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Idol Gossip: Paula Helped Corey

A former "American Idol" contestant claims judge Paula Abdul coached him on song selections, helped buy him clothes to wear on television and even gave him prescription cough medicine to soothe his throat.

And, claimed 2003 contestant Corey Clark on ABC's "Primetime Live" Wednesday, Abdul initiated a sexual relationship and pleaded with him recently to keep it a secret.

ABC's "Fallen Idol" special, an unusual critical report by a television network on a rival's hit show, aired during a ratings "sweeps" month. It aired a half-hour after the current version of "American Idol" sent home singer Scott Savol to reach its final four contestants.

Famous "Idol" alumnus Clay Aiken finds it hard to believe, with all the security for contestants.

"We couldn't leave the house without checking out. We couldn't come back in without checking back in. I didn't get to see my mama," he said Thursday on CBS News' Early Show.

Aiken told co-anchor René Syler he believes "who I know to be a nurturing, and caring person. She was like that for everybody on the show. She was always the judge who was willing to give advice and willing to be supportive and willing to be nurturing."

Entertainment Weekly television editor Lynette Rice thinks it was more than that.

"There is obviously proof, phone records, multiple phone records,"

. "He went out in public with her."

But it's hardly a criminal matter, says Harvey Levin of the "Celebrity Justice" show.

"I think it's a scandal. Nobody's going to get prosecuted for this. I think its highly embarrassing for Paula Abdul," he told Kauffman.

"This warrants at least a discussion between the network and the producers. 'Do we have a problem here?'" said Rice.

While seemingly under siege this season, "American Idol" is still a hit with viewers — 23.8 million watched Tuesday night — heading to a May 24-25 finale.

Clark reached the final 12 contestants in 2003 but was thrown off the show for failing to reveal a past arrest record.

"Primetime Live" showed how Clark serenaded Abdul during an audition, sauntering to the judge's table and kissing her on the hand. Later, he said someone slipped him Abdul's phone numbers.

He called, she sent a car to bring him to her house and they spent the night talking about how to get ahead in the game, he claimed.

"Primetime Live" detailed how Abdul allegedly helped Clark get a cell phone and showed pages of phone records it said detailed calls between the 22-year-old contestant and celebrity nearly two decades his senior — one lasting 155 minutes.

"It felt like she was hitting on me a little bit," he said, "and I liked it."

He described how Abdul came up behind him one night and kissed him on the back of the neck, and that was the night when their affair began.

"The people who were backing up the story were Corey's personal friends, and Corey's family," said Aiken on The Early Show.

A representative for Abdul, now 42, called Clark "an admitted liar and opportunist who engages in unlawful activities." Fox said Clark had never informed the network about his allegations. The network promised to look into them, but noted Clark was writing a book and had an incentive to seek publicity.

I kind of think if I were in that situation and was reading in the New York Post or whatever ... that you were writing a tell-all book about me, I wouldn't believe it," Aiken told Syler. "I think I would probably call up and say, 'René, what's going on?'"

ABC also interviewed Clark's parents, who corroborated his story. His mother said she wasn't happy about the relationship.

The network interviewed several former contestants who missed chances to be among the final 12 contestants the year Clark moved forward.

"If these types of things are going on behind the scenes, there's really no point to 'American Idol,"' said one, Patrick Fortsen.

Clark, who's making an album and writing a book, said Abdul recently contacted him and urged him not to talk about the relationship. ABC played a tape of a cell phone message allegedly left by her.

"I'm just cleaning up my own pathway," he said. "If that involves getting your dirt off my pathway, I'm going to do that."

Remaining competitors in this year's game are long-haired heartthrob Bo Bice of Helena, Ala.; birthday boy Anthony Fedorov of Trevose, Pa.; Vonzell Solomon of Fort Myers, Fla.; and Carrie Underwood of Checotah, Okla.

Wednesday's vote was a disappointment for organizers of votefortheworst.com, a Web site that was conspiring to get the least talented contestant the record contract prize. Savol, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, was its pick.

The Web site became a victim of its own popularity when a crush of visitors led to its shutdown Tuesday night.

"We had a big traffic problem yesterday at 5 p.m. (PDT) before the show aired on the East Coast, more than 200,000 hits," founder Dave Della Terza said Wednesday.

The traffic jam infringed on other Web sites on the shared server so the site went down. He was trying to get it back up as quickly as possible, this time on a dedicated server, Della Terza said.

Savol was booted off despite hard-to-please judge Simon Cowell's opinion that his Tuesday performance of "Everytime You Go Away" was his best ever.