Paula Abdul: "I've Decided Not to Return to Idol"

American Idol's nicest judge says she's leaving "with sadness in [her] heart"

By Natalie Finn Aug 05, 2009 1:15 PMTags
Simon Cowell, Paula AbdulMichael Becker / FOX

Paula Abdul's American Idol journey has ended.

Less than a week after E! News confirmed Kara DioGuardi will be returning to the judges' table, Abdul wrote on Twitter Tuesday that she will not be back for the show's ninth season.

"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 day1 become an international phenomenon," read two tweets posted shortly after 7:30 p.m.

Fox confirmed the news shortly afterward.

"What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me," Abdul continued. "It truly has been breathtaking, especially over the past month.

"I do without any doubt have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all."

"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," Fox and producer FremantleMedia North America said in a statement. "While Paula will not be continuing with us, she's a tremendous talent and we wish her the best."

Abdul's rep didn't immediately return a request for comment, but her manager, David Sonenberg, was rather blunt recently when asked about Abdul's prospects in the wake of the $45 million deal inked by Ryan Seacrest and the even more mind-boggling sum reportedly being negotiated by Simon Cowell.

Sonenberg told the Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago that producers hadn't even approached Abdul with a number, a lack of action he called "kind of unconscionable and certainly rude and disrespectful."

Reps for show producers Fremantle, 19 Entertainment and Fox had remained quiet amid the rumblings that Abdul was getting ready to walk (or being given her walking papers).

An Idol source tells E! News that the invested parties made Abdul what they considered to be a "fair offer," but that she turned them down. And "Kara made her expendable," the source said.

Seacrest twittered his reaction upon hearing the news tonight.

"About to go to sleep when I started seeing my blackberry blow up. I have read what u have read and I am shocked and saddened about paula," he wrote.

"Idol and the cast have grown with each other over the last 8 seasons..I can't imagine the panel without puala. She's a star @ a great friend," he added, followed by, "Spoke to randy..hope to speak with paula privately overnight."

On the set of So You Think You Can Dance, former Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe quipped, "I didn't know twitters were official statements, but if they are I'm going to be very careful what I twitter from now on."

But in all seriousness, "Of course I'm sad about it," he told E! News following tonight's taping for part one of SYTYCD's season finale. "I think it's a loss for both of them. It isn't just a question of a loss for Fox. I think Paula was an important part of American Idol.

"I've always said the show is more important than any individual and it's dependent upon the talent that comes on it, the young singing talent. The chemistry of Randy, Paula and Simon is going to be historic. When you talk about television programs, whatever happens now, they will be the three judges that everybody else has got to come up to that standard."

Well, we believe that until they literally remove that fourth chair from the table, anything's possible—especially if the news of Abdul's doneness promotes a strong enough reaction from fans who prefer her compliment-laden brand of criticism.

Because, without Abdul, how are any of the contestants going to know where their magic is?

—Additional reporting by Natalie Abrams and Ken Baker

(Originally published Aug. 4, 2009, at 7:43 p.m. PT)


Need more backstory on Paula's saga? Get all E! Online's American Idol news now.