Kara DioGuardi will not return to American Idol as a judge when the show enters its tenth season this September. "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," DioGuardi said in a statement. "I am very proud to have been associated with American Idol — it has truly been an amazing experience." DioGuardi's departure follows the exits of Ellen DeGeneres and Simon Cowell.
When it was announced that executive producer Nigel Lythgoe would return to the show, rumor had it that he would restore the three-judge panel, and that DioGuardi — who was added as fourth judge during Idol's eighth season — would most likely be the one left out. Randy Jackson, Idol's one remaining judge from the inaugural season, is expected to return. It's rumored he'll be joined by Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. But Fox and the Idol producers have yet to make an official announcement about next season's judges. "Kara is one of the world's best songwriters," Idol creator Simon Fuller said in a statement. "She has been passionate and committed to Idol over the last two seasons. I will miss having her on the show, but I look forward to working with her in music for many years to come."