Posted: January 14, 2010 07:00 AM
Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol after this season.
This news is very sad for those of us who appreciate Simon's sarcasm, wit, honesty and entertainment value as a whole. But it also offers an opportunity for Idol to truly branch out.
British mogul Simon Fuller, who created the template for the U.S. show with "Pop Idol" in the U.K., says there's been a global outpouring of celebrity interest in the job.
"A day doesn't pass that I don't get a call from an agent of a superstar saying, 'Can we talk?'... Everyone's interested, and that's going to go on month after month," said Fuller, whose company, 19 Entertainment, produces "American Idol" with FremantleMedia North America.
Fuller, in Los Angeles from London to watch the start of Hollywood week auditions for "American Idol," said he has enjoyed seeing the chemistry emerge between newcomer Ellen DeGeneres and the acerbic Cowell.
DeGeneres was chosen to replace original panelist Paula Abdul, who left over a salary dispute. Guest judges, including Victoria Beckham, filled in during the cross-country auditions that kicked off the season Tuesday. The episodes from Hollywood with DeGeneres start airing Feb. 9.
The comedian and daytime talk show host is "dynamic" and her relationship with Cowell "will blow people away," Fuller said after observing the pair at work for the first time.
DeGeneres is also proving an attraction for the slot that will open when Cowell leaves to produce "The X Factor," based on his hit U.K. series, for Fox. The new talent contest is set to debut in fall 2011.
"American Idol," consistently TV's top-rated program, will remain in its traditional January to May rotation on Fox.
"It's a testament to it ('Idol') that we attracted someone as brilliant as Ellen. When we have to do something about Simon, I'll be in the luxury position of looking at all the greatest stars of the world," Fuller said. "We can do so much with it."
Fuller, who didn't name names, said change is healthy. He noted that people couldn't imagine "American Idol" without Abdul but that the ninth season began this week with impressive preliminary ratings, as nearly 30 million people tuned in.