Will This Be Simon Cowell’s Last Season on American Idol?

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Photo: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images, iStockPhoto

If you believe his brother, then the answer is most assuredly: "Yes." After Fox got Cowell to agree to accept a measly $45 million to stay on Idol this year, Simon Cowell's brother Tony recently admitted the following in his weekly podcast:

A press statement is being prepared which will confirm what everybody expected: Simon will leave ‘Idol’ at the end of 2010 to concentrate on bringing the American version of ‘X Factor’ to U.S. TV in 2011.

Noooooooooooooo!

While none of this news has been confirmed by either Cowell or Fox, if these reports come to fruition, it will leave American Idol in a very precarious position. The show, which begins its ninth season on January 12, looks as if it may have already peaked. While the program still remains the highest rated on television (and ratings just might climb this year with Ellen DeGeneres onboard), it's becoming increasingly clear that the American public has become noticeably less engaged with the artists that the show launches. To wit, season-eight winner Kris Allen's album reached a peak chart position of No. 11, and that record's first single only managed to climb to No. 36. And past winners like Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard have been dropped from their label deals and forced to release their new music independently.

While none of this news has been confirmed by either Cowell or Fox, if these reports come to fruition, it will leave American Idol in a very precarious position. The show, which begins its ninth season on January 12, looks as if it may have already peaked. While the program still remains the highest rated on television (and ratings just might climb this year with Ellen DeGeneres onboard), it's becoming increasingly clear that the American public has become noticeably less engaged with the artists that the show launches. To wit, season-eight winner Kris Allen's album reached a peak chart position of No. 11, and that record's first single only managed to climb to No. 36. And past winners like Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard have been dropped from their label deals and forced to release their new music independently.

With this in mind, it would make some sense for the renowned evil genius to jump-start a new program as a way to get people reinvested in his product. But with nothing confirmed at this point, all of this still remains in the realm of pure speculation. That said, you might want to make sure to relish Cowell's evil antics on Idol this season, as it just may be his last.

Talk of Cowell Leaving ‘Idol’ — From Cowell’s Brother [Media Decoder/NYT]