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That was fast! After only one season on the American Idol judges' panel, Ellen DeGeneres has decided not to return to the talent competition.
"A couple months ago, I let Fox and the American Idol producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” she says in a statement. “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.”
The dancing talk-show host adds, “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.”
In the same statement, Idol creator and executive producer Simon Fuller says, “I loved Ellen’s passion for the artists and her nurturing skills. She brought honesty and optimism to our judging panel and I will miss her greatly.”
Also chiming in on the shocking news was Peter Rice, Fox entertainment chairman: “We love Ellen and understand and support her decision to bow out of Idol. We were fortunate to receive the humor, energy and love for talent that she brought to the show.”
Idol emcee Ryan Seacrest tweeted: "Spoke with Ellen DeGeneres tonight. I will miss her on 'Idol.'" He added, "She's one of the kindest and most talented people in Hollywood!"
DeGeneres' departure leaves yet another empty seat next to Randy Jackson, as Simon Cowell said goodbye to the show that made him a household name in May after Idol's ninth season. Speculation has run wild about who will be replacing Cowell -- everyone from Bret Michaels to Elton John to Harry Connick, Jr. have been rumored to be filling his seat.
Already on the radar? Multimedia talent Jennifer Lopez, who Deadline Hollywood says has been talking to the Idol peeps (via her manager) for about a month now.
What do you think about Ellen DeGeneres' decision to leave Idol? Chime in below!