August 13, 2009
Posted: 07:54 AM ET
By Edward Wyatt / NYTimes.com
Paula Abdul’s departure from “American Idol” was the product of months of calculation: financial and logistical on the part of the show’s producers and its network, Fox, and entrepreneurial and retaliatory on the part of Ms. Abdul, who in recent months has grown increasingly certain that greater opportunities lie elsewhere.
Ms. Abdul’s announcement last week that she would not return to “American Idol” after eight seasons produced an array of reactions, most of which focused on her career prospects. Most assumed that she would be unlikely to find a job as lucrative and as prominent.
One week later, however, Ms. Abdul was already being courted by two other networks, ABC and NBC, as well as the producer of another Fox hit, “So You Think You Can Dance.” While her future is anything but certain, the notion that Ms. Abdul had nowhere else to go has quickly proved suspect.
But Ms. Abdul’s departure leaves bitter feelings on both sides. Her determination to wring greater compensation from Fox and the “Idol” producers was borne of a feeling that they had undermined and disrespected her for years, according to people close to her who were part of the negotiations. They said that she 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.
One member of the “Idol” team, meanwhile, 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.
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