'There all these Saula sites dedicated to Simon and me arguing, in love, living happily ever after to you know, to tumultuous experiences,' the former judge tells EW.
Credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

This the true Hollywood story of how the term “Saula” came to be.

A quick Google search of Saula reveals a treasure trove of fan fiction, musical tributes, and graphic art commemorating the topsy-turvy relationship between former American Idol judges Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. At time tense, terse and oddly affectionate, Saula – an amalgamation of the pair’s two names — has spawned an Urban Dictionary entry, a Tumblr page, and an official Twitter account.

“Saula forever in our hearts” reads one Tumblr post, while a caption for a Facebook photo of the pair circa 2013 reveals shipping at its most fan-obsessed, heart emoji-flourished best: “This moment is magical!”

Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

Still a phenomenon seven years after Abdul left the luster of judge’s panel following her 2002-2009 reign, Saula remains an object of fascination – even for one-half of the party from which it takes its name.

“It was hard for us to even put it into perspective that there was a time for a period of time that 30 plus million people tuned in, sometimes three times a week when we were on three days. It changed the trajectory of all of our lives and of television,” recalls Abdul of her eight-year reign on Idol.

“I think the craziest thing that ever happened was this whole movement called Saula. Million and millions and millions of [people] that did these novels and like, full-on screenplays. There all these Saula sites dedicated to Simon and me arguing, in love, living happily ever after to you know, to tumultuous experiences. It’s crazy.”

But as it turns out, real life proved juicier than any fanfic.

“It was the perfect storm,” says Abdul of placing her between judges Cowell and Randy. “Randy [and I], we got along. But Simon would push buttons and I would push buttons back but at the end of the day, we’d laugh. We’d laugh because we would be exhausted, it was surreal, and we’d fight the good fight, but always we knew how to make each other laugh in the end.”

So we have to know: With the show’s upcoming finale just around the corner, does Abdul – the original show’s token “nice judge” – have any lingering regrets? Not a chance, says the former pop star and choreographer.

“There was a constant ebb and flow with the three of us, and it worked,” says Abdul. “You can’t just plan that. It just happened and it worked. And to this day, there’s no judging panel that’s remotely close to the magic that happened there.”

She adds, “Everyone was different, but there was something really incredibly unique there.”

For more on Idol – including thrilling recollections and rumor control from other judges past and present – buy the new issue of Entertainment Weekly here, or pick it up on newsstands Friday.

Episode Recaps

American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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