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Stars Fell on Alabama

"American Idol" judge Paula Abdul comes unraveled in Birmingham -- home of "Idol" winners Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard and Carrie Underwood-season runner-up Bo Bice.

When Erica Skye bludgeons "Unchained Melody," Paula jumps up from her chair, stands in the corner and proclaims herself "kinda shocked."

Paula joins fellow judges Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell in giving thumbs down to Erica who, as she leaves gives them the international sign for dandruff -- flicking imaginary stuff off her shoulder. In Birmingham this is the same as giving someone the middle finger, Paula explains to Simon, who is baffled.

When Katie Bernard squeaks like a girl on helium, Paula falls off her chair and down on her knees. She begs Katie to abandon her "Idol" aspirations, kick back and enjoy her new husband. Katie, who says "A lot of people think I'm like three years old" when they hear her talk, promises Paula she will not talk like a little girl if they send her through to Hollywood, which means she will have to rip out her tongue. Then Katie drags her new husband into the room -- "He's the man with the twitch," Simon says -- and demands hubby talk Paula into sending her through to the next round. Randy, stupidly, notes Simon is hating the whole thing which Paula decides is reason enough to put Katie through, godhelpus.

Paula's condition worsens throughout Day 1 in Birmingham and by the end of the day the producers have sent her back to Hollywood for a "family obligation." That's okay because with Simon not having to focus on how much he can't stand sitting next to Paula, he has leisure to try out some new material. Like his new contestant kiss-off, in which he blows them a kiss and says "Call me." It's good stuff.

And yet, at least two women weirder than Paula turned up in Birmingham.

Margaret Fowler, for instance, a sort of consomme of Big Bird, Marilyn Monroe, and Eddie Murphy: The Fat Suit Years. She's come to the auditions to show off her clothing line for plus-sized women, including the feathery canary yellow number she has on. She tells the judges she is 26.

"And I'm 11 and [Paula's] nine and [Randy's] 10," Simon snaps.

Margaret can't sing, but then you already saw that coming, right?

"I've got no idea what this show is any more," Simon says. "I've got you standing in front of me looking like some Easter Bunny nightmare experiment; you say you're 26. You might as well own up -- How old are you?"

"33," Margaret says - even she is dubious.

Simon asks her again. This time she says she's 50.

"Hallelujah," Simon says.

Also stranger than Paula: this year's Ellie Mae contestant, 17-year-old Jamie Lynn Ward, a hayseed with boobs. Her t-shirt proclaims her a "blue-eyed bombshell."

Jamie Lynn tells the judges if she wins she's gonna buy her gramma a house with just one floor so she doesn't have to keep going up and down stairs. Jamie Lynn lives with Gramma, helping take care of Daddy, who is paralyzed "from like here on down" Jamie Lynn says, pointing pertily to her neck.

"But tha's okay" Jamie Lynn assures the surprised judges, explaining Daddy got that way when he shot hisself. Naturally, the judges wonder how a man manages to shoot himself in the neck and they ask her. Because, she explains, her stepmomma was cheatin' on him and he caught her and "it wa'nt the furst time so he shot her and then he shot hisself."

"Tha's why I'm here - to tell people don't give up," Jamie Lynn tells the judges.

Now don't you feel silly for thinking "Idol" producers couldn't possibly top last season's Ellie Mae -- Kellie Pickler, who's dad, Clyde, was in the slammer during the competition, serving three- years- and- change for felony battery and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer?

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 31, 2007; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: Cowell Quells Critics


"I've got no idea what this show is any more," Simon says.

From your mouth to God's ears, Simon.

Posted by: 23112 | January 31, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

You know I don't watch this show,...but I live for Lisa de Moraes'column.

Posted by: College Park | February 1, 2007 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Rosie and I know what the show's all about - making fun of people who are quite a few marbles short of a full deck. Like last night, when all three judges were running in full pursuit of that falsetto guy who was obviously from another planet, but who yet behaved with odd dignity. (And the sentimental moment with the 60-year-old freshly widowed guy - puke.) Well, I guess watching with *outrage* is only marginally better, morally speaking, than with amusement. (Not that I didn't laugh out loud, dammit.)

Posted by: Gina | February 1, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Pardon the Lynn Truss-like comment, but "whose" dad?

Posted by: Deborah Brimlow | February 1, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

These aren't real contestants. They hire these people and write scripts for them. They must. I know there are a lot of weird people out there, but seriously, who actually admits stuff like this unless they are being paid? Don't say Springer, because I am convinced that stuff is as real as wresting.

Posted by: ep | February 1, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Gerry | February 2, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

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