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03.18.10

No Deal for Paula

Paula Abdul won’t be the host of a new version of Star Search—because it’s not coming back to TV, a source tells Kim Masters exclusively. So will Simon Cowell take her back?

Paula Abdul won’t be the host of a new version of Star Search—and the show may not even come back to TV, a source tells Kim Masters exclusively. So will Simon Cowell take her back?

That deal for Paula Abdul to host and judge on a re-booted Star Search on ABC appears to be dead. As a result, says one knowledgeable source, the future of a new version of Star Search is in question.

An ABC source confirms that the network is not moving forward with Abdul "at this time," but says that "doesn't necessarily mean" that the new Star Search won't happen.

According to people familiar with the negotiations, ABC had made a rich offer to Abdul. Her decision to pass is said to have stunned network executives.

What's unclear is whether the erratic Abdul ditched the project because Simon Cowell swooped in to claim her for his new Fox show, X Factor, which will start in the fall 2011. Fox executives have been hoping that's not the case. They feel Abdul is too high maintenance and felt dissed when she turned down a handsome offer for another season of judging on American Idol.

But Cowell clearly has the power to get what he wants. Earlier this week, he emailed The Daily Beast to say, "As far as I am concerned, Fox always valued her as a star and my relationship with Paula is as strong as ever."

Or stronger?

Neither Abdul nor ABC could be reached for comment.

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Kim Masters covers the entertainment business for The Daily Beast. She is also the host of The Business, public radio's weekly program about the business of show business. She is also the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else.