This is supposed to be a celebratory time for Season 3 "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino. Her long-delayed third album, Back To Me, comes out August 24--a make-or-break comeback effort for her, following the disappointing sales of her self-titled sophomore album, a three-year recording hiatus, her controversial no-shows at The Color Purple, an unjustly panned performance on "Idol" Season 7, and a last-ditch attempt to relaunch her career and get back in the public eye with her VH1 reality show, "Fantasia For Real." The imminent issuing of Back To Me should be a happy occasion for Fantasia, but instead its release has been overshadowed by scandal. It's ironic, and fitting, that the album's first single is titled "Bittersweet."
TMZ and local Charlotte, North Carolina television station WCNC were the first to report Tuesday that Fantasia was taken to Charlotte's Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville hospital at about 9pm on Monday, August 9, for a drug overdose. The Idol's manager, Brian Dickens, later confirmed that Fantasia had been admitted for a medication overdose, and said in a statement that she was "overwhelmed by the lawsuit [read on for more on that] and the media attention."
"Last night, Fantasia was hospitalized. She took an overdose of aspirin and a sleep aid. Her injuries are not life-threatening. She was dehydrated and exhausted at the time," her manager stated.
Fantasia's rep, however, didn't reveal if the overdose was accidental or intentional, although RadarOnline.com reported that it was an attempted suicide. According to RadarOnline, a report filed with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department stated that officers responded at 8:43pm to a suicide attempt call (placed by Brian Dickens) at the Idol's home in the Glynmoor Lakes neighborhood of Charlotte, where Fantasia was purportedly found in a closet. The police report classified it as as "801-suicide."
Of couse, it's great that by all accounts, Fantasia's condition is not life-threatening. ("She's doing fine," her father, Joseph Barrino, reassured RadarOnline.) But it may be career-threatening.
Since Fantasia is reportedly in stable condition, this incident, awful as it may be, might be the least of her worries. See, this week it was also reported by that Fantasia now plays a central role in an above-mentioned child custody/divorce lawsuit alleging that she broke up the marriage of North Carolina couple Antwuan and Paula Cook. Paula filed court documents claiming Fantasia and Antwuan started an illicit affair in August 2009, and that Fantasia and Antwuan recorded several, um, "home videos" which could be used as evidence against Fantasia. Since North Carolina is one of seven U.S. states in which a third party in a divorce can be sued in addition to the cheating spouse, Paula might actually have a case that could potentially cost Fantasia millions. Millions that Fantasia probably does not have, if her financial troubles detailed on "Fantasia For Real" are anything to go by.
Dickens defended his client in a statement to TMZ, insisting that she "is not responsible for the deterioration of Cook's marriage. Fantasia will weather this storm with the dignity and grace that she has exemplified throughout a life in which she has repeatedly overcome obstacles and challenges. Fantasia's faith in God, herself and family remain as strong as ever." But the damage to Fantasia's already floundering reputation was done.
If the old "any publicity is good publicity" adage is true, then Fantasia's "media campaign" for Back To Me is apparently going extremely smoothly. She's certainly back in the news in a big way these days, after all. But really, a woman of Fantasia's phenomenal talent should be making headlines for her music, not for alleged overdoses or affairs. This is not the proper way for her to stage a comeback. She is too talented to squander her life this way. Fantasia needs to get her life in order and get back to basics--the music, the voice--if she wants to get attention for Back To Me.
But right now, maybe she just needs to take another good long break.