Paula Abdul was hurt by salary disparity, substance abuse jokes, Kara DioGuardi’s hiring

The road to Paula Abdul’s departure from American Idol is detailed in a New York Times report that says she was bitter about everything from her colleagues’ salaries to jokes about her possible substance abuse.

Ryan Seacrest’s $10 million annual salary plus Simon Cowell’s $30 million a year, plus the hiring of Kara DioGuardi, “led Ms. Abdul to believe that as a woman she was being treated differently from the men,” the paper reports, citing people close to Paula. In addition, Paula “believed that the failure by her ‘Idol’ colleagues to rebut sufficiently insinuations and jokes about her unreliability and possible substance abuse cost her lucrative endorsements.”

Paula initially “requested a raise to more than $10 million a year, according to people involved in the negotiations, from about $3.5 million. That amount included a salary of roughly $2 million and another $1.5 million for wardrobe and other expenses.” But “Fox said it was prepared to offer her no more than $5 million a year, take it or leave it.” Someone who works with the show “said that while Ms. Abdul had clearly contributed to the program’s success, the costs and benefits of her histrionics were quantifiable enough that ‘Idol’ could afford to draw a line in the sand and not cross it,” according to the Times.

Ultimately, though, Paula wasn’t concerned about Fox’s hard-line stance. “Paula didn’t place as much importance on remaining on the show as some other people did. She thinks there are a lot of opportunities out there for her, and she will be fine without that show,” according to an anonymous “person close to Ms. Abdul” who “spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve relationships on both sides.”

How ‘Idol’ and Abdul Parted Ways [New York Times]

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.