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'American Idol': Paula Abdul is staying, says her rep

November 14, 2008 |  6:36 pm

Paula2_ka8hf7ncThe new season of "American Idol" is two months away and already it's all about Paula Abdul.

My devoted Show Tracker colleague, Richard Rushfield, and I spent all of Friday tracking a rumor that started at OK magazine and picked up steam with a Perez Hilton post.

Paula Abdul had quit "American Idol." Or was about to quit "American Idol." Or was threatening to quit "American Idol."

When none of the parties involved would confirm or deny, we started to panic. Was the most controversial reality judge in America really stepping down?

"It's absolutely untrue," said her publicist, Jeff Ballard, shortly before 6 p.m., just as we were pondering which happy hour to hit. (BWR, the publicity firm that represents the producers, were not able to confirm nor deny the rumors. And Fox pleaded the Fifth.)

So we were left with Ballard's statement. And the notion that a little bird offered -- that Abdul's camp instigated the speculation as a negotiating ploy for next season.

If that's true, maybe Paula should be careful. Now that Kara DioGuardi is joining the group, there are four judges now and the show has proved it can do just fine with only three.

--Maria Elena Fernandez and Richard Rushfield

Photo: AFP/Getty Images