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Paula Abdul Leaving American Idol

08/05/2009 at 12:20 AM EDT

Paula Abdul Leaving American Idol
Paula Abdul
M Becker/American Idol/Getty

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul

Abdul – out!

Ending speculation about her future on one of the most popular shows on television, Paula Abdul confirmed Tuesday she will no longer be at the judge's table on American Idol.

"With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return to Idol," Abdul, 47, writes on her Twitter page. "I'll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day one become an international phenomenon."

She adds: "What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me. I do, without any doubt, have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all."

No reason was given for her departure just two days before she was to return to work. Abdul's rep declined to comment except to confirm she was leaving. The highly rated show is about to begin taping segments for its ninth season, with auditions starting Thursday in Denver. The show returns on the air in January.

"Paula Abdul has been an important part of the American Idol family over the last eight seasons and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show," FOX TV says in a statement. "While Paula will not be continuing with us, she's a tremendous talent and we wish her the best."

The announcement comes shortly after her manager angrily said there was no contract on the table and that "sadly" it didn't appear she would be returning. Her previous contract ended after the eighth season.

Her departure now returns the number of judges to three, with Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson joined by Kara DioGuardi, who was just confirmed to be returning.

Additional reporting by CYNTHIA WANG and LISA INGRASSIA

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