From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Madeleine Brand.

Paula Abdul is one of hottest topics on Twitter today. That's because she posted, and "American Idol" producers have confirmed, that she is not going back to judge her ninth season of "Idol." Commentator Andrew Wallenstein says it's a big mistake all around.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN: Far be it for me to pass judgment on a professional judge, but here's my verdict. I'm amazed Paula Abdul lasted this long. Half the time, she's incoherent or just plain nuts.

(Soundbite of television program, "American Idol")

Ms. PAULA ABDUL (Judge, "American Idol"): That - I - you know, there's something - first of all, one thing that I was kind of - I was kind of surprised you picked that song, but when - well, first of all, you're like this bright light…

WALLENSTEIN: You would think the only possible logical conclusion here is her departure is the best thing that could happen to "Idol." Now, the show's young musical talents can finally have the sober-minded assessments they deserve from Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell. But when has logic ever ruled "American Idol"?

What makes "Idol" "Idol" isn't its integrity as a talent show; it has none. Its true appeal was its ability to prompt mass rubbernecking given the very absence of talent and integrity, and no one delivered train wrecks better than Paula Abdul.

Sure, Cowell had memorable put-downs from time to time, but what really got people talking at the water cooler was Paula Abdul going off the rails, like the time during the 2008 season, when she complimented contestant Jason Castro's second performance, which was odd because he hadn't sung it yet.

(Soundbite of television program, "American Idol")

Mr. RANDY JACKSON (Judge, "American Idol"): No, it was just on the first song, just on the first one.

Ms. ABDUL: I thought you - oh, my God. I thought you sang twice.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JACKSON: Wow, she didn't…

Mr. RYAN SEACREST (Host, "American Idol"): Just once. But Paula, Paula, you're - you're seeing the future, baby. You're seeing the future.

WALLENSTEIN: Paula Abdul's ability to self-destruct isn't "Idol's" biggest liability; it's its biggest asset. Take Simon Cowell, for instance. Will he be as entertaining without her around to mock?

(Soundbite of television program, "American Idol")

Ms. ABDUL: What I'm loving about this season, you're - you have such a great instrument. You're musical…

Mr. SIMON COWELL (Judge, "American Idol"): Did you like it or not?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ABDUL: And I love - and I love your interpretation of it. And because you're so musical, I love the choice. It's fantastic.

Mr. COWELL: Beat it. Beat it. She likes you.

Ms. ABDUL: I loved it.

(Soundbite of applause)

WALLENSTEIN: This is bad for Fox, but what is the network really risking? In the worst-case scenario, that the show does take a dive without Abdul and they need her again, is she going to go somewhere where they can't win her back? She already tried her own reality show and failed. That's the advantage in negotiating with an unpredictable loon. Just because she's gone doesn't mean she'll have somewhere else to go.

BRAND: That's commentator Andrew Wallenstein of the Hollywood Reporter.

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