It's the end of an era, dawg. After a dozen seasons of faithful (dawgged?) service, "American Idol's" only constant judge, Randy Jackson, is no longer in it to win it. Randy has confirmed to E! News that he will be leaving "Idol" after Season 12.
"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," Randy announced in his characteristically colorful manner. "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."
Randy's announcement comes the day after The Wrap reported that Fox supposedly intends to fire all of the current judges (and maybe even longtime producer Nigel Lythgoe) next season--so it's possible that this is a case of Randy jumping before he is pushed. This news also comes right after Yahoo!'s Reality Rocks reported that Randy is no longer managing the career of fellow judge Mariah Carey.
I have mixed feelings about this news. It can be argued--and it has been argued, by me, many times in the past--that Randy was often a useless judge, reducing his critiques to catchphrases and clichés ("dawg," "yo," "in it to win it," "for me for you for me," "she's gotta have it!") and obnoxious celebrity name-dropping, rather than drawing on his years of actual experience working and playing with everyone from Carlos Santana and Jerry Garcia to grand divas like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Fergie, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, and of course Mariah. Knowing the impressive background Randy had as a record label executive, artist manager, and session musician, it was at times downright frustrating for me to sit back and watch him just play the fool for laughs (or for ratings).
But still. Randy may have been a buffoon sometimes, but he was always part of the "Idol" family--outlasting Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Kara DioGuardi, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and, lest we forget, Brian Dunkleman. There was a certain comfort that came from having Randy around and hearing him reliably hash out the same critiques over and over and over again. "Idol" just won't be the same without the Dawg. For me for you for me.
A representative for Fox declined to comment.