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Image: Simon Cowell
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Simon Cowell is leaving "American Idol," but a source says Fox was ready to pay whatever he wanted to keep the caustic judge on the show.
By The Scoop
msnbc.com
updated 1/19/2010 10:28:23 PM ET 2010-01-20T03:28:23

If it were up to Fox, they would have played a game of Simon Says with Simon Cowell, and the “American Idol” judge would have stayed in place beyond this season, according to sources.

“The ‘American Idol’ people were desperate for Simon to stay,” a show insider told Life & Style magazine. “They told him to name his price (to stay), but he still walked away.”

Cowell announced Jan. 11 that he will leave “Idol” after this season to bring his British talent show, “The X Factor,” to the United States. “X Factor” will debut on Fox during the fall 2011 television season, while “Idol” will air in the winter. Even though the two shows won’t compete head to head, the magazine reports that Cowell wants “X Factor” to “blow ‘American Idol’ out of the water.”

Is it likely? There’s plenty of speculation at this point.

“I think without Simon, the numbers will go down,” Scott Sternberg, a producer of Paula Abdul’s reality show, “Hey Paula,” told Life & Style. “I think we all feel that now there’s going to be a missing plug when he leaves.”

An announcement as to who will replace Cowell is a long way off, but current judge Randy Jackson is floating the idea to some — including Joy Behar. Jackson appeared on Behar's HLN show recently and invited her to make an appearance on “Idol.”

Sounds like her work schedule might make that difficult, though: “I could, but you have Ellen. I mean, I have like between … let’s see, what time is it? I have like a little window I could sit there. But you have Ellen. You already have a comedian. She’ll be good, I think,” Behar said.

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings In the meantime, Cowell’s empire continues to expand: He has announced that his label, Syco, will partner with Sony Music to launch talent discovered through “X Factor.”

Hargitay blames Leno for ‘SVU’ ratings
Add Mariska Hargitay of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” to the list of television’s boldface names who are angry about “The Jay Leno Show’s” performance in prime time.

To make room in the lineup for Leno’s show, “SVU” was moved from 10 p.m. Tuesdays to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, a move that “ruined our numbers,” Hargitay told More magazine. “The first four episodes, we were considerably down because nobody knew when the show was on. Finally, we’re starting to find our audience again,” she said.

Now that Leno is being moved out of his 10 p.m. time slot, Hargitay hopes NBC will consider putting “SVU” back where it once was. “I hope we go back to where we belong. It was doing so well. Why mess with it?” she told the magazine.

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Feeding the Heidi Montag publicity machine it before undergoes lipo too
Heidi Montag had 10 cosmetic procedures in a single day. On last week’s cover of People magazine, all those lipos, nips and tucks qualified the 23-year-old as being “addicted to plastic surgery,” according to the headline.

Not so, said Montag, who has been in hiding until this week's People interview and her Monday “Good Morning America” appearance.

“I would say that none of those people know me at all,” the newest iteration of Montag told the show. “And that’s just a judgment. I’m not addicted.”

Montag, who also had cosmetic surgery three years ago when she was just 20, said, “If you’re addicted to something, you have to do it all the time, not once every couple years, if even.”

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