American Idol judges’ salaries revealed, and Paula Abdul is not happy

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Sarah Palin could put enough cracks in the glass ceiling for Paula Abdul. Nigel Lythgoe, former “American Idol” executive producer, revealed recently that there is a bit of a disparity between Paula’s salary for her work as a judge on the hit TV show, and Simon Cowell’s for the same job.

“American Idol” former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe recently revealed that Simon Cowell is earning $36 million a year from the show.

It’s not news that Cowell makes some serious coin — he’s been ranked in Forbes — but the approximately $22,000 per minute (according to Lythgoe’s calculations) that Cowell earns has fellow “Idol” judge Paula Abdul especially angry. Rumors put Abdul’s salary at closer to $5 to $8 million per season.

[From MSNBC Scoop]

Paula Abdul is not the most stable person, and those that know her are worried that this could cause some problems. Abdul knew Cowell was making more than her, but the gap was a lot more than anyone would have guessed. A source that works with the show says that Paula already feels underappreciated, especially after they’ve brought in another female judge to “even out” the panel. People around her are pretty sure they’re going to be the one paying for it, too.

“If you thought she had reason to run late to the set now, imagine what the future may hold. I kind of feel for the assistants who are going to be made responsible for getting her on set on time. It’s always a challenge, but now? I don’t want to think about it.”

[From MSNBC Scoop]

No mention was made of Randy Jackson’s salary. I’m guessing it’s somewhere between Simon’s and Paula’s, but closer to Paula’s. Lythgoe also didn’t say anything about new judge Kara DioGuardi’s salary, either, but if Abdul’s is only $5 to $8 million, she’s a lot closer to DioGuardi than Cowell.

Get ready for the Abdul-crazy to be even crazier this year.

Header image is of a press conference to introduce the new judge Kara DioGuardi in NY on 8/26/08. Credit: Janet Mayer / PR Photos. Photo below is of Paula Abdul at the Entertainment Tonight Emmy Party in LA on 9/21/08. Credit: Chris Hatcher / PR Photos

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31 Responses to “American Idol judges’ salaries revealed, and Paula Abdul is not happy”

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  1. RAN says:

    Seriously though, what did she expect? How many people in the U.S. actually tune in to watch Paula’s antics? That show was built on Simon’s cutting commentary – not to mention he’s one of the executive producers, right? (I think so, but am too lazy to look it up right now).

    Besides that, I could easily live on her $5-$8 mil, so she just needs pipe down… geez!

  2. Clare says:

    She earns too much already. Any one can do what she does. Not every one can be Simon Cowell. Duh!

  3. Lauri says:

    She needs to get over it. She makes a fantastic salary and should be very pleased with it. God knows I would be thrilled.

  4. trivia says:

    I think people watch AI for Simon as much as for the performances, maybe more. The show could go on even without Paula. Without Simon, however, it’d be dull.

  5. Syko says:

    She’s overpaid as it is. She could always leave. I don’t think she’d be missed very much. She can take Randy too, if she likes. Tired of them both, but never tire of Simon.

  6. WTF?!?! says:

    Per year and per season are different, since they’ve done eight in six years, but she still didn’t bank nearly as much as Simon, and he doesn’t have nearly her liquor and pharmaceutical expenses.

  7. Jinxy says:

    She’s lucky she makes that much money, her musical career ended in the 80’s. Plus that whole drunk off her ass, pill head thing she has going on makes her pretty jokey. This is it for her because there aren’t lots of opportunities out there for elderly has been pop stars with mental problems.

  8. geronimo says:

    The ingratitude!! Not sure exactly what it is she’s trading on these days but it’s not talent or personality or humour and it sure as hell isn’t objective, informed, professional musical opinion. She’s damn lucky to have a job. As already pointed out, Simon IS AI and Simon IS Pop Idol and everyone else on both panels are easily-replaced seat fillers.

  9. aleach says:

    wow, 8 mill for popping some pills and acting like you know anything about singing? shit, if she doesnt want it, ill take it!

  10. Diva says:

    I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have frequented the American Idol message boards in the past and the die-hard fans LOVE Paula Abdul. At least they did season before last, which is the last time I spent any time there. When rumors of replacing her come up they freak out.

    I think she’s part of why I tune in, to see how drunk/high/nutso she’ll act that week. So she’s somewhat of a draw. No where near Simon, but I think more than a fraction of compensation worth. Personally, I find it PREPOSTEROUS that Cowell makes THAT much money for that one show.

  11. HoodFellaz says:

    Fire the bitch and give Simon more money 😆

  12. Jeanne says:

    She should shut her trap and be happy with her 5-8 million. She’s already way overpaid. That little whack job should be happy to even have a career and they’ve kept her on the show despite her addictions and loopy behavior. How ungrateful of her.

  13. mary says:

    she is really lucky and she acts drunk almost every weak and makes a fool out of her self so she should be lucky they aren’t girving her 1 mil a year

  14. laj says:


    I can’t believe the disgust for Paula. I like both Paula and Randy better than Simon. His incredibly rude comments are not necessary as far as I’m concerned. I don’t see the need for him to emotionally destroy people. Americans have gotten so rude and competitive that most do love to see that meanness.

  15. lois says:

    this talentless bitch should be kissing the producer’s ass–she would be turning tricks on sunset blvd right now, higher than she is on camera. for the love of god–what is wrong with this chick? i hope she leaves after this gig–let’s see what she can come up with for her next career move–have you seen her jewelry line on the stupid shopping networks? it’s hideous–and she looked as high as a kite when she was on promoting it–po thang

  16. GUNDI says:


  17. dean says:

    really if it is true he earns that much for repeating the same nonesense season after season it is obscene.britain is full of pompous talentless snooty twits like coweell.anne robinson for one…it is easy to be rude….after all…

  18. Annie says:

    What a mean world…we thrive off of meanness, ugly reality tv…exclusions and put-downs…no wonder we consume more illegal drugs than any other country and don’t mention our addiction to prescription drugs from movie stars to soccer moms. How many of us have a true sense of self-worth and can see any value in ourselves?

    If we did feel better about ourselves, Simon’s comments would be deemed disturbing and unnecessary…but, it’s great for show ratings. I really like Simon and see beneath his exterior…he’s pretty insecure and quite lovable himself. Paula gives a needed warmth, regardless of loopy behavior. Kara is really a female version of Simon with a little more tact, she is containing herself at this point.

    Simon could be Simon without being as cruel…something so many of us wish we could do and get away with it…but, we’re cowards and say the meanest things on boards and blogs because we feel like crap on the inside. We either love to love celebrities or hate them for their lifestyle and fortune.

    At the end of the day, we all have the same job and that is finding our self-worth and value to have a high quality life, that even money and prestige can’t buy.

  19. vickey says:

    Yea and all you judge mental people want to talk about her drinking and pills what are you drinking and popping while you set there and critacis Paula oh yea I forgot what are you smoking to make you think your any better. you go paula

  20. CB Rawks says:

    *sets* here in her jammies shamefully drinking her shameful coffee milkshake. 🙂
    Paula’s a Loooser! …also, You go Bruno! 😉

  21. kate says:

    I don’t like Kara…she is too snooty….Randy is too boring and Simon can’t ever quit, they need him, he is the only reason I tune in…..also Paula who????????????put a fork in her she’s done, gone bye bye……….who needs 5 to 8 million anyway??????????

  22. Bentonelli says:

    I see we have a large number of Paula haters out there. I like paula she kind, tender , considerate and conducive to comfort
    with her comments to contestants. Oh yes, she is good to look at too.

  23. Bentonelli says:

    I see we have a large number of Paula haters out there. I like paula she kind, tender , considerate and conducive to comfort
    with her comments to contestants. Oh yes, she is good to look at too.

  24. Jostmon says:

    Actually Paula is by far the most talented of the judges as a world class singer and former dancer. Simon is the only one that cannot sing. He does have an eye for what America likes but the rest of the judges are usually more accurate when it comes to pitch correctness and singing ability. In the end, TV is all about ratings and his no-nonsense approach brings in the dough. It is not a reflection of his superiority and I wish Paula hadn’t taken it that way.

  25. Heather says:

    Paula is my favorite judge. She gives the most accurate feedback and is always uplifting to the contestants. She deserves to be paid just as much as Simon! They do have the same job after all…

  26. Max says:

    Paula is gorgeous, but a total whack-job. The fact that she is not returning for the next season is probably a good thing, since she garners more pity than anything else these days. Not being able to string an intelligent sentence together is NOT a good look! It certainly aint worth 5-8 million bucks!

  27. AK Made says:

    The pay difference obviously reveals that the producers discriminate against their employess based on race and gender. Anyone that continues to support the show or their sponsors condones this type of illegal behavior. This type of crap is the reason the economy is so f*cked up. People are too willing to overlook the inequities in the American culture.

  28. Coindude says:

    Why not pay them all the same, and give the money to who does the work…like the contestants. This is a joke!! But then again so is Cowell, can he sing? Is he smart? Exactly what does he bring to the show..other than Brit….Bad Attitude!!!

  29. lEElEE says:

    Wow! American Idol will never be the same show without Paula. Believe what you want, but everyone has medical issues and hers just happened to interfere with this job. Don’t even start talking years on her career compared to the other judges, ages, and their careers. Kara is definitely an asset. Paula is more than just a has been from the 80’s please… Check out what she does….

  30. It’s a shame that Simon Cowell is earning the most money out of all, he’s entertaining but he is a jerk alright.

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