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Never Abdul Moment.

Paula AbdulThe secret to talking is in knowing when to shut up, so I think I’ll shut up today on the subject of Fox executives kamikhazically allowing Paula Abdul to leave American Idol, and let Josef Adalian from The Wrap try to explain the details. 

Here are the bare bones and the maybes:

  • Everyone’s favorite incoherent, spaced-out talking doll has Tweeted that the party’s over, she won’t be back on Idol next year. “With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return to IDOL. I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all…being a part of a show that I helped from day1 become an international phenomenon.”
  • Maybe she’s had a better offer from talent shows on other networks: ABC’s So You Think You Can Dance, for instance. Or NBC’s America’s Got Talent (owned and produced by Simon Cowell).
  • Maybe it was a plot from the start. Bring in a fourth judge last season – another female, one who could speak in whole sentences without stopping every couple of words – just to remind Abdul that she’s not indispensable and to quit messing around. Then use that as a negotiation tool to gradually phase Abdul out when the time came.
  • Maybe it was Abdul’s new manager and Fox’s new TV chief flexing their muscles, mano a mano. In which case, what a disaster for both.
  • Maybe it’s one final act of brinksmanship, just another stage of the circus that is American TV contract negotiations, but one that will resolve itself at the very last split-second, and Abdul and Fox will make their peace, enabling her to return to the show.

Nobody knows as of today. But here’s the article:

“Where do we go from here?

Now that the No. 3 star on America’s No. 1 show has decided to up and quit, abdul publicitythe aftershocks will continue for days, weeks — maybe months. This story isn’t exactly the death of Michael Jackson, but let’s put it this way: The Obama administration has one more giant media circus to compete with as it tries to sell its health care plan.

First, an update on what went down.

Fox still isn’t talking beyond its statement, but people familiar with the situation insist that the network very much wanted Abdul to stay. These sources say the network and producers were willing to up Abdul’s salary by a huge 30 percent.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Abdul had been making between $2 million and $4 million per year. If you believe the high end of those estimates — because, really, $2 million sounds way low — then Abdul stood to pull down around $5.5 million per year. And since these deals always run for multiple seasons, Abdul just walked away from around $11 million to $17.5 million.

Yes, Ryan Seacrest is reportedly making almost that much each year of his new three-year pact. But his deal includes monies from multiple other projects he works on for 19 Entertainment. And he has a much more vital role to the show (even if he doesn’t have as passionate a fan base). 

That’s what we know right now. What’s next?

— The backlash. Fox can expect to get slammed by the mainstream media, which won’t understand how the network could let the Beloved Paula slip away. Wags will predict the show won’t be the same, that viewers will rebel and that the network is risking its most important franchise.

While multiple executives have been involved in the talks, Fox chief Tony Vinciquerra almost certainly took a lead role in guiding the negotiations, according to people close to the situation. It’s one of the first big deals to happen (or not happen) since Peter Chernin stepped down from News Corp.

Vinciquerra is the ultimate no-B.S. executive. Given the antics of Team Abdul recently (Twittered demands, press attacks from her manager), it’s not surprising things broke down.

But Vinciquerra also had to look at Fox’s overall bottom line. An extra $10 million for Abdul might not seem like much, except when…”

Read the full article HERE.

Read TMZ follow-up HERE.

www.cashpeters.com.  But why stop there? Follow him on Twitter @cashpeters.

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Paula Abdul versus the skunks. Allegedly.

The fuss over Paula Abdul returning to American Idol (or not) brings back so many tragic memories for me, not to say some bitterness that I work at controlling but can’t, about what total weasels TV people are and the terrible way they behave towards one another. Even now, a full three years after my own TV show ended, it still makes my skin crawl.

Paula AbdulAccording to Abdul’s agent, she’s “hurt and angry” that Fox is playing hardball with her salary, indulging in powerplays, and refusing to negotiate. As a result she may not be back on the show next season. 

I couldn’t hear what else he said because of all the cheering. Most people, as far as I can tell, are probably with Fox on this one, they don’t want her back.

Currently, Paula receives $2.5m per year, which, given what she does and what a laughing stock she is, seems fair enough. But she wants more. How much more is the cause of all the debate. Estimates says it’s as high as $20m, and that’s why Fox is balking. Though more realistically, it’s probably a lot less – around the $5m mark. And that, if true, is also why Fox is balking.

Paula Abdul is not worth $5m a year on American Idol. Anyone with a TiVo who fastforwards through everything she says each week will tell you that.

simon cowellStill, Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, both of whom are sitting pretty with substantial pay increases of their own and shouldn’t really care, are backing her and saying they are confident she’ll return for the ninth season. Auditions are already under way, a decision has to come soon. It’s all very touch and go.

However, this rather tacky public stand-0ff reminds me once again what a shark tank the TV world is. Riddled and rife with dishonesty, needless game-playing, and shenanigans, it’s a parallel universe to our own. A place where nobody can ever be straight about anything. Where everybody feels compelled to lie all the time, even – and especially – when they don’t need to. Where people stab you in the back, not because there’s any call for it, but because they’re presented with an opportunity to do so and can’t resist. And where you can never get a direct, up-front, word-of-honor answer to any question you ask, in case the reply – a simple, helpful, uncontaminated yes or no – somehow comes back to bite the various parties in the butt at some later date.

It’s a ghastly industry. Fun, but ghastly.

In television, you encounter some of the shiftiest, slimiest, slipperyest, most spineless individuals you’re ever likely to come across. Unless, that is, you venture into politics or the movie business, where I hear they’re wall to wall.

Worse, TV executives are geniuses of shameless deception. They wear sharp suits and have great dental work and hair and friendly personalities, and they’ve mastered the art of seeming genuine and honest and caring when in fact, behind the bared smile, lies a calculating shark mind turning constantly, figuring out all conceivable consequences of what’s about to be said and ensuring that it works to their own advantage, not yours.

An example of their shiftiness would be something I call “the Hollywood No.”

A Hollywood No happens when a spineless TV executive wants to say no to your request, inquiry, invitation, or proposal, but doesn’t have the balls. So instead he says nothing. There’s no call-back, no reply to your email, no letter in the post. Nothing. Just an ominous silence, from which you are meant to deduce, after a period of time lasting days or weeks, that your request, inquiry, invitation or proposal was turned down. In other words, the burden is placed on you to mentally refuse it yourself. The spineless TV executive had nothing to do with it, his  hands are clean.

It’s playing David Copperfield with the truth, and it sucks.

Oh, and if the two of you meet again at some point – you and him; executive and…er…executed, I guess you’d be – convention says that both sides must pretend that the Hollywood No never happened. Do not dwell in the past, goes the rule. Even if the past was about ten minutes ago. Move on, overlook any perceived slights, and don’t bring it up ever again. The transgressor must be allowed to get away with his crime. That’s just how it is.

It’s certainly considered very bad protocol to shake the executive’s hand the next time you see him and say, “Hey, you douche, how come you didn’t reply to my request, inquiry, invitation, or proposal?” Breaking the code of silence around the Hollywood No and reminding people what double-crossing skunks they are to their face can actually cost you friendships, jobs, and, in some cases, whole TV series. Trust me, I know.

It isn’t only the Paula Abdul crisis that brought this back to me, by the way. It was being emailed by that TV producer the other day (see HERE).

Our interaction was brief. A couple of lines each way, that’s all. But I was struck even then by what a slippery eel the guy seemed to be. I’d ask him a question, he’d reply within minutes with a statement that bore no relation to what I’d asked. I’d make a statement; in return he’d ask a question, again totally unrelated. Ducking and weaving, dodging and dancing. All so devious, so icky. I don’t know him at all, but I thought I could feel the gooey oiliness of his yellow character oozing from the monitor like parasitical Jell-O. There was nothing straightforward about our ‘conversation’, nothing direct or honest, nothing a real – ie. non-TV – person could get a grip on or hold him to. A typical TV executive, in other words. I have no doubt he’s very successful.

So, as much as I personally don’t want Paula Abdul back on American Idol,  I sympathize with her plight and must necessarily take her side. If Fox executives are anything like their scheming, lying counterparts all across the rest of the industry – and since it’s Fox after all, how can they not be? – then they’re playing this for sport, torturing her because they can, filling her days with uncertainty, false starts and Hollywood Nos, merely because…well,  they’re TV executives and that’s what they do.

I hope she wins.  Go Paula.

TV Swami – he say NO to Fox. And possibly “Go to hell”, but he not sure yet.

 www.cashpeters.com

Read Cash’s book, Naked in Dangerous PlacesHERE.

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What the hell has Mary Tyler Moore done to her face?

Living in Hollywood, I’m surrounded by face lifts. Half the people you pass in the street who are over 50 seem to have had a little something done.  A tweak, a lift, or a total overhaul that leaves their eyebrows locked in the “oooh!” position, their top lip fixed rigid like a ventriloquist dummy’s, cheeks as round and smooth as bobbing apples, and everything else pulled taut, stretched tight, and held in place around the back with a bulldog clip. It’s the norm here rather than the exception.

What these people don’t realize is that: a) face lifts sag, so eventually you have to have them re-done, and b) by the time you reach 70, all your surgical chickens come home to roost for the whole world to see, leaving you looking like a deflated party balloon.

I have a friend in her sixties who comes to dinner sometimes. She’s always tampering with her looks. You think you know her, then, boom, she’ll surprise you by turning up looking like a total stranger. A stranger with the same features, but in a different order. Or polished. Or with one eye slightly bigger than the other.

It’s highly disturbing, and I would never, ever do it myself, any more than I would have, say, Botox injected into my muscles and risk ending up with a stiff Frankenstein forehead like Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne, or Lasik surgery on my eyes, not after hearing Kathy Griffin say she’s now 30% blind, and after I read that the earliest pioneers of this technique in Japan have found their scar tissue ripping, also leading to partial blindness.

Then

By the way, the reason I mention all of this is because 7-time Emmy winner Mary Tyler Moore was on Letterman the other night. She’s 72, and I don’t know what happened, but I’m guessing it’s a ton of surgery, because she looks terrible. Teeeerrrrrrible. Tweaked, stretched, gruesomely fiddled with, or something. Whatever she did – boy, how she must be regretting it now. If you ever wince when you see your own reflection, go look at photos of her and you’ll feel ten times better immediately.

Of course, you can’t assert that people have had plastic surgery when they might not have done, so I’m not definitely saying she has, you understand. But the signs are usually right there.

For me, the telltale pointer is your own shock when you next see them.

Take, for instance, Joan Rivers, who’s the nearest thing we have to, if not a comedy goddess, then certainly a living waxwork of one. According to her own recent reality show, she’s had….guess how many procedures. Go on, guess.

744.

Is that even humanly possible? Has to be a joke, right? Did it actually say ’74’ and my eyes were blurred and saw triple figures? God, I’d like to think so, for her sake. But no, I went back and checked. 744.

And believe me, without make-up, the evidence of what Joan has done to herself over the years is right there: she has a face like an unbaked scone. It’s beyond sad. How lost, I wonder, how troubled, and how much must you hate yourself deep, deep inside, to do something like this to your face? That’s the question I ask when I see people like that. Especially if it turns you into a laughing stock. The irony is that her main claim to fame these days is Fashion Police, a horrible bitchy show in which she criticizes and jokes about the way celebrities look, which everyone laughs and thinks to themselves, “Jeez, with that face, how does she even have the nerve to attack anyone else?”

Then there’s Liza Minnelli. She was on Rosie O’Donnell’s variety show a couple years ago. The woman still seemed as ditsy and addled as ever, but now she’s a different Liza somehow. Thinner, more vibrant, and looking so rejuvenated that mere cosmetic tampering alone can’t be the answer. More likely, scientists secretly took her DNA 35 years ago, planted it in a petri dish, and started growing a second Liza as a back-up, in case the first one went right off the rails, which she looked like she might do for a while. It was a remarkable transition, and I still don’t know if I like it. Luckily, her bizarre routine with O’Donnell was a hokey, embarrassing, cringe-making debacle – so nothing’s changed on that score, at least.

Now

UPDATE – 20th January 2011. Remarkably, Mary Tyler Moore resurfaced again last night on the second season opener of TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland. She was reunited with Betty White for the first time since 1977, when they played together in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

In Hot she was Betty’s cellmate, lying on a bunk, her face hidden from the camera, which, in hindsight was advisable, because when she turned round, my lord…well, it wasn’t good. 90% of the studio audience must have been going, “Er…who the hell is that?

At 74 years of age, Mary’s new face looks dark and evil. So completely different to the girl-next-door comedienne we once loved (and actually recognized). I know that many years and a whole lot of living have gone into that face, but you could say the same about Betty, who may have had a little something done years ago herself perhaps, but is otherwise untouched and looks natural and wonderful, and won’t send the children to bed screaming.

So a lesson for all of us there – leave your face alone. Grow old in your own good time. Love yourself for who you are and stop trying to be someone you’re not.

UPDATE – May 12 2011. Mary has a brain tumor and is going to have it surgically removed. Now this kind of surgery is probably justified. But in any case, she’s an icon and a legend. Let’s quit our showbiz sniping for a few weeks and pray she recovers and survives.

UPDATE – January 16th 2012. Tonight Mary Tyler Moore appeared on a very cheesy tribute show for Betty White’s 90th birthday on NBC, and she’s not aged well. Frail, shaky, distant. She’s only 75 but at first glance she seemed older than Betty herself. The poor woman has had a brain tumor removed, so we must be very kind and understanding. She’s also nearly blind due to diabetes.

On that ground, I refuse to comment further about her looks. Except to say, “Oh – my – god!” If nothing else, treat this as a PSA from the showbiz community. Stop going to plastic surgeons. If you have third degree burns, maybe. On the other hand, if you look just fine, but don’t want to end up looking like you once had third degree burns, leave yourself alone.

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The first is a delicious mystery-thriller called Force of Habit: Sister Madeleine Investigates, which people are already calling ‘Dazzling’ and ‘Frightening’ and ‘So cool’. It’s hard not to love it, frankly. Right now it’s only $2.99, and GREAT fun.

The other is a quite stunning and fascinating chronicle of Cash’s 12-day journey to Brazil to undergo spiritual surgery from famed healer John of God. It’s a total page-turner. Called a little book about believing, the ideas it contains will blow – your – mind, as well as change your life. Now available on Amazon – Kindle or paperback.

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”This book is wonderful, surprising, challenging, eye-opening, sensitive, touching…I’m running out of words. Just get it and read it.” – Caroline Lehman, author of Through the Moongate.

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Another British Import Hits the Scrapheap

70s drama Life on Mars axed

It was pretty so-so in its original form, I thought. They made it a little zippier in the US version, but it simply never caught on, and ABC killed it.

So – another one down. Add this to the worst comedy of all time, Coupling, game shows by the horrendous Ant and Dec and also Eamonn Holmes, and a bunch of personalities from Ann Robinson to Ainsley Harriott who tried to make it in America and fell short, and there’s a grim lesson to be learned.

Unfortunately, the British won’t learn it. You can’t just dump stuff on us and hope for the best. It has to be good too. Life on Mars wasn’t special, it was just more actors yakking. Drama’s costly, reality’s still popular, and cheap. A lot of actors need to start looking for second jobs. Their days are numbered on TV. Hopefully, the networks will think twice before importing any more dramas from the UK. Or anywhere else for that matter. 

The big-time British successes, such as Ricky Gervais and The Office, Simon Cowell and American idol, Piers Morgan on America’s Got Talent, and Gordon Ramsey, deserve to be popular because they’re authentic, extremely gifted, articulate, clever, and not just out to woo American audiences with their ‘act’. The losers – Ant and Dec, for instance – simply tried too hard and came here with insufficient charisma, talent, or material to make it. They weren’t up to the job and were sent packing by American audiences. Right now, Paul McKenna is making shows here. Another gifted guy. I hope the series takes off. 

After the demise of Life on Mars, next comes the American version of Absolutely Fabulous, which I predict will fail too. The BBC original ran for 36 episodes, beginning about 17 years ago. Loved that. It never gets old. But I already dislike the US version, to be called AbFab, and not one frame of it has been shot yet.

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