Fox announced today that Ellen DeGeneres has decided to step down from her role as a judge on American Idol. DeGeneres joined the panel in its ninth season. The network released this statement today: “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.”
Fox released a statement of its own: “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.” Added Idol creator Simon Fuller in a statement: “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.”
On a separate note…
Jennifer Lopez has inked a deal to join American Idol‘s judging panel for its upcoming 10th season, according to a Deadline Hollywood report. The news dropped just hours after Ellen DeGeneres confirmed her exit from the show, despite having only served one year of a reported multi-season deal.
Lopez served as an Idol mentor on Latin night during the show’s sixth season, garnering generally positive reviews for her warm, candid style, and her ability to extract a not entirely terrible performance of “Bésame Mucho” from widely maligned contestant Sanjaya Malakar.
A Fox spokesperson declined to comment on the reported deal with Lopez. Calls and emails to Fremantle Media, American Idol spokespersons, and Lopez’s reps were not immediately returned.