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Fox recently announced the ninth season of America Idol will premiere on Tuesday, January 12 at 8pm ET/PT. The season will premiere for two consecutive nights with a two-hour broadcast on Tuesday and a one-hour broadcast on Wednesday, January 13 at 8PM ET/PT.

The new season will feature the addition of Ellen DeGeneres as a replacement for Paula Abdul. Paula served as AI judge since the show began in 2002 and reportedly rejected a $5 million per year income and later announced her exit from Idol in August. Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi will be returning as judges while Ryan Seacrest will continue as host.

The auditions for American Idol took place over the summer and featured several guest judges in Paula’s spot including Victoria Beckham in Denver and Boston, Mary J. Blige in Atlanta, Joe Jonas and Neil Patrick Harris in Dallas, Kristin Chenoweth in Orlando, Shania Twain in Chicago, and Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne in Los Angeles.

In other Idol news, Kris Allen’s self titled album dropped at No. 11 on The Billboard 200 album sales chart after selling only 80,000 copies during its week of release, according to Nielsen Soundscan data. This is the lowest of any idol winner ever recorded. Before Kris, Jordin Sparks, sixth season winner previously held the record for lowest album sales and sold 119,000 copies in first week release in November 2007.

Those figures are especially low compared to the 198,000 albums sold by runner up, Adam Lambert, who has remained in the headlines due to his recent raunchy performance at the American Music Awards.

Paula Abdul and Ellen DeGeneres

Fox recently announced that Ellen DeGeneres has signed on to be the fourth judge on American Idol, replacing Paula Abdul. Paula however has nothing but positive things to say about Ellen.

“I think Ellen will b a great judge on Idol,” she Twittered Thursday. “She is wildly funny, talented and I wish her the best of luck!”

Former judge, Paula Abdul, abruptly announced she would not be returning to the show on her Twitter page back in August. It is said to have been due to contract negotiations. Paula felt she deserved more money than what AI was offering. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Ellen promises to be the “honest” judge who will “bring compassion” to the show. In addition, she intends to keep fellow judge Simon Cowell in check.

“I’ll tell him the same thing I tell him when he’s on my show — that he’s mean,” she said. “You can be constructive, and you can criticize someone in a way that’s helpful and not mean-spirited.”

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Ellen DeGeneres has been tapped to replace Paula Abdul as the fourth judge on American Idol, Fox announced Wednesday night in a statement.

“DeGeneres will sit alongside Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi and offer her own unique perspective to the contestants throughout the competition,” Fox television says.

Ellen, 51, will begin her stint after the audition rounds, which will feature a rotating group of celebrity guest judges including Shania Twain, Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Joe Jonas and Kristin Chenoweth.

Ellen also confirmed the announcement at her talk show taping Wednesday, “I’m going to have a day job and a night job,” assuring her audience that The Ellen DeGeneres Show will continue. “This is so exciting for me.”

Former judge, Paula Abdul, abruptly announced she would not be returning to the show on her Twitter page back in August. It is said to have been due to contract negotiations. Paula felt she deserved more money than what AI was offering.

American Idol’s ninth season kicks off January 2010.

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The ninth season of American Idol will premiere in January 2010 without Paula Abdul. American Idol isn’t the same without Paula Abdul, says Simon Cowell.

Simon, 49, tells Extra the show is now “different. It’s like comparing a carrot to a banana… They are different.”

On the ninth season, judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi return – along with celebrity guest judges, including Victoria Beckham, Shania Twain, Mary J. Blige and Katy Perry.

Simon says, he doesn’t want to “get in the middle” of Idol execs and Paula but definitely misses her being on the show. He also believes Paula will always be able to find work.

So what’s next for Paula?

“I definitely want to do a talk show because it would be different,” says Abdul, who has shot a guest role on Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva and will host VH1′s Divas Live Sept. 17. “It would be a lot of fun variety with a ton of unexpected stuff and tributes to everyday people getting their big chance.”

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Even though Paula Abdul is leaving the show, American Idol will still have four judges, Fox chairman Peter Rice told the FOX Television Critics Association on Thursday.

“There is going to be a search,” he said. The search is for a permanent replacement, while there will be guest judges taking her place during the auditions.

According to Peter, the producers “were hoping” Abdul would come back. “We love Paula. She’s been a really wonderful part of the show for eight years.”

Sources say that Paula asked for a $20 million deal which producers were unwilling to meet. She also rejected a thirty percent raise.

According to FOX, guest judges including Victoria Beckham and Katy Perry will join Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi in the seven weeks of audition rounds, which starts Friday in Denver.

“We’ll have these guest judges do one week each during the audition [period]… there is no thought right now that any of these judges will be long term judge for us,” Rice said. “All of the people we are talking to have successful careers. I don’t even think they’d be available to judge full-time. We have now until January to introduce a new energy to the panel.”

There are also rumors that Kandi Burruss of The Real Housewives of Atlanta is being considered as a judge, but those are simply rumors for now.

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Speculations over Paula Abdul’s return to American Idol can finally be put to rest as she will not be returning as judge on American Idol, reports PEOPLE.

 “With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return to Idol,” Abdul, 47, writes on her Twitter page. “I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day one become an international phenomenon.”

She adds: “What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me. I do, without any doubt, have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all.”

Paula’s reps have refused to comment except provide a confirmation that she is leaving. The show will begin taping for the 9th season, with auditions starting in Denver. 

FOX TV also released a statement saying, “Paula Abdul has been an important part of the American Idol family over the last eight seasons and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show,” “While Paula will not be continuing with us, she’s a tremendous talent and we wish her the best.”

With Paula gone, the three other judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi will return.

Tell us: Are you going to keep watching AI without Paula?

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Over the weekend, there were talks that Paula Abdul may not return for season 9 of American Idol according to her manager. American Idol fellow judge, Simon Cowell is however not concerned because he believes the contract will be finalized amicably and Paula will be back on the show.

“She’ll be fine. She’ll be on the show,” he tells Extra” I don’t get a lot of say. I’ve just made it clear that I want Paula on the show.”

AI host, Ryan Seacrest also says, “I think as far as I know, you’ll see everybody back. I hope so.”

David Sonenberg Abdul’s manager, raised concern over the weekend, telling the Los Angeles Times that the singer-dancer hasn’t been offered a contract yet.

In the meantime, a “Keep Paula” campaign has been launched on Twitter to keep Paula on the show. Idol alums, Matt Giraud, Anoop Desai and Danny Gokey have also joined the campaign showing support for Paula.

Abdul also took to her Twitter page over the weekend to thank fans for standing by her. She wrote: “I’m actually moved 2 tears upon reading the enormous amount of tweets showing me your kindness, love & undying support. God bless all you! If it weren’t for you, this specific time and situation would feel a lot worse! XoP”

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The American idol judges and host are finalizing contract negotiations before the show returns for the ninth season. Ryan Seacrest recently renewed his contract for three years, a $45 million deal to continue as host, perhaps making him the highest paid host in the history of reality tv.  Randy Jackson also signed on through 2011 while Kara DioGuardi has expressed interest to return. Though Simon Cowell will return for another season, his long term future on AI remains uncertain.

There were several reports that Paula Abdul will be returning to the show, however Paula’s manager is not certain of her return since the producers are not agreeing to their demands.

“Very sadly, it does not appear that she’s going to be back on Idol,” Abdul’s manager, David Sonenberg, who has yet to receive a proposal for her return, told The Los Angeles Times.

According to Sonenberg, who began managing the star in June, he told the network Abdul would “love to be on the show,” but is yet to get a response from the producers.

“She’s not a happy camper as a result of what’s going on. She’s hurt. She’s angry,” Sonenberg said. “I think at this point we’re going to be considering everything, including some kind of a competition show. She has tremendous ideas for a whole variety of shows.”

Tell us: Will you continue to watch American Idol without Paula Abdul?

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