Paula Abdul: Straight Up, What's Next?
After storming out of American Idol in what equated to a very public huff, Paula Abdul is now unemployed. During last week's TV previews in Los Angeles, Fox execs said they were sad to see her go after a protracted contract dispute. Abdul also expressed her sadness in her initial tweet about her departure, but soon enough was talking about the "many wonderful offers" that have come her way since her announcement. (She's already filmed two guest spots for Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva and will reportedly drop in on Ugly Betty this fall.)
So dry off your hankies, America! Paula is going to be just fine. Just a few days after Fox's initial confirmation of her departure, journalists zeroed in on ABC Entertainment president Steve Macpherson, asking him if he'd bring Abdul into the Alphabet fold. "I think she's a huge talent," he said. "We'd love to get a piece of that." He even surprised the crowd when he announced that he had already called her to see if they could work together in the future.
But where could Abdul fit into ABC's strong lineup of doctors and housewives and snarky sitcoms? Let's weigh the options:
1. Find a place for her on Dancing with the Stars.
Abdul, a former Laker Girl and successful choreographer (she is credited with giving Janet Jackson her moves), would be a natural for ABC's parquet celebrity circus. "We would love to have her on Dancing," Macpherson said, "whether it's as a contestant or participant or some sort of judge, etc." Those are very different things, Steve! "I think we're good with our judges," helpful Dancing pro Mark Ballas told E! Online. "I think she should be on the show as a competitor." Yes, because adding a professional choreographer to the mix of amateurs seems perfectly fair. We'd rather see her on the judging panel, which is currently woefully lacking in "seal-clapping" and the use of the words "star quality" and "dream wishes."
2. Create an American Idol competitor for her (Suggested Title: Make Your Dreams From Wishes and Butterflies).
This is perhaps the riskiest proposition, given Idol's near-total world dominance at this point, but ABC isn't alone in wanting to replicate even just a fraction of the success that the singing competition has brought to Fox. Plus, Abdul's strength on Idol as a supportive, nurturing motivator will play well with the ABC audience, whose heartstrings are regularly tugged by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's emotionally manipulative evil-genius producers.
3. Develop a semiautobiographical scripted sitcom (Suggested Title: Forever Your Girl [Duh.]).
Anyone who watched Bravo's Hey Paula knows that Abdul's life is rife with ha-has — intentional and otherwise. Hire her personal assistant as the head writer and get cracking on scripts about her years on Idol. Think 30 Rock, but with singing! (We see Hasselhoff as Simon.)
4. Start from scratch on a different reality-show concept (Suggested Title: Abdul You Think You Can [TBD])
It's too bad that So You Think You Can Dance is on Fox, because she'd be perfect for that. And despite executive producer Nigel Lythgoe's blustery pronouncements about her potential involvement with the show, it's not likely that she'll be appearing in any recurring capacity any time soon. That said, our devotion to "Cold Hearted Snake" aside, Abdul's comeback fame is really all about her personality, so let's allow her to step out of Simon's heart-of-darkness shadow and shed some light on who she really is. Find her a date. Have her fix up old houses. Scour the flea market. Anything that gives us more Paula will do.