Paula Abdul Jokes She Was “Abused” on American Idol, Gushes About SYTYCD Predecessor Mary Murphy

Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul talked with Us Weekly about her experience on American Idol and her new gig as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance David Livingston/Getty Images

Straight up, now tell Us! Paula Abdul had some fun at former costar Simon Cowell's expense on Monday, Jan. 26, when she reunited with ousted American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe at auditions in New York City for So You Think You Can Dance. (As previously reported, Abdul and singer Jason Derulo are joining Lythgoe on the Fox show's judging panel for season 12.)

Asked about his chemistry with the "Straight Up" singer and seasoned Hollywood dancer-choreographer, Lythgoe joked to Us Weekly, "What chemistry?" Then, more seriously, the British TV exec added: "But really, we've known each other for so long now. I was always an admirer of Paula back in the UK before I came here, and to be able to work with her [as an executive producer] on Idol for all those years and see how she was mistreated by Simon…"

"Abused," Abdul interjected.

"Abused and mistreated!" Lythgoe corrected himself. "I wanted to be the next person to abuse her some more." 

According to Abdul, 52, though, the SYTYCD vet has some big shoes to fill if he wants to live up to Cowell's bristly reputation. "No one is like Simon Cowell except Simon Cowell," she said, laughing, of the X Factor alum.

As fans know, the former Laker Girl left Idol after eight seasons in 2009. Following her departure, she served as lead judge on the short-lived show Live to Dance, and then as a judge/guest judge on The X Factor and SYTYCD. Earlier this month, she was announced as a full-time judge for So You Think You Can Dance, replacing longtime judge Mary Murphy.

"I've been doing this for quite some time," she said of her judging experience. "I'm very grateful that my career started as a successful choreographer and, you know, this is my love. It is what it is…And we're seeing some amazing kids."

Of SYTYCD, she added, "I just think that this show has been so amazing at educating the public on how special dancers are and the amount of work and athleticism that goes along with it, the intensity of training. You know, dancers put in the same amount of years as someone who's going and becoming a doctor. It's no different. It's the same level of commitment, and I think the success that's come out of the show is bonafide superstars in dance and Emmy-winning choreographers. It's pretty impeccable."

She was similarly effusive about her predecessor, Murphy, who started with the show in 2007. "Mary is beautiful inside and out and a lover of dance and such a part of this legacy," Abdul gushed to Us.

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