Is Sarah Palin close to a TV deal?

ABC ends talks with Paula Abdul

It’s a tale of two wildly popular — but equally controversial — women.

In one corner, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is one step closer to landing a reality TV series. In the other corner, talk of Paula Abdul’s return to the smallcreen just hit another brick wall.

As first reported by Variety’s On the Air blog (variety.com/ontheair), A&E TV Networks and Discovery Communications appear to be the two front-runners to land a series featuring Palin and produced by Mark Burnett.

No decision has been made yet, as the cablers are apparently still finalizing their bids. (Insiders note that A&E hasn’t yet submitted its offer.) But given the talent attached and interest in the show, the ask for the Palin project is believed to be at least $1 million an episode.

Palin project (one possible title: “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”) will center on interesting characters, traditions and attractions in the 49th state — with the ex-VP candidate as a guide. Burnett and Palin pitched the show to all four major networks — but given the travelogue nature of the series, it ultimately made more sense for a cable network, insiders said.

For A&E, Palin would fit in with the network’s strategy of reality shows with larger-than-life, sometimes polarizing celebrities (think Gene Simmons, Dog the Bounty Hunter and Kirstie Alley). A&E sister History might also make sense, as one of that channel’s signature series, “Ice Road Truckers,” already takes place in Alaska.

Discovery could also make a logical home, as the channel’s hit “Deadliest Catch” is also shot in Palin Country. But if Discovery Channel itself didn’t make sense, the company’s other portfolio of nets — such as TLC or Oprah Winfrey’s OWN — could work as well.

As for Abdul, the former “American Idol” judge won’t be making a move to ABC in a “Star Search” revival after all.

Such a deal was a longshot to begin with, insiders say. But apparently Abdul and ABC couldn’t come to terms on a salary. Abdul, who walked away last year from a reported $5 million deal to continue on “American Idol,” was likely asking for a figure that wouldn’t have made much sense for a new, unproven series.

ABC is said to still be kicking the tires on a new “Star Search” — but with much of the network’s interest in the format tied to Abdul’s participation as a host or judge, it’s unclear how much further the Alphabet might go in redeveloping the show.

With no “Star Search” gig, that still keeps the door open for Abdul to take a much-rumored slot on Simon Cowell’s new Fox talent competish “The X-Factor.” Cowell has hinted over and over again that he’d like to work with Abdul again — but so far, nothing has come of it.

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