The TV Column

Paula Abdul Is Leaving 'Idol' -- and This Time She Really Means It

"American Idol's" Paula Abdul is calling it quits after eight seasons on the top-rated reality TV talent show.
By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, August 5, 2009; 3:06 AM

PASADENA, Calif., Aug. 4 One day after the producers of "American Idol" and Fox network announced that Kara DioGuardi had signed on to return to the show next season, "Idol" judge Paula Abdul wrote on her "verified" Twitter account that she's stepping off the "Idol" gravy train.

"With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return to 'Idol,' " read tweets posted Tuesday night on Abdul's account. "I'll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all I'll [miss] 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."

Reached for comment, Fox network and the show's producers, FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, issued a statement saying: "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."

Abdul had been making about $4 mill a year as a judge and reportedly had tried to up that to $20 million in current talks; last word was that she was seeking about $12 mill. According to a source familiar with the negotiations, Abdul walked away from an offer to increase her salary 30 percent to return the show.

Judge Simon Cowell recently struck a new deal that reportedly will pay him about $45 million. Heck, even show host Ryan Seacrest scored $30 million over three years for hosting, and half again as much in his new pact for merchandising rights to his mug.

Randy Jackson is amid a deal, so he's back. Tuesday night's news takes the show back to its original three-judge format, but with the third judge being DioGuardi, about whom fans have been lukewarm at best, replacing "Idol's" wacky den-mother ratings magnet.

"American Idol" is the country's most watched TV show, but this past season its ratings slipped noticeably in spite of -- or because of -- the addition of DioGuardi, who was supposed to breathe new life into the series. Instead, her addition mostly resulted in some historic time overruns on the music competition, which left producers scrambling to find a way to keep Kara quieter.

"Idol" auditions are scheduled to begin in just a few weeks.

Fox is going to have a lot of 'splaining to do to the country's TV critics Thursday at the press tour.

Emmys Wake-Up Call

Hotted-up TV critics, ready to rumble with this year's Primetime Emmy Awards producer Don Mischer, got hit in the face with a wallop of wake-up-and-smell-the-ratings.

With the best of intentions, the critics attending Summer TV Press Tour 2009 have been chest-thumping about Mischer and the TV Academy ever since Emmy bestowers unveiled plans to bestow less airtime to some categories in order to add more bells and whistles that might attract some actual viewers.

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