An Open Letter To Paul Abdul: Leaving 'Idol' Is A Bad Idea
I am writing on behalf of the Shelley Longs, Geri Halliwells, Wayne Rogers and Sherry Stringfields of the world when I give you three simple words of advice regarding your decision to leave American Idol: Don't do it.
I'm not really sure why you'd need me to tell you this, but based on the rumors flying across the Internet and the statements of your own manager, you're really thinking about leaving the most successful television series of the decade over some sort of personal insult. Or is it money? Nobody can really be sure what's going through your pill-filled head Paula, we just know that you've finally confirmed your craziness.
Why is it a bad idea? Well just look at the brief list of names at the top of this letter. You probably don't know who any of them are. Nobody does anymore. And that's the point. Those four names once lit up marquees, as each person was at the top of their profession.
Who can forget Shelley Long as Diane Chambers on Cheers, a show that topped the Nielsen list for two seasons before Long decided that one brush with movie stardom in Troop Beverly Hills was enough to send her running from the number-one show on TV to play second banana to Tom Hanks in The Money Pit and do little else afterwards?
Who doesn't recall Geri Halliwell's (née Sexy and/or Ginger Spice) becoming so transcendent as a member of a girl group that she could leave and rise to massive success with such classic tunes as "Look at Me" and whatever other songs she put out on her debut album that sold about 1/10th the units of "Spice World?"
Who doesn't have fond remembrances of Wayne Rogers' small-screen portrayal of the Trapper John role originated by Elliot Gould in the big-screen version of MASH? The role that ended up playing second-fiddle to Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce as the series progressed through its first two seasons. The role that quickly became the straight man to the wacky characters at the 4077th in Korea? The role that disappeared quickly, allowing Mike Farrell to cash a steady paycheck as BJ Hunnicutt for years to come?
And nobody can forget when Sherry Stringfield left a plum role on Guiding Light to do...nothing. Then somehow landed a great role opposite David Caruso on NYPD Blue only to beg to be let out of her contract early so she could do...nothing. Then miraculously got a role on the original cast of ER only to beg once again for an early termination of her contract only so she could...come back to "ER" several years later and stick around long enough to quit once again and then do...nothing.
Oh wait. What am I saying? Nobody remembers any of these people. Nobody. That's because they suddenly developed a case of the egos and thought they could leave something so grand, so overwhelmingly large and popular before it made sense and replicate that success elsewhere. Thus they became anonymous in the pop culture world, despite brief stints at the pinnacle of fame.
Even those who don't fade completely into the void can't replicate their initial success. Nobody ever can. People like David Caruso, David Lee Roth and Chevy Chase never regained the success or popularity they had when they sat atop the world on "NYPD Blue," in Van Halen, or as a not-ready-for-primetime player on Saturday Night Live, respectively. They may have had some level of success after their departures but could never come close to recapturing the level of fame or acclaim they had before their eyes grew bigger than their Q ratings.
Image © PR Photos
And that's where you sit now, Paula. You're at that crossroads. Things could work out great and you could become Courtney Thorne-Smith and take a small step backwards from Ally McBeal to According To Jim or you could be like Delta Burke and become forever known as 'That Lady from Designing Women Who's Appearing on Another Game Show' for the rest of your life.
Those are pretty much your only two options. Neither is very attractive, and no one should know better than you where you'll end up when you're out of the limelight. After all, before the "Idol" producers rescued you from obscurity several years back, you'd become known as 'That Chick from the 80s who Danced with the Cartoon Cat'. Now you're on the fast track to becoming 'That Woman who was Always Wacked out of her Gourd on 'American Idol''. That's a best-case scenario.
It's not just your future that looks grim either, Paula. Think about your present. Think about all the other opportunities "Idol" has afforded you. Do you think you'd have had your own reality show if it weren't for "Idol?" Do you think anybody would be interested in you jewelry line or your new single replete with more AutoTune than a Lindsay Lohan record if you weren't on the number one show on television?
"Idol" has made you a star, and not just one on "Idol." You could launch a website, become a motivational speaker, or do choreography for a Broadway show, just because people know you from "Idol." Leave the show behind and you'll be shocked at how quickly those offers evaporate. Nobody wants to see something from a has-been.
If anything, you should be paying the producers to keep you on "Idol." You could write a book series, or go on tour with the clout you'll have being seen by 30 million Americans each week. And now you dare quibble because the money isn't quite right or they've decided that it's more important to negotiate with Simon Cowell before they bring back the judge everybody likes to make fun of? You're not seeing the big picture. You do not understand the fact that "Idol" made you and can continue to make you whatever you want to be outside of the show.
You should be happy they're even asking you back now that your contract is up. There's an endless supply of former 80s stars looking for work. People who probably know the value of just appearing on "Iodl," let alone the paycheck.
So, Paula, when you make your final decision and stare into your crystal ball or have a conversation with the rung-out head of David Archuleta you draped over your rearview mirror, consider the fact that you're letting the highest-profile job in the entertainment industry slip through your fingers over a few lousy bucks and hurt feelings.
When you're desperately trying have cameras pay attention to you in a few months just to keep your profile up, it's going to hurt a lot worse. Trust me.
Story by Andrew Payne
Starpulse contributing writer
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