[artist id="1397"]Paula Abdul[/artist]'s very public renouncement of her seat at the "American Idol" judges table on Wednesday (August 5) left many fans and entertainment insiders wondering if this was merely another negotiating ploy in contract-renewal talks. Surely Abdul wouldn't simply walk away from the biggest show on television? Surely Fox wouldn't allow a fan favorite of over eight seasons to disappear from the screen?
But it seems that's exactly what will happen. At a Television Critics Association press conference on Thursday, Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice told reporters Abdul almost certainly will not return to "Idol," according to multiple reports.
"We were hoping Paula came back," Rice said. "We love Paula. She's been clearly wonderful on the show for eight years and was an important part of the 'Idol' family. There's going to be a change. It wasn't a decision we made. But now that the decision's been made, we have to look at it in a positive way. We have to look at it as an opportunity for the show to bring a different energy to it and an energy that can be entertaining for the public."
Rice said that Fox made a "very fair" offer to Abdul that included a substantial raise, but that she decided not to return for another season. According to reports, Fox's offer was for a multiyear, eight-figure deal that would have been a 30 percent raise from her last contract.
"I have no expectation that Paula's going to [re-open negotiations]," he said. "And in terms of the negotiations themselves, the negotiations have concluded."
When if Abdul decided to accept Fox's last offer? Rice said he did not expect Abdul to make such an offer and would not give an answer about what the network's response would be.
Rice said that Abdul will ultimately be replaced by a permanent fourth judge, who will join Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi. Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham and Katy Perry have been recruited as guest judges for one show each.
"What we need to find is someone who has great chemistry," Rice said. "It's really a casting job. ... There are multiple right answers and there are multiple wrong answers. Our job in the next four to five months is to really consider what makes this the most fun and the most entertaining."
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