Before she announced she wouldn’t be returning to “American Idol” via Twitter earlier this week, reports surfaced that Paula Abdul wanted a big raise to remain on the FOX reality show.
Several reports – including one from The Hollywood Reporter — claimed that Paula’s asking price was $20 million per year to stick with the show.
The figure seemed fitting to some, following British reports that Simon Cowell was negotiating for a salary in excess of $100 million, something he has denied. Additionally, according to The Hollywood Reporter, show host Ryan Seacrest recently signed a new $45 million deal to host “Idol” over the next three years.
When asked, however, about how FOX decided Seacrest was worth $15 million a year at the Television Critics Association panel on Thursday morning in Pasadena, Calif., the network’s Chairman of Entertainment, Peter Rice, said the host was not being paid the handsome figure by them.
“That’s been written a lot recently. Ryan is still in his old contract on ‘Idol,’’” Rice said.
Although he did not talk numbers, the Chairman said Seacrest’s raise is related to a deal the host made with the company that makes “American Idol.”
“Ryan made a deal with CKX, which encompasses much more than ‘Idol’ and Ryan is not being paid $15 million a year to be on ‘Idol,’” Rice said.
As for Abdul, Rice declined to get into specifics about what she was was asking for to return to the show.
When asked following the panel if Abdul were to change her mind, accept the undisclosed figure FOX offered and come back to “Idol,” Rice seemed to suggest negotiations were definitely over.
“I have no expectation that Paula’s going to do this,” he said while heading out of the event. “This was not a short negotiation. It started long before I arrived at the network and I think that Paula’s come to a place where she wants to leave the show and we accept her decision.”
When the show first started, Abdul may have been the name Americans recognized, but without her on the show, Rice said, it will still go on.
“I think that ‘Idol’ without Paula is going to be different and I think that it’s our job and the producers job to cast that well,” he said as he left the room. “I think the format itself, it’s not a single lead sitcom, it’s not a drama with an actor at the center of it. It’s a format of a talent show.
“People love the judges, the love the interaction between the judges and the talent, and they love the talent,” he continued. “They become incredibly invested in the format and who’s going to win and who they want to win and who they don’t want to win and we don’t think that’s going to go away.”