AP Television Writer
POSTED: 7:35 a.m. HST, Jul 13, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 11:26 a.m. HST, Jul 13, 2012
LOS ANGELES >> Jennifer Lopez is the second judge in two days to say she's leaving "American Idol."
Her representative, Mark Young, said today that Lopez is ending her time on television's most popular show after two years. Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler said the same thing on Thursday.
Lopez broke the news to "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest on his radio show.
"I really was dreading this phone call with you," she told him. "I honestly feel like the time has come that I have to get back to doing the other things that I do that I've put kind of on hold because I love 'Idol' so much."
That means the show's judging panel is down to one, Randy Jackson, and there are reports that he may take a different role on the program moving forward.
It's an adolescent identity crisis for "American Idol," which has been TV's most popular program for nearly a decade. Ratings for the Fox show have declined as TV's talent show field gets more competitive.
When the show returns for its 12th season next January, it will have to be a reengineered version of the once-powerhouse series that turned hopefuls such as Jennifer Hudson into stars and gave network rivals fits.
"We are very sad that Steven has chosen to focus more on his music, but we always knew when we hired a rock 'n' roll legend, he would go back to his music," said Mike Darnell, the network's president of alternative entertainment.
Speculation about potential new panelists has focused on Mariah Carey, with former "Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert getting a shout-out from his fans. Much is at stake for the show and for its judges: Lopez's contract reportedly was worth $12 million and the stint proved a career-booster for her.