Three Years After Failed Audition, A Tragic Note For 'Idol' Singer

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, November 13, 2008

And now -- the dark side of the four-week-long Bad Auditions portion of "American Idol" that traditionally kicks off each season of the country's No. 1 television show.

A woman found dead of an apparent drug overdose in a car near "Idol" judge Paula Abdul's Los Angeles home on Tuesday night was an Abdul obsessive who had twice auditioned for the Fox singing competition. She was handpicked in the fifth season to become one of those wannabes the show's three judges would savage on national TV during the early weeks of that season.

Paula Goodspeed, 30, was among the delusionally bad performers who each year pass the initial screening process and are rewarded with an on-camera audition before Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson -- not because they are so very good, but because they are so very bad, so very not-ready-for-their-close-ups and, in many instances, clearly several sandwiches short of a picnic.

Over the years, "Idol" has been blasted for the so-called "bad auditions" episodes, which traditionally consume the first four weeks of each season. (This season, they're being shrunk to three weeks, to spend more time with the semi-finalists during Hollywood Week.)

In 2007, this "Idol" tradition made news when Rosie O'Donnell, then co-host of "The View," attacked the hit reality show the morning after Cowell mocked two lousy singers -- a young man who appeared to be mentally challenged and had participated in the Special Olympics, and his friend, who had unusually large eyes, prompting Cowell to call him a "bush baby."

The "American Idol" process, Rosie proclaimed, "is to ridicule people who are mentally unstable."

And Americans lap it up; the year Goodspeed was targeted, the show's first four weeks clocked an average of 32 million viewers.

Fox had no comment yesterday on Goodspeed's death -- ditto the show's producers. (Meanwhile, coincidentally -- yeah, right -- "American Idol" announced yesterday that it had allocated more than $64 million in grants to six U.S. and international charities from last season's star-studded "Idol Gives Back" fundraising event.)

Police said yesterday afternoon that Goodspeed's death appeared to be a suicide by overdose, Reuters reported, adding that investigators found prescription drugs in the car with Abdul CDs and pictures.

In a statement issued yesterday by her rep, Abdul said she was "deeply shocked and saddened at what transpired yesterday."

According to Goodspeed's MySpace account, she went to her second "American Idol" audition in Austin, Tex., in August 2005.

Arriving at the audition site at 5 a.m., she finally got into the arena four hours later and was given a seating ticket. At 2:45 p.m., her picture was taken and she got in line to sing in front of a table where three producers sat. They sent her to the next round and told her to be sure to wear the same outfit.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company