Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is bowing out as judge of American Idol, just one year into her five year contract, Fox executives announced Thursday.

“Dim the lights,” she tweeted to nearly 5 million followers. “I've voted myself off American Idol.”

DeGeneres, who is openly lesbian, said she had informed Idol producers of her decision a couple of months ago.

A heavy workload and an unease at hurting contestant's feelings were cited as reasons behind her decision.

DeGeneres is the second judge to exit the show this year. Outspoken British judge Simon Cowell left the show in May to concentrate on his own reality talent show The X Factor, which is broadcast in the UK.

The surprise announcement leaves Idol, which is facing slowly sagging ratings, with only two judges – Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi – just weeks before the show begins its 10th season auditions in September.

Rumors that the talent contest's original executive producer, So You Think You Can Dance Judge Nigel Lythgoe, is reportedly close to closing a deal with Fox executives to return to the duties he left two years ago have surfaced this week.

Lythgoe, who is expected to revamp the show's judging panel, has previously named openly gay singer-songwriter Elton John, Usher and former judge Paula Abdul as his top picks to judge Idol.