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Simon Cowell to leave 'American Idol' to be judge on 'X Factor'

The show has now lost three of its judges from last season, as Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres had already said they wouldn't wouldn't be back for another stint at the judges' table.

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By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

PASADENA, CALIF.

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Simon Cowell, the always blunt Brit whom viewers love -- and love to hate -- on Fox's "American Idol," is leaving the country's most watched TV program after the coming season.

But he will not leave the network altogether; he'll become a judge, and executive producer, on his own like-minded singing competition series, "The X Factor," starting in the fall of 2011.

Which means this will be the last edition of "Idol" to have the field to itself. The ninth edition of "Idol" debuts Tuesday night.

Thereafter, "X Factor" will air in the fall and "Idol" in the spring.

Cowell, who has been "Idol's" biggest star, told TV reporters Monday that "Idol" will survive without him.

Of course we have yet to find out whether the show will survive the loss of judge Paula Abdul, who took a powder as a result of a contract dispute with the show producers and the Fox network. Ellen DeGeneres replaces Paula this season, though she won't show up on-screen until Hollywood Week.

"It's like having a good player on a good football team," Cowell said of his departure. "When the player retires, the team continues to be successful."

But it's nothing like that, skeptics might say. It's more like NBC trying to continue "Seinfeld" after losing Jerry after losing Elaine.

Simon said he's leaving "Idol" because its workload and filming "The X Factor" in Britain would have killed him.

So, having to chose one, Cowell is walking away from the reported $36 million a year he makes to be on "American Idol," so you can just imagine how much he stands to make on "The X Factor" if it takes off in the U.S.


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