DioGuardi Departs Fox's `American Idol' as Top U.S. Show Reshuffles Lineup

Kara DioGuardi is leaving as a judge on top-rated “American Idol” after two seasons, News Corp.’s Fox said today.

“I felt like now is the best time to leave,” DioGuardi, a songwriter who joined in 2008 as the show’s fourth judge, said today in a statement e-mailed from Fox.

DioGuardi is stepping down following the departures of Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres, leaving Randy Jackson as the only remaining judge from last season. The Fox talent show has dominated U.S. ratings for seven years.

Fox executives weren’t available to comment beyond the statement, said Gaude Paez, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles- based broadcast network. She declined to comment on Jackson’s status.

“Idol” is undergoing a makeover after the singing contest suffered a 9 percent drop in viewers in the season that ended in May, according to Nielsen Co. data. Fox brought back Nigel Lythgoe as executive producer in August. The network has said it plans to have a full panel of judges by this month’s auditions for the show, which returns to the air in January on Fox.

“Idol” is being retooled even as it continues to outdraw its nearest competition, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” in total viewers.

“American Idol” was the most-watched prime-time program in the broadcast TV season that ended in May. The twice-weekly talent contest averaged 24.9 million viewers on Tuesday nights and 23.7 million on Wednesday nights. The show was also the most popular program among the 18-to-49 year-old viewers that advertisers target.

“Dancing With the Stars” averaged 17.6 million over its two nights each week, according to data from Nielsen Co.

News Corp., based in New York, rose 27 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $13.46 at 4 p.m. today in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have declined 1.7 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

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