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Simon Cowell may leave British 'X Factor' to focus on Fox version

April 12, 2011 | 12:02 pm

Cowell Even omnipresent star-maker Simon Cowell may have his limits. The former "American Idol" judge is reportedly quitting the British version of "The X Factor," the series he helped create and nurture into a blockbuster, because it overlaps with the launch of the U.S. version of the show this fall on Fox.

Cowell, who's still filling the panel of judges for the U.S. series, might become a "super judge" or a chairman of the board on the top British talent-competition show, according to a report in the Guardian. He'd likely stop appearing on live shows because it would require too much travel back and forth from London to the U.S. He's been a pivotal part of the show from its beginning in 2004.

Cowell's spokesman said the extent of Cowell's involvement with the British show is "still being discussed."

"Idol" has so far survived, and thrived, this season without the acerbic Brit as its no-nonsense judge, even though some media watchers predicted the hit series would plummet in popularity without him.

Antonio "L.A." Reid, the former chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group, will judge the American incarnation of the much-buzzed-about "X Factor" with Cowell, along with two as-yet-unnamed hosts. Cheryl Cole, a pop singer who's worked on the British version, may join them. Other names that have been bandied about for a judging spot include Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie, singer Jessica Simpson and "Dancing With the Stars" alum Julianne Hough.

Auditions for the Fox series are taking place now. An estimated 20,000 "X Factor" hopefuls showed up to a recent Miami audition, as did pop singer Gloria Estefan, playing the role of mentor. Her impromptu appearance reportedly may have landed her consideration for a judge's seat.

For would-be Kanyes and Mariahs who can't make it to a live audition, there are high-definition recording booths stationed in cities across the country. The kiosks are opening this week in Anchorage, Kansas City, Kan., and Denver.

"X Factor" is one of a growing number of singing competitions heading to TV, though its track record since its British kickoff makes it the one to watch. It's been the top-rated British show for seven seasons, and its versions in other countries have had similar success. The U.S. winner will land a $5-million recording deal with Sony Music and Cowell's Syco.


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-- T.L. Stanley

Photo: Simon Cowell in 2010. Credit: Joel Ryan / Associated Press