DioGuardi back on ‘Idol’ next season

"American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi will be back on the show next season, officials announced Monday.

The Grammy-nominated songwriter will return as a judge for the show’s ninth season, which is set to premiere in January 2010, according to an announcement made by Fox, 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia. “American Idol” airs on Fox, and the other two companies oversee the popular talent competition. Despite less-than-glowing reviews of DioGuardi’s judging last season from some fans, “Idol” creator and executive producer Simon Fuller gave her return a glowing endorsement. “We are so happy to welcome back Kara for her second season with ‘Idol,’ ” Fuller said in a statement. “She is a breath of fresh air, and her passion for music and her understanding of talent is invaluable.” Both Fuller and Mike Darnell, president of Alternative Entertainment for Fox, credited DioGuardi for her early championing of season eight runner-up Adam Lambert. “Kara’s spitfire personality and sharp musical sensibility infused ‘American Idol’ with a new energy last year,” Darnell said in the statement. “She clearly has a keen eye for talent — spotting Adam Lambert’s superstar quality early on last season — and her performance on the season eight finale was one of the most memorable in recent Idol history.”

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DioGuardi continues to work as a songwriter and producer, most recently with a diverse group of performers including Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Theory of a Deadman, Jessie James and Tom Jones. She was also recently honored with the 2009 Icon Award granted for personal achievement to outstanding songwriters by the National Music Publishers’ Association. News of DioGuardi’s return comes as the future continues to be unsure for fellow judge Paula Abdul. Abdul, who has been with the show since its debut, has yet to sign a contract to return next season. Abdul has thanked fans for their support via her Twitter account and said she continues to “try to work out details” of her return. “Your support & encouragement means so much to me,” the singer said via Twitter on July 30. “I hope you understand I can only return to [‘Idol’] if the deal is fair.” DioGuardi joins judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson on “Idol” as well as Ryan Seacrest, who recently signed a three-year, $45 million deal to continue as host of the show.