Straight Up: Judging Paula's “Idol” Replacement

Abdul's "Idol" days are over. Now who should replace her?

Let’s make one thing clear: We’re here to sing Paula Abdul's praises, not dance on the grave of her now-dead "American Idol" career.

Paula tweeted goodbye to her fans last night when she announced her intentions not to return for the ninth season for the smash hit.

"With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return," Abdul wrote on her Twitter page Tuesday.

Her loopy pronouncements (“David, you are ridiculous. I wanna just squish you, squeeze your head off, and dangle you from my rear-view mirror,” she memorably told Season Seven runner-up David Archuleta) often were more entertaining than the performers.

She played the key role of the endearing sap whose kind words for everyone from the not-quite-talented-enough to the screeching human train wrecks the tryouts attract soothed many a verbal wound inflicted by the saber-tongued Simon Cowell.

Even in her most unbalanced moments, Abdul added a measure of equilibrium to the show, which tends, especially in the early weeks of the competition, to be more about the judges than the contestants.

She's going to be missed -- by the fans who love her, by viewers who got a kick out her ramblings and probably by Cowell, who likely never will have a sparring partner quite like Abdul.

Reports naming Jennifer Lopez as a possible replacement were quickly shot down last month. But that doesn’t preclude the likelihood that potential Abdul stand-ins woke up Wednesday to phone calls from FOX -- especially with the Season 9 auditions reportedly set to begin Aug. 9.

So we put it to you: Who should replace Adbul? Or will Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi be enough to carry on?

Use the comments section below to play “Idol” judge.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.

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