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Paula Abdul Launching "Live to Dance"

Paula Abdul has entertained us for years as a choreographer, Grammy-award winning recording artist and as a longtime judge on "American Idol." Now, she's back on CBS with a highly-anticipated new competition called "Live to Dance."

"Live to Dance" Contestant Slams Head On Stage
PICTURES: Paula Abdul

Abdul called her new show "a gem."

"What drew me in is the UK format of -- it's called 'Got to Dance' there --was charming," she said. "And when I was taking time off after I left 'Idol,' I wanted to get back to what drives me with passion and heart. ... And it's been a labor of love. It's, for me, my bucket list, it's one of those things that, if I was not part of producing a show that has to do with dance, then life wouldn't be fair. So this has been really fun. It's been six-and-a-half months of rolling your sleeves up, seeing the passion, seeing the unique ability and all ages. We say from 6 to 106. You can enter the solo, duo, a group of any size. We have acts that are awe-inspiring, ones that choke you up."

"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill noted, "You've got some great stories that go with them that give you an insight into who these people are. At the end of the day, you're going to have 18 finalists competing for $500,000. So it's more than just a feel-good show."

Abdul replied, "Well, hallelujah, CBS. They really stepped it up for a dance competition. It is the highest, highest, like top-bar level."

Hill added, "This is your passion. A lot of people, though, were wondering what happened to you. In some ways, people said, you were so encouraging on 'Idol' and so encouraging of all the people who were there, almost to a fault. Is it nice to be able to do that now in a format where you can say, 'Hey, look this is why I'm here? I'm here to pump you up'?"

Abdul said, "All I can be is who I am. I'm a girl who has a lot of heart. And coming from the entertainer/artist point of view, you have to have the ability to motivate, and inspire people. I mean, it works hand-in-hand. These acts inspire me constantly, and I'm only there to help them ... live their dreams. And if they don't make the cut on this show, at least they're encouraged to try some tips that me and my fellow experts give them. Because we're there to help them be better each time."

For more with Abdul on her thoughts today about "Idol" and the reality show genre, click on the video below.

"Live to Dance" premieres tonight at 8 p.m./7 Central on CBS.

Paula Abdul's "Live to Dance"