Randy Jackson has announced that he is leaving American Idol, which means season 14, premiering in January, will be the very first season that Randy will not be involved with the singing competition show.

Haven’t we heard this story before? And will it actually stick this time?

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In a statement, Randy told Deadline, “After 13 seasons, I felt now was the perfect time to leave American Idol. I’m proud to have been a part of a series that discovered some incredible artists and will go down in history as one of the most successful television shows ever. A true original, Idol started it all. On to what’s next.”

FOX, FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment also released a statement: “Randy has been such an integral part of American Idol since Day 1, both as a judge and as a mentor. He’s provided great advice and support, shaping the success of so many Idols we have discovered over the years. We wish him all the best in his next chapter. Randy will always be part of our Idol family and we hope he’ll visit from time to time.”

Randy was part of the original trio of judges alongside Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. The chemistry between all three was undeniable and, at the time, no one could imagine anyone else sitting in those seats.

But with a show that’s been on the air as long as Idol has, there was bound to be changes. And Randy has managed to stay seated at the judges’ table through numerous changes around him. It started in season 8 when Kara DioGuardi became the fourth judge, then Paula departed, which led to the hiring of comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

But the biggest blow to the show came when Simon left to create an American version of The X Factor, which only lasted three seasons on FOX before being cancelled. (Simon has since returned to the original X Factor in the UK.) Since then, many other judges have come and gone — including Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban — with Randy the lone survivor on the panel.

His tenture came to an end when he announced that season 12 would be his last (saying something very similar to his statement above about how it was time to leave). Even though he made the announcement as if it were his decision, many assumed that he chose to do so before FOX made the decision for him, considering how many people were turned off by the season 12 panel (with the feud between Minaj and Carey), which resulted in low ratings.

But like a boomerang that keeps coming back, Randy returned for season 13 in a different role, in-house mentor, replacing Jimmy Iovine, who held the role for three seasons. Many fans applauded Iovine’s blunt assessment of the contestants’ performances when the judges were unwilling to be honest themselves.

Speculation began over whether Randy’s comments and critiques would improve in this demoted role. During the last several years of his time as a judge, it became obvious that he had overstayed his welcome. Unfortunately, his one-season stint as mentor wasn’t any better. Guest mentors were brought in almost every week, and fans online noted that many of them, especially Idol winner David Cook, provided better insight and advise than Randy himself. 

With this announcement, is Randy leaving Idol for good this time? Only time will tell. As I said, we’ve heard this story before, only to have it change suddenly when FOX brought him back.

Last season’s judging panel of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. will remain intact and, as always, Ryan Seacrest, who is now the only original member of the on-air team, is returning as host. 

And as far as who might become the new in-house mentor, as mentioned, David Cook and some of the other guest mentors from season 13 received positive reviews, so maybe Idol will keep it within the family and hire a former contestant.

What do you think of this announcement? Are you glad that Randy will no longer be on American Idol? Or were you hoping he would stick around? And do you think he (and FOX) will follow through on it this time instead of coming back in a different role?

(Image courtesy of WENN)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.