Fox Still Investigating Contestant’s ‘Idol’ Allegations

Jul 28, 2005  •  Post A Comment

In his first appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour as president of entertainment for Fox, Peter Liguori said Thursday the network has set up an independent inquiry that is still looking into allegations that “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul had a sexual relationship with a contestant on the music reality series.

“Any allegations against this show we take quite seriously,” Mr. Liguori said. “We want to make sure there is a thorough inquiry into the allegations made on ABC.”

In May ABC ran an hour-long interview with former “Idol” contestant Corey Clark on its newsmagazine “primetime>live,” in which Mr. Clark said Ms. Abdul engaged in a relationship with him and guided him during his time on the show.

The ABC news report was “a little thin and a little suspicious,” considering it ran within days of the “Idol” finale, Mr. Liguori told reporters after his Q&A session.

But he refused to say whether Ms. Abdul would be removed from the show if Mr. Clark’s allegations were found to be true.

“I don’t want to speculate,” he said. “I want to focus everyone in the room on the credibility of the process.”

The unnamed independent investigator is not under pressure to finish his work before “Idol” begins auditions Aug. 18 in San Francisco, Mr. Liguori said.

“We want the inquiry to be thorough rather than expeditious,” he said.

Fox will focus marketing dollars at “Prison Break,” which will have aired seven original episodes before the return of postseason Major League Baseball in October, Mr. Liguori said.

“You’ll know we’re launching the show,” Mr. Liguori said.

In addition, at least four episodes of “The O.C.” and the new drama “Reunion” will air before baseball returns.

“All of those serialized dramas will have a good solid cliffhanger” before baseball pre-emptions take them off the air for at least two weeks, Mr. Liguori said.

In other network news:

Fox announced a deal with Imagine Television to produce the reality series “XQuest,” in which two teams of contestants will live in “biocrafts” that will mimic life in a spaceship and cut contestants off from life on Earth for an entire month. The series, which is slated for summer 2006, will also be produced by Base Camp Films, Spectrum MediaWorks’ Jim Banister and Alexander Seropian, the executive producer of the video game “Halo.” An episode count for “XQuest” has not been confirmed.

Ashton Kutcher will appear in four episodes of “That ’70s Show” this fall. Josh Meyers (“MadTV”) is joining the cast as a series regular.

Despite tabloid reports to the contrary, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie will appear in the next installment of “The Simple Life.”

“Both will be ready for work,” Mr. Liguori said.