Paula Abdul says she's leaving "American Idol."

The eccentric "Idol" judge told fans over Twitter early Tuesday (Aug. 4) evening.

Beginning at approximately 7:30 PM PST, Abdul tweeted from @paulaabdul:

"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..Cont'd..."

"I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent,but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day1become an international phenomenon."

"What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me"

"It truly has been breathtaking, especially over the past month"

 

Nearly 90 minutes later, FOX, FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment issued the following statement:

"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. While Paula will not be continuing with us, she's a tremendous talent and we wish her the best."

It should be noted that FOX's statement is a direct response to what constituted a statement from Abdul, making her absence from "Idol" contingent upon her decision to leave. That is to say that it doesn't necessarily preclude the possibility that Abdul's tweeting was a negotiating ploy and that, in this instance, FOX and 19 Entertainment are simply calling her bluff and making it clear that they're prepared to go on without her, if she's prepared to walk away from the table.

Does this series of events, then, mean the end of Paula Abdul's "American Idol" or just a misplayed poker hand from the "Straight Up" singer?

Either way, as of Tuesday night, FOX's smash hit, the anchor of its string of first place seasonal 18-49 victories, was back down to three judges, with Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson joined by Kara DioGuardi, whose return to "Idol" was announced on Monday.

It would be difficult to write the story of Paula Abdul's eight-year tenure on "American Idol" without using the word "tumultuous." In addition to the staged and unstaged bickering with colleague Cowell, Abdul survived a network investigation into her ties to contestant Corey Clark and weathered unrelated legal difficulties and medical problems. Although she was often lampooned by fans and the media alike for her frequently flighty and incomprehensible comments and praise, Abdul was beloved by contestants who valued her industry experience and her positive reenforcement. 

Abdul's "Idol" contract expired after the show's eighth season and after initial optimism from all sides that a deal could be reached, the tone of negotiations turned dark in recent weeks, with Abdul and her reps suddenly expressing uncertain ty and then skepticism that a deal could be reached.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.