Fox has announced that Ellen DeGeneres will not return as a judge on "American Idol."
In a statement DeGeneres said, "A couple months ago, I let Fox and the ‘American Idol’ producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me. 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."
However, reporter James Hibberd wrote on The Hollywood Reporter’s website, "[A]s recent as last week the performer’s reps told THR she was still willing to fulfill her contract with the show."
The statement by DeGeneres is also a surprise given her years long love of the show and her excitement and eagerness when she was named a judge for this past season.
Her statement is also of interest in light of the fact that former "Idol" showrunner Nigel Lythgoe is reportedly coming back to the show, and that Lythgoe told a reporter in April that he thought all of Idol’s current judges should be replaced.
Furthermore, in a TVWeek exclusive, Sharon Osbourne, who, besides being a judge on "America’s Got Talent" and a well-respected music manager in her own right, told TVWeek yesterday that she also thinks all the judges need to be replaced. It was a surprising statement from her, given that she applauded the move making DeGeneres an "Idol" judge when it was first announced. Osbourne also told TVWeek that she knows Lythgoe "very well." To read our interview with Osbourne, click here.
According to the THR story, Peter Rice, chairman of entertainment, Fox Networks Group said in a statement, "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."
Also, according to THR, Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment, Fox, said in a statement, "It was a joy to work with Ellen. 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."
Of the remaining two judges, THR reports, "Sophomore judge Kara DioGuardi is also said to be potentially exiting the show, while Randy Jackson, who has another year on his contract, is considered likely to stay."