Which Dance Show Should Paula Abdul Join?

by Ramin Setoodeh

In this bad economy, is anybody hiring? Yes. But only if your name is Paula Abdul. The former American Idol judge and publicity machine—she topped headlines once again, this time for quitting the No. 1 show on TV—is now apparently the most employable woman in America. It's only been a few days since she packed up her red Coca Cola cup, and she already has two job offers. Oddly, they're both from dance shows.

Decisions, decisions. Since Paula has been so kind to Idol contestants over the years, we thought we'd return the favor. Hey Paula, let's talk through your next career move:

Job No. 1
So You Think You Can Dance?

The Offer: Nigel Lythgoe, who used to work with Paula as an executive producer on American Idol, offered her a spot as a guest judge and choreographer on his show.
The Ups: Next to Mary Murphy and Lythgoe, Paula won't have to work very hard to be the star.
The Downs: Does anybody watch this show? The summer premiere caught just under 9 million eyeballs, a fraction of Idol's audience. When it returns in the fall, opposite new programming, it might do even worse.
The Pay: Who knows. But it's doubtful Fox will give Paula more to do this show than what she was offered to stay on Idol (she reportedly turned down $5 million a year).

Job No. 2
Dancing With the Stars

The Offer: Stephen McPherson, the president of ABC's entertainment programming, said that Paula could join the show—either as a contestant or a judge.
The Ups: It's the most watched reality TV show after Idol. Plus, if she put on her dancing shoes, it's almost a guarantee that her Idol fans—already pros at texting or calling—would help her win the disco ball trophy.
The Downs: All the extra work! On Idol, Paula only had to critique a few songs a week and play with Simon Cowell. Here, she'd have to rehearse all week long and—to steal lyrics from her last hit song—dance like there's no tomorrow.
The Pay: Still a mystery. But the contestants usually donate their earnings to charity.

Career counselor says: Paula would probably be better off at ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Bigger network, bigger audience, and bigger chance to get even with the Idol people for not paying her enough.

One caveat, though: The Idol show went on the road last weekend without Paula, and Victoria Beckham is said to have bombed in her chair. We're still in the audition round. Is it possible that Fox could wise up by January and bring Paula back? If there's anything we've learned after eight seasons of American Idol—as Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry or Clay Aiken would tell you—it's this: the show loves a big surprise.