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Rash Report: With Reality Relentless, Paula Abdul Likely to Resurface

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- Many are questioning the judgment of "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul after she tweeted she would be leaving the Fox reality show. While some are sympathetic to the fact that she was relatively underpaid compared with her more famous foil, Simon Cowell, and the host, Ryan Seacrest, many more are asking, "What's plan B?"

Paula Abdul is leaving 'American Idol.'
Paula Abdul is leaving 'American Idol.' Credit: Fox
Well, based on last night's and tonight's network grids, girded by reality TV, there may be not only a plan B but plans C through Z as well.

Tuesday night, for instance, at one point had five reality shows on the five networks, led by NBC's two-hour "America's Got Talent," which delivered a 3.6/10 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. Thanks to that paired with a "Talent" repeat at 8 p.m. (1.8/6), NBC finished first with a 3.0/9.

Fox finished second, with a 2.5/8, as the night's ratings runner-up, "Hell's Kitchen" (3.2/11), led into "More to Love" (1.8/5), which held onto 95% of the audience that watched its premiere last week.

"Big Brother" (2.4/7) was the biggest winner on third-place CBS, as the show dwarfed its lead-out, a "Medium" repeat (1.0/3), and was a third higher than its lead-in, an "NCIS" rerun (1.8/6).

ABC finished fourth, with a 1.0/3, as the final episode of "The Superstars" could hit only a .9/3. That probably means it was not only the season finale but the series finale for the remake of the '70s schlock sports show. But "The Superstars" is just the kind of program that could have benefited from what passes as a superstar in reality TV, Paula Abdul, who was integral to one of the most significant shows in the medium's history.

Likewise, the CW's "Hitched or Ditched" (.4/1) could have used her, as could several of tonight's shows, including Fox's own "So You Think You Can Dance," which will waltz into fall's schedule facing a prime-time dance-off far more competitive than rivals' sleepy summer schedules, against which it has excelled.

To be sure, Paula Abdul has reached her fame apex with "Idol." But reality TV is about fame and fortune, and her fame may yet make her richer, as a reality dark horse trying to break out of the pack may pay her more than "Idol" would have.

Rash grids

See how all the shows did in the ratings.

Wednesday: "Wipeout." "I Survived a Japanese Game Show." "So You Think You Can Dance." "America's Got Talent." "America's Next Top Model." "TV's 50 Funniest Phrases." With Wednesday dominated by loud reality shows, why not watch something completely different? Try a silent-movie marathon on TCM, with star Harold Lloyd, from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Lloyd breaks the silence at 8:30 with talkie "Welcome Danger."
Thursday: His historic election aside, how's he doing? CNN takes a look at President Barack Obama with a two-hour special, "The CNN National Scorecard: The Second 100 Days."

ABC's "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" to not survive this summer's reduced ratings after tonight's season finale.

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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)

John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see

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