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Paula's Bomb Fills Air With Mangled 'Idol' Fragments

"American Idol" principals were busily disentangling themselves from the wreckage, the morning after Paula Abdul lobbed a grenade into the middle of the show when she tweeted Tuesday night she was not coming back to the show.

Abdul walked away from a 30 percent pay raise according to a source familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity because they don't want to suffer the consequences of being identified to crazed Abdul fans.

Sounds like a lot of money, but it's still substantially less than other 'Idol' characters are making.

With Denver auditions set to start Friday, Abdul's announcement 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 morning radio show, of 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 was offered $45 million over three years to continue hosting "Idol." That's on par with what judge Simon Cowell reportedly is making on the show. (Randy Jackson's under contract through next season.)

Meanwhile, Paula reportedly made $2-$3 million last season to play loopy den-mother judge on the show. A 30 percent raise on $2 mil would put her at $2.6 million per season (though one report insisted her total package would have been worth around $10 million.) We rest our case.

Seabiscuit made no mention in regards to whether Kara DioGuardi was "bummed" as well. Fox and 'Idol' producers had announced they've re-signed DioGuardi to the singing competition series just hours before Paula detonated her bomb.

Out at Summer TV Press Tour 2009 the nation's TV critics were all a Twitter about Paula's announcement.

"How much is Paula worth to NBC -- any interest in making her the fourth judge on "America's Got Talent"?", one critic asked NBC's reality programming chief Paul Telegdy during his Q&A session. "She is an exceptional piece of talent; we've got no specific plans for her but . . . I wouldn't rule anything out," Telegdy said.

"Is this a game changer for 'Idol'?", the critic asked.

"I haven't had time to form an opinion on that," Telegdy said, adding "As a viewer I would miss her on the show."

Anyway, this afternoon, saving the cheerleader -- Abdul's a former L. A. Lakers Girl -- was the No. 5 trending topic on the list of most tweeted subjects on Twitter. Save Paula-ish tweets were coming in at the rate of 10 per 30 seconds at one point Wednesday afternoon.

Paula's tweet-nouncement had everybody attached to the show scrambling on Wednesday.

"Horrible news -- she's a main ingredient," Nigel Lythgoe, the former 'Idol' exec producer who now EP's the same company's reality series "So You Think You Can Dance," told celebrity suck-up show "Extra."

Lythgoe had some major damage control to do, having told reporters Tuesday night he thought Paula's tweet might be a negotiating ruse:

"I heard that Paula twittered she wasn't going to be on it anymore...she may have done that for leverage - who knows, but we'll see. There's still time," he had said. Again, Denver auditions -- Friday.

And Randy Jackson was on the record telling "Extra," "I can't believe it!" "Extra" claimed it got Randy's reax during a break from an "emergency meeting" of "Idol" principals. Fox is not scheduled to have an "American Idol" Q&A session during its time Thursday at Summer TV Press Tour 2009. But it's top suits clearly are going to have a lot of 'splaining to do to the country's TV critics when they take the stage Thursday morning at the tour.

"With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return to 'Idol,'" Paula had tweeted Tuesday night.

"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."

Nicely played, Paula!

"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," she added.

Though our source says Paula notified the Fox network and the show's producers, FreemantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, they'd seemed unprepared for her tweet-bombshell. About an hour after she took it directly to her fans, they collectively issued a statement saying they too were, um, bummed:

"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."

"American Idol" is the country's most watched TV show, but this past season its ratings slipped noticeably in spite of/because of the addition of DioGuardi, who was supposed to breathe new life into the series. Instead, she caused some historic time overruns in the series, which left producers scrambling to find a way to keep Kara quieter.
"Idol" is now back to its original three-judge configuration, with Kara filling the role of token music-industry chick judge. But last season, Kara was mondo boring - the ultimate sin on the show.

Check out highlights from Abdul's eight year run on "American Idol" here.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  August 5, 2009; 3:04 PM ET
Categories:  Summer TV Press Tour 2009  
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Next: New Jay Leno Storms TV Press Tour

Comments

This is what happens when you give people a newspaper and they don't know what to do with it.

American Idol on the front page of WaPo.

Wow. How far the mighty have fallen.

Posted by: WWWexler | August 5, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why people feel this is a "bombshell" of a news item. The addition of a fourth judge was clearly done in case Paula bolted.

What is more, last season it was revealed that Paula was indeed abusing painkillers. While she denied she wasn't taking them while judging, most of these drugs last for several hours. Thus, it's very possible she was indeed high while a judge. Aside from NORML, not too many employers are okay with their employees showing up to work high.

So they made her a bad offer and made it so she'd quit before they fired her. Plain and simple as that.

Posted by: nwrepresent1 | August 5, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I was going to say that maybe she was just ready to move on. But, whoa, Ryan Seacrest makes more than Paula Abdul? Are you serious? Ryan Seacrest is totally forgettable and AI is his only real claim to fame. Paula was a star long before this show. This is a possible case of gender discrimination.

Posted by: forgetthis | August 5, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"Paul Abdul leaving American Idol"....this junk is front page news in the Washington Post? I thought endless weeks of Michael Jackson was too much, are we now going to read endless comments on this dribble? The dumbing down of America....this is a good example.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | August 5, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Who is "Ryan Seacrest Seabiscuit"? Did he get a new last name?

Posted by: worriedmom | August 5, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

When you're in a situation where everyone else is making 4.5x your salary- you can't help but feel there are too many chiefs and not enough indians.

I think she probably made the right decision. If the show totally tanks - she can point to the losses (for example, in advertising dollars) and say "See - that's how much I was really worth."

Yes - she was loopy - but she provided much needed "niceness" in face of Cowell's totally biting sarcasm. That's one reason the judging portion on "So You Think You Can Dance" is so superior - it very rarely gets "personal". With Cowell - it almost always is.

I think "Ameriker" has been there and done that. In bad economic times, it would be freshing to be more encouraging and positive. Making fun of silly/foolish/deluded people isn't funny - it's mean and petty. Choose better contestants - and then make constructive criticism. It's a simple enough formula - and I think it WOULD make for good TV.

Here's hoping more Americans would rather watch a nice flower grow than a train wreck. Call me a cockyed optimist.

Posted by: jqw3827 | August 5, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Paula Abdul / American Idol on front page?!?!

Write down today's date. It will go down as the day the Washington Post became irrelevant.

Posted by: dgloo | August 5, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Really? This is worthy of the front page of the Washington Post? This is what people pay attention to? Sure explains a lot.

To any foreign readers: We're not all this shallow. Really.

Posted by: fluxgirl | August 5, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

some people need to get off their high horse...AI is the most watched program on tv for the last good number of years...25 to 35 million people make time to watch it for about 4 months of the year...if there's a chance a piece of information could change that, then you better believe it's news to a lot of people...ps if you don't like it, skip it, theirs a lot of other pieces to read, sheesh...

Posted by: juvie3 | August 5, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

It is amazing to note that so many people wait to watch this show.
There is absolutely nothing that adds to the knowledge base.

It would help if such time and effort is put into learning something more meaningful.

Posted by: 68b2b | August 5, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Wexler. Hush that fuss. Is the Post supposed to ignore a show watched by a good portion of the country? Maybe the Super Bowl shouldn't be on the home page, either, in your view?

If you truly believe that, you don't know as much about journalism as you pretend to. As a J-school grad, let me get you hip: There are different kinds of news.

As for Paula: FOX was being needlessly tight-fisted and she bolted. It happens.

Posted by: mypitts2 | August 5, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Now the BIG question is... how long is this story going to play?

Posted by: whocares666 | August 5, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

juvie3: Just saw your comment. Thank you. I don't even like "Idol," but the pontificating by some of the folks here on coverage of the show is annoying.

Posted by: mypitts2 | August 5, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Juvie3 is right people need to get off their high horses. I hate Idol and could understand it being on A1 if that were the case. It's the most popular show in the country. But the story's not on A1. The story is not even in the A section. There's a brief blurb in the "Inside the Post" box on A1 along with 6 or so brief blurbs. Please get a grip...

Posted by: Solnoir | August 5, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

What? What? This is on the front page of the Wa Po? Has this turned into People magazine?

Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident | August 5, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else notice that Ryan Seacrest is called Seabiscuit after his second quote? Is this a mistake or is that his new nickname?

Posted by: daspartan_09 | August 5, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Seabiscuit!? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Posted by: lovenotfear | August 5, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow, this bombshell certainly overshadows other stories of today, like the release of the American journalists from North Korea, the economy, health plan reform, etc. With her skills and personality, Abdul could certainly . . . . well I'm not sure. Maybe informercials. Or co-host the radio talk show Sarah Palin is reportedly going to have.

Posted by: Sutter | August 5, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Yawn.......

Posted by: coolguy1 | August 5, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Spare us the snotty comments about how the Washington Post "tarnished" itself by reporting that a major star on (by far) the most watched entertainment show the last 8 years is quitting over an insultingly low salary offer. (Given what disposable, Hollywood dime a dozen prettyboy Ryan Seacrest got..5 times what the crazy, but major music choreography talent, Abdul got.) I don't call "sex discrimination!" much, but everyone knows that Abdul drew millions of fans purely on her rep that at any moment she could be brilliant or lurch into another train wreck..She was as entertaining as the contestants.

Dismissal of the "mere middle class America" entertainment when we could be talking a shakeup at The Kennedy Center ..reeks as much of Elitism as saying that the Washington Post covering Michael Jackson's death was "unworthy" of a great newspaper - but reporting the tantrum of a Harvard law professor WAS nationally important news.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | August 5, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Paula was a washed up 2 or 3 hit wonder from the 80s. Without American Idol she wouldn't even be a question on a trival game. She should take the 3 million and be thankful.

Posted by: Revcain777 | August 5, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"Paula was a washed up 2 or 3 hit wonder from the 80s. Without American Idol she wouldn't even be a question on a trival game. She should take the 3 million and be thankful."

Amen.

Posted by: BEEPEE | August 5, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

A host is a host, from coast to coast, and no paper rocks like the Post, they boast. Unless the Post just called the host the famous Mr. Ed.

Or Seabiscuit.

Just say "neigh" to proofreading!

Posted by: Merujo | August 5, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Seabisquit was a horse. Are they going to put a horse on the judging panel to replace Ms. Abdul? That WOULD be front-page news. Maybe the horse should be on America's Got Talent.

Posted by: vrytix | August 5, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

This story was on the cover of the LA Times, The New York Times, The London Times etc. Apparently, it's pretty big news that Paula is leaving AI. So all of you who keep harping on the fact that it was on the cover of the Wastington Post, get over it.

Posted by: toyfad | August 5, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

About the Seabiscuit thing... yeah, I noticed that too. Actually, the first time I opened the story, it said this:

"Everybody is sort of wondering what happened, but it's not a publicity stunt," Idol host Ryan Seacrest Seabistuitsaid Wednesday morning on his KIIS morning radio show, of Paula's tweet.

"I'm just bummed because we've worked together for so many years," Seabiscuit emoted.

Looks like copyeditors tried to clean it up but they didn't catch everything. Funny.

Posted by: danielmacy | August 5, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Ah, those of you that are new to the Devine Ms. L de M - Seabiscuit is not a typo.

And I love that people who do not like the inclusion of this ONE link on the front page, still have the time to click on it, read it and comment. Amazing.

Posted by: suzannepdc | August 5, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

"Bombshell"? Only because it's on the front page of the Post. I read this paper BECAUSE I don't give a damn about anything on Fox. Do you really believe that Fox viewers read the Post? Or can read at all?

Posted by: dubhlaoich | August 5, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I am new to the Devin Ms. L de M. Thanks for the clarification on Seabiscuit! (talk about people getting off their high horses!)

Posted by: danielmacy | August 5, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"Seabiscuit"...lol...that made my afternoon.

Posted by: psryan628 | August 5, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

It is indeed sad to see Paula go because she brought so much more to the show than Kara. If the reports are correct, why would the show execs sign Kara before completing a contract with Paula. I think the show is standing on its last leg anyway. Just as Paula has been taken for granted, I see Simmon being treated similarly to they way Paula has been treated. Ryan and Simmon earning the same figures? Give me a break. Without simmon, there won't be an American Idol period.

Posted by: Labamba1 | August 5, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I think the internets are broken. I just read the text of a Jackie Harvy "Outside Scoop" column from The Onion, but the header said the Washington Post.

Posted by: MichaelInDurham | August 5, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Stoned out, air-head, space cracker lives meaningless TV show. Yes, a news story of major import. LOL.

Posted by: LawyerTom1 | August 5, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

The word "bombshell" continues its decline to utter meaninglessness.

Posted by: filmlab | August 5, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Each week a new guest judge should fill in her empty spot. Guest stars should include people like Madonna, Beyonce, Sting, Bette Midler, even Tony Bennett. This would spice up the panel and change the dynamic and make it more fun.
Paula Abdul did her job well and kept us amused. That they paid the others more is typical in show business where the woman alway makes less except in rare cases.

Posted by: mharwick | August 5, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

tears in my eyes from braying out loud and alone in my office over the seabiscuit reference. absolutely wonderful. i shall refer to him from now on as mr. seabiscuit. one has to think that some smart a$$ at the post put seabiscuit in and the editor didn't catch it. fabulous.

Posted by: frieda406 | August 5, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't pay 50 cents for Seacrest and Paula together! They are definitely on my "how did these people ever get famous" list!

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | August 5, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

WHO CARES!! Dumb show, Judges lack talent, intellect, or panache.
Please, let them all not return.

Posted by: randall1 | August 5, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

O.K., I can get this being a front page article on WAPO since so many people watch the show, but is this what journalism has come to...the slang...the slang...and name calling in what is supposed to be a serious piece...Seabiscuit...are you kiddin'...splaning...oh, please tell me GenX is not going to change the language context to slang in print journalism...please!

Posted by: Beingsensible | August 5, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't watch American Idol, but I read this article because NP frigging R was talking about it today. I thought the bombshell they were talking about was how the show was rigged, how Simon is gay, or some other unbelievable news.

Posted by: mcleangirl | August 5, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Idol sucks. That show should be cancelled. All those people that watch that show need to get a life.

Posted by: Classic60 | August 5, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse


Abdul came across as a totally self-centered, shallow fraud. No loss here.

Posted by: bamccampbell | August 5, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Seabiscuit! outstanding - can you come up with new names for the rest of the idol crew - it might make them interesting once again (but i doubt it)

Posted by: mothball | August 5, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Without simmon, there won't be an American Idol period.

Posted by: Labamba1 | August 5, 2009 5:10 PM
----------------
Good! Dump Simon and cancel that idiotic show.

Posted by: Classic60 | August 5, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

is this really a loss? really? she provided just about zero useful insight to any contestant on the show. she always seemed so whacked out that it's hard to fathom whe wasn't on some kind of mood altering drugs. she had trouble constructing simple sentences. it was painful watching her talk, waiting for that nugget of inspiration that just never came.

Posted by: funkmonkey | August 5, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

let's look at this as business News. The Fox biggies made a business decision to ax Ms. Abdul. now we will see if it was a wise one or a bad one.

Posted by: Parcons | August 5, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Just feel the need to remind posters who say it's not news:
The number one TV show is news. The Post is dead right to put the story up top when someone leaves the number one TV show.

Too many people just say something's not news when they wish it wasn't news.

Posted by: kls1 | August 5, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Criminey Christmas, WHO CARES?!

Only mindless idiots with no lives of their own watch these pathetic "reality" type tv shows, anyway.

I refuse to contribute to the obscene wealth of these so-called celebrities who are grossly overpaid for what they do.
Most of these celebrities are spoiled, arrogant, hubristic individuals who have some kind of pathetic need to be idolized by people they don't even know.

I wish the whole lot of these "reality" shows would just go bye-bye - and take their would-be celebrities with them.

Posted by: kentuckywoman | August 5, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Paula got consistently loopier and loopier with each passing season. It was so time for her to go, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was asked to make this decision. Kara was clearly brought on last year as a possible replacement and she is a more sober and sane choice, who had good insights into the music business. 4 judges were too many but her comments will fit the time slot now that Paula is no more.

Posted by: fmjk | August 5, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

To all you whiners complaining about AI being on the front page -- get a life, yourselves. This IS big news for the entertainment industry, as well as the sponsors who pay big bucks to advertise.

This is also news because either Abdul has a heck of a great lawsuit for discrimination, or the owners/producers of the show were merely trying to provide her with an easy way out before they fired her for breach of contract -- most contracts have clauses about decency, substance abuse, etc., and Paula's medication problems are pretty much legendary vis a vis AI.

Completely agre that AI should look at the "So You Think You Can Dance" model of showing very few simpletons and primarily very good dancers -- and judges who actually judge rather than stick the rusty knives in, and have vocabularies beyond, "Yo dawg!".

As for "get a life" complainers: I've got a great life, wonderful job, love my family, etc etc, and yes -- shocking! -- I watch AI. Take your arrogant, sad proclamations and move on. If you don't like AI, then shut up already and get off this blog.

As for refusing to contribute to the "obscene wealth" of those celebrities, darlin' -- every time you purchase anything even remotely connected with one of the sponsors of AI and/or any other TV show (including so-calleed Public Television), you ARE contributing to that obscene wealth -- whose money do you think pays their salary? It's the money you spend as a consumer. And if you don't like reality shows, then don't watch them. Very simple.

Posted by: lanehatcher | August 6, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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