This season will indeed be Simon Cowell’s last season of “American Idol.”
Cowell dropped the bombshell Monday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., while announcing his show “X Factor” will launch in the United States in 2011.
“We reached an agreement formally at half past 10 this morning, ‘X Factor’ will launch in America in 2011. Because of that this will be my last season on ‘American Idol’ this year,” Cowell reportedly said.
“American Idol” will soldier on without Cowell, according to Fox executive Peter Rice. Cowell’s role on “X Factor” will be that of producer and judge — his fellow judges will be announced “fairly soon,” he said.
“X-Factor” is a British show not unlike “America’s Got Talent.” Cowell's not just a judge on "X Factor," he has a financial stake in its success. “X Factor” is produced by his production company, Syco.
Sources say that Cowell’s contract with “American Idol” prevented him from launching any sort of competing show.
The Associated Press reported that while Cowell makes a reported $36 million a year to be on “American Idol,” he owns “The X Factor” and could make much more if the show takes off.
“I was offered a lot of money to stay on (‘Idol’),” Cowell said at the meeting. “But that wasn’t the reason behind it. I wanted to do something different. I wanted a new challenge.”
Fox would not speculate on possible replacements for Cowell.
Cowell said he didn’t want to leave “American Idol” at a time when it was fading in the ratings.
“You want to leave on a high,” he said. “I’m very proud of what the show has achieved.”
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Will ‘Lost’ live on?
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs finally addressed the possibility of the president’s State of the Union address pre-empting the Feb. 2 season premiere of “Lost,” saying, “I will say this on behalf of ABC Radio: I don't foresee a scenario in which millions of people that hope to finally get some conclusion in 'Lost' are pre-empted by the president.”
And now the show’s executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are dropping hints that this season might not, technically, be the last for the show.
“It’s a franchise that’s conservatively worth billions of dollars. It’s hard to imagine ‘Lost’ will rest on the shelves and nothing will ever be made with ‘Lost,’ Cuse told The Hollywood Reporter. “Eventually somebody will make something under the moniker of ‘Lost’ — whether we do it or not. We just made a commitment to this group of characters whose stories are coming to a conclusion this May.”
No box-office surprise
Really, this is beginning to get a little boring. “Avatar” was No. 1 at the box office yet again.
This $48.5 million weekend gives the James Cameron flick a fourth consecutive week atop the box office, and brings its domestic gross to $429 million.
In terms of box office newcomers, only “Daybreakers” was able to crack the top five: It came in at No. 4 with a $15 million gross.
Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter @courtneyatmsnbc.
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