Paula's Back! Can Her Show Hold Its Own Opposite 'Idol'?

Paula Abdul has joked about her tendency to choose the hardest job. Her latest one -- exec producer and lead expert on the new dance competition, Live to Dance (CBS, 8 p.m. ET) -- is no exception. The show, which premieres tonight, then settles into its regular timeslot on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET, joins an already-crowded slate of TV talent contests (two of which are dance competitions). And starting on Jan. 19, it will be airing opposite Fox's American Idol. Making the series stand out against such stiff competition just may be the hardest job Abdul's ever had.

But the 48-year-old former dancer and choreographer recently told ABC News that making her show different enough to earn its own viewers is "where my juices get flowing. I love rising to the challenge of that."

One minor difference is her decision to drop the word "judges," preferring to describe the trio behind the table as "lead experts." (Along with Abdul, there's choreographer Travis Payne and singer/dancer Kimberly Wyatt.) It's a small change, but for Abdul, it points to a more profound divergence in the overall vibe of the show. Live to Dance is about celebrating that art form, encouraging and guiding dancers to blossom before our eyes. Yes, some will go home, while others advance. But not before everyone's had a chance to learn from the experience.

And while the two-hour premiere will focus on the initial auditions, it won't be the Idol-like parade of ridiculously talentless contestants who just want to be on TV. Dancers of any age, solo or in groups, are invited to perform any style of dance. According to the website, the producers were open to everything from "ballet to break dance, tap to tango, or something we've never seen before with your own unique fusion of styles [like] hip-hop clogging or contemporary mixed with capoeira."

Will Live to Dance find its audience? It's an uphill battle, sure, but it wouldn't be the first time Abdul reinvented her career.

Are you happy to see Paula Abdul back on TV? Chime in below!

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