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September 30, 2014

Fox to Order More 'American Idol' -- With or Without Simon Cowell

by Leonard Jacobs, posted Dec 28th 2009 3:04PM
Why would 'American Idol' not continue if Simon Cowell left? Is he as powerful or as much of a ratings guarantee as that?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, these two questions are now in the process of being answered. And the verdict seems to be that the future of 'American Idol' will not be predicated on whether the legendary snarkmeister stays on the show or not. As if to underscore the point, Fox announced it is putting the finishing touches on a deal that would keep 'Idol' on the air past 2011, when the current contract between the network and the show's producers is set to expire.Why would 'American Idol' not continue if Simon Cowell left? Is he as powerful or as much of a ratings guarantee as that?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, these two questions are now in the process of being answered. And the verdict seems to be that the future of 'American Idol' will not be predicated on whether the legendary snarkmeister stays on the show or not. As if to underscore the point, Fox announced it is putting the finishing touches on a deal that would keep 'Idol' on the air past 2011, when the current contract between the network and the show's producers is set to expire.

But the sense of brinkmanship from Cowell's camp continues. The latest news came last week, courtesy of Cowell's brother Tony, who announced via podcast that 2010 will be the last year in which Simon will appear on the show. After all, it's no secret that Simon Cowell is spearheading current efforts to launch 'X-Factor,' another UK-born music contest, in the U.S. (and on Fox) sometime next year.

There is always a game of chess, however, when it comes to a player like Cowell and a network like Fox that's interested in supporting a popular, enduring franchise like 'Idol.' It was noted by THR, for example, that Cowell has not actually signed a contract with Sony, which owns 'X-Factor.' If there are snags in that deal, the matter could be scuttled or have to be renegotiated from scratch.

Or Cowell may be simply holding out for the best deal -- and Fox may be hungry for ways to sweeten the pot. One trial balloon envisioned Cowell simply reducing his workload on 'Idol.' Another strong possiblity has nothing to do with Fox at all: Earlier this month, we reported that Cowell and his business partner, Philip Green, aim to mount 'X-Factor' as a stage show in Las Vegas and then stream it twice weekly over the Web, making it strictly accessible as a pay-per view event.

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