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Paula’s Idol Split Was Mostly About Money, a Little About Simon

The Times has new details today on the cause of Paula Abdul's departure from American Idol last week. Yes, it was all about money — Abdul felt her penetrating criticism was worth double the $5 million Fox was willing to pay her to return — but there's (slightly) more to it! She also thought her fellow judges should have defended her better when she was accused of being drunk or high during Idol promotional appearances (like this hilarious one) and during live broadcasts (this one, for sure).

According to "a person close to Ms. Abdul," her increased salary demands were due in part because she was trying to compensate for an endorsement contract "with a major fashion label" that fell through following substance-abuse allegations, ones she vehemently denied before telling Ladies' Home Journal in May about her twelve-year painkiller addiction (though she maintains she was never under the influence while on TV). She had told Letterman in 2007 that she thought other judges' on-air jokes (mostly Simon's, presumably) had helped perpetuate rumors.

So Paula got used to the idea of a certain income, and when the endorsement deal fell apart, she tried to make up for the difference by asking Fox for more Idol money. Which didn't work, because, as the Times coldly reports, "the costs and benefits of her histrionics were quantifiable enough that Idol could afford to draw a line in the sand and not cross it."

If we were Paula, we'd probably have just taken the $5 million and started showing up to work drunk.

How ‘Idol’ and Abdul Parted Ways [NYT]

Photo: Getty Images