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Photos: Paula Abdul, straight up

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  1. Straight up

    Paula Abdul once cheered for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, but then moved into choreography and a singing career of her own before taking a seat next to Simon Cowell at the "American Idol" judges' table. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Forever your girl -- or not

    Abdul married actor Emilio Estevez in 1992 but they divorced just two years later. She later told People magazine that the split came because she wanted children and Estevez, already a father of two, did not. She went on to marry sportswear designer Brad Beckerman in 1996, but again, divorced just two years later. (Ron Galella / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. She's got the vibe

    Abdul performs her song "Vibeology" at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. Abdul was nominated for best female video for "Rush Rush" that year, but lost out to Janet Jackson's "Love Will Never Do (Without You)." (Frank Micelotta / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. It's all about the kids

    In 1993, Abdul and other singers, including Celine Dion and Bobby McFerrin, performed at "For Our Children," a live concert with proceeds benefiting the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Abdul started off the concert singing a jazzy version of Disney's classic "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Meet the Muppets

    Abdul is famed for performing with cartoon cat MC Skat Kat in her "Opposites Attract" video in 1989, so it perhaps wasn't much of a stretch for her to make an appearance on "Muppets Tonight" in 1996. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Dynamic trio

    When "American Idol" launched in 2002, Abdul was paired with sardonic Brit Simon Cowell, left, and affable music producer Randy Jackson, right, as one of the show's three judges. She quickly developed a reputation as the always-positive judge, and just as quickly began to draw attention for her sometimes bizarre and outlandish comments. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Gone to the dogs

    Abdul is seen hugging puppy Yoda at a fashion show in 2004. Abdul may be an animal lover, but in 2007, she broke her nose and toe when she tripped over her pet Chihuahua Tulip. Tulip was unhurt. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fashion plate

    Abdul arrives at the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund AMY awards in 2006. Long interested in fashion, she started her own jewelry line on QVC in 2007, and often displayed her work on "American Idol," even offering pieces to the singers. (Bryan Bedder / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Star of her own show

    Abdul starred in a brief Bravo reality show called "Hey Paula" in 2007. The seven-episode show was panned by critics, who noted that Abdul came off as much less friendly than she does on "American Idol." One segment features the singer's emotional reaction to being fired from a movie based on the line of Bratz dolls, but Abdul later blamed creative editing for the way she appeared. (Bravo via Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Time for slime

    Abdul and fellow "Idol" judge Randy Jackson accept the favorite TV show award won by the show at the 2007 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the numerous on- and off-set controversies, "American Idol" continues to dominate the Nielsen ratings. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. What happens in Vegas

    Abdul made an appearance at the gala premiere of Criss Angel Believe," a collaboration between illusionist Criss Angel and the acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil, at the Luxor Resort & Casino in 2008. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images for Cirque du Solei) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. On the red carpet

    Abdul continues to make the rounds of Hollywood events. She's seen here arriving at the premiere of the film "Swing Vote" in Hollywood, Calif., in 2008. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Heating up the 'Idol' stage

    After scoring repeated hits from 1987-1996, the singer had seemingly put music on the back burner to pursue other interests. But in May 2009, Abdul performed her new single, "I'm Just Here for the Music," on an "American Idol" results show. (R Mickshaw / Getty Images for Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Sitting next to her replacement?

    In January 2009, "American Idol" added a fourth judge, songwriter Kara DioGuardi, second from left. Many critics and fans speculated that DioGuardi was added to eventually replace Abdul, although the four judges worked together for the 2009 season without incident. In August 2009, Abdul and Fox confirmed that she would not return to the show. (Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 8/5/2009 8:46:59 AM ET 2009-08-05T12:46:59

If Paula Abdul’s abrupt Twitter announcement that she’s quitting “American Idol” is a contract negotiating ploy, it’s a spectacular one.

If not, she’s potentially blown a hole in TV’s top-rated show — and rejected an eight-figure deal that represented a 30 percent raise, according to a person familiar with the talks. The person, lacking authority to speak publicly, asked not to be identified.

Abdul dropped her online bombshell Tuesday evening, right before season-nine auditions begin Friday in Denver. That has the whiff of a pressure tactic on Abdul’s part, although boycotting the early auditions that skip from city to city might have been a less dramatic way to negotiate.

Her tweets, however, seemed to have an air of finality.

“With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return” to Fox’s singing contest, Abdul said on her Twitter account. “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.”

There was a sense of closure, too, in a statement from Fox and producers FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment.

The companies said Abdul was “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.”

They said she was “a tremendous talent” and wished her the best.

Abdul’s banter and bickering with acerbic fellow judge Simon Cowell was as regular an “Idol” fixture as off-key contestants. So was her shimmying behind the judges’ table when contestants sang uptempo songs.

Earlier this year, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly called Abdul “an integral part of the show.”

Her announcement came the day after Fox said that Kara DioGuardi would return for a second season on the “American Idol” judging panel.

The addition of Grammy-nominated songwriter DioGuardi last year raised questions about Abdul’s future on the show, which was based on the British series “Pop Idol.”

Cowell, DioGuardi and Randy Jackson are signed through season nine. Ryan Seacrest just agreed to a new deal, reportedly worth $45 million, that keeps him on as “Idol” host through 2012 and provides the opportunity for new entertainment ventures.

Image: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell
Mario Anzuoni  /  Reuters file
"American Idol" judges Randy Jackson, left, Abdul and Simon Cowell in 2008.
Despite a decline in its ratings, “American Idol” remains the No. 1-rated show and a money machine for Fox, its producers and for the record labels and singers like Carrie Underwood that have benefited from its star-making power. Removing any part of a familiar and winning TV formula can be risky and makes the show’s future an open question.

In July, Abdul told The Associated Press that she had been invited to stay with “Idol” as long as the show lasted and that she was optimistic that she’d be able to negotiate a new contract.

But the 47-year-old singer-dancer said the invitation to come back was subject to agreement on the details of a new deal.

Abdul began working with a new manager, David Sonenberg, in recent weeks, and he said last month that prospects for a deal looked dim.

“What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me,” Abdul said to followers on Twitter in making her announcement.

Video: Paula Abdul not returning to ‘Idol’ A onetime-Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader, Abdul became an award-winning choreographer and singer, didn’t indicate her post-“Idol” career plans in her tweet.

DioGuardi didn’t slip smoothly into her new job. She endured eye rolls from Cowell over her comments and criticism of her judging abilities and long-winded, earnest style from viewers. She admitted to suffering nerves and worrying about fitting in.

But DioGuardi provided one of the season’s highlights: Her feud with Katrina “Bikini Girl” Darrell during the audition rounds, when the judge — a talented singer in her own right — told the scantily clad wannabe to bring a stripper pole next time.

Abdul, whom contestants regularly lauded for being warm and supportive, was unlikely to make such a cutting remark.

But she brought her own measure of interest to “Idol.” She appeared on camera with several maladies, including a manicure-induced infection and injuries sustained tripping over her dog. Abdul could be meandering in her remarks and was at times inordinately giggly.

In 2005, an ex-contestant claimed he and Abdul had an affair in 2003, which Abdul denied. Fox, which said it investigated the man’s claims, stood by her.

“American Idol” starts its ninth season in January.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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