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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Paula Abdul

Aired May 19, 2006 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE, AMERICAN IDOL: You've moved me from the beginning but you are this handsome evolved performer that you are an American Idol.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, "American Idol's" Paula Abdul on her life, her loves, her career, Simon Cowell.

SIMON COWELL, HOST, "AMERICAN IDOL": Shut up!

KING: Who does she think will be the next "American Idol"? Paula Abdul covers it all and takes your call next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: It's our wind up night in New York before we head to Washington with guests like Tim Russert and Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, and Senator John McCain, all next week.

But, tonight our special guest is Paula Abdul, judge for "American Idol." She is called the nice one on "American Idol," the Grammy and Emmy-winning singer, dancer and choreographer, who recently launched a line of her own jewelry on QVC.

Before we talk about that and the finalists how do you explain "American Idol's" success? Why do 30 million people tune that in?

ABDUL: And even more than that. It's been more then 30 million, which is incredible.

KING: Why?

ABDUL: It's a cultural pop phenomenon. It's the one show that entire families can plan their whole evening around, it's brought kids and parents who don't communicate, husbands and wives that have a tough time communicating. It's a common denominator and it's the only thing on television the whole family can watch.

KING: Does the panelist, you, do you get as emotionally involved as the audience does?

ABDUL: Larry, there's no denying that I do get emotionally involved. I come from a different perspective than Randy and a different perspective from Simon. I love those kids. I love seeing them create magic. I've been in their shoes, you know, having terrible nights and having to walk on stage when I don't want to, and they do it and they create magic.

KING: You're the only one of the three that is a performer?

ABDUL: Yes, I'm the only one of the three. Well, Randy is an accomplished musician.

KING: Oh, he is and a record producer.

ABDUL: He is. Absolutely, but none of them have been a solo artist and sold millions of records and had number one singles. I know that they lock eyes with me, those contestants when they walk out there and know that -- they know that I'm rooting for them.

KING: You are, all of them right, you want them all to do well?

ABDUL: Well, I want -- look, I want them to all do well. I mean we picked these kids under rocks and we find them all throughout the country and we never know how they're going to rise to the occasion. When they get to the final 12 they all deserve to be there, so I want them to do well.

KING: OK. Let's get to the two finalists, 22-year-old Katharine McPhee and 29-year-old Taylor Hicks, what do you make of Katharine?

ABDUL: Katharine is born to be a singer. She -- you know we look at footage when she was a little girl singing in a hairbrush and looking in the mirror and checking out her looks. Her mother is a professional singer and a coach. She's got beautiful range. I understand why she's one of the finalists. Every little girl aspires to be her.

KING: And what about Taylor Hicks?

ABDUL: Every cell of his body oozes a born entertainer.

KING: Oh, I thought you were going to say something else.

ABDUL: Well, come on, Larry.

KING: Come on.

ABDUL: Don't act like Simon.

KING: OK.

ABDUL: He's born to be on that stage. He's most comfortable when he's on that stage. He's one of the only contestants I know that is a completely different person off stage.

KING: Oh, really?

ABDUL: He's very focused and it's almost like he's walking back and forth. The second he hits the stage he's a performer, you know, and he is living life.

KING: Will this therefore be a very tough pick? ABDUL: I think it's going to be a great competition. You know they both are great singers. They both have complete different sets of pipes and, you know, it's about the songs. It's about who connects.

KING: If history serves, though, they'll both do well right?

ABDUL: Absolutely. I think this season besides Taylor and Katharine, I think Elliott is going to do great. I think Chris Daughtry is going to do great. I think Paris. I think -- I already know Mandisa and Kellie Pickler, they're all -- Ace is doing his thing. They're all doing great.

KING: Elliott Yamin, you wanted him to win is that true?

ABDUL: Yes, I'm not going to deny it. I wanted Chris Daughtry to win. I wanted Taylor to win. I wanted Elliott to win, you know. And I believe Katharine deserves to be there as well, all of these kids -- and Paris.

Listen to me, you're getting me all -- but there's something about Elliott Yamin I will say that's different and touched me emotionally more than anyone else and that is a kid who's overcome adversity. He's overcome tremendous hurdles, has a sense of family, is not afraid to show it. He's one of the nicest contestants we've ever had in the history of the show.

KING: He said that he bonded with you in part because you're both Jewish.

ABDUL: That's interesting. He didn't tell me that.

KING: That's what I -- that's what my notes tell me. You're Jewish?

ABDUL: I am. I am. Well then we bonded. You know what I think we bonded more than just by religion. I think there's a spiritual and familial connection. I mean I love his mom. I mean I love my mom. He loves his mom. There was not a dry eye in the house when he left the other night.

KING: What did you make of the shock of the cut of rock and roller Chris Daughtry?

ABDUL: When Chris Daughtry was in the bottom two I got very nervous. All of a sudden it hit me. I have a feeling (INAUDIBLE) going home. And she had a -- she didn't have a great lead that week. No one expected it. The look on Chris' face he didn't expect it.

KING: What happened? Do you think people took him for granted and didn't vote?

ABDUL: Different theories. I think that...

KING: What's yours? ABDUL: Well, I think that he was so far ahead and people were saying "You're going to win," including myself, and Katharine had a bad week that week and what I love about America is they help people who need the help and the vote split and Katharine -- you can't count out the fact that little teenage girls are in this to be calling and calling over and over again.

KING: Another shock was the early elimination of the gospel singer, soul singer Mandisa. Did that surprise you?

ABDUL: Yes, this all season...

KING: And they all can't win.

ABDUL: No, but the beauty of this show, as you well know, one win and more than one continues to have success. It's up to these kids now. I mean I would say the blueprint of your life is completely up to you now. It's changed. There are millions of people out there who love you. Go, paint the door, paint the knob, open it up, do your own thing. You have the ability to.

KING: We'll be taking calls for Paula Abdul. We'll be also talking about her incredible line of jewelry which she's selling on QVC.

There has been talk about your behavior on Idol this year. It caused a lot of talk that you've gotten very emotional, teared up, cried.

ABDUL: Yes.

KING: What's going on?

ABDUL: The last time I remember I did that in season four -- oh, yes, season three, definitely season two, of course season one, yes.

KING: So, nothing has changed?

ABDUL: I love this job more than ever, this season. I love it every day more.

KING: So why more talk this season?

ABDUL: A show like this needs people talking. I'm not a controversial girl. I don't go out and I don't party and I don't -- you don't see me in the -- you know going to this place and that place, so they might as well talk about something. And as long as I've got Frick (ph) to the left of me Frack (ph) to the right of me and Oh Diddly (ph) on the stage doing his thing, they leave a lot of banter (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Resent any of that?

ABDUL: Are you kidding? They're the brothers I never had.

KING: You like them all? ABDUL: I actually have a weird -- it's easy to love Randy. I've known Randy for 18 years. He said (INAUDIBLE) for 18 years, so I mean it's an acquired taste. Ryan is an adorable, nicer version of Simon.

KING: Not controversial.

ABDUL: They're all controversial.

KING: Ryan is controversial?

ABDUL: Oh, yes. Ryan -- Ryan loves to just fuel the fire. He loves it, just loves the middle, screw with the end, and more fire, more fire, more logs, throw them in, throw them in. He loves to see it burning.

KING: We'll be right back with Paula Abdul on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(VIDEO CLIP OF "AMERICAN IDOL")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP OF "AMERICAN IDOL")

ABDUL: I get excited just watching that.

KING: Tom Jones lives. A few weeks -- that was funny.

ABDUL: OK.

KING: That was funny.

ABDUL: Yes, that was funny.

KING: Our guest is Paula Abdul. A few weeks ago possible trouble began during Ryan Seacrest's appearance on "The Tonight Show." Jay Leno asked Ryan about drinking rumors on the Idol set. The following week Paula responded. Let's take a look at both their appearances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": One would say if one did not know it, as a layman I would think perhaps someone had drunk something before the show.

RYAN SEACREST, "AMERICAN IDOL": Well, I mean, look I don't look in their cups to see what's sitting before them on that table but, you know, at times I feel like we have reeled her in.

LENO: Yes.

ABDUL: Well let's face it, I mean I'm in my fifth year sitting next to Simon Cowell.

LENO: Right, OK. ABDUL: Hell, you'd have a drinking problem too.

LENO: Well I (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, first were you surprised at what Ryan said?

ABDUL: Actually I wasn't surprised at all because see how this whole thing started and I am such a good sport, only I would go on Leno and walk out with a party hat and a fake martini glass.

KING: True.

ABDUL: You know, come on, so it all starts like this. Camera is not on to the left of me. Camera -- Ryan comes straight to me but see before Ryan comes to me I have Simon to the left of me saying "Try to be interesting. Say something like the moth inside the wonton that binds the cornflake and the melon (INAUDIBLE)."

And after he says ridiculous things like that or "Just say the bumblebee, red salad, or pizza would be the bottom two." It's like you're not funny anymore, Simon. It's not that funny.

But then what ends up happening is I get bored of that and I go, "What did you say Simon?" "Oh, Simon said the moth in the melon" and then Randy chimes in and then it's "Oh, Paula's drinking something. There's something other than Diet Coke in her cup." And that's where they're all laughing hysterically and the camera goes on Simon and he goes "I didn't do anything."

KING: All right, do you resent any of that? Is it all show business or does some of it get too personal?

ABDUL: OK. I have fun with them. I've learned to have a tremendous amount of levity. I actually even in spite of not wanting to laugh I end up laughing and snorting and laughing and Simon loves that. But there is a problem here.

It's been the butt of too many jokes and it's fun if I make fun of it too but when my sensitivity and my love and my amazement over these contestants gets into "Well she's crying so she must be loopy or something like that" I mean that gets a little ridiculous.

KING: Has it hit a point for you where enough is enough?

ABDUL: Larry, I've been in this business for, oh, almost 20-some odd years. I've never -- you've never read in any tabloids me ever having any drinking problem. I don't like that because I am a role model.

KING: So, have you said to Simon and to the others enough is enough?

ABDUL: OK. I tried the very professional approach. "Come on guys, stop it." That's the (INAUDIBLE) but the unprofessional approach "Will you please stop doing that? It's not funny anymore." And the same approach acting like I have a drinking problem with a party hat. I tried every which way. Nothing works. They're boys and they'll be boys and they'll be boys.

KING: Do you think it's all shtick to Simon?

ABDUL: It's absolutely all shtick to Simon and what he loves, as he says, "If you weren't there, you wouldn't make me look good. You give me so much material."

KING: He plays off you?

ABDUL: I do feel used at times.

KING: What about Ryan?

ABDUL: Ryan's so busy bantering back and forth with Simon that he'll chime in with Simon but what I do love, what Ryan does, he's very witty and he'll say something that Simon just feeds right into him and I think it's brilliant. I mean we have fun. We have a lot of fun but they are like brothers who just sometimes get under my skin.

KING: Were you hurt a little by what Ryan said on "The Tonight Show"?

ABDUL: The reeling in part I started thinking visually reeling, reel me, what are you reeling me in? What are you -- I don't understand how are you reeling me in, Ryan? So, I figured, you know, I'm going on Leno. I'm going to have a little fun.

KING: Have you been the target of tabloids?

ABDUL: I'm no stranger to tabloids. I've been in this business a long time but...

KING: Are you able to look the other way?

ABDUL: Absolutely. I mean I've been in this business way too long. But I'll tell you the beauty of this show is that everyone wants to talk about you no matter what and I'm an older broad. I know what it's all about.

KING: You're not an older broad.

ABDUL: I'm older than -- well definitely not Simon. I'm not older than him. But I'm older than Ryan.

KING: We'll be right back with Paula Abdul. And we'll go to your calls at the bottom of the hour and talk a little about some other things, including jewelry. Don't go away.

(VIDEO CLIP OF "AMERICAN IDOL")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP OF "AMERICAN IDOL") KING: Katharine McPhee a finalist, pretty good.

ABDUL: Actually, when she sings like that she's in her element.

KING: Before we talk about baubles and bangles and stuff and QVC, how's your health? You've had a lot of problems haven't you over the years? You have.

ABDUL: Well, let's clarify what those problems are.

KING: Well, no, you've had -- only you can go get a manicure and wind up with an infection.

ABDUL: True and I went to the State Senate and I helped clean up (INAUDIBLE).

KING: You've had pain problems.

ABDUL: I did. I, you know, a lot of people don't know. I was in a plane crash and at the height of number one singles and I ended up kind of removing myself from the business because I was going paralyzed.

KING: Private plane?

ABDUL: Private plane.

KING: Where?

ABDUL: On tour, seven-seater -- oops, I almost said the company.

KING: That's all right do it.

ABDUL: Thirty-five minutes into the air leaving St. Louis, going to Denver, and engine blew up, right wing caught on fire at the other end and crash landed in flames in a cornfield.

KING: Anybody die?

ABDUL: Nobody died.

KING: What was it like going down?

ABDUL: Well, the first thing I remember is I lifted off my seat and I hit my head really hard and I passed out. When I came to everyone was holding hands and saying their last prayers.

KING: How soon did you fly again?

ABDUL: Well, I was -- I'm a stubborn little bugger and I'm tenacious and (INAUDIBLE) I've got to get back on a plane and I've got to keep touring. And I literally got back on a plane in three days but...

KING: I never heard that. That didn't get a lot of attention.

ABDUL: Well, it did get some attention but I didn't want to make a -- I worked it out publicity wise. I did not want...

KING: Milk it?

ABDUL: Yes.

KING: Tell me about this collection here. Is everything you're wearing on sale at QVC?

ABDUL: Just about everything, not me, I'm not for sale. My jewelry is something that I've been inspired by with "American Idol." I mean another great thing that happened to me is these kids really inspired me to own their own power.

And I started coming up with really important messages that people could hold onto. And I remember giving all of them, you know, the top 32 black leather bracelet. It said, "Reach for the stars. You just might become one" and it has a star engraved.

And then I started coming up with well I'll give all 12 of them something each week and I was fast and furiously making up, oh, a wishbone, and then I'll have a dog tag that says "Good luck with your wishbone. You'll still need a backbone." And I gave them a lightning bolt.

KING: What else you got?

ABDUL: Well, you know, all of this is mine but like I'm very excited. I have these beautiful bangles. I have these beautiful cuffs and they come in all different colors. You know I have a live remote coming up on Monday, the day before the finals at the Kodak Theater.

KING: A live remote on QVC?

ABDUL: Yes (INAUDIBLE).

KING: From the Kodak Theater?

ABDUL: From the Kodak Theater right in front where the atrium is. And, you know, my first showing on QVC I sold everything out, broke records and...

KING: What do they sell for?

ABDUL: You know what's really important for me is that all the kids on "American Idol" wear my jewelry and I want -- the audience wants to get the jewelry too, so it was very -- it was a conscious decision to make the price points very affordable but make the quality incredible.

KING: From what to what?

ABDUL: $19.99 to the most expensive piece is probably $78.

KING: How did you come up with the idea of doing this at all? ABDUL: You know, Randy, Simon, they know I'm constantly making jewelry. I'm in the airport and I would be giving the contestants stuff right off my back. And when I gave them something that they could touch, see, and feel, and it motivated them to do well, I decided to create a line. I've been working on it for four seasons.

I'll show you, like I wear these hip clips that I make and I put the charms on them. But I have something very special and you're laughing at me because I'm such a salesperson.

The winner is going to get something very special, the chain and it will be silver or it will be gold but the most important thing is it started with a star in a circle but how it ends is the winner is getting a golden nugget and there's a diamond in it and it says...

KING: Man or woman?

ABDUL: Man or woman because I'm not telling you who's going to win. It's up to America. But it's unisex and it says "No stone unturned to find the diamond in the rough."

KING: Now this you're giving to them, you're not selling?

ABDUL: And it will be available on QVC but it won't say -- it will say "I'm a diamond in the rough" because this is special. It's exactly -- they'll have it offered.

KING: And Monday it's live on QVC.

ABDUL: At four o'clock.

KING: Four o'clock Eastern?

ABDUL: Yes, it is.

KING: How's your love life; a little segue here.

ABDUL: I can't lie. I'm not good at it.

KING: How is it?

ABDUL: You know what I'm really in love right now with what I'm doing.

KING: Oh. Oh, I thought you were going to...

ABDUL: I wish I was in love with someone...

KING: Do you miss being in love?

ABDUL: I do. It's the one part of my life that Simon says "Oh, get over it. It's overrated." Simon says "It's all about money." I said, "No, Simon, it's not."

KING: Love ain't overrated.

ABDUL: No, I still hold a place in my heart and I know that I deserve it. I know that I'm meant to be with someone so...

KING: Think it's going to happen then?

ABDUL: I absolutely do. I do.

KING: And you'll know it when it happens?

ABDUL: Well, I'm not going to settle. I'll tell you that much.

KING: Ah! Have you settled in the past?

ABDUL: Yes, I have.

KING: We'll take a break and be back and we'll take your phone calls for Paula Abdul, judge for the "American Idol." The final big event is next Tuesday night and Monday you'll see her on QVC at 4:00 Eastern with a really fabulous array of jewelry moderately priced.

ABDUL: Thank you.

KING: What a career huh? Don't go away. We'll be right back.

(VIDEO CLIP OF "AMERICAN IDOL")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Paula Abdul is our special guest. By the way, it is 4 Pacific, 7 Eastern on QVC on Monday night. We want to straighten that up. William and Harry -- Prince William and Harry just said that they are fans of "American Idol." Barry Bonds dressed up as Paula.

ABDUL: Really pretty.

KING: What did you make of that?

ABDUL: It's a little scary there. If I look anything like that, please put me out of my misery.

KING: No, but I mean it had to be a little bit of a compliment.

ABDUL: You know, it's always a compliment to be spoofed.

KING: You were a Laker girl?

ABDUL: I was Laker girl.

KING: How many years?

ABDUL: I was a Laker during the show time years, when it was Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar Cooper, Jamal Wilkes, Norm Nixon, Kurt Rambis, Magee. I mean, I was there when all the magic happened.

KING: Did you date any players?

ABDUL: Never.

KING: Was that a rule or you just didn't?

ABDUL: Total rule. I was scared to death of the wives coming down, keep your girls away. I was like I am -- none of you can date any of the players. I don't want to know, hear, see anything.

KING: Do you like dancing as much as singing?

ABDUL: I love the fact that I get to do both. I mean, I think they go hand-in-hand. Whether Simon likes it or not, Taylor Hicks can barely stand still. And when you are up there performing, you just feel -- it oozes from you and you have got to love doing both when you are performing.

KING: You choreographed for the Jacksons?

ABDUL: I did. I did. I had -- you know, being a Laker girl, no one thought that would ever be my start. But I got my big break working with the brothers and working on Janet's control video. And from there I went on to keep working with Janet and then I worked with ZZ Top, Duran Duran, Aretha, George Michael.

KING: What do you think happened to Michael Jackson?

ABDUL: It's hard when you are so young and so successful and your kind of childhood escapes you. When you see how hard the work ethic of that young boy and, you know, being raised by a tough family, it's just -- you know, you're a product of your environment. And you do the best you can do -- and I, you know -- I'm glad that I was born and raised in the Valley here, and my dad was a cow man and my mom a professional pianist, who worked for Billy Wilder.

KING: Really? In his movies?

ABDUL: She was his personal assistant. She said, if you want to be in then business, you're going to do it all by yourself.

KING: Let's take some calls for Paula Abdul.

Azusa, California, Hello.

Caller: Hi. I love you, Paula. I've loved you since I can remember. I would love to get my hands on jewelry. Aside from QVC, are you planning to sell or go like into a store or anything like that?

ABDUL: First of all, what is your name?

KING: She's gone.

ABDUL: Well, I am definitely -- I'm branding and licensing lots of things, and my jewelry will definitely carry on. But I'm having a blast right now with QVC. I am very grateful to how they have opened their doors to me.

KING: By the way, I know he's under major investigation now. Was Anthony Pellicano the detective investigating you? ABDUL: No.

KING: No, there were stories that, you know, a myriad of people in Hollywood he was investigating. Not to your knowledge?

ABDUL: No. Never.

KING: Amarillo, Texas.

CALLER: Yes, Paula, don't you feel like the reason the focus is on you is because you are the only woman on the show?

ABDUL: I'm glad you said that. Sometimes people forget that, you know. But I wouldn't trade my seat for anyone else.

KING: Do you think she's right?

ABDUL: It's the boy's club. I definitely will tell you that. I mean, I barely get invited to go out and hang with any of them. But finally this season is the first season that Simon constantly asked me to hang out with the guys. And it's usually when I'm leaving town. He finds out I'm leaving town ahead of time and then invites me. But I am telling you, I love it. I love the guys.

KING: Abbeville, Louisiana, hello.

CALLER: Hi, guys.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Paula, you've been teased a lot about your emotion to Elliot, but we at home all respond to him the same way. It's like he's a superstar or something.

ABDUL: Well, you know what? He has affected so many people. When you have the ability to just tap into heart strings like yours and all of your friends, I mean, that boy has that. And that's a gift in itself. Besides the fact that he sings beautifully.

KING: Oh, by the way, on that Pellicano thing, Lloyd Grove of the "New York Daily News" said there was a time when Pellicano, the private detective who's currently in jail awaiting another trial, was seeking personal contact information on celebrities, including you, and on who was ratting them out to the tabloids.

ABDUL: I don't even know Anthony Pellicano.

KING: In the early 1990s, Paula's massage therapist may have been selling information about her. Do you know anything? I am just -- This is what's reported.

ABDUL: I don't even know what you're talking about.

KING: Neither do I.

ABDUL: Maybe my chihuahua or my pug, Ricky, did it. I don't know.

KING: That's who did it.

ABDUL: It has to be.

KING: You checked on that chihuahua?

ABDUL: Since he got his massage license, no.

KING: Our guest is Paula Abdul. From the ridiculous to the sublime, we slide into the next segment right after these next messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PHIL MCGRAW: We all have our own private reality. And when you let somebody in that world, that's a big responsibility, because it's like walking through kind of a china shop with really narrow aisles, you know. You've got to really walk gently and carefully. And...

ABDUL: That's where I've messed up. I've allowed too many people into that intimate, into that private thing, and then it was -- then they took advantage of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Why did you do that?

ABDUL: Sometimes I wonder why I did it, too.

You know, Larry, it's like everyone loves to write, well, Paula hasn't found love in her life. And I think there are times when Dr. Phil really, you know, he -- he can really get to the core of what's going on, and I was part of the Paramount family working at "Entertainment Tonight." And I was asked, why don't you be a guest? And he's doing a special.

Now, I was certain that it was just going to be a lot of fun and going on a couple of blind dates, and it's like, oh, no, Dr. Phil's coming to your house. Oh, no. Here comes the reality check.

And the truth is, I mean, we were talking in between breaks, having children changed your life. I'm meant to be in a relationship and having kids.

KING: You want kids?

ABDUL: I do. I love kids.

KING: Are you sorry you did the thing with Phil?

ABDUL: No, I'm not sorry I did the thing with Dr. Phil. A lot of people felt that I was really courageous, and also, you know, one of the things I said, I'm not going to settle. Do I wish -- that's the one area -- my life's exploding, and it's been -- I'm very gracious and very ground and very aware of what means a lot to me. And good friends, great family relationships, and love, and kids and dogs, and loving your work. I've always loved my work.

KING: What's been the fallout from that physical assault that occurred in April? A (inaudible) kid at a party?

ABDUL: It was one of the worst experiences I've ever gone through. I went to watch a wonderfully talented friend of mine play drums. It's one of those rare occasions that anyone could get me out to go anywhere. And it was one of these private parties.

KING: At a house?

ABDUL: Actually, it was at a sound stage. I guess they moved from home to sound stage. I just went. I wanted to see my friend, Robby, play -- he was playing right when we got there. He called ahead and had set up security. And it's hard now going places, people -- I think if I'm little and it's a dark place and I go like this, no one will see my beauty mark and no one will know me, but they do.

And the second we walked in there, there was no secured or roped off areas, and immediately a lot of fans, women, men, you know, they just started saying, I love this, love that. And one gentleman was talking to me, and he got physical, and tried to -- I guess not -- it felt like he didn't want anyone to talk to me. He wanted to get intimate. And I'm like, I tried to be gracious and let every one of my fans, sign things, come up. But this time, the next thing I know, I was swung and I felt the cement floor and I was knocked out.

KING: Was he trying to rape you?

ABDUL: Oh, no. I don't believe it's...

KING: Attack you in some way?

ABDUL: Well, I definitely was physically attacked.

KING: Did you bring charges?

ABDUL: I'm not at liberty to talk about that.

KING: Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Paula. I have RSD, and I've read that you have or had RSD? Can you tell me where you are with it now? Or what is going on?

KING: What is it?

ABDUL: It's reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and it happens when you have trauma caused to your spinal cord. Mine being partly from the plane crash, being hit by -- you know, in a car accident. And you know, being a dancer, I'm sure that we're masochists.

KING: So how do you treat it?

ABDUL: There is no solid cure for RSD. And I'm really sorry that you have that, and I feel for you. It is one of the toughest things. A lot of people won't know -- a lot of grown men would never be able to deal with the kind of pain...

KING: Really?

ABDUL: It is so intense. But I have found a wonderful doctor who is an immunologist, works with (inaudible) medicine, and he has found -- and this is what I love about medicine -- you can find a cure for eczema or psoriasis, and it happens to be something that acts like Botox to the nerve pain, nerve damage. And by taking a drug called Enbrel, which is for eczema and psoriasis, it allows my nerves to not freely glom onto each other, and it's been an incredible relief.

KING: Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Hello.

CALLER: Paula, me and my friends are big fans of the show and we were really disappointed with Ace's departure, and we were just wondering your views on his future?

ABDUL: Ace's departure?

CALLER: Yes.

ABDUL: Ace is doing great. I've run into his brother, Lionel (ph), and Ace is -- let me tell you, you're going to see lots of Ace, because he's being offered lots of projects.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of Paula Abdul on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't forget, next Wednesday night, Senator John McCain. Next Thursday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people predicted, Chris, that you could be the next American Idol.

Chris, you are going home tonight. The journey ends. America, you have spoken, and Chris is off the show tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at these numbers. We said it was close. That's how the 50 million votes got broken down between the three of you. It doesn't get any closer than that. Who is so close to going on, but is going home tonight? Let's see it now.

Elliott Yamin, the journey ends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Paula Abdul. Don't forget, Monday at 4:00 Pacific, 7:00 Eastern, this will be on QVC from the Kodak Center in Los Angeles.

Pulaski, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, love your show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Paula, I am a huge idol fan, and my question is has the show ever considered limiting the number of votes that can be cast from one telephone number to keep it a talent competition versus a popularity contest?

ABDUL: That's a good point that you have raised, but, you know, with modern technology people picking up these speed dial things and you can vote hundreds of times, and that is just the way it is.

KING: Not fair.

ABDUL: You know, I agree.

KING: There is no way. If you had the technology to do it, don't they have the technology to prevent it?

ABDUL: Not to prevent it. It's a tough situation.

KING: It's not fair.

ABDUL: I got to agree with you. But you know what? That's what is so manic about this show. I mean, look, I am not going to lie. I called up my dad, not now, I am voting. OK, dad. He hangs up the phone on me. People...

KING: Do you vote a lot?

ABDUL: Do I vote a lot? My family votes. My family votes. We are still usually at the studio before.

KING: Oh.

ABDUL: Yes.

KING: But you're going to get out your cell phone?

ABDUL: Yes, absolutely.

KING: Chillicothe, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'm a really big fan of Kelly Pickler, and I was wondering if Paula can tell me if Kelly has received a recording contract?

ABDUL: Well, I bet you she's going to be one of them that does. I think she's a very talented girl and very lovable and has charisma to the nth degree. I think you are going to be seeing a lot of her as well.

KING: How do you react to all the stories about Clay Aiken having homosexual liaisons?

ABDUL: I honestly don't read any of that stuff, and I encourage the contestants to not read the good press, not read the bad press.

KING: And, by the way, why would it matter?

ABDUL: Absolutely, I agree, why would it matter?

KING: How good a talent is he?

ABDUL: Clay is an excellent vocalist. The genre and style of his music is very specific to, I feel, more adult contemporary pop. Who cares about sexual preference?

KING: In the years, if you had to pick out right to this minute, who's the best "American Idol" performer you've seen?

ABDUL: If he would have -- well, based on record sales, you know, Kelly Clarkson is right up there.

But one of the most -- I'm going to say Fantasia. And I'll say Fantasia, you know, with reckless abandon and I will just put it out there because she is one girl that will -- if there are 10 people around her or 10,000 or 100,000, she will always perform as if it's her last time ever performing. And to me, that's a throwback to Sinatra, a throwback to Minelli.

KING: Would a young Paula Abdul have gone on "American Idol?"

ABDUL: Heck, Larry, I couldn't even get on "The Gong Show." I waited in line. I stood like they do for "American Idol." I waited and waited all day, and I literally cried to my mom saying, if I don't get on "The Gong Show," I am never going to make it mom, help me. And she said, you're on your own, kid.

KING: What was your break?

ABDUL: My break -- and it's always been this way. I've painted my own path. I have marched to the beat of my own drum.

KING: But was there a hit? Did someone sign you? What happened?

ABDUL: I was the little cheerleader, Laker girl who decided to become a professional choreographer and they said you can't, you're a little cheerleader. And I went on to secretly record and save my money as choreographer, and I recorded demos. And I got signed by Richard Branson's company by Jeff Faroff (ph) and Jordan Harris, (ph) who are the respective presidents of A and M Records and Warner Brothers.

KING: Did you have a hit soon after that?

ABDUL: I was the 10-year overnight success. And when I say that, I worked my butt off. And I didn't tell anyone I was recording an album because I was such a successful choreographer. I didn't want anyone to know in case it didn't work out.

And I was working with James L. Brooks, one of my mentors, on "The Tracey Ullman Show." I won Emmys for that, and we were on a hiatus. And he lives in northern California to visit his family. That is where his family lives. He came back one day and said, you know, there's a girl that has your name that is on the radio. That is how I found out "Straight Up" was playing on the radio.

KING: Wow.

ABDUL: That's how I found out. It was very ironic.

KING: Great guy, James L. Brooks.

ABDUL: He is magnificent.

KING: We will be back with our remaining moments with Paula Abdul right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Paula Abdul, who has sold 40 million record, two No. 1 albums, six No. 1 singles, earned a Grammy, two Emmys and three American Music Awards, her debut album was in 1988.

Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Hi Paula.

ABDUL: Yes.

CALLER: I just wanted you to hear this from a fan of "American Idol," you never get thanked enough. We're so thankful that you've been able to be so supportive of all the unique talent that we have had this year and in the past. I just wanted to say again, thank you.

ABDUL: Thank you. I appreciate that. That is always nice to hear.

KING: What a nice call. Will you go back to singing, recording?

ABDUL: I have been, you know.

KING: Secretly again?

ABDUL: Everything is a secret. No, we have had such tremendous success with the show. We roll into the next season very quickly. But I have been. I have been writing, getting hits with other artists. And I have a few things up my sleeve that I'm very excited about that definitely will have music as a component. KING: Paula, you're a delight, and it's great having you with us. We know that you've had some rough physical times and some times took a little tough time to get over here tonight.

ABDUL: Because I'm a klutz. And when you are a dancer you are a klutz and you trip.

KING: You fell, right?

ABDUL: Yes, I tripped over my makeup artist, Daniel's big foot.

KING: Did you fire him? No you didn't fire him.

ABDUL: I can't fire him. He's been around me for 22 years.

KING: OK. He stays.

ABDUL: Paula Abdul, judge of the "American Idol." The windup show is Tuesday night for this series, this season. And Monday afternoon 4 Pacific, 7 p.m. Eastern she'll be on QVC with her incredible line of jewelry.

Tomorrow night, we will repeat the show with Myrtle Griffin. Sunday night our panel on energy. Monday night a panel of CNN news folks. And the mondo guest next week Tim Russert, Senator John McCain and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Right now, it's time for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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