'American Idol': Kara DioGuardi officially stepping down

kara-dioguardi-out-on-american-idol.jpg Kara DioGuardi is officially leaving "American Idol." FOX and DioGuardi released a joint statement on Friday (Sept. 3) announcing her departure.

It can't come as a huge surprise. In the past several weeks, Ellen DeGeneres has left and rumors have been swirling that the entire judges' panel would be revamped.

We do know that Randy Jackson is returning, but the general feeling was that DioGuardi would not come back and now it is official.

"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,'" says DioGuardi. "I am very proud to have been associated with 'American Idol' - it has truly been an amazing experience. I am grateful to FOX, FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment, as well as the cast, crew and contestants, for all they have given to me. I look forward to my next challenge, and want to thank everyone who has supported me. All the best to everyone on Season 10!"

"Kara was a great addition to our 'Idol' family," says Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. "I've been fortunate to get to know her well, and have always been amazed by her eye for talent and her commitment to developing and mentoring artists. She will be missed, and we wish her continued success."

"Kara is one of the world's best songwriters," says 'Idol' creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. "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."

"As one of the most proclaimed songwriters in the U.S., Kara brought a wealth of experience and a unique perspective to 'American Idol,'" says Cecile Frot-Coutaz, executive producer. "We are very grateful for the time she spent on the show, and we wish her nothing but the best in all her future endeavors."

"Anyone who knows Kara knows that she brings an unbelievable amount of passion, creativity and humility to everything she does," adds executive producer Ken Warwick. "It has been a joy working with her on 'Idol' for the past two seasons, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she does next."

What do you think, "Idol" fans? Will you miss Kara at the judges' table?

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Photo credit: FOX