LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fox announced Friday what media reports have speculated for weeks: Kara DioGuardi is leaving "American Idol."
"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 ... I look forward to my next challenge, and want to thank everyone who has supported me. All the best to everyone on Season 10!"
The news comes amid reports that Fox has secured singer Jennifer Lopez as a new judge. Though Fox has yet to announce the upcoming 10th season's judging panel, it's presumed to be Lopez, Areosmith rocker Steven Tyler and veteran "Idol" judge Randy Jackson.
Another question has been whether Fox will stick with four judges or revert to three. With DioGuardi's exit, a trio of judges seems more likely.
Fox released a flurry of statements praising DioGuardi, who was a judge on the show for two seasons. Her exit makes her the third "Idol" judge to leave the show this year, after Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres.
Though DioGuardi's statement hints that the move was her choice, the singer's exit is the result of the network and producers shaking up the judging panel in the wake of Cowell's departure.
"Kara was a great addition to our 'Idol' family," said Mike Darnell, president of alternative at Fox. "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," said '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."