TV Preview

'Hey Paula': Her Life As American I-dull

Paula Abdul's reality series on Bravo is, in reality, unreal. Boring, too.
Paula Abdul's reality series on Bravo is, in reality, unreal. Boring, too. (By Vivian Zink -- Bravo)
By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Anyone who doesn't believe that "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul has a tenuous grip on reality need only watch the opening moments of her new reality series, "Hey Paula," tonight on Bravo.

As the show begins, Abdul tells us that despite being a celebrity, she's "an everyday girl" and is "just like everyone else."

Ah, yes. As with any other "everyday girl," Abdul's best friend is her celebrity stylist; she has two assistants whose job it is to pack her suitcase; and her four designer mutts wear million-dollar pieces of jewelry.

We're a long way from the real world. We're in Paula World.

Somehow, though, that world as depicted in "Hey Paula" is a rather dull place.

There's little evidence of the "American Idol" antics that prompted questions of what was really in that big red Coca-Cola cup she drank from during the show. Nor do we see anything like those incoherent TV interviews she did to promote "Idol" last winter.

Unfortunately, based on the first half-hour show made available for preview (Bravo airs two back-to-back episodes beginning at 10), we are privy only to the mundane aspects of her life: getting dressed for the Grammy Awards, trying to catch a red-eye flight to Philadelphia and arguing with executives at shopping network QVC over her new jewelry line.

(There is some hope, though. Bravo says future episodes will deal with Abdul's love life and those TV interviews).

We, the common folk, are supposed to be enthralled and entertained by the limited drama found on celebrity reality shows like "Hey Paula." It worked famously on "The Osbournes" and later "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica." But here, it's just yawn-inducing.

It's just not that funny or interesting to watch Abdul as she watches her housekeeper picking up after her dogs after a visit to the back yard.

The one surprise emerging from "Hey Paula" is just how mean she can get, especially considering that she is one of this show's executive producers. In one scene, she lashes into an assistant because she packed jeans instead of sweat pants for a plane ride.

Certainly, "Hey Paula" would not have been made because of her fame as a singer-dancer-choreographer. So she makes plenty of references to "American Idol" and, in particular, her nemesis Simon Cowell.

He has yet to weigh in publicly on "Hey Paula" but we can almost hear his two-word review now: "Bizarrely dreadful."

Hey Paula (30 minutes) premieres tonight at 10 on Bravo with two episodes.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company