When Simon Cowell announced this week that Khloe Kardashian would not return this fall as “ko-host” of Fox’s “The X Factor,” the only surprising thing about the news was the shocking lack of: “While I loved doing ‘X Factor,’ my busy schedule simply did not leave me time to return for a second season” announcement from Kardashian.

That seemed odd because Britney Spears and L.A. Reid, both of whom exited as judge/mentors, each issued such a statement.

The New York Post, which is owned by Fox parent News Corp., remedied that Wednesday morning with a Page Six gossip column item from K2’s mom:

“Kris Jenner: Khloe Kardashian was too busy for ‘X Factor.’ ”

Cowell also announced that Mario Lopez would return as an “X Factor” host.

Khloe Kardashian won’t be returning to “The X Factor” in the fall. (Mike Windle/GETTY IMAGES FOR MCWRAPS)
Musical chairs

Many years ago, when “American Idol” was a monster ratings hit, a Fox exec told the TV Column that the show’s hit status was the network’s to lose. Which brings us to this season of the singing competition — as it limps to home plate with some of its lowest numbers since its very first (summer) season.

This season, as in some seasons past, the producers brought in a new crop of judges to try to jump-start its ratings. (The producers have made some casting mistakes: Ellen DeGeneres lasted just one season, and the less said about Kara DioGuardi the better.)

But this season broke new ground in bad casting, with the additions of Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, as well as Keith Urban — although he seems guilty merely of being the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Carey and Minaj have produced a lot of headlines — Minaj threatening Carey, or not; Carey hiring bodyguards to protect her and her babies from Minaj crazies, etc. – but lousy numbers.

Not coincidentally, word got out Wednesday that a month ago, the producers mulled replacing Carey with former judge Jennifer Lopez.

Two seasons ago, the producers brought in Lopez and Stephen Tyler to judge Season 10 alongside long-timer Randy Jackson; their addition did boost the ratings their first season together.

The concept of swapping out Carey for J-Lo came and went by the time The Reporters Who Cover TV got wind of the campaign, which either died when Carey’s Camp threatened to sue, or when someone stopped taking their Stupid Pills (either way, it doesn’t matter).

At any rate, it appears the change will not happen this season — though you should expect to see Lopez guest-star near the season wrap, and she may be in contention to return next season.

“Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe told the Hollywood Reporter, which was first with the old news: “I have not been included in any conversation regarding replacing Mariah with Jen this season” — a statement that has so many qualifiers in it as to be rendered meaningless.

Sorry ‘bout that, Zooey

The TV-captioning service that last week mistakenly named Zooey Deschanel one of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing has formally apologized to the “New Girl” star.

Viewers watching Friday’s TV coverage of the Boston area dragnet on a Fox station in Dallas saw a photo of 19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — and, also on the screen, the printed words: “Marathon Bomber. He is 19-year-old Zooey Deschanel.”

Deschanel, who got word about the caption, tweeted: “Whoa! Epic closed captioning FAIL!” with a screenshot of the gaffe.

Kala J. Patterson, president of the Lawrence, Kan.-based TV Captions Solutions service, said that the company and its captioner “deeply regret” the mistake and that they “sincerely apologize for this error.”

But by then, the captioning mistake had become a “thing”:

“But Ms. Deschanel has already placed a pressure cooker next to my heart and blown it to smithereens,” commented someone on a media Web site, under its news of the apology.

“She has taken refuge in the boat of my emotions,” added another fan, on the Web site Gawker.

“Eyewitnesses are calling the scene ‘adorkable,’ ” added yet another.

“Of course we all know the real terrorist is Tara Reid,” insisted yet another.

Sort of ‘Smash’-ing news

Some good news, and some bad, for “Smash” fans.

NBC’s botched let’s-make-a-musical drama will air what’s presumed to be its two-hour series finale on Sunday, May 26.

The show began its second season on Tuesday nights but began turning in record-low ratings, so it got sent off to Saturday nights — a.k.a. “NBC Burnoff Theatre.”

On the down side, that Sunday falls smack dab in the middle of the Memorial Day weekend, when viewing is traditionally low. And it’s outside the official broadcast TV season, which ends May 22.

NBC’s West Coast chief, Bob Greenblatt, originally began developing “Smash” for Showtime — where its numbers would have earned it “hit” status — but he brought it with him when he moved to NBC. Apparently he did not get the memo about NBC still, in theory, being a broadcast network.

Is ‘Quiz’ the answer?

With “Smash” becoming NBC’s latest prime-time jetsam, the search continues at the network for The Next Big Thing to help jack up its ratings. NBC reality-TV guru Paul Telegdy thinks it’s “The Million Second Quiz” — a 12-day live competition that combines the best/worst of David Blaine, “Big Brother” and “Jeopardy!”

Competitors on “The Million Second Quiz” (because a million seconds equals about 12 days) will test their trivia knowledge for 12 consecutive days and nights — while living in a gigantic hourglass in the heart of Manhattan. In the fall. Sometime.

NBC boasts the show is the first “fully convergent television experience, where viewers will be able to play along at home in real time and sync to the live primetime broadcast.”

For 24 hours a day, contestants from across the country can engage in the game and win the chance to appear on the show in prime time.

The four players who have remained in the game longest will live in the hourglass and will have the opportunity to play along with the game for as long as two weeks — as other contestants try to unseat them.

When the 1 million seconds draw to a close, the finalists will battle it out in the hourglass. The ultimate winner could claim a cash prize of $10 million.

“It is a game, a social experiment and a live interactive event all wrapped into a uniquely sticky entertainment experience,” Telegdy said in Wednesday’s announcement.

The show comes from Stephen Lambert, who created such reality-TV formats as “Wife Swap,” “Undercover Boss,” “Faking It” and “Secret Millionaire.”

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/ tvblog.