The fourth judge is walking out on the last four years of her contract after she discovered the job just ain’t her bag.
“A couple months ago, I let FOX and the American Idol producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” Ellen said in a statement issued to Access Hollywood. “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,” she continued. “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.”
Of course, the exits of Simon and Ellen leave a half-empty judges table next season. Who will fill their seats? Several names are being floated about, including Bret Michaels, Jessica Simpson, Nigel Lythgoe from So You Think You Can Dance and — my personal favorite — hot mess Courtney Love.