The news comes a week after fellow judge Paula Abdul announced via Twitter that she will be leaving the show. Cowell is heading into the final year of his current contract, and during a teleconference, the CEO of CKX, parent company of "Idol" co-producer 19 Entertainment, said that negotiations to keep Cowell locked down through 2011 are being finalized.
"We've heard from Fox, who has asked us for approval for Simon Cowell to appear for three more years on 'Idol,' " CEO Robert 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 the spring, Cowell suggested that the upcoming season of "Idol" might be his final one, as he has other projects he's interested in pursuing, including a long-held desire to bring his popular British talent program "X Factor" to the U.S. Fox has an option to air "Factor" but has not yet put it on the schedule. Earlier this summer, the Reporter announced Cowell had begun contract negotiations for a new "Idol" deal. Sillerman did not disclose any financial details of the Cowell talks, but the Reporter said that he is reportedly due to earn $45 million, up from his current $36 million-a-year contract. A spokesperson for "Idol" had no comment at press time.
Though the network and producers could not come to terms with Abdul — who reportedly wanted a significant raise to more than $10 million a year — they did pick up an option for new judge Kara DioGuardi and also gave a raise to host Ryan Seacrest. Third judge Randy Jackson is under contract through the end of the upcoming ninth season of the show.
While Abdul will not be returning, Fox has announced a slate of celebrity guest judges who will sit in, including Victoria Beckham and singer Katy Perry.
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