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Kara DioGuardi Leaving ‘American Idol’

Leaving after two years — so until further announcement, Randy’s the only judge left

Now it's only Randy Jackson left sitting at the "American Idol" judges' table.

Fox announced Friday that singer/songwriter Kara DioGuardi is leaving the show after two years.

DioGuardi's departure came as a surprise to no one. Reports of her impending exit have been floating for weeks.

In a statement announcing the news, DioGuardi expressed her gratitude to the show's producers — Fox, FreMantleMedia and 19 Entertainment, and the "cast, crew and contestants" of the megahit reality singing competition. 

"I felt like I won the lottery when I joined 'American Idol' two years ago, but I feel like now is the best time to leave 'Idol' … I look forward to my next challenge, and want to thank everyone who has supported me," she said.

The timing of the announcement, late on the eve of a holiday weekend, was clearly designed to deflect attention from continued turbulence behind the scenes of the ratings powerhouse. 

Though DioGuardi's comments gave the impression that it was her decision to leave, there are strong indications that she was given the axe. On Aug. 10, as the rumors spread that the show's producers weren't going to invite DioGuardi back for the upcoming tenth season, her father, New York politician Joe DioGuardi, said his daughter “still has not heard anything” from "Idol" brass.

“She read it the way you did and I did. In fact, her disappointment is that that’s the way she’s being treated and she feels that’s not proper," he said. 

DioGuardi's departure comes at a turbulent time for "American Idol." Ellen DeGeneres, whose one season on the show was widely viewed as one of the worst in its eight-year history, said that she was leaving the show July 29. This season was also the last for producer Simon Cowell, who announced his impending departure in January.   

The media has obsessed over the search for new "American Idol" judges all summer long, but today's news yielded no answers to the questions surrounding the show.

DioGuardi's departure came as a surprise to no one. Though "Idol" producers sought replacements for DeGeneres and Cowell, they were reportedly eager to return to the original three judge format used on the first seven seasons of the show. 

Having an extra judge ate up time and forced the show into overtime, out of the reach of DVR recorders. Nigel Lythgoe, who re-signed on as executive producer last month,  had openly proclaimed that he wanted to wipe the slate clean — though Jackson is not thought to be in danger.

Fox, FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment have all declined to comment on "Idol" speculation for months, but Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are both reportedly poised to join the show after drawn out negotiations.