Michael Ausiello
August 20, 2009 AT 04:33 PM EDT

Take note, American Idol: This is how you replace Paula Abdul.

Ugly Betty has tapped 3rd Rock Emmy winner Kristen Johnston to replace Abdul in the now-recurring role of Helen, Mode’s newest office temp and Amanda’s elder doppelganger. Abdul had been in negotiations to play the part, but last week the deal came undone — in part, I hear, due to the ex-Idol judge’s insane list of demands. (Two words: Private. Jet.)

“I’ve always considered myself a poor man’s Paula Abdul,” Johnston says with a laugh. She describes her Betty character as “Amanda in 10 years. She’s still trying to get into the right clubs, wearing tight dresses… tragic. I think [Helen] sees herself as Samantha from Sex and the City. Except, of course, she’s a temp.”

Johnston will first appear in the second half of Betty‘s two-hour premiere on Oct. 9.

Thoughts? Did Betty trade up by hiring Johnston? (Hint: The answer is yes.) Sound off below! (Additional reporting by Tanner Stransky)

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