Paula Abdul Will Be Back In ‘A Huge Way,’ Randy Jackson Promises

'American Idol' judge says Paula-free panel is 'gonna take a little getting used to.'

Since Paula Abdul left “American Idol” back in August, fans have been speculating what her next move might be. Some are still clinging to the idea that she’ll make a triumphant return to “Idol” (highly unlikely, since the ninth season kicks off next week), while others are hoping rumors about a job on Simon Cowell’s U.S. version of “X Factor” are true.

What does Randy Jackson want for his former colleague? Well, he doesn’t know where Abdul will end up, but he’s pretty confident she’ll land on her feet.

“I know that she’s gonna be back in something in a huge way, because she’s mad talented,” he said when asked Friday (January 8) about the “X Factor” reports. “The thing that I always say about this genre or about anything on the music/entertainment side is, ‘Expect the unexpected.’ You never know.”

Jackson’s main concern with all the Paula talk is that viewers might forget what “American Idol” is all about: the singers.

“In terms of the show, I’m sure it’s pretty much a distraction, because people get a little sidetracked with that,” he said about rumors swirling around the judges. “I mean, there are contestants. ‘Wait a minute, this is a singing competition!’ [Laughs.] Not to belittle what we do, because I think the show is completely about the four of us judges and Ryan and the contestants, but let’s also focus on what we’re judging and what the actual more meat of the show really is: It’s about finding that next superstar talent.”

New judge Ellen DeGeneres is now helping Jackson and company track down that superstar talent, which has made for some surreal moments on the post-Paula panel.

“The whole thing started with me, Ryan, Simon and [Paula],” Jackson said. “She was one of our best friends, and she still is. I miss that. We look down the table and go, ‘Wait a minute, where’s Paula?’ And I expect to hear something from my left ear, and I go, ‘Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like Paula!’ [Laughs.] It’s gonna take a little getting used to. We’re really sad about that. But, you know, welcoming Ellen to the fold is a good look.”

The ninth season of “Idol” kicks off Tuesday at 8 p.m.

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