UPDATE, 5:25 PM: Ryan Seacrest tonight opened American Idol with an acknowledgment of Randy Jackson’s announcement today that he was leaving the show after 12 seasons. The host told viewers on Thursday’s live results show that there will be news about who is going home tonight, meaning among the contestants. He then tapped Jackson on the shoulder, adding “maybe a heads up?” Just before Idol went to air, Jackson himself added to the news of his departure by tweeting about his time on the show. “I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry. It’s been a life changing opportunity #idol,” he tweeted in similar language to remarks he’d made earlier in the day.

PREVIOUSLY, 3:17 PM: After over a decade at the judge’s table, Randy Jackson is leaving American Idol at the end of this season, sources have confirmed. ”Yo! Yo! Yo! To put all of the speculation to the rest, after 12 years of judging on American Idol I have decided it is time to leave after this season,” said Jackson in a statement today. E! News reported the departure first. The news from the long term judge was called “face-saving” by one source in reference to the ratings struggle the once dominant show has had this season. Though other judges, from Simon Cowell to Jennifer Lopez, and for three seconds Ellen Degeneres, have come and gone, musician and producer Jackson was the only one to remain on Idol since it debuted in 2002. There was some speculation last year that Jackson may not return for another season of Idol or take on a reduced role of the show but he and Fox struck a deal at the last minute in September. Though Jackson is the first to say himself that he is leaving Idol, other members of this year’s judging panel are likely not far behind as the show heads towards its season finale on May 16. Freshman Mariah Carey’s husband Nick Cannon made it pretty clear this earlier this week that she wasn’t coming back to the Fox show. And Carey has separated from having Jackson as her manager. The singer, who has a new single out this week, left Jackson’s stable to sign up with Red Light Management late last month. And with ratings having hit all-time lows this year, it is unlikely that fellow diva and newbie judge Nicki Minaj will be returning to Idol either or that her and feuding partner Carey will be reuniting in song like they did on the remix of Carey’s 2010 song Up Out My Face.

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