The three original American Idol judges – Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson – reunited to honor Kelly Clarkson, who rose to fame after winning season one of “Idol” in 2002 when she became a star in Hollywood received Walk of Fame. But Cowell and Abdul couldn’t help but unleash a bit of drama, just like they did behind the judges’ table two decades ago. Here’s what happened when the pair nearly eclipsed the award winner…
Clarkson received the 2,733 during a ceremony on September 19, 2022 on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Press materials had announced that their longtime music director Jason Halbert and original “Idol” judge Simon Cowell would be speaking at the event. But the addition of Jackson and Abdul came as a surprise, especially since Abdul wasn’t in the crowd when the ceremony started.
Apparently Abdul chimed in just as Cowell was talking about how awful the first day of auditions was when “Idol” was first released.
“I actually thought I was going to score. 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 was like, ‘This is a joke.’ And it gradually got worse. So I thought, ‘This is an absolute disaster, why did I come here?’ And thank God I remember the day we met you. And I remember not just your voice, but your personality.”
As Cowell continued his story, he suddenly realized 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 quit.”
The live stream camera panned to Abdul, who blew kisses to Clarkson but then glared at Cowell and said: “Oh I heard. I heard.”
“Okay. I didn’t know you were in the audience,” Cowell replied while the crowd laughed. He then shared an anecdote about how Clarkson wouldn’t speak to him backstage or in the hallways outside of the show during “Idol.” .
Clarkson stepped in to explain, saying: “I didn’t want you to get into my head man! You mess with all these people. you mess with me I thought no, brother. You’re getting out of my head!”
After Cowell’s speech, Hollywood Walk of Fame Producer Ana Martinez wanted to give Abdul official credit for not having been in the audience at previous performances.
“I would like to take a moment to welcome Walk of Fame Paula Abdul,” she said, before beginning to talk about the next part of the ceremony. But to Martinez’s surprise, Abdul emerged from her seat and took the stage to deliver her own speech, saying that she changed her flight to attend.
“I’m so proud to be here,” she told Clarkson. “I changed my flight just so I could be here. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world, Kelly. Not only has the course of your life changed, but you have changed the course of everyone’s life.”
“And your talent, your tenacity, your grace, your dignity all made season one worth it for having to sit next to a Brit on my left,” she said, referring to Cowell with a shrug. “And a wonderful man to my right.”
Abdul then said she was the one who would arrange to speak to Clarkson backstage on “Idol,” cornering her in the elevators to ask about her singing and training.
“He made me nervous, not you,” Clarkson laughed. “You made me feel good. But I thought, ‘He’s going to hate what I’m doing.’”
Abdul then quipped, “It doesn’t take much.” The crowd responded with a surprised gasp and then nervous laughter.
Though it’s not clear when the cameras caught Abdul back in place and Cowell crossing his fingers in an X as if to ward off evil while Jackson tried to get between the two — as he often did during “Idol.”
When it came time for Clarkson to speak, she said, “I just want to make a correction first. i love simon I was just afraid of him as a judge. I loved him and I love the honesty, I do. I appreciate that.”
Clarkson kept her remarks fairly brief, saying her children 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.
At one point, when Clarkson was thanking her team, her kids started making funny noises, and she immediately made one back.
“Uh, these are my kids, they’re getting hungry,” she said. “They say, ‘Great, you have a star, let’s go to Mickey D’s.'”
At the beginning of the ceremony, in an emotional speech from Jason Herbert, Clarkson’s music director for 20 years, he made a point of thanking their children.
“River and Remi, thank you for sharing your mom,” he said. “You don’t know how cool she is now, but one day you’ll look back on it. She is not normal. She is unbelievable.”