Why Did Paula Abdul Leave American Idol?

Why did Paula Abdul leave American Idol?

Late last night, Paula Abdul announced she would not be returning as one of a triad of hosts on TV’s popular American Idol. Did she throw a press conference? Let it slip during an interview?

Nope — she used Twitter.

Someone needs to tell celebrities to stop the madness. I’m sick of Twitter being used as a kind of slam book (see Shaquille O’Neal’s taunting of David Beckham) or de facto news organization (Abdul’s announcement et al).

Why did Abdul decide to leave what is likely a lucrative position on one of the most popular TV programs in the world?

Early speculation held that she was using the Twitter post as a bargaining tool. That didn’t make sense to me right from the start. Why would Paula threaten to quit, publicly, in order to increase her position against Fox? A better tactic, had she been interested in bargaining, would have been a private meeting suggesting she had a better offer elsewhere. (She didn’t.)

For their part, Fox issued a statement this morning saying “While Paula will not be continuing with us, she’s a tremendous talent and we wish her the best.”

What do we know about American Idol that might inform this quitting business? Well for one thing, Paula Abdul was very vocal about the huge salary difference between her and the other Idol judges and hosts. Ryan Seacrest, for instance, just signed a $45 million three year deal to stay with the show, and sourpuss Simon Cowell makes more money than God through American Idol. Paula Abdul on the other hand was earning between $2 and $3 milion a year — around 20% of Seacrest’s earnings. Really, Idol? Paula Abdul makes less than Ryan Seacrest?

Tuesday, Fox and the two parent companies of “American Idol” (FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment) issued a joint statement: “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.”

Since it is clear that Fox could have decided to pay Paula more, their decision to let her go means they just didn’t want her around anymore.

So it really is “Goodbye, Paula” this time. She’s threatented before, and there have been rumblings of some shakeups among the Idol judges. This time, though, all bets are off.

Abdul wrote, via Twitter — “I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day1 become an international phenomenon.”

Paula Abdul’s contract expired just after the end of this past season. The show, now headed for its ninth season, starts auditions this Thursday in Denver.

Last week, before Paula quit, word was leaked that Kara DioGuardi, added this year to the judging panel, would return for more Idol, sparking rumors that Abdul was a goner. Fox officially announced earlier this week that they’d picked up DioGuardi’s option.