The three original “Amercian Idol” judges – Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson – reunite to honor Kelly Clarkson, who rose to fame after winning the first season of “Idol” in 2002, when she starred on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But Cowell and Abdul couldn’t help but bring a little drama into the day, just like they did behind the jury table two decades ago. Here’s what happened when the pair nearly outnumbered the honoree…
In a ceremony on September 19, 2022, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, Clarkson received the 2,733rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Press materials had touted that her longtime music director, Jason Halbert, and original “Idol” judge Simon Cowell would be speaking at the event. But the additions of Jackson and Abdul were a surprise, especially since Abdul wasn’t in the crowd at the start of the ceremony.
Apparently Abdul slipped in just as Cowell was talking about how awful the first day of audition went when “Idol” was first launched.
“I really thought I was being pushed. On the first day, Paula resigned,” he told the crowd. Clarkson looked shocked and asked if that was true.
“Yes,” he continued. “Every singer was out of tune and I thought, ‘This is a joke.’ And it gradually got worse, so I thought, ‘This is an absolute disaster, why did I come here?’ And thank goodness I remember the day we met you, and I remember not only your voice, but your personality.”
As Cowell continued his story, he suddenly noticed that Abdul had arrived.
“Oh, Paula! You’re late,’ he laughed. “Nothing has changed! This is brilliant. I was just talking about you when you stopped.”
The live stream camera turned to Abdul, who blew kisses at Clarkson, then stared at Cowell and said, “Oh, I heard. I heard.”
“Okay. I didn’t know you were in the audience,” Cowell replied as the crowd laughed. He then shared an anecdote about how Clarkson wouldn’t talk to him backstage or in the hallways outside the show during ‘Idol’.
Clarkson intervened to explain, saying, ‘I didn’t want you to get in my head, man! You mess with all those people. Are you arguing with me? I was like, no bro. You’re getting out of my head!”
After Cowell’s speech, Hollywood Walk of Fame producer Ana Martinez wanted to formally thank Abdul, as she had not been in the audience during previous introductions.
“I’d like to take a moment to welcome Walk of Famer Paula Abdul,” she said, then began to talk about the next part of the ceremony. But to Martinez’s surprise, Abdul emerged from her seat and onto the podium to give her own speech, saying she had changed her flight to attend.
“I’m so proud to be here,” she told Clarkson. “I’ve changed my flight so I can be here. But I wouldn’t miss it for anything, Kelly. Not only has the trajectory of your life changed, but you have changed the trajectory of everyone’s life.”
“And your talent, your tenacity, your grace, your dignity made Season 1 all worth it, that I had to sit next to a British man, to my left,” she said, referring to Cowell with a wink. “And a great man to my right.”
Abdul then said she was the one who would get Clarkson to talk about “Idol” backstage, and corner her in the elevators to ask about her singing and training.
“He made me nervous, not you,” Clarkson laughed. “You put me at ease. But I was like, ‘He’s going to hate what I do.’”
Abdul then joked, “It doesn’t take much.” The crowd responded with a surprised sigh and then nervous laughter.
While it’s not clear when, cameras caught Abdul by her seat, crossing her fingers in an X at Cowell, as if warding off evil, as Jackson tried to come between the two — as he often did on “Idol.”
When it was time for Clarkson to speak, she said, “I want to make a correction first. I love Simon. I was just afraid of him as a judge. I loved him and I like the honesty, I do. I appreciate that.”
Clarkson kept her comments quite short, saying her kids were probably getting impatient. She shares daughter River Rose, 8, and son Remington Alexander, 6, with ex-husband Brandon Blackstock. She also had her older stepchildren with her, as well as her mother and sister.