Entertainment Industry

Category: Fremantle

Fremantle exec's promotion leaves hole at 'Idol,' 'X Factor'

The promotion of Cecile Frot-Coutaz from chief executive of FremantleMedia North America to CEO of parent company FremantleMedia leaves a big hole to fill at the production company behind musical talent shows "American Idol," "The X Factor" and "America's Talent."

Cecile Frot-CoutazFrot-Coutaz, who will relocate to Fremantle's London headquarters to succeed Tony Cohen, plays a large behind-the-scenes role in the creative and business operations of Fox's "American Idol" and "The X Factor" and NBC's "America's Got Talent." Fremantle parent company RTL Group said Cohen is leaving to "focus on his non-executive work."

No replacement for Frot-Coutaz in the United States has been named. Donna Redier Linsk is Fremantle North America's chief operating officer and the No. 2 executive there. She joined in 2009 from Fox Broadcasting, where she was a senior vice president of business affairs and alternative production.

Known for being direct, Frot-Coutaz has been instrumental in making Fremantle a force in the United States. She also isn't shy about speaking her mind in public on occasion. This year at a television programming convention, she poked at Simon Cowell's prediction that "The X Factor" would be bigger than "American Idol."

"Simon lives on a Simon planet, and that planet is a very ambitious one," she said. "Anyone who achieves that level of success walks a fine line between genius and a little bit of craziness."

One of Frot-Coutaz's priorities over the last few months has been lining up new judges to join Cowell on "The X Factor." Of the other judges from Season 1, only L.A. Reid remains: Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger were both released. Pop sensation Britney Spears is on Fremantle's wish list to join the program.

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-- Joe Flint

Photo: Cecile Frot-Coutaz. Credit: Fremantle

IATSE and Fremantle sign new pact

Fremantle, the production company behind Fox's "American Idol" and the upcoming "The X Factor" as well as NBC's "America's Got Talent," has signed a three-year agreement with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

The new deal will cover programs made for U.S. broadcast and cable networks. 

"This new enhanced agreement underlines our commitment to working with Fremantle Media North America on some of the biggest programming brands on television," said Matthew D. Loeb, international president of IATSE.

Previously, IATSE had agreements with some individual Fremantle shows but not the entire company.

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IATSE's Matt Loeb takes more aggressive role

-- Joe Flint

Simon Fuller sues Fox and Fremantle over 'X Factor' credit

Photo: Randy Jackson (L) and singer/actress Jennifer Lopez with "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller. Credit: Mark Ralson/AFP/Getty Images. "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller wants credit for "The X Factor" too.

On Wednesday, Fuller filed suit in California Superior Court against Fox Broadcasting Co. and "X Factor" producer Fremantle North America Inc., over his claim that he was promised an executive producing credit in the talent show that premieres this fall with former "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell as the star.

Fuller's lawsuit against Fox, which also airs "American Idol," and Fremantle is the latest twist in his love/hate relationship with Cowell, who was a judge not only on "American Idol" here, but also on Fuller's British version known as "Pop Idol." Cowell launched "The X Factor" in the U.K. in 2004 and quickly got tangled up in a legal battle with Fuller, who contended that the show was a ripoff of "Pop Idol."

The suit against Cowell was eventually settled and Fuller claims that as part of that agreement, he was promised an executive producing credit on Cowell's "The X Factor" should the show be brought to the United States.

"As often happens in Hollywood, however, binding promises made one day for expediency turn out to be cast aside when it comes time to perform," Fuller's suit said, adding that Fox and Fremantle have made "hundreds of millions of dollars" because of Fuller's creative efforts.

Fox and Fremantle said in a statement that Fuller's suit is without merit and that he is seeking "payment and credit as an executive producer despite his neither having been approved by the required parties, nor hired, as such."

In his lawsuit against Fox and Fremantle, Fuller includes an excerpt from a 2005 letter that said the network would sign off on Fuller as an executive producer with a fee that is "commensurate with his duties and stature in the entertainment industry." It was that promise, Fuller said, that led him to end his legal fight with Cowell over the U.K. version of "The X Factor."

A spokesperson for Fuller said he has "prudently attempted to settle this matter privately but the other parties have refused to honor the original contract leaving him no other choice but to pursue legal action."

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-- Joe Flint

Photo: Randy Jackson (L) and singer/actress Jennifer Lopez with "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller. Credit: Mark Ralson/AFP/Getty Images.

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