American Idol: Is Paula Abdul Returning Or Not?

Now I'm confused. Or, well, I should've seen it coming, for it's Paula Abdul, after all.

Over the weekend, Paula's manager, David Sonenberg, told the Los Angeles Times that the American Idol judge might not be returning to the show after all. "It does not appear that she's going to be back on Idol" were his words, to be specific.

What gives? He claims Fremantle and 19 Entertainment have yet to give Abdul a new contract. He figures they should've given her something at this point, since auditions for the show's ninth season begin on August 6. Else, we wouldn't see her on that desk picking apart the wannabes from the real talent.

"I find it under these circumstances particularly unusual; I think unnecessarily hurtful," Sonenberg, who's been managing Paula since last month, added. "I find it kind of unconscionable and certainly rude and disrespectful that they haven't stepped up and said what they want to do."

Now, this thing I find a bit odd. Paula previously said that she is optimistic about her return to Idol, going as far as saying that she's been invited back by the show's producers for the final stage of negotiations. So maybe there is a final stage, and Sonenberg must really be feeling bad for his talent, if his claims that nothing's happened are true.

Or, many people will think that this is just a ruse to pressure the producers to get Paula a bigger deal. Remember, Ryan Seacrest got a $45-million three-year deal in recent weeks, and despite Simon Cowell's denials, that $144-million price tag still looms. (Also note that Ryan's bigger deal also involved him developing shows for 19 Entertainment, so it isn't exactly just a pay raise.) Sure, Paula might want a bigger paycheck from Idol, but...

Well, what do we know? Nobody else is giving comments--no one from Fox, Fremantle or 19. If this continues, maybe we should get used to the idea of Paula not being on the judges' table after all--just the same speculation that was launched when Kara DioGuardi joined last year. Only this sounds more complicated.

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