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Confirmed: Simon Cowell is leaving 'American Idol'

Idol team Die-hard Simon Cowell fans, set your DVRs now to record the entire season of "American Idol," because the most caustic (but often the most on-target) of the show's judges is calling it quits when this cycle is done.

And who will replace him? "We're not going to try to find a Simon clone to do what he does, because he's one of a kind," said Fox TV President Peter Rice, the New Jersey Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall reports. Randy Jackson, who just this morning was discounting rumors of Simon's departure, is the last original judge standing.

The confirmation came today at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.

Looks as if Simon's brother had the story nailed back in late December -- but why all the speculation?

According to Show Tracker, it was "partly because we didn't have an agreement. We reached an agreement formally at about half past 11 this morning," Cowell said.

"What we've agreed is that 'X Factor' will launch in America in 2011 with me judging the show and executive producing. Because of that, this will be my last season on 'American Idol.' "

He said there had been consideration of him staying on with "Idol," but with "X Factor" going on two continents, it would've been impossible. Plus -- don't forget the reported love-hate relationship between "Idol" creator Simon Fuller and Cowell, reportedly the highest-paid guy on prime-time TV.

Rice had Cowell sign his new "X Factor" contract on stage in Pasadena. And it looks as if the Ministry was right -- he does miss Paula Abdul!

Who do you want to see added to the "Idol" judging lineup for next year? And will you watch Simon as a judge on the U.S. version of "X Factor"? Tell us in comments.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

P.S. Keep an eye on The Times' Show Tracker blog, which has in-depth and continuing coverage of news coming out of the TCA press tour.

Photo: Is it just us, or is Simon actually glowing in this picture? Randy Jackson, left, Ellen DeGeneres, Simon Cowell, Ryan Seacrest and Kara DioGuardi are the Season 9 team for "American Idol," which has a two-night season premiere Tuesday and Wednesday. Credit: Fox / MCT 

For more Ministry dispatches about Simon Cowell, click here and scroll down. And click here for all of our reports on "American Idol" -- hint, it's heavy on the Adam Lambert. 

Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Facebook and Twitter (we're @LATcelebs on Twitter). Become a fan at facebook.com/ministryofgossip.


 
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Is simon leaving because of Adam Lambert?


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