In an unexpected move, Simon Cowell has announced he will be leaving the UK version of his hit show The X Factor to focus more of his attention on the upcoming US counterpart.
British home of The X Factor, ITV, stated that Cowell is not entirely abandoning his post of the hit show. According to ITV director Peter Fincham, the former American Idol judge will maintain his role as a producer, taking an “enormous presence backstage” and dividing his time between the UK and US versions as much as possible.
However, this does not preclude Cowell from appearing on The X Factor UK sometime in the future. ITV states they are “talking about ways in which he can have an on-screen presence later in the series.”
Fincham went on to declare that there is no ill will for Cowell regarding his transition, and that the network was “completely comfortable” with the decision. Fincham stated:
"I constantly hear we are in crisis but in reality we have an amazingly constructive relationship with Simon and are very much reading from the same page. We have been in constant negotiations with Simon about ways in which we can move things forward and help The X Factor evolve."
This statement sounds like ITV is attempting to curtail rumors that The X Factor UK will not survive without Cowell’s onscreen presence (which is similar to how American Idol reacted). However, Cowell still has a vested interest in the show and its failure would certainly be as costly to him as it would the network. Even without its most popular and influential judge, the future for the original X Factor is far from bleak.
The question of who will replace Cowell overseas has almost become as big as the question of who will join him when the new X Factor debuts of FOX later this year. To hear Cowell say it, those involved in the US version are far from reaching an accord.
"We're still having nightly arguments with everyone trying to get everyone to agree. If you asked everyone involved with this show who they'd like as the panel, you'd have about 25 different opinions. I'm used to this. I've done shows in the past where the day before filming we still haven't agreed on the fourth judge because people freak out, they have different ideas, another name comes into play..."
At present, the only other name confirmed to be a judge is Island Def Jam chairman Anthony ‘L.A.’ Reid. Other names that have been tossed around lately are Cheryl Cole (a judge on the UK version), Jessica Simpson, Fergie and Gloria Estefan.
Choosing the next judge for The X Factor UK will be no small decision. Because the format of The X Factor is designed to showcase both the talent of the contestants and the ability of each judge to discern, mentor and produce said gift, those chosen for permanent roles on The X Factor will be a much larger piece of the overall success or failure of the show. As seen in the ratings drop for the current season of American Idol, those behind the judging table are as important to the ratings as those being judged.
When news breaks on who will be joining Cowell and Reid, we will be sure to let you know.
The X Factor will debut in September on FOX.
Source: TV Guide