American Idol victor Fantasia has spoken out in defence of the show's troubled judge Paula Abdul, insisting the former pop pin-up is naturally friendly with all contestants behind the scenes.

Ousted contestant COREY CLARK claims he enjoyed an affair with the STRAIGHT UP singer when he was competing on the show in 2003 - and Abdul often gave him advice on song choices and his image.

But Fantasia, who won the competition last year (04), insists that Abdul helped other contestants too.

She says, "I love Paula a whole lot. She's an awesome lady. When I was around her, when I was with her, the advice and how she treated us like her own kids, she would fuss at us.

"She'd sit us down and would talk to us about a lot of things. She's an artist herself. She knows music and she knows fashion, so she would say to the young ladies, 'Get a nice little skirt...'"

She slams Clark's claims, "It's gossip, it's tabloids, it's always something and I'm never getting involved."

11/05/2005 13:51