13.7 Million Watch Corey Clark Sing on ABC

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, May 6, 2005

Nearly 14 million people had to stick their heads in a vat of lye to disinfect their eyes and ears after witnessing booted "American Idol" contestant Corey Clark discuss his alleged affair with judge Paula Abdul on "Primetime Live" on Wednesday.

Then they woke up the next day only to discover he was infesting the entire TV landscape, and they had to get out the disinfectant again.

Armed with Clark, ABC won the Wednesday 10 p.m. hour for the first time this season against original episodes of "CSI: NY" and "Law & Order."

The 13.7 million who tuned in to hear what Clark had to say about Abdul is nearly double the number of people the newsmagazine averages on Thursday, its regular berth.

It's also a hefty hike relative to ABC's Wednesday 10 p.m. season average of just under 9 million viewers.

During the broadcast, Clark, who was one of 12 finalists on the singing competition's second season, told ABC News reporter John Quiñones that he began a relationship with Abdul when there were 32 wannabes in the running, after she slipped him her phone number, via an assistant. (Clark's appearance on the newsmag coincides with a book proposal he's hawking and the release of his new album, including the single "Paula-tics," about his alleged relationship with Abdul.)

The next morning, Clark hit the air on ABC's "Good Morning America," Fox News Channel's "Studio B With Shepard Smith," CNBC's "The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch" and the syndicated show "Extra," while the Reporters Who Cover Television ruminated as to whether the "Idol" producers, who have booted competitors (including Clark) for withholding information about tawdry chapters from their pasts, will stand by Abdul.

On "Good Morning America," Clark insisted he's not attacking Abdul: "She just happens to be the key to getting this 900-pound gorilla off my back."

On "Studio B," Clark said "American Idol" has "done a great job of defaming my name and throwing a lot of mud at me for the past two years. So that set up a lot of roadblocks for me. You know, I lost a deal at Jive Records thanks to them."

"How did that happen?" host Shep Smith asked.

"They sent over a pretty harsh e-mail just basically saying, yeah, I was a talented dude but I was hard to deal with when I was on the show, and a lot of the things I was doing on the show were, you know, right business moves -- I just wasn't letting them exploit me or my fellow contestants. . . . And they came up with some bull-mess to get me out of there with it."

(The "bull-mess" he's referring to was his having been arrested for allegedly assaulting his then-15-year-old sister and resisting arrest and then not telling the "Idol" producers about it beforehand. The producers kicked Clark off the show after discovering this information.)

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