WHO: Entertainment president Kevin Reilly and chairman Peter Rice.
9:56 am: Rice addresses the Abdul situation head-on. “Paula will not be returning to Idol,” he says. “It’s very saddening for us.” He goes on to break down what exactly happened: They offered her a “substantial raise” to return and she turned it down. As a result guest judges — including Katy Perry and Victoria Beckham — will fill the void during the early audition rounds. “Between now and January we will come up with a more permanent solution… [and find] a replacement for Paula. We’re very sad she’s not coming back.” He concedes that the new season will now have “a different dynamic and energy…. But there’s also something exciting about that.”
9:59 am: Any chance Abdul might change her mind? “We have concluded our negotiations and Paula has announced that she is not [returning].”
10:04 am: The four-judge format will continue on Idol.
10:06 am: On the surprise renewal of Dollhouse, Rice says the show maintained a solid core audience and “the season got stronger and stronger creatively.”
10:10 am: Rice says they started thinking two weeks ago about contingency plans re: Abdul when her agent made that ominous statement to the press. He adds that Perry and Beckham are one-off guest judges and don’t represent a long-term fix. “All of the people we’re talking to have successful careers and I don’t think they’d be available [for a full-time gig].” The main criteria for a new permanent judge will be someone who has “great chemistry” with Kara, Simon, and Randy.
10:20 am: Rice concedes that “there is going to be a change” next season on Idol. “And we have to look at that as a positive change now. We have to look at it as an opportunity to bring a new energy to the show.” Adds Reilly: “[Idol] is ultimately about the contestants.”
10:21 am: Reilly says there are no plans to air the remaining King of the Hill episodes beyond the one-hour finale in September.
For more on today’s exec session, read Lynette Rice’s recap over at Hollywood Insider.