Ryan Seacrest & Paula Abdul's Feud Heats Up

Seacrest says "it's awkward" between him and the American Idol judge

Although American Idol host Ryan Seacrest often trades barbs with judge Simon Cowell, now the tension between him and another judge, Paula Abdul, has reached a boiling point.

“It’s awkward. I don’t know what the deal is. It’s very awkward,” Seacrest, 31, told PEOPLE on Friday, referring to his relationship with Abdul.

Asked if he was speaking to Abdul, Seacrest answered: “No.”

Seacrest, who was in Las Vegas at a groundbreaking event for the new luxury Panorama Towers, said he hasn’t yet confronted his fellow Idol cast mate. “You know, I walked past her dressing room the other day and there was a group of people gathered in front of the door, so I can’t even talk to her. Simon and I go back and forth with each other, but it’s in a different way.”

A source close to Seacrest says the Idol host was joking about the feud. But another inside source tells PEOPLE that Seacrest and Abdul s relationship has been icy since they each appeared separately on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno recently.

In Seacrest’s March 30 appearance, Leno said that Abdul had seemed “a little loopy” on a recent episode of Idol to which Seacrest replied, “Well, have you listened to her album?” When Leno playfully asked whether Abdul had been drinking, Seacrest answered, “Hey look, I don’t look in their cups to see what’s sitting before them on that table. But at times I feel like we have reeled her in.”

Abdul, 43, had a chance to shoot back when she appeared on the show on April 10. Leno brought out an issue of Rolling Stone magazine that featured the three Idol judges prominently on the cover (and Seacrest in a small photo) and asked whether Seacrest was mad about being excluded. “I heard plenty mad,” replied Abdul.

Next, Leno asked whether Seacrest was dating Teri Hatcher since the pair had been photographed kissing. “He only kisses the mirror,” said Abdul. “And honestly, do you think Teri Hatcher is that desperate of a housewife?”

In the weeks after Abdul’s Leno appearance, Seacrest frequently approached the judges’ table during Idol commercial breaks, but usually spoke only to Cowell and Randy Jackson.

Abdul could not be reached for comment.

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