Pop Culture

Simon Cowell will leave ‘American Idol’

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.”

Will ‘Lost’ live on?
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs finally addressed the possibility of the president’s State of the Union address 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.”

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    Florida Highway Patrol / Ho / FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL / HO

    Image: USA  Pro Golfer Tiger Woods Auto Wreckage Florida

    Celebrity scandals of 2009

    From David Letterman’s bizarre confession to Jon and Kate’s divorce to Tiger Woods’ spectacular crash.

  • Image: USA  Pro Golfer Tiger Woods Auto Wreckage Florida

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    Golfer needs new caddy -

    Professional golfer Tiger Woods' damaged SUV is seen in a photograph released by the Florida Highway Patrol on Dec. 2. Woods was treated at a hospital after an early morning accident after Thanksgiving outside his Windermere, Fla., home.

    But the real pain would come in the days that followed as numerous women came forward with allegations that they had had affairs with Woods. He acknowledged "transgressions" and that he let his family down.

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    Difficult truth -

    Mackenzie Phillips appears on the TODAY show on Thursday, Sept. 24, a day after dropping the bombshell that she’d had a long-term incestuous affair with her father, musician John Phillips. The former "One Day at a Time" actress was promoting a new book, "High on Arrival."

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    Late night confession -

    "Late Show" host David Letterman acknowledged during the taping of his Oct. 1 show that he had sexual relationships with female members of his staff and that someone tried to extort $2 million from him over the affairs. Letterman mixed jokes into the confession to his audience about what he called a "bizarre experience."

    Robert J. Halderman, a producer for CBS' "48 Hours," was charged with attempted grand larceny.

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    Invasion of privacy -

    Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick became the parents of twin girls born via surrogate mother in Martins Ferry, Ohio, on June 22. Two Ohio police chiefs were accused of breaking into the home of the surrogate and trying to sell photographs of her personal belongings to a freelance photographer. Martins Ferry Chief Barry Carpenter was found guilty of receiving stolen property, theft in office and tampering with evidence.

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    Finally caught -

    Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland, on Sept. 26 as authorities in Los Angeles sought justice in a decades-old sex case. Polanski fled the United States in 1977 before his sentencing for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. As the year drew to a close, the filmmaker was under house arrest at his Swiss chalet and vowed to fight extradition to the U.S.

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  • Image: Kanye West, Taylor Swift

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    Scene stealer -

    In the diss heard 'round the world, rapper Kanye West takes the microphone from country star Taylor Swift as she accepts the "Best Female Video" award during the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, Sept. 13, in New York. West declared Beyonce, also nominated, should have won because her “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” was “one of the best videos of all time.” And ... cue weeks-long, Internet-fueled outrage.

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    Affair to remember -

    Country star LeAnn Rimes, left, and actor Eddie Cibrian starred in the Lifetime movie "Northern Lights" and then starred in a tabloid scandal involving two broken marriages over the summer.

    The two denied initial reports that they had hooked up while making the movie but eventually went public. Rimes left her husband Dean Scheremet and Cibrian left his wife Brandi Glanville, with whom he has two children.

    Lifetime / Lifetime
  • Howard K. Stern Arraigned For Supplying Drugs To Anna Nicole Smith

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    Anna Nicole fallout -

    Howard K. Stern, center, Anna Nicole Smith's longtime confidante, arrives for his arraignment at Los Angeles Criminal Courts on May 13.

    Stern and doctors Khristine Eroschevich and Sandeep Kapoor were accused of conspiring to furnish drugs to Smith, the one-time Playboy Playmate who died of a prescription medication overdose in February, 2007.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Michael Jackson Memorial Service

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    Rest in peace? Not so easy -

    Michael Jackson's siblings and children are pictured at the singer's memorial service on July 7.

    While the singer's death on June 25 at age 50 was shocking and unexpected, there were dozens of angles that the tabloids seized on afterwards. From Jackson's reported money woes to the custody and parentage of his children to various family feuds and, of course, the medications the singer was taking, every angle of his life is being shaken out and discussed in the media.

    Pool via EPA / Pool via EPA
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    No joking matter -

    Susan Wynalek, right, of Coltsneck, N.J., her daughter Stephanie, center, and son Brett participate in a "Fire David Letterman" rally on June 16. The family was protesting Letterman's earlier joke about Palin attending a New York Yankees game, in which he suggested that Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez impregnated Palin's daughter.

    Issues arose when Letterman said he was referring to 18-year-old teen mom Bristol Palin, but it was 14-year-old Willow Palin who actually attended the game with her mother.

    AP / AP
  • Jon Gosselin, Kate Gosselin

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    Renewed vows didn't take -

    Jon and Kate Gosselin, parents of twins and sextuplets and stars of TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8," renewed their vows in Hawaii in 2008. But by June 2009, the couple had announced plans to divorce, and Jon Gosselin was seen in Paris with a new girlfriend, daughter of the surgeon who performed Kate's tummy tuck.

    Eventually the one-time reality TV hit went off the air and the drama shifted to the courtroom as TLC and Jon Gosselin went after one another.

    TLC via AP / TLC via AP
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    She dreamed a dream -

    Locals gather at the community center in Blackburn, Scotland, to watch Susan Boyle during the finale of "Britain's Got Talent" on May 30.

    Boyle, 48, wowed the world when she came from nowhere and displayed stunning vocal talents when auditioning for the show. Once her name became known, her every step was hounded by photographers, and after she came in second to dance troupe Diversity on the show, Boyle received care at a private psychiatric clinic in London.

    The singer bounced back with the release of her wildly successful first album.

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  • Rubina Ali

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    From the Oscars back to the slums -

    "Slumdog Millionaire" child actor Rubina Ali, 9, waves as she is welcomed back to her home in suburban Mumbai, India, on Feb. 26, after traveling to the Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

    "Slumdog Millionaire" was the big winner at the Oscars, but following the ceremony, Ali and her fellow child stars returned to slum life. In April 2009, Ali's father denied reports that he tried to sell his daughter, claiming he was set up. In July 2009, Ali's co-star, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, left the slums for a one-bedroom apartment. Filmmakers were reportedly looking for a new home for Ali as well.

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    Celebrities for no reason -

    Famous for doing absolutely nothing, Heidi and Spencer Montag still managed to coax their way into numerous media stories in the first half of 2009.

    The couple came to public attention by appearing on the MTV show "The Hills," then for having a non-legally binding wedding in Mexico in 2008, followed by a second wedding in California in 2009. The newlyweds joined the cast of "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" but repeatedly left and rejoined the cast while whining about their treatment, even reportedly calling NBC chairman Ben Silverman to complain about being "tortured" on the show.

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  • Actor Mel Gibson (R) and his guest Oksan

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    The Passion of Mel -

    Actor Mel Gibson infamously made anti-Semetic and sexual remarks when pulled over in 2006 for driving under the influence, later issuing apologies through his publicist. Gibson's Catholicism, which is strict and ultra-traditional, has also made news, especially relating to his film, "The Passion of the Christ," a gruesomely realistic depiction of the crucifixtion of Christ.

    Thus many who knew of Gibson's religious beliefs were shocked in April 2009, when it was announced that the actor was leaving his wife of 29 years and that his girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, was pregnant with his child outside of marriage. She gave birth to their daughter on Oct. 30.

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  • Publicity photo of pop star Madonna and the Malawi child she hopes to adopt, Mercy

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    Madonna and child -

    While actress Angelina Jolie's international adoptions have gone off relatively quietly, that's not always been the case for Madonna.

    In 2006, she adopted young David Banda from Malawi despite a law that requires adoptive parents to live in the country for one year, which Madonna had not done. Then, in 2009, the singer returned to Malawi to adopt a 3-year-old girl, Chifundo "Mercy" James. That adoption was first approved, then rejected due to the residency rule. The country's highest court later approved the adoption. James Kambewa has come forward and claimed to be the girl's father, but later admitted he has never met her.

    Warner Brothers Records via Reut / Warner Brothers Records via Reut
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    'Bachelor' can't make up his mind -

    Seattle single dad Jason Mesnick brought controversy to the 2009 season of "The Bachelor" by proposing to Melissa Rycroft, shown with him here on March 2. But as the two began to spend time together, Mesnick decided he should have passed on Rycroft and instead chosen her runner-up, Molly Malaney, shown in inset photo.

    On a shocking "After the Final Rose" special episode, Mesnick admitted his feelings and publicly dumped Rycroft. Rycroft later went on to almost win "Dancing With the Stars." Mesnick and Malaney are now engaged.

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  • Joaquin Phoenix

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    Phoenix rising? -

    Actor Joaquin Phoenix, seen here in February, claimed in January that he was giving up acting to pursue a rap career. Partly because Phoenix is being filmed by pal Casey Affleck for a documentary, many didn't believe he was serious about music, saying instead that the supposed career change was all an elaborate hoax to make an interesting movie.

    Phoenix also drew attention in early 2009 for attacking a heckler at a Miami concert and for making a mostly incoherent appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

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  • Christian Bale

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    Tale of the tape -

    Christian Bale, star of "Terminator Salvation," blew up at the film's director of photography, Shane Hurlbut, in July 2008. Bale claimed that Hurlbut had walked into his line of sight twice and ruined his concentration, and betlitted and theatened Hurlbut in a lengthy, disturbing tirade that was caught on audiotape.

    The tape was released in February and Bale eventually apologized, saying he "acted like a punk."

    AP / AP
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    Bloody battle -

    Singer Chris Brown, top, reportedly beat and threatened girlfriend and fellow singer Rihanna, shown in court on Feb. 8. The two were riding in a car together the night before both were scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards, and the resulting detailed arrest report and bloody photo of a beaten Rihanna immediately turned fans' stomachs.

    Brown was dropped from ad campaigns by numerous companies, and some music stations refused to play his music. He pled guilty to felony assault in June and has accepted a plea deal consisting of community service and five years probation. He later apologized for the assault in a YouTube video.

    Pool via AFP - Getty Images / Pool via AFP - Getty Images

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 surpriseReally, this is beginning to get a little boring. 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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