During a telephone conference call with press on Wednesday, “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell said the alleged suicide of former contestant and diehard Paula Abdul fan, Paula Goodspeed, hit the production very hard.
“You’re talking about a human tragedy,” Cowell told reporters. “It hit us like an express train. It upset me a lot.”
Cowell said he couldn’t remember Goodspeed from her strange “Idol” appearance, but his memory was jogged after footage of her audition flooded media outlets last month when she was found dead of apparent suicide in a car near Abdul’s Los Angeles home.
“I don’t remember to be honest with you. We’ve seen a lot of people. [But] when I saw the clips back on the news I remembered it.”
While he didn’t recall if Paula Abdul had asked producers not to let Goodspeed into the audition room—as she claimed in a recent radio interview—he said Abdul could have stopped the audition at any time.
“All you’ve got to say is ‘Stop filming, I need to speak with the producers.’ That didn’t happen. But I only remember from what I saw [in news clips],” he said.
He also stressed that Abdul would not have been in any immediate danger during the audition: “There are a minimum of seven security guards in the room. You don’t see them, but they’re everywhere.”
On Monday, series executive producer Ken Warwick said, “I would definitely not put a dangerous person or person I thought was remotely dangerous in front of the judges.”
Cowell said the entire experience has led him to stop and think about his blunt comments to off-key contestants.
“I have thought long and hard about this…I think we will continue in the way we have always done. We have tried to have a sense of humor. The show is not an inherently mean show. It is an American dream show where the whole purpose is to find somebody who through the process becomes a star,” Cowell said.
As for the actual “Idol” show, Cowell said he would love to have Beyonce and Britney Spears appear as guests during the upcoming eighth season, which begins Jan. 13. Both appeared earlier this year on his British show “The X Factor.”