David Hasselhoff has announced that he's leaving America's Got Talent after serving on its judging panel since the NBC reality series premiered in 2006.

"I am proud that I was part of making America's Got Talent the No. 1 rated show for the past four summers. It's been a rewarding experience and now I'm thrilled to be able to follow my dream to do my own TV show, which will be announced very shortly," Hasselhoff told People in a Wednesday statement.

"I want to thank my friend, ([America's Got Talent] creator and executive producer) Simon Cowell, and everyone at NBC and Fremantle for the opportunity for four great years."

While the 57-year-old failed to elaborate on the new project, he was reportedly close to finalizing a deal with A&E for a new reality series in October.

Hasselhoff was an original member of America's Got Talent's judging panel along with Piers Morgan and Brandy Norwood, who was replaced by Sharon Osborne prior to the show's second season.

"David's been an integral part of the success of America's Got Talent and we are sad to see him go," said NBC in a statement obtained by People. "We wish him all the best with his new show."

While NBC sources told People they will be searching for a new judge to fill Hasselhoff's vacated seat for America's Got Talent's fifth season this summer, no names have been cited as possible replacements.

However one name that's already the subject of media speculation -- especially given comparatively irrelevant nature of America's Got Talent's judging -- is Paula Abdul, who left American Idol last summer after spending eight years on the Fox competition's judging panel with Cowell.

Hasselhoff was reportedly hospitalized due to alcohol poisoning less than a week after America's Got Talent's live fourth-season finale aired in September.  However his attorney subsequently stated it was "all a misunderstanding" and added Hasselhoff "was being treated for an inner ear infection and had a bad reaction to his medication," causing the hospitalization.

Hasselhoff was taken to the hospital again in late November after reportedly suffering a seizure, and RadarOnline reported he was picked up under the California Welfare and Institutions Code 5150 that "allows authorities to take into custody persons they believe may be a danger to themselves or others, are gravely disabled or suffer from a mental disorder."

Hasselhoff reportedly remained at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for psychiatric evaluation before being released and his attorney subsequently denied that he was being held for psychiatric evaluation.

Hasselhoff -- who previously admitted he is a "recovering alcoholic" -- also had a highly-publicized problem with alcohol in 2007, when he required hospital treatment following a relapse and suffered public humiliation when an alcohol-fueled rant that had been caught on video by his daughter was released.
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He later accused his ex-wife Pamela Bach -- whom he had fought through both a divorce and a custody battle that included both accusing each other of having alcohol-related problems -- of releasing the videotape.  She subsequently denied the allegations.

Last May, it was reported that Hasselhoff was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital after his daughter found him unconscious on the floor of his home due to an apparent case of alcohol poisoning.

His attorney subsequently called the report a "complete fabrication" and said Hasselhoff was instead taken to the hospital because he "wasn't feeling well."