Bombshell! We wake up in a changed world this morning, readers — Paula Abdul has apparently left American Idol. Following a much-publicized, apparently unsuccessful salary renegotiation, the loopy, ever-entertaining judge announced via Twitter last night that she will not return for the show's ninth season next year:
With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return to #IDOL. I'll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day 1 become an international phenomenon ... What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me ... It truly has been breathtaking, especially over the past month ... I do without any doubt have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all.
Shortly after, Fox and 19 Entertainment confirmed Paula's departure in a statement:
Paula Abdul has been an important part of the American Idol family over the last eight seasons, and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show. While Paula will not be continuing with us, she's a tremendous talent and we wish her the best.
As did Ryan Seacrest (on Twitter):
"about to go to sleep when I started seeing my blackberry blow up. I have read what u have read and I am shocked and saddened about paula... Idol and the cast have grown with each other over the last 8 seasons..I can't imagine the panel without puala. She's a star @ a great friend... Spoke to randy..hope to speak with paula privately overnight."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Abdul rejected an offer for a 30 percent raise and an eight-figure multiyear deal (she reportedly earned $2 million for her services last year). An Idol source tells E! that "Kara made her expendable." Bonnie Fuller believes this is all a publicity stunt and claims that Abdul has, in fact, signed a deal to return, though it sounds like Fuller's just trying to drum up publicity for her upcoming web venture (not even her new corporate cousin, Nikki Finke, is paying much attention).
Paula may never have made much sense, but for eight great seasons she gave us a chance to mix a drink before Simon spoke, and we'll miss her.