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The search is on for Paula's replacement.
Rice told a group of TV execs that he "loved Paula" but it was Abdul's loss that the "Straight Up" singer passed on a "fair deal" to remain on "Idol," the New York Daily News reported.
"We very much wanted [Abdul] to return," Rich said. "It was a substantial raise on money she has made in the past. Paula has decided not to return. ... It's something we didn't want to happen."
In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Abdul refused to discuss the details of her failed contract negotiations. The singer reportedly wanted between $12 and $20 million but was offended when only offered $4 million. A source told the AP that she stood to gain a 30% raise for sticking with "Idol."
"At this point, there are so many wonderful things that are being offered to me," Abdul told the AP. "And I got to take a deep breath, sleep a little … and go through everything."
Rich said Abdul's exit had a silver lining too -- It would allow producers to rethink the "Idol" brand by signing up celebrity guest judges.
Until the network finds a permanent replacement for Abdul, execs have won commitments from Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham and pop singer Katy Perry for weekly stints on the show, which begins taping today in Denver.
Rice said he hoped to have a permanent fourth judge lined up by January to "introduce a new energy to the panel," he said, according to Usmagazine.com.
"It wasn't a decision we made, but we have to look at it in a positive way," he said.