PASADENA, Calif.--How much does ABC want to hire Paula Abdul? Pretty much, judging from Stephen McPherson's comments today at ABC's executive session at press tour. The programming boss told critics that he was "stunned by the decision" that Abdul was no longer going to be a judge on American Idol and that he would love to have her on ABC's big hit Dancing With The Stars.
"I think she's a huge talent," said McPherson, adding that even her "emotional sensitivity" is a plus. "We'd love to get a piece of that," he said, scoring the unintentional joke of the day.
McPherson said he phoned Abdul recently to say he was sorry to hear she was leaving Idol and to put his pitch in with her for his network. (At the Fox sessions, there was plenty of buzz about her being wooed by the producers of So You Think You Can Dance.) The two had worked together years ago, he added.
McPherson had to field several questions about his own unhappy camper, Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl. The actress has groused several times lately, on Letterman as well as on movie junkets, that the 17-hours days on the set are a bitch, that her role was kinda underwritten this year and blah blah blah.
"I think it's unfortunate," McPherson said, stepping lightly and carefully (as he did throughout the session, not normally his style. This is the dude who went after network rival Ben Silverman with both fists two press tours ago).
McPherson says he feels for the other people who "work unbelievably hard" every day on this series and who never whinge or bitch. When asked if this was the kind of behaviour one might expect from someone "trying to get released from a show so she can go on to a series of mediocre romantic comedies," McPherson firmly, flatly but diplomatically stated, "I’m not going to try and explain somebody else’s behaviour."