It's official - Simon Cowell will be leaving American Idol after this season (Season 9) and will be starting up X-Factor in Fall 2011. The announcement was made at the Television Critics Association presser in Pasadena this afternoon.
Cowell hinted that former Idol co-hort Paula Abdul could join him on X-Factor, saying "I adore Paula. Whatever happens, I will be working with her in some capacity. Because I miss her."
With this season's Idol being Simon's last, it will be interesting to see if he treats this like his last triumphant hurrah or if he goes into lame duck judge mode where he doesn't care (like most of the last couple of seasons). It will also be interesting to see how much of an impact Ellen DeGeneres can make on the judging panel. With Simon gone, the pressure's kind of on her to keep things going for Season 10. If she's a bust this year, this could be it for Idol.
The plan moving forward is to have X-Factor on in Fall 2011, then American Idol in the spring and So You Think You Can Dance in the summer. Thank goodness SYTYCD is going to be summer only. It just did not work in the fall at all. It's great summer programming, and it's best kept that way.
Fox official said they have not begun to consider a replacement for Simon. I hope they take a look at Ben Folds, who was terrific as a judge on The Sing-Off. And please stay the hell away from people like Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, David Hasselhoff, and David Foster. Do. Not. Want.