Paula Abdul leaves American Idol; Fremantle employee says she wasn’t asked back

Paula Abdul’s time as a judge on American Idol is over: She will not return for the ninth season of the show, which she announced on Twitter and Fox, FremantleMedia, and 19 Entertainment confirmed her departure in a press release that said, “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. While Paula will not be continuing with us, she’s a tremendous talent and we wish her the best.”

While some skepticism might be warranted–the producers are calling her bluff over her very public contract negotiations–a Fremantle employee (who asked not to be identified by name for obvious reasons) told me that Paula wanted $20 million a year, confirming reports she wanted more than Ryan Seacrest’s $15 million a year. Ultimately, she wasn’t asked to return because of that demand and general fatigue about her antics.

Ryan Seacrest was so distraught about Paula’s departure that he seemed to be channeling Paula as he typed Twitter posts on his Blackberry. He wrote, tweeting, “I am shocked and saddened about paula” and “I can’t imagine the panel without puala. She’s a star @ a great friend.”

Paula initially revealed the news by posting five times to Twitter last night:

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..Cont’d…

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.

What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me

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

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.