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Misunderstood Idol

Jan. 30 2009, Published 12:37 p.m. ET

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Given the whole Paula Goodspeed situation, American Idol judges can be excused for their reaction to what happened Wednesday night when Louisville, Kentucky contestant Mark Mudd flunked his audition and said, as he left, "Take care and be careful."

Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell both seemed startled by what they perceived as a threat. Off-stage, producers were also alarmed.

"You don't say that to people, 'Be careful,'" Abdul snapped. "That's just not a normal thing to say."

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But -- oops! Turns out "Be careful" is just a local going-away thing to say.

A statement from the Idol front office was apologetic.

"We now know better and look forward to visiting Louisville again someday."

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