As if Paula Abdul's exit from the "American Idol" judging panel wasn't enough of a shock to the audience, then this news will leave them speechless. Tony Cowell, Simon's older brother, revealed in his weekly podcast "The Cowell Factor" that the upcoming ninth season of the show will be Simon's last, as he's focused on bringing his British talent competition "X-Factor" to the States.
"Meanwhile, Simon prepares for a new season of 'Idol' — or should I say, his last season of 'Idol,' " Tony said in the December 19th episode. "A press statement is being prepared which will confirm what everybody expected: Simon will leave 'Idol' at the end of 2010 to concentrate on bringing the American version of 'X Factor' to U.S. TV in 2011."
This conflicts with earlier news reports in which Robert Sillerman — CEO of CKX, the parent company of "Idol" and co-producer 19 Entertainment — said Cowell was in negotiations to renew his contract for another three seasons.
"We've heard from Fox, who has asked us for approval for Simon Cowell to appear for three more years on 'Idol,' " Sillerman said. "They, in their negotiations with Cowell, have asked us to pre-approve him not only for 'American Idol' '09, which has begun taping, but they have also asked us for approval for '10 and '11, indicating to us that they're finishing their negotiation with Cowell. We did grant approval for that, quite obviously."
In August, Paula Abdul confirmed that she would not be returning to the show. Rumors surfaced that Abdul was not happy with the amount of money she was offered to renew her contract.
"I'll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day one become an international phenomenon," Adbul tweeted. "What I want to say most is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me. I do, without any doubt, have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all."
And while the network and show producers weren't able to work things out with Adbul, they did find a replacement. In September it was announced that Ellen DeGeneres would take a permanent seat on the judging panel. The show's host Ryan Seacrest also renewed his contract for the next three seasons. Last season's new addition, Kara DioGuardi, is on board for the upcoming season as well as Randy Jackson, who is under contract until the end of the current season.
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