Its Official: Simon Cowell Is Leaving IDOL | Idol Gossip

Updated January 11, 2010

Simon Cowell Says He is Leaving ‘American Idol’

FOXNews.com

PASADENA, Calif.

Simon Cowell has officially announced that this is his final season of “American Idol.”

Cowell says he will instead serve as executive producer and judge on the American version of his hit UK show “The X-Factor,” which will begin filming in 2011. The show will run on the Fox Network.

“I’m thrilled that we have put a date on the launch of the U.S. version of ‘The X Factor’ and delighted to be continuing to work with Fox,” Cowell said via statement. “We have a fantastic relationship, a great team and are all very excited about this.

“Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, said, ‘We have had a very successful relationship with Simon Cowell for many years, and we’re absolutely delighted to continue our relationship with him. ‘The X Factor’ has been a massive success around the world, and we can’t wait to bring it to the U.S. in 2011.’”

The announcement follows months of speculation that Cowell would leave “Idol.” Last month, his brother Tony Cowell announced on his radio show “Fame Game” that the rumors of Simon’s impending departure were indeed correct.

Cowell’s decision is the biggest threat yet to what has been the country’s most popular TV program and a true cultural force. This season, original host Paula Abdul has been replaced by Ellen DeGeneres.

But Cowell, with his caustic commentary, has long been seen as the big star of “Idol.”

Cowell said it would have been difficult for him to do both shows. While he 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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