Monday, January 11, 2010

Simon Cowell announces final season on Idol

At today's TCA Executive Session, FOX President Kevin Reilly and Chairman Peter Rice brought out Simon Cowell to announce breaking news: the 2011 launch of a U.S. version of his international hit talent contest, The X Factor.

X is currently shown in 17 countries worldwide, with a global audience of more than 500 million, and is the #1 TV entertainment format in Europe. The show, Cowell says, has no upper age limit for contestants, and so it receives over 250,000 applicants each year. ("You could literally be 100 years old -- so Paula [Abdul] could audition," Cowell joked.) In order to accommodate huge numbers like these, and to secure the judges for the U.S. version -- which by the way, Cowell says, will definitely not include Paula -- Fox and Cowell have agreed to hold off the debut to 2011, but will begin putting the show together now.

As a result, Cowell says, he is announcing that this upcoming season of American Idol will be his last, because he doesn't feel that he can do both shows simultaneously. To add a bit of ceremony to the proceedings, Rice produced a contract for Simon to sign on stage, noting that Fox and Cowell had come to their agreement to launch the show at 11:30 this morning -- merely an hour ago.

As to how the new reality show will affect Fox's schedule, Reilly says that decisions haven't been made about moves to other reality shows, but he envisions a schedule where Idol airs in the spring, X Factor in the fall, and So You Think You Can Dance in the summer.

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