I say "if" because the latest news could just be part of the Abdul-"Idol" negotiations. (See the post below.) But let's assume she is, indeed, gone. The show could go ahead with three judges, getting back to its pre-Kara format, and saving both air time and money in the process. But none of the remaining three -- Simon, Kara, Randy -- has that special gift for nurturing-in-the-form-of-nonspecific-fawning that Paula had. She was also lone among the judges in having had hit records as a lead performer. (I know, I know, Randy played with Journey. Not as the leader.) So the show may be looking for someone at the very least as a guest/recurring judge.
For some reason, the name I keep thinking of is Deborah -- formerly Debbie -- Gibson. She maintains the two men/two women balance of last season. She had hits, though not in recent memory. She has an "Idol" connection, having been a judge on "American Juniors." Based on the above picture, from People.com, she looks good, and I could see Paula in that outfit.
But it also appears that she has a working brain and can speak in complete sentences, so maybe not. Of course, Kara could pick up the inarticulate slack in a heartbeat.
Anyone else have an idea? I may add more later, too.