Paula Abdul preps for her new CBS show, laments the loss of the original 'Idol' family
A year after leaving her swiveling chair at American Idol, Paula Abdul is returning to the reality competition genre. But forget pitch and tone, Abdul is going back to her roots. She’ll be the lead expert on the CBS reality competition “Live to Dance.” Joining her on the expert panel (there are no judges here) are Travis Payne, a choreographer for Michael Jackson’s “This Is It,” and Kimbery Wyatt, a former member of the Pussycat Dolls.
The show is slated to air Wednesdays beginning Jan. 4, which may pit the 48-year-old entertainer against “Idol,” if the show reboots as it typically does in the second week of January. (Fox has not announced the premiere date for Season 10 of “Idol.”) But like the contestants vying for a spot on her show, Abdul isn’t afraid of failure.
“It’s OK to fall on your butt, I’ve made a career out of it,” Abdul said when speaking on rejection. “So what? I’m still here. It’s all about taking chances.”
Her latest “chance” brought her to CenterStaging studios in Burbank, where hundreds of dance-loving hopefuls lined up Thursday for the first round of auditions on the West Coast.
Turning spirited contestants away is nothing new to Abdul. The singer-dancer served as a judge on "Idol" from the show's start in 2002, where her cheerleading role and sometimes-outlandish antics helped catapult the show to success. She left the franchise at the end of Season 8 after tense negotiations with Fox to renew her contract went downhill.
“I watched the show last season, objectively, as a fan,” Abdul said. “I’m a fan of the show, regardless of my involvement. And I will remain that.”
Her exit was the first of many on the panel — Simon Cowell, Ellen Degeneres and Kara DioGuardi have since left the show. Fox recently announced Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler as the judges for the 10th season, along with veteran Randy Jackson.
While Abdul touted the additions as “seasoned entertainers” and asked “the heavens above” to supply them with the same amount of fun she had, she was also quick note the loss in what had made “Idol” special.
“It’s a completely different show now,” she said. “But, you know, change is necessary at times. It’s really difficult to try to duplicate lightning in a bottle with the chemistry that just worked with Randy, Simon and myself. We’re the original family. I’m glad Randy is there at the helm and that Ryan’s there. There needs to be some of that familiarity there. But it’s not the same.”
Asked whether she might reunite with Simon Cowell on his U.S. version of “The X-Factor” in 2011, Abdul was coy:
“Right now my concentration is solely on this show … and my Chihuahuas. It’s extremely difficult to think about anything other than ‘Live to Dance’ … at this moment.”
— Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Paula Abdul arrives at the open casting call for "Live to Dance" in Burbank. Credit: Valerie Macon/Getty Images.