Four Possible Scenarios Resulting From Paula Abdul’s “American Idol” Departure

Last night, Paula Abdul announced via Twitter that she wouldn’t be returning to American Idol to elliptically critique its singing hopefuls, a missive that was confirmed by Fox shortly after Abdul’s 140-character send-off went live. “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,” Abdul typed; “While Paula will not be continuing with us, she’s a tremendous talent and we wish her the best,” replied Fox. (Idol host Ryan Seacrest, for his part, told his Twitter followers he was “shocked and saddened.”) So what does this mean for the show, which is creaking into its ninth season with declining ratings, an increased sense of self-aggrandizement, and—now—a little less spunk? Four outcomes for this season, after the jump.

1. Nothing’s really all that different. Oh, sure, Randy will still say “dawg” about 17 times an episode, and Kara will still try to project her lack of before-the-camera stardom onto the hopefuls in front of her, and Simon will still look like he’d rather be catching the first bus that goes by the CBS Studios. And yeah, there might be a little less magic pixie dust sprinkled over the proceedings. But Fox executives and time-shifted Idol viewrs will be thrilled, because the elimination of the fourth judge means that the show might actually end on time once in a while. (Especially because that fourth judge would frequently spar with Simon in ways that indicated something was clearly wrong off-camera.)

2. The Idol producers, desperate to “hip up” the show, start filling Paula’s seat at the judging table with an ever-rotating cast of Idol bloggers. I’d better start drafting my rider!

3. Paula’s absence results in Simon getting even more bored, an ennui that’s stoked by him pretty much sitting on a couch upholstered with thousand-dollar bills, and he forces some changes into the show’s format. You just know that he’d love for America to have a Susan Boyle of its own (and sorry, Hoff, but America’s Got Talent ain’t quite cutting it). And since we’re in the second round of auditions right now, thinking about him exercising his prerogative and switch up the rules so he can bring in a few people over the show’s maximum age of 30 isn’t too far-fetched of a scenario!

4. Paula comes back, to maximum publicity and a bit of eyerolling from Kara. It’s a bit tinfoil-hattish, sure, but what is Idol without its conspiracy theories? Earlier this week, Seacrest Tweeted about Denver auditions taking place soon, and since he intimated that Randy Jackson would be in attendance, one can surmise that the second-round tryouts, where producer-picked hopefuls are actually placed in front of the judges, are starting this week. What if Paula got a few months off—until, say, the end of February, when the live episodes begin, and when her triumphant return could help jolt the ratings from their traditional post-tryout doldrums? You have to admit, it would be great publicity for the show. And Simon Cowell is nothing if not a consummate showman.

Paula Abdul [Twitter]

  • dusty vinyl

    Interesting thing with Cowell is that this marks the last season of Idol as per the 5 year agreement with Simon Fuller following their legal dispute.

    As part of the agreement 19 Entertainment (Fuller) have a 1/3 share in the rights to X-Factor outside the USA for this 2005-2010 term. Also Fox have licensed the rights to the X-Factor in the USA for those 5 years (and not exercised its right to produce the show with Idol still going strong).

    All rights + licences for X-Factor revert back to Syco (Cowell) at the end of Idol 9. Can anyone see him not want to leave Idol and launch the show in the USA when he’ll own the whole caboodle of TV and recording rights?

    Here’s the legal agreement:

    (The X-Factor agreement is part 8, much of the rest covers Idol and Syco’s option on the recording rights for Idols 5 through 9 as long as Cowell remains judge)

  • revmatty

    Shame, after they get to Hollywood Paula’s dadaesque performance art is the only thing interesting on the show. Dusty’s hypothesis seems like a pretty reasonable one, and frankly it was time for Idol to end about three seasons ago.

  • RobMurphy

    Paula leaving Idol? I call shenanigans! Former Us EIC Bonnie Fuller tweeted last nite that Paula’s contract was already a done deal, and I know Fuller has never ever been wrong about anything celebretainment-related EVER!!!

  • RobMurphy

    Ah, well BF has backtracked and now says her sources thought there was a done deal but Paula rejected it at the last minute because she was PO’d at the size of her raise as compared to the size of Ryan’s raise. And if BF is reporting this, you can rest assured it’s true.

  • Varina

    Well, if she’s really gone, maybe the shows will actually end at 9pm next season. And maybe Kara will improve her articulation. I think Cowell’s too lazy to come up with any format changes.

    The idea of Maura, Michael Slezak or Rickey as guest judges is delicious.