Paula Abdul Leaving "American Idol"

By Caitlin Millat
|  Wednesday, Aug 5, 2009  |  Updated 3:35 AM EDT
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Paula Abdul won't be back for the ninth season of "American Idol."

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Paula Abdul is bidding goodbye to Simon Cowell & Co. - for good.

The "Straight Up" singer known for her loopy but heartfelt judging style on "American Idol" said late Tuesday she won't be back for the ninth season of the smash Fox reality-show hit, leaving a spot open on the judging panel she's sat on for eight seasons.

"With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return," Abdul said on her Twitter page Tuesday.

"I'll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day 1 become an international phenomenon," she said.

Abdul's contract has been in talks since early this year, when reports began swirling that the singer and choreographer wouldn't come back to "Idol" thanks to animosity between her and fellow costar Kara DioGuardi and Abdul's rumored jealousy over co-judge Simon Cowell's larger-than-life paycheck.

Abdul said what she'll miss most about her "Idol" experience is her interactions with the fans.

"What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me," said Abdul, who tried her hand at another reality program last year with Bravo's "Hey Paula."

Fox and the show's producers told the Associated Press that Abdul was "an important part of the 'American Idol' family over the last eight seasons."

"We are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show," Fox said.

DioGuardi, Cowell and Jackson will all return for the show's ninth season, which will premiere in January.

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