By
Dateline NBC
updated 5/9/2005 9:45:41 AM ET 2005-05-09T13:45:41

It used to be if you were a star in the midst of a public scandal -- let's say you'd been accused of sleeping with a contestant you're supposed to judge on a big TV show -- Saturday night would be an evening to curl up in a ball, away from the nasty cameras, disgruntled fans and cruel TV. Okay, maybe you'd peek at the TV to see if your private woes were public enough to be ridiculed on Saturday Night Live.

Of course Paula Abdul's latest saga made it on "SNL." In the last week, her personal crisis had been playing out almost daily in the tabloids. Former "American Idol” contestant Corey Clark was yesterday's news until he unleashed charges, to coincide with a tell-all book, that Abdul seduced him and helped him compete by offering him some special coaching. Add to it that he was actually kicked off the show because he had criminal charges pending against him at the time, and this is the stuff of comedy. 

But Paula is fighting back, not with a full-on counter assault -- she's not doing any interviews -- but with a carefully calibrated guerilla attack. First came the denials on paper, and then she walked down what is becoming a well-trodden path for the famously disgraced and defamed -- the "Saturday Night Live" cameo. Call it "SNL" rehab.

The premiere comedy show has the cachet and edge, not to mention witty joke writers, to make any problem go away at least for a while.

Abdul's TV appearance, comes after a cast of supporting actors has already taken to the tube in her defense. Last week, on "Dateline," a former “Idol” contestant, Kimberly Locke, said she and her peers were too closely watched for an affair to happen.

Kimberly Locke: “I couldn't drive a car. I couldn't go to the store if I wanted to. I couldn't go shopping by myself. Everywhere I went I had an escort.”

Fox is investigating. But since there may very well be no such thing as bad publicity, Locke is sure the scandal won't hurt "American Idol" a bit.

Locke: “You know what? People are all over this story, right now. All over it. It just makes it that much better. People love it.”

Indeed, “Idol” finished first in the ratings last week and Saturday night's "SNL" got its fair share of publicity and buzz. And as for Abdul, as others before her proved, when you feel dead in the water, "Live from New York" may be the best way to go. Or, in other words, Michael Jackson, "Saturday Night Live" is expecting your call.

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