Randy Jackson, the only judge who has been on “American Idol” since the beginning, is leaving the show.
In a statement to the press, Jackson confirmed that, “After 12 years of judging on ‘American Idol’ I have decided it is time to leave after this season. I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry. It’s been a life changing opportunity but I am looking forward to focusing on my company Dream Merchant 21 and other business ventures.”
Jackson’s departure comes a day after a report that all four “Idol” judges would be let go before the next season. The once-mighty singing competition series has been on the wane in recent years, with this season bringing the second straight year of double-digit declines in audience.
The other current judges are Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban. Jackson has been a steady presence on the show, which has seen quite a bit of upheaval at the judge’s table in recent years. Original judges Paula Abdul left in 2009 and Simon Cowell departed in 2010 to focus on his own competing series, “The X Factor.”
Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have also joined the jovial Jackson as judges.
While other judges have gained reputations for being harsh (Cowell), unpredictable (Abdul) or bringing outside drama onto the show (the reported Carey-Minaj feud), Jackson has remained upbeat and largely drama-free.
While Fox has not commented on the reports of the judges leaving, the network is presenting its new lineup to advertisers next week in New York City and could address the show’s future at that time.