YOU’RE BLOWING YOUR TEACHABLE MOMENT
Paula Abdul is back. It’s a new year, and a new network show for her on CBS debuting Tuesday night, ” Live to Dance.” But given her shameless interview with Julie Chen this weekend, it’s the same old lies and obfuscation regarding the slurring, blurring and odd behavior of the past.
Hey, Paula, it’s 2011, and time to tell the truth which, I suppose, will not hurt and could actually help a vast number of your fans.
You see, there’s a surge of tremendous good will behind you after getting bounced from American Idol. (Oh, I forgot, you turned down their “lowball” offer.) Simon Cowell embracing you like a kid sister getting “noogies” did wonders for public opinion when even die hard fans started to see you as a crazy Aunt.
Your great dance videos will always remind us of the hard work, life force and sheer talent on which you built your career which is sprinkled with one grammy, two emmy awards and six number one singles.
So why put Julie Chen in the awkward position of asking questions you won’t answer completely or honestly. In fact, why would CBS News or Les Moonves allow that?
Okay, take a look at the excerpt from the Sunday Morning broadcast released by CBS News which you can either click on above or read as follows:
CHEN: Well, what bugs you that people say about you that you know, and your friends and family know that is just not you?
ABDUL: I am intelligent. I am–
CHEN: But, people don’t give you enough credit for having a brain.
ABDUL: Having a brain, that’s a concept, yes, with Paula Abdul. I have a brain.
CHEN: There is some unflattering video of you out there. It has appeared on Idol. Did you ever have a drinking problem?
ABDUL: I’ve never had a drinking problem… Even though I’ve been in this business for quite some time. I’ve never physically been drunk in my life. I’ve never been drunk in my life. I don’t use recreational drugs. But, I am goofy.
CHEN: So, it’s just Paula.
ABDUL: It’s Paula. It is Paula. And, even the people on Idol know that none of that existed, ever.
“Goofy?” Goofy is daring to give the wife of the chairman of CBS a load of bull — not on The Talk, but on an award-winning broadcast on CBS News.
On the other hand, perhaps an inartful or goofy question — one that has a goofy premise about a drinking problem instead of prescription drug abuse — deserves a goofy answer.
Why not simply ask: “Were you intoxicated or under the influence of any substance in this video?” or “Why do you think so many people are reposting so many video clips where you seem so out of it?”
Paula either evaded the first half of Julie’s question about the video and only addressed the second part: “Have you ever had a drinking problem?” Or perhaps this question was edited. Either way, it’s too bad. I bet Paula Abdul could, indeed, pass a lie detector test that she’s never been legally drunk on alcohol, or an abuser of recreational drugs. I am willing to accept her repeated assertion she has had neither problem. But by her own past admissions, and what we’ve seen on air, she seems to definitely have been “under the influence” of something very powerful, and prescription medication is the more likely culprit.
In the June 2009 issue of Ladies Home Journal, Paula revealed her then-recent struggle to kick a secret, 12-year painkiller habit she said she developed after years injuries.
… last Thanksgiving, determined to overcome her habit, she checked into the La Costa Resort and Spa, in Carlsbad, California, to wean herself off her medications in one fell swoop. “I could have killed myself…. Withdrawal — it’s the worst thing,” she says. “I was freezing cold, then sweating hot, then chattering and in so much pain, it was excruciating. But at my very core, I did not like existing the way I had been.”
Back then, she catalogued her injuries beginning when she was a cheerleader for the L.A. Lakers, then continuing when she broke her leg during a dance rehearsal at the start of her world tour in 1991.
The following year there was a neck injury from a car accident. And then the 1993 airplane crash in an Iowa cornfield she said left her partially paralyzed, requiring 15 spinal surgeries.
If that wasn’t enough for one 5’2″ body to endure, Paula Abdul has also revealed she was diagnosed in 2005 with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), a chronic illness that features unusual symptoms which can include pain, burning, swelling, tenderness, sweating and more.
Research on RSDS shows there are three phases of RSDS: acute (which lasts about three to six months and is marked by pain, swelling, tenderness and sweating), dystrophic (three to six months during which time the affected skin becomes shiny and thickened) and atrophic (during which time the patient may experience some loss of motion in the affected hands or feet.)
To help combat the pain, Paula Abdul told Ladies Home Journal she wore a patch that delivered a pain medication about 80 times more potent than morphine and took a nerve medication to relieve her symptoms. She said sometimes she needed a muscle relaxer. And a sleeping pill. And that sometimes it all made her “weird” on the air.
On April 24, 2009, about two weeks before the Ladies Home Journal article hit the newsstands, Nightline aired a one-hour interview in which Cynthia McFadden went over some of the same ground.
“So let me just ask you the question straight up. Absolutely crystal clear you have not abused prescription drugs?” Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden asked as pointedly as anyone could.
“Never,” Paula said emphatically.
“No, no, no, no, no. Will not take those drugs…And you can check my medical records there is nothing like that. I was never on Oxycontin or Vicodin or anything like that. I was on nerve medicine and anti-inflammatories.”
BUT WAIT: THERE’S A LOT MORE SPIN TO COME
Just two days after the Ladies Home Journal Article appeared, Paula Abdul was asked again about her secret pain pill addiction on WKQI’s Mojo in the Morning. In an incredulous display, she called the magazine reporter a liar.
“It was very stressful for me to hear that and to be quoted saying something I never said,” she explains. “I’ve never checked into a rehab clinic. I’ve never been addicted or abused drugs, and I’ve never been addicted or abused alcohol. I’ve never even been drunk in my life.”
Ladies Home Journal, not exactly a member of the tabloid pack, stood by their story. And fans all over YouTube continued to question Paula’s slurring, bobbing, downright bizarre on-camera behavior. No one questioned the magazine writer.
If you look closely at her WKQI obfuscation, she fractures the details (no one ever said she checked into a rehab clinic.) She routinely deflects the conversation to deny alcohol abuse (which no one suggested.) Sadly, she exhibits the verbal tricks and general behavior of a junkie.
By the way, has anyone ever checked out her plane crash story? She said it occurred on her birthday, June 19th, which certainly makes it easier to remember.
In 2005, she told People Magazine the following account of the crash which she said was in 1992, not ’93:
I’d performed in St. Louis and then got on a plane for Denver. About 40 minutes into the flight, an engine [caught fire]. I remember coming to after we landed in a cornfield. I hit my head on the top of the plane. I tore up my knee, but I was off only one day and then back onstage. As sore as I was, I had to get out there.
Over the years, the reports of her injuries have varied with the year. Sometimes she was paralyzed on one side, other times unable to speak due to a vocal cord injury. Occasionally she explains those injuries were not from the plane crash but the result of 15 apparently risky surgeries on her spine.
Again, People Magazine 2005:
I started to have mini seizure-like episodes. My teeth chattered uncontrollably. My fingers locked…
One day in 1998 I couldn’t get out of bed. I woke up and my whole right side was paralyzed. I had to go to the bathroom, except I couldn’t get up. Half my body was dead weight.
Gee, after Gloria Estephan got so much attention while nursing her broken back, the result of a bus crash in 1990, it is truly amazing that an award-winning singer/dancer/choreographer coming off all those hit records and a world tour would endure all that agony after a plane crash without a peep, a single line in the press or even fan club support. And no lawsuits filed against the airline?
STRAIGHT UP WITH NTSB
So just who has checked into official records of her alleged crash? I have. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) keeps a monthly data base of all aviation accidents, fatal and non-fatal, planes large and small, their locations and probable cause of the crash. You can check it easily online yourself at http://ntsb.gov/ntsb/AccList.asp?month=6&year=1993
On Paula Abdul’s birthday, there were many reports of plane crashes, just none anywhere in Iowa, and certainly not in 1992 or ’93. In fact there weren’t any in Iowa on June 19th from 1990 through 1995.
So, the teachable moment for Paula, and perhaps million of fans is this: it’s probably not enough to detox at a fancy health spa. La Costa is a great place for manicures, body scrubs and yoga classes. Paula Abdul probably needs something more.
Many people develop a tolerance for and/or become dependent on pain medication. Not everyone becomes addicted. Maybe that didn’t happen to Paula Abdul. It is her own documented behavior and, now, the craftiness in her interviews which signals that maybe she did.
According to experts, “drug addiction is a biological, pathological process that alters how the brain functions. Prolonged drug use changes the brain in fundamental and long-lasting ways. These long-lasting changes are a major component of the addiction itself. It is as though there is a figurative “switch” in the brain that “flips” at some point during an individual’s drug use. The point at which this “flip” occurs varies from individual to individual, but the effect of this change is the transformation of a drug abuser to a drug addict.”
So Paula, with all of our hearts in the right place, your fans (led by me) would like you to try something more than a spa… something with a 12-step program attached, the first of which is admitting the truth, to yourself. Only then should you try telling the truth to my former colleagues, Julie and Cynthia. That, along with your good health in the future, will be more than enough for the rest of us.