The Case Of The Vanishing Judge
The New York Times contacted several sources to get to the bottom of it, but the situation is apparently so dicey that nobody spoke on the record, in fear of upsetting parties involved in either side of the controversy.
Abdul exited her role as a judge on “Idol” in early August, announcing via Twitter that, after eight seasons, she was leaving the show to pursue other projects. And she did, too, meeting ABC, NBC and the producer of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” – which would fall in line with Abdul’s background as a choreographer.
Maybe that’s all there is to this story. But Abdul’s exit came on the heels of an extremely well-publicized new pay package for “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest, who negotiated $10 million a year for three years, according to the Times (several media outlets reported a $15 million-per-year contract).
People close to Abdul told the Times that the judge felt “Idol” producers had disrespected her and undermined her for years. She had asked for a raise from $3.5 million a year to more than $10 million, including a $2 million salary and $1.5 million for wardrobe and other expenses, the paper said.
She was also upset that her “Idol” colleagues did not rebut allegations of unreliability and substance abuse, costing her endorsement possibilities. In fact, one person told the Times that the raise was to compensate for the loss of income from a failed endorsement contract with a major fashion label.
A recent managerial change was also a factor in the divorce, a source told the paper. Abdul’s new manager, David Sonenberg, negotiated the deal in public and, as one Fox exec told the paper, “It didn’t go well.”
One member of the “Idol” team said the powers that be weighed Abdul’s contribution to the show versus her histrionics and decided she was expendable. In fact, those close to her said she felt the addition last season of a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, was a signal from the producers to Abdul that she was replaceable.
“A lot of people at Fox had mixed feelings about Paula,” one person close to the negotiations told the Times. “Some of the people who were having to deal with her on a day-to-day basis didn’t want her back.”