Sunday, August 16, 2009

Abdul's Exit From American Idol

While the validity of the old saying "there's no such thing as bad press" has been widely debated, one can often find the silver lining in most instances of bad press. Here's a good example of late:

Paula Abdul was the subject of a lot of media attention last week when she announced she would not return to American Idol, the show on which she serves as a judge of singing talent. Abdul purportedly left because she felt she was not being paid enough money for her role in the show, requesting a raise from her current rate of $3.5 million in salary and benefits to $10 million for future seasons.

This notion spurred a lot of bad press for Abdul, who was painted by the media as being greedy and selfish. After listening to this clip from NPR's Michelle Martin, though, I started to see the situation differently. Entitled "Abdul's Exit from 'Idol' Confronts Pay Equality," Martin explains that Ryan Seacrest, the show's host, is set to earn $45 million over the next three years and judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson are said to be making around $30 million per year.
Basically, explains Martin, these men are being paid three to ten times the amount of Abdul for doing the same work on the same show.

Although many people have criticized her actions of late, "maybe somebody should be [marching for Abdul]," Martin says. "Maybe all those teen and tween girls who are so busy texting and calling in and generating millions of dollars in profits to that show should ask themselves, if Paula Abdul can't get paid the same money for doing the same work as Randy and Simon and Ryan, can I?"

In her commentary Martin does not acknowledge the fact that Cowell and Jackson have (arguably) stronger and more relevant ties to today's music industry than Abdul. But Abdul brings her own cards to the table; it can be argued that Abdul's personality and "off-screen antics" (as Martin termed them) have gone a long way in generating buzz and loyalty for the show.

Regardless of credibility, the fact remains the same: Abdul sits between two men who make several times what she does while the three fulfill the same role.

So, are Abdul's cries for higher pay valid? Whereas the press had painted her as a greedy villain for leaving the show, was she justified in her actions? Martin certainly got me thinking.

What do you think, do you believe in the old adage "there's no such thing as bad press"? If so, do you feel that this is one such example?

1 comment:

Emily C said...

I must admit, when the news of Abdul's departing AI broke I associated it with the recent reports of drug abuse (May 2009.) Then I caught Michelle Martin's thoughts on NPR as well. It's true, on a show dominated by men, Paula is not taken seriously.

In regards to good and bad press, I don't believe in either. There's truth and lies. I feel the negative depiction of Paula could have been avoided with a stronger statement. Twitter is an effective way to reach an audience with updates but not for something as large as this.