Randy Jackson: I’m leaving ‘Idol’

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Courtesy of USA Today

RANDY JACKSONThe musician and producer, who has been at the judges’ table since the first season, says he’s not coming back.

Dawg, he’s no longer in it to win it.

Randy Jackson, the musician and producer who has been a judge on American Idol since Season 1, says he will not be coming back to the panel for Season 13 next year.

“Yo! Yo! Yo!” he said in a statement released by his publicist. “To put all of the speculation to rest, after twelve years of judging on American Idol I have decided 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.”

Fox declined comment.

The “speculation” Jackson refers to is Idol‘s drifting fortunes this season, with friction between panel-mates Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, and ratings down double digits year over year. The situation has spurred conjecture and some unsourced reports that Fox is planning an overhaul for next spring’s cycle.

With Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, Jackson was part of the original 2002 judging trio that helped turn Idol into the country’s biggest TV show and a pop culture phenomenon. Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest are the only on-air originals who remain.

MJ Santilli, who follows Idol and other singing competitions on MJ’s Big Blog (www.mjsbigblog.com), speculates that Jackson is trying to get in front of any possible panel restructuring. She calls his planned departure “a mixed bag.”

“It probably is time for him to go because his critiques have gotten a little rote. But on the other hand, he is such a part of Idol history,” she says. Jackson and Seacrest “are the links to the history of Idol, which is really what Idol has right now. … They really do need a major overhaul at this point, but it’s going to be a loss because it’s a big piece of Idol history.”

She describes the chemistry of this season’s judging panel, which also includes Carey, Minaj and Keith Urban, as “awful,” saying the apparent animosity between Carey and Minaj has been “poisonous.”

“What they need to do next time is some chemistry testing before they hire anybody,” Santilli says.

Idol is averaging 15.2 million viewers on Wednesdays and 14.7 million viewers on Thursdays, a far cry from the glory days of Seasons 5 and 6, when it averaged more than 30 million viewers per show.

“This is not the linchpin it used to be,” says Brad Adgate of ad firm Horizon Media. “The days of it being a dominant show is coming to an end or came to a close this year.”

Adgate says Idol‘s ratings drop worsened after the arrival of other singing competitions, including NBC’s The Voice and Fox’s The X Factor.

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