Paula Abdul will not return to the judges' table for American Idol's ninth season.
Abdul revealed the stunning news on her Twitter feed: "With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return to #IDOL. 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 tweeted over two separate messages.
See photos of Abdul on American Idol
Fox quickly followed up with an official statement: "Paula has been an important part of AI
. We are saddened she decided not to return. She's a tremendous talent and we wish her the best."
TVGuide.com's calls to Abdul's manager were not immediately returned.
Idol host Ryan Seacrest — who told TVGuide.com in June he was confident Abdul would return — tweeted that he was "shocked and saddened" by the news.
"About to go to sleep when I started seeing my blackberry blow up. I have read what u have read and I am shocked and saddened about Paula. Idol and the cast have grown with each other over the last 8 seasons," he wrote.
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While Abdul's departure has left many people wondering whether this is a contract negotiation ploy, Seacrest said later on his KISS FM show on Wednesday that as far as he knew, her departure was real.
"Obviously she has her reasons for doing it and if she didn't feel like she was getting what she needed, I understand that, too," said Seacrest, who recently inked a $45 million deal to continue on Idol.
A person familiar with Abdul's contract talks told the Associated Press, if this departure is legit, she rejected an eight-figure deal that represented a 30 percent raise.
The news comes just days after it was confirmed that judge Kara DioGuardi would return for a second season.
See where other past Idol personalities are now
DioGuardi and Seacrest will join veteran judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson in Denver this week to start Season 9 auditions.
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