"American Idol" ended a long run after 14 years on FOX — and the original show kept The National ENQUIRER
busy! Check out the big names and forgotten figures who brought real controversy to the reality show...
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As soon as CLAY AIKEN
sang his first note on " American Idol," questions about his sexuality began to swirl — and the North Carolina native wasn't in a hurry to come out of the closet! A scandal erupted in early 2006 after The ENQUIRER reported Clay had a steamy fling with former Army Ranger Green Beret John Paulus after the two hooked up online. Clay strongly denied the charges, but Paulus passed a polygraph test about his torrid account of their 90-minute sex romp in a Raleigh, N. C., hotel room. At least two other men then come forward
to say Clay tried to seduce them on gay dating Web sites. Clay finally came clean about his sexuality in 2008. Jim Verraros, meanwhile, made it to the Top 10 as an openly gay contestant in Season 1.
almost bullied her way out of a sex scandal in 2003. There were charges of racism after the producers tossed her from the show after learning that she had a porn past. Frenchie complained that she was treated more harshly than other contestants — and that she only made the solo sex tapes to earn money for college. The ENQUIRER, however, remembers that Frenchie was working for a site that specialized in presenting models who were posing as underage girls to fulfill their client's sick fantasies! Strangely, the scandal still helped to keep Frenchie working as a popular performer.
The ENQUIRER had the scoop when "American Idol" finalist JESSICA SIERRA came close to winning in Season 4 while battling booze and drugs — and revealed that she was taking her struggle to be sober to reality television! Jessica was one of the first names to sign to the show "Celebrity Rehab." The ENQUIRER first wrote about the existence of the future hit when Jessica failed to make an appearance in a Tampa, Fla., courtroom on charges of battery and cocaine possession.
Flame-haired NIKKI McKIBBIN finished third in the debut season of "American Idol" — and then followed Jessica Sierra to "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew." Happily, she then moved on to the spinoff "Sober House." Nikki made it back to "American Idol" in Season 13 when she accompanied her son Tristan to his audition. He made it to Hollywood, but was cut before the live shows.
DAVID ARCHULETA was only 17 when he became a runner-up in Season 7 of "American Idol" — but people hated his dad! The ENQUIRER revealed how Jeff Archuleta had to abruptly erased his Internet website, which had touted the two-bit trumpet player as " an experienced producer, consultant, [and] vocal consultant." Mike Walker revealed that "Star Search" had actually banned Jeff in 2003 for harassing a 10-year-old girl singer he feared was competition for his kid! "Jeff's a pain in the ass like 'Idol' has never seen before," said a source. Fortunately, David — who defended his dad — is still working steadily as a singer.
JENNIFER HUDSON won an Oscar for "Dreamgirls" after making it to seventh place in Season 3. She didn't win any popularity contests when performing with original "Dreamgirls" stage star Jennifer Holliday, though. "Jennifer Hudson was telling Jennifer Holliday how to sing and where to stand!," a backstage spy told The ENQUIRER. "Ms. Holliday tried to be gracious, but you could tell she was ready to explode at Jennifer!" After hours of patiently listening to Hudson complain, said the source, Holliday reminded her that she's been singing since before the "AI" star was born. The runner-up replied that she still had to make sure the performance was "on point."
NATHANIEL MARSHALL also went on to a movie career after making it into the Top 36 during Season 8. He changed his name to Jadyn Daniels and starred in the gay porn film "Men Caught on Video 2." Then he went back to reality shows with a turn on an online production called "The Gay Real World."
also came out of the closet after making a big impression in Season 9. The dreadlocked beauty announced that she's bisexual after releasing a holiday song in 2013 called "Coming Out for Christmas." "I've been bisexual for, I don't know, as long as I can remember," she confessed — but that was no surprise to ENQUIRER readers, who learned about her extensive lesbian past
caused a ruckus when she was quickly disqualified from Season 8 of "American Idol." It turned out that the "amateur" had already released an album called "This Crazy Life" on Geffen Records — which had released albums by stars like Elton John
and John Lennon
! The ENQUIRER also caught Joanna's surprising connection with short-lived "AI" judge Kara DioGuardi
. Joanna's boyfriend Mark Ballas
(pictured) had a new album which included a song cowritten by the judge! In another scandalous twist, Joanna had stolen Mark away while he was dating his "Dancing With the Stars" partner Sabrina Bryan
"American Idol" winner FANTASIA BARRINO almost became one of the show's most tragic stories. After her victory in Season 3, she tried to kill herself! Fantasia was hospitalized in Pineville, North Carolina, on August 9, 2010, after overdosing on aspirin and an unknown sleep aid. Fantasia later confirmed the incident was a suicide attempt, saying: "I didn't care about anything. I just wanted out." That same month, a divorce filing in Mecklenburg County District Court alleged that Fantasia had a year-long relationship with married man Antwaun Cook.