Grrr! Lay Off Paula Abdul!

Paula Abdul | Conference Call Etiquette | Runaway Bride | Your Grrrs

Like a brother, I am very territorial when it comes to picking on "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul.

I can do it, but other bullies can't.

Yeah, I've Grrr'd her lack of "judging" and the consummate on-camera sugar-fest while she's gushing over one "Idol" wannabe or another, and I've even suggested she's a waste of time on the program.

FREE VIDEO: See Mike on "The Real Deal"

But that doesn't mean I won't come to Paula's defense when some "Idol" reject starts spreading rumors about her because the clown wants to sell a book manuscript to publishers.

Corey Clark — originally from Topeka, Kan. — was booted from the popular singing contest in 2003 after the show's producers discovered that he never disclosed he had been arrested for allegedly assaulting his teenage sister, along with four police officers.

He ended up pleading no contest to "obstructing legal process" in a plea agreement. The judge sentenced Clark to six months unsupervised probation and ordered him to pay $116 in legal costs.

He's now saying in a book proposal that he had a romantic relationship with Abdul — and that she agreed to pay him $2 million to make him a star.

Two ... million ... dollars (insert pinky in mouth, laugh like Dr. Evil now!)

Clark was arrested for allegedly assaulting his sister and some cops! Hello?

Yeah, there's a credible source, and the next William Shakespeare to boot, no doubt!

Who needs iambic pentameter? I can't wait to get my hands on this library stuffer. Kitty Kelley, eat your heart out.

Sure, Paula's been embattled these last few weeks. She was charged with a hit-and-run and she's gone on the defensive amid rumors she's addicted to painkillers (she says she is absolutely not) — but come on — not even Hollywood's richest and baddest playboys would pay that much for sex.

Abdul's power lawyer to the stars, Marty Singer, recently sent a letter threatening a lawsuit against ABC News if a planned "Primetime Live" special entitled "Fallen Idol" lends any credibility to Clark's charges.

ABC's program is set to air after Wednesday night's "American Idol."

Look, Clark's already been voted off the show once. This is another Real-ity who didn't even get 14 minutes of fame, and now he's trying to cash in by either kissing and telling — which is as low as one can go but it wouldn't be the first time — or lying outright.

Hey, Clark, either way, meet me after school in the playground!

Grrr! Conference Calls/Webinars

In this age of telecommuting and Web meetings with clients and vendors, there needs to be set guidelines on conference call etiquette.

For instance, when not speaking, your phone should be muted. Nothing Grrrs me more than to be on a conference call and have to listen to someone’s heavy breathing coming through the line. Drives me nuts. Ditto background noise at the non-muter’s office and by all means, no eating! Don’t even think about it.

And then there’s the Oblivion who takes other calls while they're on a conference, and the rest of us get to hear the cheesy hold music or the recorded computer voice, “Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered by the next available customer service representative,” emphasis on all syllables in that last word.

For Webinar newbies, don’t be alarmed when the meeting host’s desktop takes over your own. Just double click the border on the window, like you do on any other window, and your desktop items will appear in your system tray. You don’t have to become animated on the call -- “What just happened? Where did my Excel doc go?” And no, others on the Webinar cannot see what’s on your desktop, so stop being so paranoid.

One final note on conference call etiquette: Do not use the speaker function on your phone, or use your cell phone, especially when your expertise is what we’re all dialed in for. We can’t hear you.

Grrr! Runaway Bride

"Flee-ancee" Jennifer Wilbanks should at least be forced to pay for the cost of the search party that was mounted after her disappearance last week.

Duluth, Ga., Mayor Shirley Lassetter estimates the cost at around $100,000, but that doesn't include the diner and restaurant owners who donated coffee and food to those involved in the search, and who knows how many other caring small-business owners in Duluth who may have given away merchandise to prepare volunteers.

Wilbanks was obviously distressed. But haven't we all been "in crisis," as Albuquerque officials stated, at one time or another? Doesn't mean we'd do something so incredibly self-centered and irresponsible. Didn't she think anybody would be worried about her the week of her wedding?

Wilbanks apparently premeditated her escape from the altar, purchasing her bus ticket and cutting her hair in advance, as well as setting cash aside for her journey. That doesn't sound like one who is acting on the spur of the moment. The courts, whether civil or criminal, should consider that when she faces up to her actions.

Now for Your Grrrs

Respond to Mike

Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for, and covers entertainment and features on the Sunday program "FOX Magazine."

Grrr! Gear