In an interview with the LA Times Friday, American Idol judge Paula Abdul’s Manager, David Sonenberg, expressed her displeasure at current contract negotiations, stating “Very sadly, it does not appear that she’s going to be back on Idol “. Apparently, the pace of negotiating a new deal for Paula hasn’t kept up with the recent announcement that Ryan Seacrest has signed a new, three-year deal paying him $45 million dollars for three more years of American Idol, more than double his most recent salary negotiated in 2006. Neither deal, of course, could match the rumored $100-$144 million contract rumored to have been presented to American Idol staple Simon Cowell in an attempt to keep him beyond the end of his current contract next spring.
What does this mean? Salary negotiations are always a tough time for both networks and stars, especially when the program is the number one rated show in the country. providing a financial bonanza for Fox Network and FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment, the producers of the program. Stars and their representatives turn to the media to publicize their wish lists while studios normally keep closed mouths until negotiations are complete. In the case of Abdul, however, Sonenberg states he hasn’t even been offered a deal at all, lamenting “I find it under these circumstances particularly unusual; I think unnecessarily hurtful.”
In the case of Paula Abdul, however, the producers may have played a trump card with the signing of Kara DioGuardi last year as a fourth judge on the show. Was it a warning to Abdul not to negotiate a budget-busting deal this year? Whatever the situation, I suspect we’ll see a last minute deal prior to the beginning of the shooting schedule (August 9th) and four happy faces sitting before the stage next year.