Apparently Fox isn’t sobbing into its pillow over Paula Abdul’s departure or trying too hard to win back the former judge/pop singer/dancer/choreographer/ex-Lakers girl. In fact, her “American Idol” judging chair has already been temporarily filled.
Abdul took to her Twitter account late Tuesday night to announce she wouldn’t return to the ninth season of “Idol,” telling fans that the decision came “with a sadness in [her] heart.”
The decision came down to how much green Idol was willing to fork over. Last week Abdul tweeted, “I hope you understand I can only return to Idol if the deal is fair.” While Abdul obviously didn’t approve of Fox’s offer for her contract renewal, the network has a different opinion.
“We made an offer we feel is very fair to Paula," Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice told the Television Critics Association, adding that the deal included a substantial raise.
“My understanding is that her only issue is money,” Rice said, noting that Fox “very much wanted her to return.”
A person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press the offer is for “a multiyear, eight-figure deal that represents a 30 percent increase for Abdul.”
The Los Angeles Times previously reported that Abdul’s current annual salary was around $4 million. She had reportedly initially asked for a raise as much as $20 million but then lowered the request to $12 million.
If the $4 million per year and 30 percent increase offer are both correct figures, (and I can do the math correctly) that would bring Abdul’s offer to $5.2 million per year. The offer doesn’t sound exactly fair when you consider judge Simon Cowell is reportedly making about $36 million a year.
When asked what Fox would do if Abdul wanted to meet up one more time to try and renegotiate her pay, Rice said, "I have no expectation that Paula's going to do that. And in terms of the negotiations themselves, the negotiations have concluded."
The seven-week audition process for “Idol” season nine kicked off today in Denver. Abdul’s judging chair will be filled with female pop stars such as Katy Perry and Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice.
Fox is looking for a permanent replacement for Abdul between now and when season nine airs in January.
Rice admitted that there will be a “different dynamic” between Cowell and fellow judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi without Abdul’s goofy, positive presence, but added that “there’s also something very exciting about that.”
Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said that while Abdul created “unbelievably successful chemistry" on the show, he’s positive “Idol” will soldier on. As an example, he referenced Walker Cronkite and Diane of “Cheers.” Man, maybe Fox misses Abdul more than they’re letting on – comparing Walter Cronkite to Paula Abdul?!
Abdul may already have another job opportunity in the works on another reality show. Nigel Lythgoe, former "American Idol" producer and executive producer and judge with Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," said he's invited Abdul to meet him and "talk about what opportunities are out there."
TMZ caught up with Abdul in New York’s JFK Airport and urged her to take the “SYTYCD” gig.
She replied that she didn’t know she was being given an offer.
“I love the show; it’s a wonderful show. I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s been overwhelming, what’s going on right now, so I have to really carefully think about everything,” Abdul said.
Abdul said that she was going to miss her “compadres, of course,” and that Cowell “misses me already.”
TMZ suggested that President Barack Obama help Abdul get back on “Idol” and she replied that while she doesn’t think that’s an issue at the top of his list, “I told him I would babysit his girls any day.”
Click here for the AP article.
Click here for the TMZ story.
Click here for the Los Angeles Times article.