Scoop: Will Simon Really Leave ‘American Idol’?


With the new season of “American Idol” beginning Tuesday, viewers are wondering whether Simon Cowell will be around to deliver his arsenic-laced assessments after this season.

However, sources who know Cowell well say that he’s not really planning on leaving “American Idol,” he’s just using the possibility as a bargaining chip to help another show along.

“He’s just using his current situation at ‘AI’ to be able to get ‘X Factor’ into the U.S.,” said one source.

“X-Factor” is a British show not unlike “America’s Got Talent.” Cowell's not just a judge on "X Factor," he has a financial stake in its success. “X Factor” is produced by his production company, Syco.

Sources say that Cowell’s contract with “American Idol” currently prevents him from launching any sort of competing show, but that will have to change if he renews his contract when it expires this May.

“Simon isn’t allowed to launch any competitor to ‘Idol’ while he’s under contract — but he’s necessary to the show,” said another source close to Cowell. “If push comes to shove, ‘Idol’ is likely going to try to find any way to keep him onboard, even if that means giving in to the ‘X Factor’ problem. Otherwise, if there’s no more Simon, I’m guessing there will be no ‘Idol,’ either.”

Will ‘Lost’ live on?
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs finally addressed the possibility of the president’s State of the Union address pre-empting the Feb. 2 season premiere of “Lost,” saying, “I will say this on behalf of ABC Radio: I don't foresee a scenario in which millions of people that hope to finally get some conclusion in 'Lost' are pre-empted by the president.”

And now the show’s executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are dropping hints that this season might not, technically, be the last for the show.

“It’s a franchise that’s conservatively worth billions of dollars. It’s hard to imagine ‘Lost’ will rest on the shelves and nothing will ever be made with ‘Lost,’ Cuse told The Hollywood Reporter. “Eventually somebody will make something under the moniker of ‘Lost’ — whether we do it or not. We just made a commitment to this group of characters whose stories are coming to a conclusion this May.”

No box-office surprise
Really, this is beginning to get a little boring. “Avatar” was No. 1 at the box office yet again.

This $48.5 million weekend gives the James Cameron flick a fourth consecutive week atop the box office, and brings its domestic gross to $429 million.

In terms of box office newcomers, only “Daybreakers” was able to crack the top five: It came in at No. 4 with a $15 million gross.

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on Follow Scoop on Twitter @courtneyatmsnbc

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