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Ken Levine

Ken Levine

Posted: August 7, 2009 10:48 AM

The Paula Abdul Negotiations


From what I could piece together, here's how Paula Abdul's departure from American Idol went down. We start with a phone conversation between her new manager and AI producers:

MANAGER:
We want $10 million a year.

[A moment of laughter then the producer collects himself.]

PRODUCER: How about this? We'll agree to let her come back. Under the circumstances I'd say that's a very generous offer.

MANAGER:
It's an insult, is what it is!

PRODUCER: For a judge who has gone on national television drugged out and incoherent? Who has slept with former contestants?

MANAGER: Oh, don't give me that. Every employee has done some little thing wrong if you dig deep enough. I will not allow you to throw her minor indiscretions in my face just as a negotiating ploy. She brings a lot to this show and you know it!

PRODUCER: What does she bring?

MANAGER:
Pardon me?

PRODUCER: What exactly does Paula Abdul bring to American Idol that we can't replace?

[Long pause.]

MANAGER: Let me get back to you.

[He hangs up and calls Paula.]

MANAGER: Paula?

PAULA (disoriented): Hello?

MANAGER: Paula, it's David, your new manager.

PAULA: Nice to meet you.

MANAGER: No, no, we've met. You hired me.

PAULA: Oh. Right. Listen, would you call American Idol and make my new deal?

MANAGER: I'm working on it.

PAULA: Great. While I got you, do you think I'm short?

MANAGER: No.

PAULA: See? Those goddamn tabloids!

MANAGER: Paula, let me ask you a question. For the negotiations -- could you tell me exactly what you bring to American Idol?

PAULA: Huh?

MANAGER: Why you're irreplaceable?

[A long beat.]

PAULA: Let me call you back.

[Paula hangs up, scrolls through her contact list, and places a call.]

PAULA:
Hi. Could you tell me what I bring to American Idol?

MANAGER: Paula? It's me. David. We just spoke.

PAULA: Oh. Sorry. Nice to meet you. I'll call you back.

[She places another call. Randy Jackson answers.]

RANDY: Hello?

PAULA: Randy? Hi. It's Paula.

RANDY:
Paula, how lovely to hear your voice. There's something I must share with you. I just finished reading Damian by Hermann Hesse and found the whole concept of God naively illogical yet hauntingly spiritual when viewed in a metaphysical light. What can I do for you, dawg?

PAULA: They want to know what I bring to American Idol.

RANDY: Oooh. As you know, seeking clarity from the great empirical mysteries of life is my hobby and passion but I'm afraid this one is out of my realm of understanding.

PAULA: Okay. Well, I'll see you later.

RANDY: If you're interested, Buzz Aldrin is speaking at Sinai temple on the chasm between faith and science if you'd like to go.

PAULA: I'll get back to you.

[She hangs up the phone and redials her manager.]

MANAGER: Hello?

PAULA: Hi Dennis. I'm still working on answering your question. Hey, do you know the name of that dancer I worked with on the "Opposites Attract " video?

MANAGER: The cat?

PAULA: Yes, he'll speak for me. Do you have his number?

MANAGER:
Paula, he's a cartoon.

PAULA: Yeah, well, I've been mocked by the tabloids too.

MANAGER: No. Paula. A real cartoon character. He doesn't exist.

PAULA: You're being just as unhelpful as my last five managers! Look, who cares what I bring? The show gets phenomenal ratings and somehow I must be a part of it. Go back and demand the ten million. What are they gonna do? Replace me? That's a laugh. (Beat) Hold on a moment. Call waiting. (She takes the other call) Hello?

ASSISTANT: Paula, hi, it's your assistant. Listen, I'm in your dressing room here at Idol and Kara just came in with a tape measure.

PAULA: That bitch! We've worked together for a year and NOW she shows an interest in me?

ASSISTANT: Uh, I think she plans to take over your dressing room.

PAULA: What?

ASSISTANT: Are you not coming back?

[The realization hits her.]

PAULA: Oh my god! The ARE going to replace me. Well fuck them!

[Paula crosses to her computer, forgetting about her manager on the other line. Eventually he gets tired of waiting and hangs up. A beat later and his phone rings.]

MANAGER:
Hello?

PRODUCER: Hey, it's me again. Okay, we've been doing some soul searching. Paula does have her fan base and I suppose we could compromise and come up with some dollar figure that would make everybody happy.

MANAGER: I am so relieved. That's great news. As you know, Paula considers you family.

PRODUCER:
Wait a minute. I just got a Tweet from Paula that she's quitting the show. Just like that? She doesn't tell me first? She announces it on Twitter? That ditz! Well, you know what? That's just fine.

MANAGER: But...

PRODUCER: This is just the last in a long list of wacky behavior from that woman and we are done!

MANAGER: Wait. I'm sure...

PRODUCER: No. It's over. God, it'll be so good to get someone else in there. Someone taller.

[Fade out.]

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