for us to see her in a new light, to empathize with her plight, to understand that it's hard to be a rich famous pampered celebrity with no real skills, surrounded by toadies and bootlickers.
Just like every other grounded person, Paula has her best friends. Her stylist, her publicist, her other stylist, and her four little dogs. During the course of the show we see her screaming at "her best friends."
In episode one, we watch Paula need four hours and a staff of thousands to get her ready for the Grammys. She claims "tonight is crucial" because (and this alone is cause for institutionalization) she actually cares what Joan Rivers thinks.
I now wonder, how many hours did she spend getting ready for that Bar Mitzvah just to sit next to me?
I'm sure another reason for this series is to dispel the rumors that Paula has an alcohol problem and an eating disorder. So who were the sponsors? Bicardi (drink responsibly), NutriSystem, and a doctor offering gastric surgeries.
After the Grammys Paula had to take the redeye to Philadelphia to hock her jewelry on QVC. Paula is also a businesswoman. Besides the bling, she has her own line of perfume, and is a fashion designer. I'm sure these manufacturers came after the "Global Superstar" because of her artistic genius not just to capitalize on her name.
In a further display of how Paula's life mirrors every average American, she had meltdowns because her assistant didn't pack sweat pants for her to travel in, and handed her the black tennis shoes instead of the white ones. Your stomach churns because you yourself know what an absolute nightmare that is.
In episode two, Paula was in New York getting an award for something. She didn't appear too sure she knew what it was for either. Her publicist (one of her best friends... now fired, by the way) hands her the speech, she reads it over but has trouble pronouncing one of the words. That word is "honored". Guess you can't add scholar to her list of many "gifts".
We see her in a Starbucks in the middle of the night. Again, just like you or me, she has no idea how to order and only realizes after she's handed the coffee that she has to pay for it. Who among us doesn't walk out of the house without a single penny in our pocket?
How many bracelets do you have to sell on QVC to afford a Latte Grande?
We learn that it was sleep deprivation not thirty tequilla shooters that caused Paula to be so loopy last January when she did those morning Fox affiliate interviews to promote American Idol. Next week is the fallout. In the previews we see Paula screaming at her PR people. Yeah, like it was THEIR fault. I hope she didn't punish the little dogs.
Jerry Lewis once had a short-lived talk show and this was his nightly sign-off: "The greatest thing I could wish for you is that you have show business people as your friends." Maybe, if you're really lucky, that could include Paula Abdul. Although, after this show, you won't think of her as a show business person. You'll just think of her as the gal next door... who lives in Norma Desmond's house.
You can read more from Ken at kenlevine.blogspot.com