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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kara DioGuardi is officially out at “American Idol.”

After months of speculation, Fox announced Friday that the songwriter who joined the Fox singing competition’s judging panel during its eighth season in 2009 was stepping down from her role as a judge.

DioGuardi’s exit follows the departures of judges Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres.

DioGuardi said in a statement that it felt like “the best time to leave ‘Idol.”‘

Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are the reported front-runners to join the panel. The show returns to the air in January.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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