[UPDATE: TMZ is reporting that Kara DioGuardi's contract is not being renewed, and that the show will go with three judges: Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.]
Although she seemed to get more comfortable as the season went along, Ellen DeGeneres has decided to leave "American Idol." Sure, she had some rough spots, trying to be nice but not too much, trying to be funny but affectionately. She might have continued to get better. But she would have had to adjust again, assuming the show wanted to keep her, especially since it's hard to be the not-Simon when there's no Simon to be contrasted with.
And this adds to the sense of a show in trouble -- with Simon Cowell already needing replacement, and Nigel Lythgoe reportedly coming back as an executive producer. Of course, the show is in trouble: Simon will be tough to replace, ratings were down, tour dates (including Cleveland) were canceled amid talk of slow ticket sales, and the show's voters have made some cautious, not very buzzworthy choices of winners. So even if Ellen decided "a couple months ago" to leave, she may have seen plenty of signs that changes would be made -- and got out before the wave of change hit.
Anyway, the official announcement: Ellen DeGeneres has decided to bow out from her role as a judge on AMERICAN IDOL next season. DeGeneres served as a judge during the ninth season of IDOL, the No. 1 hit series on television.
“A couple months ago, I let FOX and the AMERICAN IDOL producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” said DeGeneres. “I told them I wouldn’t leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next. It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for. I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings. I loved the experience working on IDOL and I am very grateful for the year I had. I am a huge fan of the show and will continue to be.”
“We love Ellen and understand and support her decision to bow out of IDOL,” said Peter Rice, Chairman of Entertainment, Fox Networks Group. “We were fortunate to receive the humor, energy and love for talent that she brought to the show.”
Continues after the jump.
“It was a joy to work with Ellen,” added Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “She brought an incredible spirit to IDOL and was a great new addition to the team. While we’re saddened by her decision, we are very appreciative that she gave us ample notice so that we could work through it together.”
“I loved Ellen’s passion for the artists and her nurturing skills,” said IDOL creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. “She brought honesty and optimism to our judging panel and I will miss her greatly.”
“We will miss Ellen, she has been the consummate professional throughout her time on the show, and she’ll always be part of the AMERICAN IDOL family,” added Cecile Frot-Coutaz, IDOL executive producer.
AMERICAN IDOL is created and executive-produced by Simon Fuller, founder of 19 Entertainment; and executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America, Inc. and Ken Warwick, Executive Producer, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.