What Will Paula Abdul Do After ‘American Idol’?

We imagine some post-'Idol' career moves for the onetime judge, including another reality show.

Over the last three decades, she’s been a cheerleader, a pop star, a talent-competition judge and the star of her own reality show. Now that Paula Abdul has announced she will not be returning to “American Idol” after eight seasons, where will she go from here?

“American Idol”
Yeah, yeah, the 47-year-old tweeted that she’s done with the show and Fox then released a statement expressing its sadness that Paula quit the “Idol” family. But can anyone really say that this will be the last we hear of the broken marriage? Will Fox decide Paula’s head-scratching bons mots and awkwardly enjoyable bickering with Simon Cowell are essential ingredients in the tasty “Idol” stew? How soon will Paula realize there’s no other project that will give her the exposure — and the paycheck — that “Idol” does?

“If you look at it from Paula’s perspective, she might have overplayed her hand,” Entertainment Weekly “Idol” expert Michael Slezak told MTV News. “She’s huge in the ‘Idol’ universe, but you take her out of the universe, and she’s not that marketable. You kind of wonder, ‘What is this woman thinking?’ ”

At the same time, Slezak noted, Abdul is arguably the show’s second biggest star after Cowell, and Fox might wake up to realize it played a little too much hardball. “At the end of the day, with the amount of money that show rakes in, if it was the difference between a 30 percent raise and a 40 percent raise, you couldn’t throw her a bone?” Slezak said.

“So You Think You Can Dance”
Could Abdul trade one talent competition for another? Former “Idol” show-runner and current “SYTYCD” judge Nigel Lythgoe did. What’s more, Lythgoe extended a guest-judge invitation to Abdul on Tuesday’s broadcast. Sure, the dance competition’s viewership is about one-fifth the size of the “Idol” audience. But for a woman whose career began as a Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader and choreographer, judging a dance competition might make a whole lot more sense than judging the vocal talents of aspiring singers.

“We’ve certainly invited her here, and we’ve invited her to do some choreography this season as well,” Lythgoe told Yahoo! Music. “We just haven’t been able to get it together at the moment, obviously because negotiations with Fox have been at the top of her mind.”

Home Shopping Network
Ever the entrepreneur, Abdul has been hawking oversized rings, dangly earrings and other baubles to HSN devotees for a while. Her line even includes some “croco-embossed” purses, polyester tunics and rayon-blend wraps. Why not expand? Surely there’s a market out there for Abdulian hair accessories and cleavage-exposing dresses.

Our own “Idol” guru, Jim Cantiello, would like to see Paula give a full-time HSN career a shot. “You’re a jewelry designer now,” he said. “Own that. Sure, you won’t be as widely famous … but you’ll be filthy rich. Why am I pushing Paula to become the new Tova? Because anything else Paula attempts will be hideously depressing.”

“Hey Paula”
Depressing, you say? Her 2007 Bravo reality show may not have been a hit — shoot, it might be one of the greater train wrecks in recent reality-show history — yet the show was produced at a time when Paula’s behavior had taken a turn for the bizarre. Gone during the eighth season of “Idol” were her slurred words and her forgetfulness, replaced by often insightful, if grammatically garbled, commentary. Another reality show would give Paula the opportunity to show the world she’s more together than she was before and that she doesn’t need “Idol” to be a star. The question remains whether viewers would tune in for an Abdul stripped of her royal “Idol” garb.

Choreography
After her new single fizzled, the closest Abdul will get to a music career is through her talents as a choreographer. She won a couple of MTV Video Music Awards for her work with Janet Jackson in the late ’80s, and a return to her roots might go a long way toward reestablishing her cred within the industry. Taking the stage alongside a Beyoncé or a Britney Spears at the 2010 VMAs, Paula would let everyone know she doesn’t need a silly talent competition to remain relevant in the entertainment world. Does a gig like that pay “Idol”-esque millions? Well, no, but let’s hope Paula’s stashed away her Fox-bestowed haul and is free to pursue a vanity project.

“She might be able to eke out a pretty nice career as a choreographer,” Slezak said. “If I were her people, I would definitely be looking at ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Dancing With the Stars’ to try and see what deal I could get with them. But I think it’s going to be an uphill battle.”

Cantiello agreed, and went further: “She should stay away from choreographing again, unless it’s supposed to be dated — à la a disco routine on ‘SYTYCD’ — because the ‘moves’ she busted during her big ‘Idol’ performance this past season were very old-fashioned.”

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