May 06, 2005 05:00 PM

ALLEGED IDOL AFFAIR: Season-two American Idol contestant Corey Clark sparked a media whirlwind this week, as he claimed on ABC’s Primetime Live that he had an affair with Idol judge Paula Abdul while he was competing on the show. (Abdul says the allegations are “character assassination.”) Clark, who has written a memoir and is shopping a record album, claimed his relationship with Abdul was first a mentoring one, but he says the two eventually became lovers. To bolster his claim, Clark — who was kicked off the show, purportedly for failing to disclose a past arrest — presented phone records documenting lengthy calls from Abdul’s number to his home, and a cell phone voicemail from the judge urging him not to speak to the media. FOX and producers have expressed skepticism, but say they will investigate the claim.

BRAD & ANGELINA, PART TWO: The Smiths enjoyed a sneaky getaway in Morocco, PEOPLE reports in its latest issue. New celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who both star in the upcoming film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, spent a hush-hush night in Pitt’s room in the African country, where he had settled for a six-week shoot on the movie Babel. Brad and Angelina reportedly flew into the country from London, and Brad briefly attended a cast kick-off party for the film before slipping away. Angelina stayed the night and exited early the next morning.

RUNAWAY BRIDE SORRY: Jennifer Wilbanks, who was tagged “the runaway bride” after she faked her abduction and left her home in Duluth, Ga., just four days before her wedding, offered a “sincere apology” for “the troubles I caused,” she said in a statement read by her father’s pastor. Meanwhile, local prosecutors are still trying to decide whether to file charges against her or force her to pay the police costs of hunting for her. Her fianc , John Mason, has vowed to stand by her, and Wilbanks remains in seclusion and is seeking professional help.

LAURA BUSH’S DESPERATE LAUGHS: The First Lady had them rolling in the aisles, during the 91st Annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Laura Bush usurped her husband’s remarks for a few very funny ones of her own. During the comedy routine, Mrs. Bush remarked that her husband is “usually in bed by now.” “Nine o’clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I’m watching Desperate Housewives. ? with Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife. I mean, if those women on that show think they’re desperate, they ought to be with George.”

JACKSON CASE SWITCHES SIDES: The prosecution rested its case in the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial Wednesday, while the pop star’s defense team immediately moved to have the charges against their client dismissed, claiming that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. Judge Rodney Melville rejected the defense’s motion, and Jackson’s team began its presentation Thursday, with testimony from two young men (including choreographer Wade Robson) who claim to have been friends with the singer and swore that Jackson never touched them.

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