Paula Abdul will not appear on American Idol this season. That has to be the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, right up there with Ryan Seacrest out-banking her many times over. Sometimes I just don’t get people, who in their right mind would think that Paula is not a crucial ingredient of the American Idol recipe? Guys, you cannot have American Idol without Paula, it is just plain old ridiculous – and no, Kara DioGuardi is no substitute. In fact, did American Idol producers even bother to watch audience reactions to this attention seeker’s numerous attempts to insert herself into the competition. It was sort of sad, really, the only thing that made her bearable was Paula.
It truly is a travesty that Kara has been re-contracted at the expense of destroying the Idol formula. Yes, we all know that Paula was the silver-lining seeking judge who occasionally slurred and ambled her way towards complimenting even the worst contestants, but she was also a lucid foil for her fellow judges keeping their malignity in check.
Since Paula just announced this last night on her Twitter, saying “With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return to #Idol I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day1become an international phenomenon.”
FOX has released a statement through Access Hollywood that is an obvious attempt to make the split appear amicable. “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.”
The fact that both sides are being somewhat passive aggressive at this point – she hasn’t called them sexist cheap skates, and they have not called her a self important diva – is probably giving fans the impression that there is a chance for a last minute deal. Perhaps both sides are banking on an outpouring of fan support to melt one heart or the other, but to me it seems that this is dead in the water. It will be interesting to see what the impact of Paula’s absence will be. American Idol has never produced a star proportional to its audience, in fact some of its bigger stars were runner ups. It was the judging trio that created the on-the-fly narrative of the show.
Television fans like sameness. No matter how well cultured we pretend to be, we tune in to the same show every week expecting to see some semblance of what we’ve seen before. Idol’s success seems to be a blend of its archetypal cores, the average Joe or Jane on the epic journey for stardom, and the conversations amongst the gods peering into the Colosseum from their place up high. For years there has been a particular ‘tone’ to that conversation that has existed parallel to Idol’s rise through the stratosphere of television ratings, now we will learn whether that was an intrinsic link to the success of the show or if it was the simply pageantry that kept fans coming back.