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Former 'American Idol' producer: I don't think Simon Cowell will leave


By Reality TV World staff, 04/28/2009 

Former American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe doesn't believe Idol judge Simon Cowell will be following in his footsteps any time soon.

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"I don't think Simon will leave," Lythgoe said at a reception for BritWeek, a two-week event that celebrates British natives' contributions to the Los Angeles entertainment industry, The Press Association reported Saturday.

Lythgoe, who served as an executive producer for all of Idol's first seven editions, left Idol last August to devote more time to So You Think You Can Dance -- which he produces and also serves as a judge on -- and form Big Red 2 Entertainment, a new production company, with Idol creator Simon Fuller. Superstars of Dance, a dance competition series which aired on NBC in January, served as Big Red 2's first project.

"It really depends on what's put in front of him," Lythgoe, who co-founded BritWeek in 2007, added about Cowell, who is currently signed though Idol's 2010 season.

"I think cash-wise - not just cash-wise, you can do other deals," Lythgoe said, according to The Press Association. "If he's allowed to be given other shows to worry about and get on with, incrementally it would certainly be worth his while."

Reports that Cowell may be considering leaving Idol first surfaced when he openly speculated that he might leave the show once his current contract expires due to his other obligations to his The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent U.K. reality competitions.

Last week, Cowell sparked additional headlines when he stated that he would "absolutely not" be interested in staying in Idol if the show were to fall from its top spot in the television ratings rankings and suggested he might consider launching an American edition of The X Factor instead.

The X Factor effectively replaced Pop Idol -- the British series American Idol was based on -- when Cowell left Pop Idol to start The X Factor on his own after Pop Idol's second season in 2003.  Worries that Cowell could do the same in America had prompted Fox to include a clause preventing Cowell from launching an American The X Factor adaptation in the five-season Idol contract extension he signed with the network in 2005.

However according to Cowell, he would be free to license the rights to The X Factor to an American network and even appear on-screen for the series -- which is something he currently can't do with any of his other American projects, including NBC's America's Got Talent, due to his Fox contract -- once his current Fox contract expires.

Cowell has insisted that his comments aren't just a negotiating ploy for his next contract.  However based on his own comments, Lythgoe appears skeptical and noted that Fox could agree to pay Cowell enough to once again convince him to "not bother" attempting to launch a statewide version of The X Factor.

"I don't know why you'd basically risk coming out of American Idol and starting the X-Factor - there's no reason to do so if you're paid well enough on American Idol," Lythgoe said, according to The Press Association. "And let's face it: it's not as if he's doing another job. He's just sitting there and judging, so it doesn't really matter which show he judges, does it?"



(Photo credit Fox)


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