Fear Not, 'American Idol' Fans: Simon's Coming Back

Snarky judge settles suit with show producer, signs on for five more seasons.

For "American Idol" hopefuls, it's either the best news or the worst: Simon Cowell is coming back.

After facing the possibility of life without the prince of put-downs for the upcoming season, "Idol" has its star back thanks to a settlement between Cowell and Simon Fuller, one of the show's producers.

According to the British daily The Guardian, Fuller — who created England's precursor to "American Idol," called "Pop Idol" — dropped his $171 million copyright-infringement suit against Cowell after the pair reached a settlement on Monday. The deal will make Fuller a partner in Cowell's hit British talent show, "The X Factor," which Fuller claimed borrowed heavily from the "Idol" format.

Under the terms of the new agreement, "American Idol" will remain on FOX in the U.S. for five years with an option for a sixth, and Cowell is locked in for at least five of those seasons.

"It is a personal thrill for me to play a role in giving the best young singers in America a shot at realizing their dreams," Cowell said in a statement released Tuesday (November 29). "I'm also happy to be working with my good friend Simon Fuller for the foreseeable future and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the FOX network and the phenomenal success that is 'American Idol.' "

Fuller called Cowell a "key component of the incredible success of 'American Idol.' "

Most importantly for American fans, the agreement means that Cowell will appear on the new season of "Idol," scheduled to kick off in January. (Fuller's suit could have complicated Cowell's participation in the upcoming season: see " 'American Idol' Without Simon Cowell? It Could Happen")

The new deal will reportedly settle one of the other main sticking points and allow the acerbic judge to sign the winner of the show to his Sony BMG-distributed record label. Cowell's option to do that was to expire with the upcoming "Idol" season.

The New York Times reported that FOX was set to announce on Tuesday whether it would keep the show on a Tuesday-Wednesday schedule or move the performance show to Wednesday and the results show to the more lucrative Thursday night block and expand it to a full hour. But a spokesperson for the show said no announcement was imminent.

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