Simon Cowell Leaving ‘American Idol’

Becky Bain | January 11, 2010 1:18 pm

It’s officially the end of an era, folks: just one day before the premiere of Season 9, Simon Cowell has confirmed that he will be leaving American Idol after the conclusion of this season.

According to EW‘s Hollywood Insider, Cowell told the Television Critics Association today that he will be leaving the Fox juggarnaut in 2011 to fully devote himself to managing (and judging) the U.S. version of his British talent series The X Factor. Says Cowell:

“We did talk about me staying on both shows but when we looked at the practicalities of that, it was impossible,” Cowell told the press. “In my opinion, it’s like having a good player and a good football team. The two have to be okay together. I believe it’s not my show, but it’s still very close to me. We made sure when we did this, that I would be protected. I’m confident it will continue to be the No. 1 show. Everyone is committed to keeping it that way.”

Watch Cowell discuss his departure here:

There have also been rumors that if Cowell did leave Idol for X Factor, he would bring Paula Abdul with him as a judge. If that comes to pass, will there be any reason for viewers to keep watching American Idol, which would be left with only one of the original judges—and not necessarily the fans’ favorite one—remaining?

Both Idol and X Factor will have entertaingly awful and awesomely talented contestants, complete with heart-string-tugging backstories that rope audiences in. But X Factor will have two things Idol doesn’t: a fresh take, and two of the show’s most beloved personalities.

Maybe Ryan Seacrest can do double duty as a judge and host? Lord knows he’s being paid enough.

Guess we’re about to learn whether Cowell’s famously high opinion of himself is correct.