Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Paula Abdul Idol negotiations

From what I could piece together, here’s how Paula Abdul’s departure from AMERICAN IDOL went down. We start with a phone conversation between her new manager and AI producers:

MANAGER: We want $10 million a year.

A moment of laugher than the producer collects himself.

PRODUCER: How about this? We’ll agree to let her come back. Under the circumstances I'd say that's a very generous offer.

MANAGER: It’s an insult, is what it is!

PRODUCER: For a judge who has gone on national television drugged out and incoherent? Who has slept with former contestants…?

MANAGER: Oh, don’t give me that. Every employee has done some little thing wrong if you dig deep enough. I will not allow you to throw her minor indiscretions in my face just as a negotiating ploy. She brings a lot to this show and you know it!

PRODUCER: What does she bring?

MANAGER: Pardon me?

PRODUCER: What exactly does Paula Abdul bring to AMERICAN IDOL that we can’t replace?

Long pause.

MANAGER: Let me get back to you.

He hangs up and calls Paula.


PAULA (disoriented): Hello?

MANAGER: Paula, it’s David, your new manager.

PAULA: Nice to meet you.

MANAGER: No, no, we’ve met. You hired me.

PAULA: Oh. Right. Listen, would you call AMERICAN IDOL and make my new deal?

MANAGER: I’m working on it.

PAULA: Great. While I got you, do you think I’m short?


PAULA: See? Those goddamn tabloids!

MANAGER: Paula, let me ask you a question. For the negotiations – could you tell me exactly what you bring to AMERICAN IDOL?


MANAGER: Why you’re irreplaceable?

A long beat.

PAULA: Let me call you back.

Paula hangs up, scrolls through her contact list, and places a call.

PAULA: Hi. Could you tell me what I bring to AMERICAN IDOL?

MANAGER: Paula? It’s me. David. We just spoke.

PAULA: Oh. Sorry. Nice to meet you. I’ll call you back.

She places another call. Randy Jackson answers:

RANDY: Hello?

PAULA: Randy? Hi. It’s Paula.

RANDY: Paula, how lovely to hear your voice. There’s something I must share with you. I just finished reading DAMIAN by Hermann Hesse and found the whole concept of God naively illogical yet hauntingly spiritual when viewed in a metaphysical light. What can I do for you, dawg?

PAULA: They want to know what I bring to AMERICAN IDOL.

RANDY: Oooh. As you know, seeking clarity from the great empirical mysteries of life is my hobby and passion but I’m afraid this one is out of my realm of understanding.

PAULA: Okay. Well, I’ll see you later.

RANDY: If you’re interested, Buzz Aldrin is speaking at Sinai temple on the chasm between faith and science if you’d like to go.

PAULA: I’ll get back to you.

She hangs up the phone and redials her manager.


PAULA: Hi Dennis. I’m still working on answering your question. Hey, do you know the name of that dancer I worked with on the “Opposites Attract ” video?

MANAGER: The cat?

PAULA: Yes, he'll speak for me. Do you have his number?

MANAGER: Paula, he’s a cartoon.

PAULA: Yeah, well, I’ve been mocked by the tabloids too.

MANAGER: No. Paula. A real cartoon character. He doesn’t exist.

PAULA: You’re being just as unhelpful as my last five managers! Look, who cares what I bring? The show gets phenomenal ratings and somehow I must be a part of it. Go back and demand the ten million. What are they gonna do? Replace me? That’s a laugh. (beat) Hold on a moment. Call waiting. (she takes the other call) Hello?

ASSISTANT: Paula, hi, it’s your assistant. Listen, I’m in your dressing room here at Idol and Kara just came in with a tape measure.

PAULA: That bitch! We’ve worked together for a year and NOW she shows an interest in me?

ASSISTANT: Uh, I think she plans to take over your dressing room.

PAULA: What?

ASSISTANT: Are you not coming back?

The realization hits her.

PAULA: Ohmygod! The ARE going to replace me. Well fuck them!

Paula crosses to her computer, forgetting about her manager on the other line. Eventually he gets tired of waiting and hangs up. A beat later and his phone rings.


PRODUCER: Hey, it’s me again. Okay, we’ve been doing some soul searching. Paula does have her fan base and I suppose we could compromise and come up with some dollar figure that would make everybody happy.

MANAGER: I am so relieved. That's great news. As you know, Paula considers you family.

PRODUCER: Wait a minute. I just got a Tweet from Paula that she’s quitting the show. Just like that? She doesn't tell me first? She announces it on Twitter? That ditz! Well, you know what? That’s just fine.


PRODUCER: This is just the last in a long list of wacky behavior from that woman and we are done!

MANAGER: Wait. I'm sure...

PRODUCER: No. It's over. God, it'll be so good to get someone else in there. Someone taller.

Fade out.


Annie said...

Kirstie Alley said on Twitter that she's replacing her. I'm not sure if its just a rumor but I don't think it is, since she has been talking about joining a show on Twitter for a while. I really hope it's true. That would make the show so much better. Paula Abdul, to me, was the odd judge out. I wanted to hear what Simon and Randy had to say, but I didn't really care what she had to say. Maybe I'll actually watch the whole season this year...

Scott said...

I think she brought something to show but now they have that other judge, Kara whatshername, then I dont see really what is the point of her staying. Of course, you could make the argument that her crazy and nonsensical rambling made the show more entertaining, and gave Idol loads of free publicity, but I guess they are at the point where they dont need it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Carl Sagan died 13 years ago.

Nadia said...

I know Paula's an easy target, but do you seriously prefer Kara?

J.J. said...

I guess Simon is going to have to hit on Randy now.

Cap'n Bob said...

Please, Annie, say you're joking. The idea Kirstie the Fat Scientologist on TV anywhere makes my skin crawl.

The real reason Paula is leaving, BTW, is that the show cut into her drinking time. Not much, but enough to send her packing.

Mel Ryane said...

See what can happen when you get over excited about Twitter? Lessons learned all round, I'd say.

Bob said...

I'm willing to be totally incoherent for only 5 million a year. Call me.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Forget Bob. I can do it for $2 million a year. I've lived relatively poor before.

middlesex said...

Breaking News American idol is no more... oh sad very sad...
Rest in peace..

David K. M. Klaus said...

What's a shame is that early in her career Ms Abdul was quite a talent. She, Madonna, Michael and Janet Jackson all did some very fine work in the '80s but for varying reasons their abilities started declining in the '90s and none of them ever really recovered.

VW: worila -- a worried gorrila.

Cool Springs said...

I think that conversation is a word for word transcript.

PistolJ said...

Ratings will drop after the first few shows-people
will want to see the Paula absense drama at first
and then turn to resentment towards Kara.
Paula will still be a judge but it will be through
Twitter. Don't have to say that twice.

Rebecca said...

I was one of the get rid of Paula people a few years ago when she was at her worst. But, as aggravating as she is, there is no denying the chemistry between her, Randy and Simon. Whereas Kara is just flat out annoying every time she opens her Paula, but without the chemistry. So that's what Paula brings. I'm willing to bet that the ratings start taking a nose dive soon after the season starts.

AND, as annoying as she is, Paula still had to be worth at least as much as Seacrest. Or should've been, imo.

Willy B. Good said...

Great sketch Ken, I hope the replacement will be somebody just as smart and sexy as Paula, I will be praying for Katherine Heigl but not for Kirstie Alley, she's way too smart.

Will Teullive said...

So long Paula, hello Jessica Simpson! The crazy train makes three stops hourly in Hollywood, no discernable talent or boarding pass is needed.

WV: spimmel- What did an excited Jimmy Kimmel deposit on Sarah Silverman's dress?

Vermonter17032 said...

Hi, Ken,

Did you notice you have a typo in the headline for this post?

Is everyone really this interested in American Idol or are you all being facetious? I can't tell anymore after the Katherine Heigel episode!

Steph said...

I would never consider "Abdul" an entertainer but she did have some fans of her crap music. What the hell does Kirstie Alley know about anything besides devouring bear claws and cocaine?

Anonymous said...


Thank God she's done, and the producers must be so relieved... God, she is sooooooo annoying with her incoherent ramblings - have to mute her - says nothing of value whatsoever... it's like watching that LIl' C on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE... shit, hope she doesn't join THAT show-- i remember Lythgoe saying he'd be happy to have her there should AI not work out... nigel, please, no...

rms said...

As soon as I saw this news I immediately wondered what you'd do with it, Ken. Glad to see you did not disappoint! However, I will miss your comments about her in your reviews. And I don't even watch AI, I just enjoy your reviews of it.

Tom Quigley said...

I'm waiting to see if sometime in the next month, the producers call a press conference and have Ryan Seacrest announce "Ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, AMERICAN IDOL has always been a show that prides itself on its consistency -- the consistency of its talent, of its fan base and of its judges. And while we all love Paula and are sad to see her depart (and wish her the best in recovery), we felt that in order to maintain the consistency we've had over the years it was necessary to find a replacement that brings many of the same qualities that Paula brought to the show during all that time. Finally, after an exhaustive search, we think we've found the right person to serve on the panel for the 2009-2010 season. And so, without further adieu, AMERICAN IDOL would like to proudly present its selection... Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to your new AMERICAN IDOL judge -- Miss Amy Winehouse!!!"...

Rock Golf said...

When AI started, Paula Abdul was a has-been, Randy Jackson a complete unknown, and Simon Cowell a nobody in America. The show is the star, and except for Cowell, all could be replaced by random members of the public and rating would still be sky-high.

Karen from Mentor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen from Mentor said...

hee hee hee,
I don't care a teeny tiny twitter about American Idol, but I laughed all through the phone "transcript"
that's a sign of good comedy.

Way to nail a topic with a big fat hammer Mr. Levine.

Nathan said...

The only person they could replace her with -- who would bring the same sense of random, disjointed non sequitur-ness to the show-- would be Joan Rivers.

She wouldn't have a thing to say about singing quality, but she'd dish the hell out of everything they wear.

Sandy Koufax said...

Ken: You nailed it!

Matt said...

I don't watch the show often, but would it improve the show to replace her with a former contestant? Who would know better what the judges and others are looking for than someone who's been through it?

jbryant said...

Paula, you are a bright shining star and this is just a beginning for you. The sky's the limit. Just keep working hard and trust your gut. Dare to dance in the path of greatness. The moth who finds the melon finds the corn flake. Also, I want to squish your head off and dangle you from my rearview mirror. Much love.

blogward said...

Wow. It's 'The Search for Scarlett' all over again. Ken, that skit should be on SNL or something.

WV = derch: what Arnie Schwarzenegger says he is when he wants to cover up the fact that he's Austrian.

Rock Golf said...

Oh, by the way, I fully expect to see Paula back at work on the judges' panel by the time Idol begins.

Cowell has pulled similar stunts in England, then after a week gone back and "begged" the judge (such as Louis Walsh on X-Factor) to return, saying it's not the same without him/her.

Hit 40 said...

Paula was naive to think that she was not replaceable. Hilliary Clinton was brighter to stay with Bill for better times. She has seen way more success with Bill than without him....

Paula is just a washed out bimbo without Simon. I am sure the show can find something fresh to make the next season even hotter.

TriaV. said...

They need someone who appreciates the role and won't desert it at the first opportunity. I suggest they bring in David Caruso or Shelly Long or Sarah Palin.

jackscribe said...

Fade in...and now I read that Posh Whatever Beckham is going to guest host? Didn't we just get rid of her and Mr. Armani? Pleez, Paula, come back.

Vermonter17032 said...


Please do not sully the name of Shelly Long by putting her in the same company as Sarah Palin -- though I admit you have a point about quitting.

David K. M. Klaus said...

Tom Quigley, I laughed so hard I had to read that out loud to my wife, who then said "With Amy Winehouse on the show, she may elevate it to new heights!"

(My wife is not a big American Idol fan.)

Thank you, sir.

WV: "dogravol" -- doggie Dramamine, literally. (Look it up.)

Bob said...

Paula isn't coming back. But from force of habit, she already taped her critiques.

Tom Quigley said...

David K. M. Klaus,

Thank YOU, sir!

Always happy when someone laughs at one of my brain droppings!


Anonymous said...

A real cartoon character. He doesn’t exist.

that's deep, dawg