Randy Jackson, who has been with American Idol from the start, first as a judge and then as a mentor, has notified producers of the veteran Fox reality singing competition that he won’t be returning for the upcoming 14th season. “After 13 seasons, I felt now was the perfect time to leave American Idol,” Jackson said in a statement to Deadline. “I’m proud to have been a part of a series that discovered some incredible artists and will go down in history as one of the most successful television shows ever. A true original, Idol started it all. Onto what’s next.”
What’s next for Jackson includes producing TV and film projects as well as managing artists through his company Dream Merchant 21 Entertainment.
Jackson, one of the original Idol judges along with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, first announced he would be leaving the show in May 2013 after 12 seasons at the judging table. Three months later, he was invited back in a new role as a mentor, replacing Jimmy Iovine in working with contestants during Rush Week and in the finals. He returned, bringing stability and continuity on a show that had been rocked by a string of major onscreen and offscreen changes, including the departures of judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj and an overhaul of the series’ executive producing team.
Things are far more stable heading into Season 14, with all three judges — Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. — returning, along with the series’ producers.
Jackson’s departure leaves host Ryan Seacrest as the only remaining key member of Idol‘s original team. The show is expected to appoint a new mentor.
“Randy has been such an integral part of American Idol since day one, both as a judge and as a mentor. He’s provided great advice and support, shaping the success of so many Idols we have discovered over the years,” Fox and American Idol producers FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment said in a statement to Deadline, once again leaving the door open for Jackson to come back, probably in a guest capacity. “We wish him all the best in his next chapter. Randy will always be part of our Idol family, and we hope he’ll visit from time to time.”