As she prepares for her next TV gig — guest-starring on Drop Dead Diva's season finale (Aug. 29 on Lifetime) — Paula Abdul talks exclusively to TV Guide Magazine about prepping for her new CBS dance show, Got to Dance, and what she thinks about all those American Idol changes.
TV Guide Magazine: What is it about Drop Dead Diva that keeps bringing you back to the show?
Abdul: I'm such a fan. It's charming. I love the characters, and it's so well written. I love the message and the positivity — accepting who you are and where you are and making the best of it. I love that Brooke Elliott's character, Jane, is always looking at the glass half-full. When they asked me to start coming on as Judge Paula Abdul, I was in my eighth season of Idol and it was cute. I play Jane's conscience and her cheerleader. It's fun.
TV Guide Magazine: Now you're playing someone other than Judge Paula ... a wedding planner.
Abdul: It's very clever the way [creator] Josh Berman writes. He decided, "We want to be able to bring you back more often and we want to make it so it's not predicated on you always being Judge Paula." So now this time in her dream Jane's like, "What are you doing here, Judge Paula Abdul." To which I respond, "This time I'm Paula Abdul...your wedding planner." [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: What's going on with Got to Dance?
Abdul: It's very exciting. We're in the middle of hiring the directors, the production designers, casting the experts. I'm happy to be able to bring in really passionate, artistic people that are going to have an opportunity to do things that are a little bit different and real creative.
TV Guide Magazine: What will set it apart from other dance competitions — other than the fact that the other competitions don't have you?
Abdul: There are some amazing things up my sleeve. It's going into the heart of why people love to dance. It's any age between 6 and 106 — that's what we're saying. It's any style of dance and any number. You can enter as a soloist or a duo or a group...as many people as can fit on the stage. It's tapping into all different areas. It's a whole different feel.
TV Guide Magazine: TVGuide.com just ran a poll asking if fans want Paula back on American Idol and the answer was "Yes!"
Abdul: I just saw that. I'm very grateful. I have tremendous gratitude that people want to see me on television and that people miss me on Idol. That leaves me speechless. It really does.
TV Guide Magazine: Nigel Lythgoe is confirmed as returning to Idol as executive producer. What do you think about that? He's on record saying he wants you back.
Abdul: They are very kind words. I just found that out at work here, because people told me. [Laughs] I have the utmost respect for Nigel. Him going back to American Idol is in many ways a very big blessing. He's a wonderful producer and I'm taken by the kind words he had to say. I have tremendous respect for him.
TV Guide Magazine: What do you think of all the changes going on since you left?
Abdul: I'll always be a fan of the show. I had an amazing time. To be part of something from the very beginning that grew into such a worldwide phenomenon is really awe-inspiring. It's going to go down in history. It's always wonderful to be part of something that's larger than you could have ever imagined. People grow with time and you can always expect change. I'm forever a fan of the show and I'll always watch.
TV Guide Magazine: Should they keep Randy? Should he stay?
Abdul: I read this is Randy's last year under contract. I think it's important for people to have familiarity with someone. I haven't been able to ask Randy what it feels like, because it's not the time to ask him. Randy is a great guy — he really is. Everyone loves Randy!
TV Guide Magazine: What do you think about the names being bandied about — Jennifer Lopez? Steven Tyler?
Abdul: That's the legacy of the show that I get to feel a part of. It's a show that's going to go down in history. I'm just honored and blessed that I get to be a part of it. It has certainly allowed for so many wonderful times.
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