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Hey, Hey, Paula: We Don't Want To Harry You

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hey! It's What's Up With Paula time again on "American Idol"!

The Reporters Who Cover Television are writing breathlessly about her new manager, David Sonenberg, who has been lobbing shiny grenades at the producers over Paula's lack of a new contract.

It's dramatic stuff because "Idol" audition season is here.

"Rude!" Sonenberg bellowed. Kerblam!

"Hurtful!" he shrieked. Kapow!

"Paula's not a happy camper!"

Kersplat!

"Very sadly, it does not appear she's going to be back on 'Idol,' " he wailed.

Kablooie!

And all because Paula has not received a proposal for a new contract. Reportedly, it's because the two sides are so far off, what with her wanting $20 million and the show offering $10 mil.

Paula's also good and steamed -- and a gal who's making only $2 million to $3 million a year has a right to be steamed -- over reports that "Idol" host Seabiscuit just signed a deal that allegedly lands him $45 million over three years. And the numbers being slung around in judge-producer Simon Cowell's new contract are just stupid-money: $144 million!

Sonenberg has taken his "impress the new client" campaign to Twitter, where a "KeepPaula" crusade has erupted. Fans and former Idolettes, including Anoop Desai, Danny Gokey and Jordin Sparks, are weighing in with their Paula love.

Paula tweeted back: "I'm actually moved 2 tears upon reading the enormous amount of tweets showing me your kindness, love & undying support."

A couple of days later, however, she corrected some of those undying fans' rumors that she'd closed a deal:

"Hey guys, I have not made a deal w/#Idol," she tweeted. "Don't know how that rumor got started but it's not true as I still haven't heard from the producers."

We've come to look forward to the periodic OMG Paula is Leaving 'Idol'! stories and would miss them dreadfully should she ever, um, leave.

Just last fall, when Paula revealed through "sources" that she was developing a "secret venture she's really excited about" and hoping to "transition" out of the Fox hit, we were sad.

That was right around the time she stopped by Barbara Walters's place to confide that the "Idol" producers had allowed Abdul stalker Paula Goodspeed to audition for the fifth season because "it's fun for them to cause me stress."

That was shortly after Goodspeed had died -- an apparent suicide -- in front of Abdul's Hollywood home.

That's our Paula -- unwell woman dies tragically and it's all about stressing out Paula. There's just no one like her. And we did not think at the time that the new "Idol" judge, Kara DioGuardi, would measure up to the warm, comfy "Idol" pabulum that is Paula.

We were right. No one but Paula could come up with the ultra-keen observation on an "Idol" results night that two Idolettes were going home because "one of them ate pizza and the other ate salad." Huh?

And while bowing out of the most-watched TV show in the country is always a smart career choice for a middle-aged female former choreographer-dancer-pop singer, some of the other "Idol" talking heads think her threats are empty.

"She'll be fine. She'll be on the show," Cowell told celebrity suck-up show "Extra" just this week.

"I don't get a lot of say," he said, but added, "I've just made it clear that I want Paula on the show."

Industry suits are on the same page, noting that Abdul doesn't have a whole lot of leverage. "They've got another female host sitting next to her," noted one source, who, you've probably guessed, is a guy.

On the other hand, with "Idol" ratings down and Paula the darling of focus-group research, producers may be loath to lose her.

"I'm sure they're hesitant to tinker with the show," said one industry exec who clearly did not watch last season.

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