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Simon Cowell leaving "American Idol" after this season

Winter TV Press Tour 2010

Simon Cowell is bailing on "American Idol" after the coming season, but he will not leave the Fox network - he'll become a judge on his own like-minded singing competition series "The X Factor" starting in the fall of 2011.

Which means this will be the last edition of "Idol" to have the field to itself. After this, "X Factor" will air in the fall and "Idol" will continue in the spring.

Cowell thinks "Idol" will survive without him, though this season the show lost its much-loved judge Paula Abdul, in a contract dispute with the show producers and the network.

"It's like having a good player on a good football team," Cowell told TV critics and reporters and colunists and bloggers attending Winter TV Press Tour 2010.

"When the player retires the team continues to be successful."

Of course, it's nothing like that. It's more like NBC trying to continue "Seinfeld" after losing Elaine and then Jerry.

Here's a good place to mention that Fox was always careful to air only one cycle of "Idol" per TV season, lest viewers tire of it from overexposure.

But, Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Rice, who was on stage with Cowell, noted the two shows are not the same.

They're totally different because on "X Factor" you can be old and still audition. Old as Susan Boyle.

Also, singing groups can participate.

And, the auditions phase of "X Factor" is done in a large hall with three or four thousand people instead of skanky hotel or convention hall rooms around the country, like on "Idol."

And each judge is assigned to mentor some of the finalists.

And when...zzzzzzzzzzzzz..

Rice insisted staunchly that what people love about "Idol" is the format. Yeah, right.

And another thing, added Cowell - he would not have put 'X Factor' on in the U.S. if he didn't think they could co-exist on the network.

But, of course, he owns "X Factor" and does not own "Idol" so he loses points for lack of objectivity. All of his points.

Cowell declined to say who would join him in the judges panel on the new series, except to say "it's not going to happen" in re Victoria Beckham - she was a guest judge during the audition phase of "Idol" after Abdul bailed - and that he misses Paula terribly and will be in business with her again "some day."

To recap: Paula in. Posh Spice out.

See photos from Cowell's tenure on Fox's "American Idol."

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 11, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  Winter TV Press Tour 2010  
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I would love to see a season of Idol with an emphasis on the contestants instead of the judges. Will I miss grumpy, bored Simon in a dingy t-shirt? That would be NO.

Posted by: xGinax | January 11, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Simon is the judge people love to hate. Regardless of where you stand on him, he singularly draws many viewers. Whomever fills his shoes will have to have at least a fraction of his acerbic wit.

Posted by: signof4 | January 11, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

I am very pleased that 'Simon' is leaving this program. I have witnessed him humiliate people time and time again. No-one has a right to abuse another person and this type behavior does not belong in the face of young people who are daring to be heard.

Posted by: prossers7 | January 11, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

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