Paula Abdul took some (good-natured?) swipes at her replacement in the Idol's judging booth as she hosted VH1's Divas show. Here's a clip. See what you think.Follow Howard Cohen on Twitter @HowardCohen
The speculation on Simon Cowell's leaving American Idol after this coming season ends. The star judge is in the final stages of finalizing a contract with Fox for another three seasons, according to Hollywood Reporter. The deal bumps his salary from $36 million to $45 million, it appears.
Ryan Seacrest also signed on for three more years. Judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi are set for the coming season and have already started filming the audition shows.
As for erstwhile judge Paula Abdul? EW.Com's Ausiello Files reports she's in talks with ABC for a guest spot on the ailing comedy Ugly Betty. Ausiello says he hears she'll be playing a temp at Mode who bonds with the loopy Amanda character. Two loons at the Mode front desk? Can Betty handle it?
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Paula Abdul may be gone from Idol (barring any last minute shocks but don't count on it) but Season 6 contestant Melinda Doolittle, who finished behind Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis but should have won that year, says Paula's impact -- like Celine Dion's heart in Titanic -- will go on.
First Melinda posted a thank-you letter to Paula on her blog and hoped that Miss Abdul might see it. She did.
Here are Paula's tweets (character counters note, I put the three posts together into one here for readability):
Late Tuesday night (early Wednesday morn on the East Coast), an official statement from Fox, FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment arrived on the heels of Paula Abdul's announcement on Twitter that she was leaving the popular program. Time (@TIME) on Twitter posted it:
"Paula Abdul has been an important part of the American Idol family over the last eight seasons and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show. While Paula will not be continuing with us, she's a tremendous talent and we wish her the best."
"about to go to sleep when I started seeing my blackberry blow up. I have read what u have read and I am shocked and saddened about paula. Idol and the cast have grown with each other over the last 8 seasons..I can't imagine the panel without puala. She's a star @ a great friend. Spoke to randy..hope to speak with paula privately overnight."
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Paula Abdul has apparently made it official: She's NOT coming back to American Idol for the 9th season. She just posted a series of comments on her Twitter page (@PaulaAbdul) alerting her fans of this breaking news:
Paula writes: "With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return to #IDOL. I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all..being a part of a show that I helped from day1 become an international phenomenon. What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me. It truly has been breathtaking, especially over the past month. I do without any doubt have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all."
No word yet from Fox.
Kara DioGuardi, Simon Cowell (who has voiced his desire for Paula's return) and Randy Jackson are expected back when the show airs again in January. Host Ryan Seacrest signed a three-year $45 million deal recently. Paula's manager had been releasing statements for weeks that his client "likely would not return to American Idol." The quibble: A pay hike, of course. She wanted one, supposedly $20 million. Apparently, Fox balked. Last figure I heard was in the $12 million range. Still no bite.
The remaining judges start traveling to audition cities this month to evaluate the talent.
Idol without Paula? I've asked for this repeatedly based on her loopy behavior and lack of judging (and judgment) but now that it appears reality it will be an adjustment for viewers and me. But Idol will survive. Its main mission -- finding new talent -- won't change.
Change is good and I've long held that a series of rotating judges (with Simon as the sole remaining star judge) each season would have kept Idol fresh. That said, Kara is not a suitable "replacement." Still, here's hoping producers keep to three judges and avoid the mistake of having four judges as on season 8. This format slowed the show.
Though its ratings had declined, Idol was still far and away the most popular show on TV and, Paula or no, viewers will still return in droves in 2010 for the 9th round. Note: it wasn't the judges -- or even the addition of Kara -- that got the most attention in the spring. The hype and volume was loudest where it should be: centered on a contestant. Of course, I mean Adam Lambert who, more than any judge, made Idol exciting again and raised the bar for the kind of talent we should be demanding from this show.
Meantime, Phil Stacey, an American Idol sixth-season finalist who released one country album and a coming Inspirational recording post-Idol, writes a heartfelt message on his blog (posted on his Facebook page) about his feelings on Paula Abdul leaving the show that made her a household name again:
"Just found out that Paula Abdul has decided not to return to American Idol. As much as America will miss her, those I feel the most for are the future contestants of American Idol. Ms. Paula was a constant source of encouragement. She was the one voice on the judge panel that understood what it was like to pour your very soul into a performance, only to have it scrutinized before millions of people. She judged with a tender heart, and I for one really appreciated that! She saw star potential in everyone. Future contestants will certainly miss out. As busy of a schedule as she had, Ms. Paula took time every week to visit with us, bringing gifts from her jewelry line with messages imprinted on them that were meant to encourage us on during that crazy time. If there were children visiting the American Idol studio, she wanted to meet them, take pictures with them, and give them each a gift of their own. She's a very special kind of person. Thanks for 8 great seasons, Ms. Paula. We will miss you."
Syesha Mercado (who went from FIU to last season's highest placing female contestant on Idol) also shared her feelings on her MySpace page with a long letter. Read her item by clicking here.
Don't worry, Phil and Syesha. Paula will be fine. My guess is the '80s pop star, a gifted choreographer by trade, winds up on another reality type show: wanna bet she does Dancing With the Stars? Or So You Think You Can Dance next season.
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If you're not one of her multitude of followers, here are her two most recent posts:
"Hi everyone. I've been quiet as we are trying to work out details of how I can return to #Idol."
And, just 30 minutes ago, "Your support & encouragement means so much to me. I hope you understand I can only return to #Idol if the deal is fair."
And more recently: "Whatever happens with #Idol, I love you guys and am so happy we have this way to stay in touch."
Follow me on Twitter @HowardCohen
Follow Paula @PaulaAbdul