Cee Lo Green leaving ‘The Voice,’ making him the first judge to defect

February 19

Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine on “The Voice.” (Lewis Jacobs/NBC)

Oh no. Is this how the downfall begins?

We’ve never heard anything except how much “The Voice” judges love each other and everything is wonderful, but Cee Lo Green threw a curveball on Wednesday, announcing that he won’t be coming back to the hit NBC singing competition.

While on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” plugging his new tour with Lionel Richie and development deal with NBC, Green unexpectedly added “…Yeah, I’m gonna miss ‘The Voice,’ too. So I’m not coming back, guys.”

“Oh — you’re not coming back at all?” DeGeneres asked, sounding confused.

“I’m not coming back at all,” he explained.

“I did not know that,” DeGeneres said suspiciously.

“I don’t want to wear out my welcome there,” Green continued. “I have so many other things that I want to do. I haven’t released an album in four years.”

“The attention span now for an artist is six days,” piped up Richie, sitting next to him on the couch. “So you know, you have to go back and give us some more music.” (Hey Lionel, thanks for telling him what he already knows and is obviously stressed about.)

Meanwhile, Green is also in the midst of some legal troubles — he was charged last fall with giving a woman ecstasy during a dinner, a felony count (“furnishing a controlled substance”) that could result in four years in prison, according to the AP. Green pleaded not guilty.

This makes Green the first judge to permanently defect from “The Voice,” a blow to the franchise that has pulled off the trick of maintaining group of well-liked judges (who also got along) for multiple years. Green and Christina Aguilera sat out season 4 (replaced by Shakira and Usher), but came back for the fifth; Shakira and Usher are already on tap for the sixth season, which debuts next week.

What “The Voice” does next will be telling, as we’ve all seen what happens when singing competitions can’t get the judge combination quite right (“X Factor”) or start messing around by casting for drama (Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey/”Idol,” anyone?). While Green was never part of fellow coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton’s bromance storyline, or someone who started feuds with Aguilera, he was the wise, calming force of the panel that added up to some great chemistry and lots of viewers. Will NBC make subs Shakira or Usher permanent? Will they change course for three judge? What will they do with that extra giant spinning robot chair?

The possible course of action, if “Idol’s” history is any indication: Drag out the process, decline to comment on many rumors, and culminate in a dramatic announcement for as much publicity as possible.

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