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Paula Abdul Quits 'American Idol'

U.S. singer Paula Abdul has announced she will not be returning for a ninth season as a judge on the hugely popular television reality show "American Idol."

"US singer Paula Abdul, seen here in May 2009, has announced she will not be returning for a ninth season as a judge on the hugely popular television reality show "American Idol.""

Abdul, whose eccentricities while on the judging panel of the most widely viewed talent show in television history became a staple of the program, dropped her bombshell via a Tuesday night "tweet" -- a message on the microblogging service Twitter.

"With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return to #IDOL," Abdul wrote.

"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 did not give a reason for her departure, but reading the tea leaves about her future on the show had been a popular pastime in U.S. entertainment circles.

In late July she wrote on Twitter that she was "trying to work out details of how I can return to #Idol."

"I hope you understand I can only return to Idol if the deal is fair."

Abdul's three fellow judges -- Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and newcomer Kara DioGuardi -- as well as host Ryan Seacrest, have all reportedly signed contracts for Idol's ninth season on the Fox network, whose show routinely draws more than 10 million viewers each week in the United States alone.

Millions more watch in dozens of other countries around the world.

In a statement carried by industry media, Fox appeared to stress that the decision to exit the show was Abdul's.

"Paula Abdul has been an important part of the 'American Idol' family over the last eight seasons and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show," Fox said.

"While Paula will not be continuing with us, she's a tremendous talent and we wish her the best."

Seacrest wrote on his Twitter feed that he was "shocked and saddened about Paula."

"Idol and the cast have grown with each other over the last 8 seasons..I can't imagine the panel without puala (sic)."

"American Idol" was exported to the United States from Britain in 2002, rapidly establishing itself as the most watched show on U.S. television and a pop-culture phenomenon.

The program aims to unearth the next big singing talent and past contestants such as Carrie Underwood and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson have gone on to forge successful careers in the entertainment industry.

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