Paula, Out!

Abdul's Bombshell Sets Fans Atwitter

"American Idol's" Paula Abdul is calling it quits after eight seasons on the top-rated reality TV talent show.
Thursday, August 6, 2009

PASADENA, Calif., Aug. 5

"American Idol" principals disentangled themselves from the wreckage the morning after judge Paula Abdul lobbed a grenade into the middle of the show in the form of a tweet saying she wasn't coming back.

Abdul, the former pop choreographer/pop singer who reinvented herself as "Idol's" loopy den mother, walked away from a 30 percent pay raise, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The source requested anonymity, not wanting to suffer the consequences of becoming the face of The Other Side of the Story to crazed Abdul fans.

Don't believe me? You should have looked at Twitter about the middle of the day Wednesday -- about 12 hours after Abdul tweeted her exit. A save-the-cheerleader movement was the No. 5 trending topic on the list of most tweeted subjects -- tweets were coming in at the rate of about 10 per 30 seconds at one point in support of the former L.A. Lakers Girl.

While a 30 percent raise sounds miraculous in this economy, it would have netted her a lot less than some of the other "Idol" characters are making.

And with Denver auditions set to start Friday, Abdul's news caused quite the sensation: "Everybody is sort of wondering what happened, but it's not a publicity stunt," 'Idol' host Ryan Seacrest said Wednesday morning on his KIIS-FM Los Angeles radio show, referring to Paula's tweet. "I'm just bummed because we've worked together for so many years," Seabiscuit continued.

"I think if you were to talk to Randy or Simon they would say the same thing -- it's sad, it bums us out," said the man who recently closed a deal to make about $45 million to continue hosting the country's most popular television show -- about $30 mil for the actual hosting gig and another $15 mil for other stuff, including developing new projects, use of his likeness (seriously), etc.

That total-package price tag is more money than Simon Cowell's current deal with "Idol," which has been reported to be in the mid-$30-millions. His current deal runs though next season (as does Randy Jackson's). But Cowell is already in talks with show producers about a new pact that would give him a hefty raise, according to news reports.

Meanwhile, Paula walked away from a multi-year deal worth about $10 million. We rest our case.

On his radio show, Seabiscuit made no mention as to whether Kara DioGuardi was "bummed" as well. Fox and "Idol" producers had announced they'd re-upped DioGuardi for next season, one day before Paula detonated her bomb.

Amid the mangled fragments of the show, the three-judge format resumes. But DioGuardi now has to fill Paula's token music-industry-chick shoes. And with the actual singing competition now having become rote on the show, the competition among judges is often the more exciting feature.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company