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Paula Abdul Quits "American Idol"; Barack Obama, The Joker?; Brand- New Michael Jackson Heartache; Laura Ling and Euna Lee Rescued; Jon Gosselin`s Attack on Kate Gosselin

Aired August 5, 2009 - 23:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, an "American Idol" shocker. Paula Abdul is out as an "Idol" judge. Tonight, what really happened? Did Paula quit or was she fired? Will "American Idol" replace Paula and who would that be?

Plus, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with your fired-up Paula calls, e-mails and Facebook fury.

Brand-new Michael Jackson heartache. Tonight, for the very first time, the emotional and dramatic story of how Michael`s kids and his mom found out that he was dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to tell Katherine first. And she grabbed and cried and we hugged and we cried together.


HAMMER: Tonight, amazing rescue. Lisa Ling`s sister freed from a North Korean prison. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the moments we will never forget from the emotional homecoming and tear-jerking family reunions as Lisa`s sister and fellow reporter return home from their nightmare.

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.


Hello. I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

Tonight, it`s the Paula Abdul shocker that rocked the world of "American Idol." Paula Abdul is off the show, no longer a judge. She`s out. Well, she`s done now with one of the most popular shows in the history of television. And today, everybody was trying to find out whether Paula quit or if she was fired.

Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been digging all day long to get to the bottom of this bombshell and all of the incredible questions which have been raised and all of that is making big news right now.


(voice-over): It`s the biggest thing to happen to "American Idol" since William Hung channeled Ricky Martin.


HAMMER: Now, instead of "She Bangs," we have "She bails." Paula Abdul`s announcement that she`s bailing from "American Idol" has left the entire country in shock.

ALICIA QUARLES, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Her announcing that she`s leaving the show is rocking the entertainment community.

HAMMER: Abdul dropped her bombshell on Twitter, saying, quote, "With sadness in my heart, I`ve decided not to return to `Idol.` 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."

QUARLES: She`s saying, "You know what? I`m really sad to be leaving a show that I helped make number one," i.e., "Are you going to be able to do it without me? I don`t think so."

HAMMER: "American Idol`s" producers wasted no time with their goodbyes. They tell SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, quote, "While Paula will not be continuing with us, she`s a tremendous talent and we wish her the best." In other words.

QUARLES: Bye, Paula. Moving on.

HAMMER: While Fox doesn`t seem to be shedding many tears over Abdul`s departure, "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest seemed sad when he discussed it on his morning radio show.

RYAN SEACREST, HOST, "AMERICAN IDOL": I`m just bummed because we worked together for so many years. All of us have.


HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you it looks like Abdul`s departure may have come down to two things. The first is money. The second - well, as a young Kelly Clarkson once sang on the show.

KELLY CLARKSON, "AMERICAN IDOL" CHAMPION: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.

QUARLES: She didn`t feel like she was given the respect of the other judges.

HAMMER: Alicia Quarles of the Associated Press tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Paula Abdul`s summer contract talks with "American Idol`s" producers weren`t going well.

QUARLES: Paula Abdul reportedly made about $2 million per year on "Idol." Apparently, "American Idol" offered Paula Abdul a 30 percent raise, but it just wasn`t enough.

HAMMER: Making matters worse for Paula, her colleagues seemed to be getting what they wanted out of their contract talks. Just weeks ago, Ryan Seacrest signed a huge multi-year deal worth an estimated $45 million to continue with "Idol."

New judge Kara DioGuardi also just struck a new contract. That may have been the last straw for Paula.

QUARLES: If you see your counterparts are making more than you or you think they`re getting more respect than you, yes, that can make you walk out the door.

HAMMER: In fact, DioGuardi`s hiring last year, the final year of Abdul`s contract, had led some to believe that Abdul`s remaining time on the show was ticking away.

QUARLES: Paula Abdul, for all these seasons, had been the only female judge. You bring in another woman that`s immediate competition, people thought, "Uh-oh. Is `Idol` trying to get rid of Paula?"

HAMMER: When SHOWBIZ TONIGHT caught up with Kara this past April, she denied her hiring was causing a rift in the "American Idol" family.

KARA DIOGUARDI, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: They talk about these feuds and all these things. It`s just not true.

HAMMER: But as the year went on, Paula made it clear she was not a happy camper.


HAMMER: On Barbara Walters`s radio show last December, Abdul accused fellow judge Simon Cowell of trying to make her look bad on air.

ABDUL: He claims to be that this is - what he`s creating as great television. And I said, "Well, what you`ve created is doubt in my character. You`ve created defamation in my character, and you`ve lied." This is my last season under contract.

HAMMER: And on ABC`s "Nightline" just last April, Abdul openly discussed life after "Idol."

ABDUL: It`s not about replacing anybody. It`s about possibly moving on.

HAMMER: Now, that Abdul`s moved on, the question becomes, what will she do next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You reminded me of Gene Kelly.

HAMMER: "So You Think You Can Dance" judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe, who also used to work on "American Idol," has repeatedly said he`d consider hiring Abdul if she ever became available.

ABDUL: I love hearing your voice how your voice goes in and out of these beautiful colors.

COWELL: I don`t understand a word of what you just said.

HAMMER: But many fans are saying that "Idol" isn`t "Idol" without Paula. And in a summer that`s already seen the break-up of Jon and Kate, Abdul`s apparent break-up with "American Idol" may just be too much for some to take.

QUARLES: I was so upset. Is nothing sacred in reality TV anymore?


HAMMER: Apparently not, Alicia Quarles. Apparently not. So the question is, is this really the curtain call for Paula, or could we see another dramatic twist in this game of "Idol" chess?

Joining me tonight in Hollywood is Michael Yo who is an "E!" celebrity correspondent. Also in Hollywood tonight, Kim Serafin - she`s the senior editor for "In Touch Weekly."

It is really fair to say that people were genuinely shocked when this news broke. Late today, Paula`s fellow "Idol" judge Randy Jackson even told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, "I am shocked. Paula is a dear friend and will be missed."

Michael Yo, beginning with you, we knew Paula was in these tough contract negotiations lately. But did you ever think it would actually get this far? Were you also shocked to hear that she quit?

MICHAEL YO, CELEBRITY CORRESPONDENT, "E!": I was very shocked that she quit. And why would you want to quit the number one show in the country unless you already had something lined up for the same amount of money you were making before? Because that`s a big, big, big show to walk away from.

HAMMER: Yes. And the "New York Times" has reported that Paula was offered a $10 million multi-year contract but apparently was not happy with that offer. But can you blame her?

Listen to this - Ryan Seacrest reportedly making $45 million over three years. Simon Cowell makes a reported $30 million every year. Kim Serafin, can you blame Paula for wanting more, or is she nuts to walk away from this?

KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": You can`t blame her, especially when you think about how much money "American Idol" makes every year - I mean, billions of dollars. So she`s looking at that. She`s hearing about these other contracts and she`s saying, "Look, they are not respecting me, especially with the addition of Kara DioGuardi who was, as you mentioned, direct competition to her that was clearly brought in.

Rumors were swirling the second that Kara was announced that this was an easy way to push Paula out the door. So I think definitely makes sense that she was just feeling they were not respecting her. They were not listening to her.

But it`s going to be hard to find another show that`s comparable to "American Idol" even if she can get half as much as she`s making there.

HAMMER: Yes. And the question is, is what appears to have gone down actually what went down? You know, Michael, a moment ago, I asked you if you were shocked that Paula quit "American Idol." But let me ask you this, do you think Paula actually did quit? Or perhaps, do you think it just became too much drama for the producers and they`re done, they`ve just had enough?

YO: Paula`s always been drama. I don`t think it was the drama part. I think Paula wanted a number. They didn`t hit it, so she moved on. I really, honestly think that`s what happened.

I think Simon is going to suffer the most out of all this because he has nobody to poke fun of on this show. Kara is pretty much - she writes music. She knows what she`s doing. Randy knows about the music industry. I think it will hurt the show and that dynamic where Simon has nobody to pick on and have fun with, you know.

HAMMER: Well, the truth is the show is obviously so much bigger than just a talent competition. And the side show that is the judges` table is a huge part of why people watch, certainly not the only part, and Paula Abdul just a part - a component of that, if you will.

Take a look at what 2006 "Idol" winner Taylor Hicks told us today. He said that, "I was really shocked. I really thought she would come back. She was a comforting voice for contestants who were not exposed or used to harsh criticism. Her kookiness or getting on stage and dancing - everybody loved that about Paula."

So what do you think, Kim Serafin? Do you think that Paula`s fans will actually stop watching "Idol" for good because she`s gone? I would think, in the short term, possibly. But they`ll go back.

SERAFIN: Yes, I agree. I think there are people that love her and they will, in protest, stop watching the show. But she does draw a lot of really hard-core fans. I mean, sort of reminds me of, you know, Sarah Palin, in a way, you know, someone also who speaks in non sequiturs and doesn`t always make sense.

But you know, she wasn`t in the campaign this year. When we didn`t have her after she dropped out of running - of being governor, it`s sort of boring without it. So I think we`re going to see a similar effect on "American Idol."

HAMMER: Michael Yo, what do you think? Is this a done deal or is it possible maybe producers were saying, "You know what? She`ll never walk away from a gig like this." And maybe now they`re scrambling to fix it?

YO: I think it`s honestly after the show airs. Like, you remember, the first couple of episodes when they go through the audition rounds, it stayed. If the ratings start to slide, when they hit the live show, make the big Paula Abdul announcement she`s back for the live shows, that could boost ratings. So I know they have that card in their back pocket as well, probably.

HAMMER: Yes. But it would be interesting to see if she`s very serious about this and it wasn`t a knee-jerk reaction to quit as it appears she did, to see her actually head back to that "American Idol" judges` table. We will watch. Michael Yo, Kim Serafin, thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

Let`s turn this over to you. Here`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day - "Paula Abdul Out as a Judge: Will you now stop watching `American Idol`?" I`d love for you to vote at You got more to say? By all means, send us an E-mail at is the address.

So the other big question about this Paula Abdul shocker, should she be replaced? You know, the "Idol" folks just recently said that they wanted to stick with the whole four judge thing. So should they hire someone else? And if so, who should it be? It is the great Paula debate.

You`ve been posting your fired-up thoughts in our Facebook page. You`ve been calling into "Showbiz on Call." We will have that, too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, I`m sorry, but your father`s passed away. And they hung on to me for a while.


HAMMER: Brand-new Michael Jackson heartache. Tonight, for the very first time, the emotional and dramatic story of how Michael`s kids and his mom found out that he was dead.

And the joke`s on President Obama, but not everybody`s laughing. Tonight, the explosive controversy over taking the president`s face and turning it into one of the best-known criminals of all time, "Batman`s" Joker. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: Britney Spears nominated for seven MTV Video Music Awards. Naomi Sims, one of the first black supermodels, dies at 61, she was battling cancer.


HAMMER: You`ve got to check this out. I can hardly believe it. This is Ashley Olsen wearing, well, not so much clothing in a brand-new photo-shoot for "Marie Claire" magazine.

Of course, Ashley and her twin sister Mary Kate played little Michelle Tanner on "Full House" back in the `90s. Now, well, Ashley has pretty much stayed out of the tabloids. She says all the pressures of being a kid star did make it very difficult at times. And she`s actually surprised she didn`t end up having problems like Britney Spears.

You can read more in the September issue of "Marie Claire" on newsstands, August 11th.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer. Did you see this? Tonight, the raging controversy over president Obama, the Joker? So riddle me this, Batman? What does the president have in common with one of Hollywood`s most famous criminals?

An anonymous artist has morphed President Obama`s face into the "Batman" bad guy. But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you not everybody is laughing.

Here`s CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the words of the Joker.


MOOS: You`d look serious, too, if you were the president of the United States being portrayed as The Joker.




MOOS: Goodness and The Joker don`t usually go together. But on conservative Web sites, this image is the latest thing. Someone took "Time" magazine`s cover and transformed it. "Hope" was changed to "joke."

The image is making its way on to T-shirts and on to a few posters alongside a highway ramp in L.A. accompanied by the word "socialism." The image got Rush Limbaugh`s attention.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: It`s becoming cool to make fun of Obama.

MOOS: Maybe not quite so much in New York City.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extremely disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seems kind of childish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether you like the guy or not, you still don`t do that to anybody.


MOOS: Shame doesn`t seem to be inhibiting critics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bravo, Mr. President. Bravo.

MOOS: The White House had no comment on The Joker image. But what do The Joker and socialism have to do with one another anyway? Writer and Joker fan Robert Dockerty (ph) points out the joker supports anarchy.

ROBERT DOCKERTY (ph), WRITER AND JOKER FAN: I think if you`re going to call Obama a socialist and then compare him to an anarchist, I think that undercuts your point.

LEDGER: The sensible to live in this world is without rules.

MOOS: Obama critics have countered the president and The Joker tend to give away money.

JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR, AS THE JOKER: Hubba, hubba, hubba. Money, money, money. Who do you trust?

MOOS: To cash in, the Web site "Hero Builder" plans to sell an Obama Joker action figure for $50 apiece. But for some, the image is downright disturbing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I do have a problem with the white face. Makes you think of black face.

MOOS: Back when President Bush was in office, he got the Joker treatment. So did Hillary Clinton. But when it comes to the current president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a right-wing spin. It`s disgraceful. And you shouldn`t even bring attention to it. Have a nice day. Bye.

MOOS: According to the Obama socialism wall clock, maybe it`s time to give The Joker joke a rest.


HAMMER: That was CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Now, some media commentators have called the Obama Joker poster racist and the image continues to stir heated chatter on the blogs and social networks.

Well, no joke here - we`re still getting a ton of calls into the "Showbiz on Call" phone lines about Jon and Kate. The first episode since announcing their split aired on Monday. Ratings were down more than 60 percent from the previous episode. But as you see, our "Showbiz on Call" operators are still busy, busy, busy. Denita from California thinks Jon is just out of control.


CALLER: I think Kate is the one that always was responsible and strong. And Jon was able to break it down for her saying she had the problem when he`s the problem by being immature and just wanting to cop out and play with his friends and his toys.


HAMMER: Thank you, Denita. And by friends and toys, do you mean all of Jon`s young women? OK. We also heard from Lynn calling into "Showbiz on Call" from Canada. And Lynn says she`s still watching.


CALLER: I really don`t think that "Jon & Kate Plus 8" should be canceled just because they`re getting a divorce. And everyone is saying that the kids are going to be so harmed just because every moment is on TV.

But in reality, not every moment is on TV. It`s just a couple of days a month that they`re on TV, like these kids are going to have a great life and they have money to do anything they want. And I think that Kate is doing an awesome job.


HAMMER: All right, Lynn. Thanks for your call. You can call us at "Showbiz on Call" to let us know what you think about this or anything at all. The "Showbiz on Call" phone lines are open all the time. The number is 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899.

Tonight, brand-new Michael Jackson heartache. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, "I`m sorry, but your father`s passed away," and they hung on to me for a while.


HAMMER: That`s one of Michael Jackson`s good friends describing how he told Michael`s kids and mom that their father, her son, had died. Can you imagine? This is so emotional, so dramatic, you have got to hear this story in this guy`s own words.

A Paula Abdul shocker, straight up gone from "American Idol." I`m thinking opposites attract, right? She and Simon had good chemistry. Well, tonight, I`m asking you, is Paula forever your girl? Should she be replaced? Should I rush, rush to stop making Paula song references? I`ve got your fired-up Facebook comments and your "Showbiz on Call" phone calls on this, too.

And the wildest, the wackiest, the funniest news clips you have ever seen, I guarantee it.


HAMMER: Nancy Pelosi and a whole bunch of other people as you`ve never heard or seen before. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: Michael Jackson`s "Number Ones" album is now the second bestselling album of 2009. Susan Boyle`s "Harper`s Bazaar" photo shoot revealed. (She looks great!).


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer with some more stories that are making news right now.

Well, this afternoon, a Los Angeles judge postponed the sentencing of Chris Brown for beating up Rihanna to August 27th.

Now, Brown was expected to get five years probation and six months of community labor. Rihanna didn`t have to show up for today`s hearing and she didn`t. Brown pleaded guilty in June to felony assault for beating Rihanna on the night before the Grammys back in February.

I want to tell you about this brand-new show that our good friend Joan Rivers is doing. It`s called "How`d You Get So Rich?" Now, in it, Joan goes all across the country showing up at people`s home and asking these millionaires how they got so rich.

You`re going to see their cars, their houses and all their toys. And amazingly all of them started off with nothing. Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT caught up with Joan who told us that even though these folks are filthy rich, they haven`t forgotten where they came from.


JOAN RIVERS, HOST, "HOW`D YOU GET SO RICH": What people - all of them did, all of them did - they kept something very charitable inside of them. They are very generous with their money. And they`re all having a great time with their money.

It`s so nice to see a person that`s not embarrassed about spending money if you want to. Because if you came up with an idea, you deserve to.


HAMMER: Yes, so much pretty good. Catch Joan Rivers`s show, "How`d You Get So Rich," Wednesday nights on TV Land.

Now, a lot of people have been writing me on the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook page. I asked you if you feel sorry for Jennifer Aniston.

See, in a brand-new interview, Jen, who of course, as we all know, hasn`t had the luckiest love life, said she doesn`t mind being the lonely girl.

Well, Theresa E. says, "I just feel sorry for the schmucks who have messed over her."

But Theresa K. writes, "Has anyone thought that maybe there is a reason she is unlucky? Maybe she isn`t the sweet innocent Jennifer that she is cracked up to be."

Joanne M. says Jen doesn`t need a man: "Why do people think that unless you`re in a permanent relationship with half dozen kids you are not happy? She seems perfectly content."

Remember, I`d love to hear from you on Facebook. Also, you can follow us on Twitter so you can get breaking entertainment news alerts. Just sign up for our Facebook and Twitter pages by going to

Now, the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT lineup. This is what we`ve got coming up at the bottom of the hour on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Paula Abdul out as a judge on "American Idol." Should Paula be replaced and if so, who should take her spot? We`ve also your fired-up Facebook comments and phone calls.

For very first time tonight, you`re going to hear the dramatic and gripping story about Michael Jackson`s mom and kids found out that he had died.

Also, Jon Gosselin`s explosive attack on his wife, Kate. Tonight, this is unbelievable. It is a brand-new interview in which Jon insists it was Kate that broke up their marriage. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

It is time now for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker." Here come more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: Neil Patrick Harris to host the Tony Awards again in 2010. Tommy Hilfiger`s wife gives birth to a baby boy, Sebastian Thomas.


HAMMER: Now on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Paula Abdul is out at "American Idol". Should she be replaced by a new judge and if so, who? Tonight, your fired- up calls into "Showbiz on Call" and your Facebook comments on the Paula Abdul "Idol" shocker.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I`m sorry, but your father`s passed away," and they hung on to me for a while.


HAMMER: For the very first time, the dramatic and heartbreaking story behind how Michael Jackson`s kids were told their father was dead.

And the amazing rescue, the moments we will never forget of the emotional return of Lisa Ling`s sister and another journalist from North Korea.

Plus, more stories breaking from the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker."

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show continues right now.


Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

Right now, it is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s continuing coverage of the Paula Abdul shocker. We learn today the startling news that indeed Paula is out as a judge on "American Idol" after seven years.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with all the late-breaking details - Paula twitters a good-bye to her fans. And wait until you hear what "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest has to say about the Abdul bombshell.

Also breaking tonight, brand-new questions about whether or not Paula should be replaced on the show.


COWELL: Paula, you`re really annoying me now - you are. It`s like being with some precocious child.

ABDUL: Can`t you see.


HAMMER: See, I look at that and I`m thinking, how could you possibly replace Paula? Our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook page has been on fire all day long. Your comments are coming in fast and furious. And we are bringing you the downright zaniest suggestions you`ve been giving us all day.

Joining me from Hollywood, Michael Yo who is a celebrity correspondent for "E!" Also from Hollywood, Kim Serafin who is a senior editor for "In Touch Weekly."

OK, Michael Yo. Let`s you and I get into it here. I`ve been thinking all along and I think a lot of people felt this way, too, which is why this is so shocking. They were going to figure out Paula`s contract, get her a deal that she wanted and gone on with the show as expected. Didn`t happen. Why?

YO: You know what? I was shocked, too. Apparently, Paula didn`t get the money amount she wanted. She felt undervalued. You`ve got Ryan Seacrest making at least $10 million a year. You`ve got Simon with a huge contract. Randy is not up for negotiation yet until next year.

So Paula just felt undervalued. And it`s a big step because it`s the number one show in the country. So I was absolutely shocked.

HAMMER: Yes. And that`s the thing. A lot of people have been making those comparisons to the various paychecks people are getting. You know, it`s relatively small compared to "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest.

As you mentioned, he just got a new deal, three years worth, a reported $45 million. And the ladies of "The View" said this morning that Paula got no R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Watch what they were saying.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I think it probably feels to Paula a little disrespectful - just a bit. And I think it`s going to be a little bit of respect.


JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Well, it just shows you, she`s making 79 cents on the dollar.


GOLDBERG: Listen, Paula Abdul has never not worked. And when she doesn`t work, it`s by her choice. This girl - you know, you see her doing stuff for jewelry. You see her clothes line. You see her choreographing. She is a girl who is going to work. So I`m not boo-hooing the fact that she`s not going to be working. I`m boo-hooing the fact that I think she got a little disrespect.


HAMMER: Yes. Kim Serafin, what do you think? I mean, obviously, Paula is going to be walking away from quite a bit of money even if she wasn`t going to get the money that she had hoped to get. Do you think it came down to being disrespected?

SERAFIN: I think that was part of it. I mean, I heard her new manager had released that statement about a week or so ago saying it didn`t look like Paula was coming back. She wasn`t being treated well.

And of course, as you mentioned, here you have Ryan just renewing his contract, getting $45 million over three years. Compared to Simon when his contract is up this spring, what she was offered, reportedly $10 million over the next three years, a 30 percent salary increase is a little teeny crumb in comparison to what Simon will probably get when he renews his contract.


SERAFIN: And as someone who is one of the regulars, one of the familiar faces - you know, this is a show that changes its cast every year because you have different contestants. But she`s one of the regulars. She`s been there from the beginning.

She brings out the best, sometimes the worst in Simon. She brings out the best in Ryan, the best in Randy. And with Kara, there was a great play between the two of them, the girls versus the boys.

So, I think a lot of people were shocked. They thought it was a negotiating ploy on her behalf and it turns out it wasn`t.

HAMMER: Yes. I think what was going on a couple of weeks ago was perhaps posturing. This time, not so much. And on his radio show this morning, Ryan Seacrest was reacting. He was saying he was shocked and he was saddened that Paula won`t be coming back. Listen to what Ryan says.


SEACREST: This week, Randy, Simon, Kara and I are in Denver at the end of the week for auditions.


SEACREST: So, I`m sure I`ll have more to tell you, but we`ll talk about that.


SEACREST: We`re going to fly out there Thursday night. But it`s really - you just hate to see it happen. And you know, we love her to death. Obviously, she has her reasons for doing it. And if she didn`t feel like she was getting what she needed...


SEACREST: ... I understand that, too. But everybody is sort of wondering what`s happening. But not a publicity stunt.


HAMMER: Yes. Well, if it was a publicity stunt, how well-coordinated and smartly put together. Michael, I don`t know about you. I don`t think this was a publicity stunt. I think this is for real.

YO: No. Why would the number one show in the country that has over 27 million people watching it need a publicity stunt? They don`t. This is serious.

I had a chance to talk to Sharon Osbourne last night. Then I said, "Look, to normal people, $4 million is a lot of money. When do you walk away from it?" She says, "Look, when you get undervalued, that means your next job, you`re going to get undervalued. Then, there`s a snowball effect and it could affect your whole career. So she can`t get walked over right now." And that`s the power play by Paula right now.

HAMMER: Yes. That`s a really, really good point. Well, if it`s not a publicity stunt, I can tell you that there are a lot of Paula fans out there who say, "That`s it. I am now done with `Idol` if Paula`s not on the show."

In fact, our "Showbiz on Call" phone lines have been slammed all day. We heard from Kate in Las Vegas. And Kate says, no Paula, no "Idol" for her. Listen to Kate.


CALLER: That`s my TV going off when "American Idol" comes on without Paula Abdul. You could have taken Ryan Seacrest off and I think all of us - my friends and family - we would have still watched it without him. But without Paula Abdul? No, not any interest whatsoever in watching that show and we`re not going to.


HAMMER: All right. Thanks, Kate. We do know that some people will tune out. But let`s keep in mind, "Idol" gets, I don`t know, somewhere between 25 million and 30 million viewers a week.

So, Kim Serafin, give us a reality check on how this will actually affect the show.

SERAFIN: Exactly. I mean, it`s still the number one show. Yes, they`ve seen a little bit of a decline in ratings, but still a powerhouse. It dominates the ratings. Every year, people always say, oh, this is the last year for "American Idol" and people are losing interest. And then it still does really well. It still produces amazing talents.

So yes, you might lose a few people. But the fact is, what they`ll do is come in and try to reinvent it, try and reinvigorate it. That was why they brought in Kara last year. That was why they tried to change some things around last year.

They got rid of, you know, as many William Hungs in the initial audition and tried to focus more on the talent. And maybe that`s what they`ll try to do. This really gives them an opportunity to bring a new element, try to move things around, try to shift things around and attract new viewers.

HAMMER: Well, speaking of shifting things around and now the fun part, our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook fans have been suggesting people who could possibly replace Paula because the show very well may stay with the four- judge format. They even said they`re not going to.

Here`s what Towannah L. thinks. Towannah says, "Paula is a horrible singer and never should have been a judge. If they`re looking for anyone, then Ellen DeGeneres would be better than Paula, anyone would be better."

No, remember, just a couple of weeks ago, Ellen DeGeneres was a guest judge on "So You Think You Can Dance" whose producer has said he`d be happy to have Paula Abdul on that show.

What do you think, Michael Yo? Ellen goes to "Idol," Paula goes to "So You Think You Can Dance" - I think that would kind of make sense.

YO: You know, it makes sense but it will never, ever happen. The thing that`s great about Paula - you know, you know what you`re going to get from Simon. You know what you`re going to get from Randy.

Paula - you don`t know what she`s going to say like when she told David Archuleta she wants to rip his head off and hang it on her rearview mirror. I mean, where are you going to get that from anybody else. Come on, Paula is fascinating. I think if anybody needs to replace Paula, it needs to be Kendra from "Girls Next Door" -

HAMMER: Kendra?

YO: Because she`s, you know, not that bright either.

HAMMER: Very quickly, Kim Serafin. The SHOWBIZ TONIGHT staff thinks that Jessica Simpson would be great. What do you think about her?

SERAFIN: Oh, I think this would be fantastic. We love Jessica Simpson when she was kind of making those random comments, those YouTube moments. That`s exactly what Paula Abdul did. Jessica would bring that.

HAMMER: There`s a lot of similarity between the two of them. Michael Yo, Kim Serafin, thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

All right. Let me turn it over to you. Here`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. I want you to think about it and then I want you to vote, "Paula Abdul Out as Judge: Will you now stop watching `American Idol`?" You can vote at or E-mail us at

Tonight, the brand-new Michael Jackson heartache. This is unbelievable. Can you imagine what it was like for Michael`s kids on the day their father died?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, "I`m sorry, but your father`s passed away." And they hung on to me for a while.

HAMMER: For the very first time, we`ve got the heart-wrenching details of how Michael Jackson`s kids learned that their dad was dead. You won`t want to miss it.

And just an amazing 24 hours for Lisa Ling`s sister and a fellow journalist. Tonight, the tear-jerking moments of their emotional return from being jailed in North Korea. These are moments we certainly will never forget.

And we`ve seen Sarah Palin shake up the news, but, hey, now she`s singing about it.


HAMMER: When you see this, you`ll never watch the news the same way again. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: Fifty-three-year-old Georgia man charged with stalking Miley Cyrus. Modest Mouse music video directed by Heath Ledger released online today.



HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

Tonight, the never-before-heard dramatic story of how Michael Jackson`s kids were told their father was dead. This tragic news came from Michael`s manager, Frank Dileo. Now, Dileo was Michael Jackson`s manager back in the `80s.

Michael rehired him this year for his London concert series. Dileo was right there in the hospital the day that Jackson died. And on CNN`s "LARRY KING," Dileo describes how he found out and how he broke the news to Jackson`s kids.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": When you got there, what was the scene like? Where were the children?

FRANK DILEO, MICHAEL JACKSON`S FORMER MANAGER: The children were in another room down the hall. They brought Randy and I back. We were the first two people there. And they were working on him in the room. I said to Randy I said, geez, I think he`s alive. We have a shot here he`ll be OK. When the nurse came out and I looked at her and she looked at me, I almost fainted.

KING: Because she said.

DILEO: She just looked at me and said, "He`s not going to make it. He`s gone."

KING: You had to tell the children?

DILEO: I had to tell Katherine first, and I told her with a doctor and a social worker. And it was pretty emotional. She grabbed me and cried and we hugged and cried together. And then I had to tell the children.

In the meantime, I called Joe Jackson in between. But he`d already known. I gave him my sympathy, and I went in and told the children.

KING: How do you do something like that? There`s no experience, is there? No?

DILEO: No, I`ve never lost somebody like that. It was very difficult. I went in with a social worker and a doctor. And just had to say - they knew, they knew. And they got up and I said, "I`m sorry, but your father`s passed away." And they hung on to me for a while and we all cried.

KING: How did you take it?

DILEO: Very bad. I mean, I`ve cried for days, and it`s a lonely feeling, because I`m not family, but I`m a friend.


HAMMER: Just so, so bad. Dileo said that Michael was rehearsing and eating well before he died.

As we move on tonight, an amazing rescue. You have got to see this. The sister of former "View" co-host, Lisa Ling, is back in the United States after five terrifying months in North Korea.

Journalist Laura Ling and Laura`s colleague, Euna Lee, were brought back by former President Clinton who came to their rescue. Lisa Ling welcomed her sister home today. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT brings you this incredible story of danger, hope and strength, a truly remarkable story that is making big news right now.


(voice-over): Pure, raw emotion the moment Laura Ling and Euna Lee ran down the steps of the jetliner that brought them back to American soil for the first time in five long months.

Euna Lee clung to her 4-year-old daughter, Hannah, tears of relief and joy streaming down her face. And Laura Ling emotionally embraced her sister Lisa who, for the past five months, has fought tirelessly for sister`s release from the grip of communist North Korea.

LISA LING, FORMER CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": We hope that the North Korean government now will show compassion and just let them come home.

HAMMER: Former "View" co-host and "National Geographic" contributor, Lisa Ling, used her celebrity to keep her sister`s story in the hearts and minds of Americans. She didn`t let up. And her former co-hosts on "The View" today celebrated with her.

WALTERS: For us, it`s also, I think very personal.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": It is personal because, you know, she`s part of the family.

HAMMER: Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested in March after crossing into North Korea while on assignment for Al Gore`s Current TV network. In June, they were sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean hard labor camp.

The news devastated Euna Lee`s husband, Michael, who told "Anderson Cooper 360" he was doing everything in his power to explain to his daughter where her mommy was.

MICHAEL SALDATE, EUNA LEE`S HUSBAND: I mean, I keep thinking about that her preschool graduation is next week. I was hoping my wife would be back by then and she would be there. We could go together. But I don`t know. And my daughter`s still being hopeful and she just asked that, "Is Mommy coming home soon?" And I just said, "Just keep your hopes up."

HAMMER: And today, mommy came home. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there as Laura Ling spoke to the world for the first time since she was arrested in North Korea.

LAURA LING, JOURNALIST: Thirty hours ago, Euna Lee and I were prisoners in North Korea. We feared that at any moment, we could be sent to a hard labor camp.

HAMMER: This incredible rescue from North Korea comes with a truly extraordinary story. After 140 days in custody with no end in sight, President Bill Clinton quietly slipped into the country and negotiated a pardon for the two terrified journalists.

LISA LING: They actually were kept apart most of the time. In fact, I think that they saw each other very early on for a couple of days in the beginning. And then, they were separated for the duration of the 4 1/2 months. So I think on the day of their trial, they hugged each other and that was it.

In fact, one time on the phone - we only had four conversations with Laura throughout this time. She said, "Will you please right a letter to Euna and tell her that I`m thinking about her and I love her."

LAURA LING: Suddenly, we were told that we were going to a meeting. We were taken to a location and when we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton.

HAMMER: President Clinton, the hero of today, the man who, despite all odds, brought these two women to freedom.

LAURA LING: The past 140 days have been the most difficult, heart- wrenching time of our lives. And we are just so anxious right now to be able to spend some quiet, private time getting reacquainted with our family.

HAMMER: And that`s just what`s happening. Laura Ling and Euna Lee are finally home. Their only worries now, the simple stuff.

QUESTION: What`s for dinner tonight?

IAIN CLAYTON, LAURA LING`S HUSBAND: I don`t know. She just asked me the same question, and I didn`t know. I said, "I haven`t thought that far ahead."

LAURA LING: Whatever he wants.

HAMMER: It`s a story of danger, diplomacy, heroes, and most importantly, it`s a story that, as Lisa Ling puts it, comes down to incredible strength and determination.

LISA LING: She`s my little sister, but she`s a very, very strong girl, a very determined person. And I`m just a very, very proud sister.


HAMMER: Wow. So, so powerful. Just an amazing story. All right. As we move on, I`d like you to get ready for the wackiest, the craziest parody of the news that you have ever seen. Katie Couric, CNN`s Wolf Blitzer, even Sarah Palin singing about the news. Huh?


It`s called "Autotune the News," and it`s unlike anything you`ve ever seen. We`ve got it for you. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: CW says there will be no "Gossip Girl" spin-off.



HAMMER: Did you see this? Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, even Katie Couric singing the news. Get ready for the wildest parody you have ever seen. I`m going to get to that in just a moment.

But first, Jon Gosselin says Kate was the one who broke up their marriage. In a new interview the "Jon & Kate Plus 8" star tells "In Touch Weekly," quote, "Kate basically came to me out of the blue and said, `I am done. You`re going to live your life and I`m going to live my life.` I was like, `What?` I didn`t really know what was going on. And I think she initiated the split because she wanted a career."

For more of Jon Gosselin`s interview, pick up a copy of "In Touch Weekly" on newsstands right now.

And now, on to the wackiest news report you`ve ever seen. Sarah Palin, Katie Couric, even CNN`s own Wolf Blitzer are singing the news. But why?

Well, 24-year-old Michael Gregory took a bunch of TV clips and used the music software called autotune to make everybody sing the news. And now, it is an Internet sensation. Watch this.


HAMMER: They even got junkie Einstein in there. No major complaints so far. Even Katie Couric reportedly wants to meet the gang behind "Autotune the News" someday.

Well, on Tuesday, we asked you to vote in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. We asked - "Jennifer Aniston Unlucky in Love: Do you feel sorry for her?" Apparently not - 22 percent of you said yes; 78 percent no.

Among the e-mails, we heard from Barbara in Michigan writing, "I`m not sorry in the least that Jennifer Aniston is unlucky in love. She has an absolutely, unbelievably glamorous life."

Debbie from Wisconsin, "Jennifer`s probably happier than we really know. Being single doesn`t make you lonely."

That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thank you for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Remember, you can always catch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on the 11:00s - 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. And in the morning, we`re on at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, and that`s here on HLN.