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Paula Abdul Says the New Idol Judges Are Fantastic

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When American Idol debuts its tenth season on Jan. 19, at least one famous fan will be ready: “I am going to be watching,” says Paula Abdul, who was a judge on the show for eight seasons before she left in 2009.

So what does she think of new judges Jennifer Lopez, 41, and Steven Tyler, 62? “I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with them, but I think they’re both fantastic,” says Abdul, 48. “They’re seasoned veterans. They know what they’re doing. I think they’re going to add a really good dimension.”

As far as the playful love/hate relationship she had with Simon Cowell, 51, who ended his run as judge last season, Abdul says the two stay in touch. “That voice is permanently embedded in my brain,” she jokes.

She’s currently producing and serving on the expert panel for the CBS reality dance competition Live to Dance, but Abdul will always cherish her Idol memories.

“I have nothing but a debt of gratitude [for the show],” she says. “There are aspects of it that I will always treasure.”