'American Idol' exclusive: Simon Cowell replacement won't be named before season's end, show source says

simon-cowell-chestImage Credit: FoxWith only three weeks and six episodes left in Simon Cowell’s American Idol tenure, don’t be surprised if rumors and speculation about his season 10 replacement begin to intensify. But under the heading of “don’t believe everything you read,” a show source tells EW that Cowell’s successor will not be named until after the May 26 season finale. (That, of course, also means no bombshell announcement at Fox’s May 17 upfronts presentation, when the network will unveil its fall schedule to advertisers.)

The delay in finalizing such a crucial decision makes sense on several levels. For starters, any replacement announcement before month’s end would steal some of the spotlight away from the show’s current crop of contestants, not to mention Cowell’s role in the season 9 finale extravaganza. What’s more, Fox and Idol will score plenty of free publicity as debate over Cowell 2.0 turns into a popular summer sport, one that should keep water cooler buzz alive for the reality juggernaut during its seven-month hiatus from the airwaves. As Fox chariman Peter Rice said back at the network’s TCA presentation in January, “We’re not going to rush into something. We’re not going to try to find a Simon clone who can do what he does because, you know, he’s one of a kind. But the [Idol] format itself, people love.”

Cowell, for his part, is moving on to executive produce and judge a U.S. version of his British hit, The X Factor, slated to debut on Fox in fall 2011. [Related: 'American Idol': What should the Top 4 sing for 'Songs of the Cinema' Week?; Kris Allen on the controversy over his new single, 'The Truth,' and those added Pat Monahan vocals; get all my Idol news and commentary by following me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.]

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  • Jobless

    They should just end Idol and transition Cowell, Seacrest, and whoever else they want over to X Factor.

    • Sally in Chicago

      Jamie Foxx said he wants the job, and he’s mentoring again, but he won’t get it because of his tabloid background and nude pics all over the internet. AI is too family oriented to have him as a judge.

      AI probably knows who they want to replace Cowell. And there’s a move to bring Paula back. Oh the drama.

      • Melissa

        I think Harry Connick Jr might be a top choice, considering all the time they spent on him last week, not to mention great reviews. Plus, he’s not as busy, and probably easier to snatch up than Jamie Foxx right now. He won’t bring in the younger viewers though, which is the one down side. I’d have NPH as one of my top choices – funny, snarky, very popular.

      • Tricia

        AI won’t bring Paula back. Paula without Simon is just as bad as Simon without Paula this year. Anyway, Simon and Paula both keep hinting that she will be an X Factor judge! :)

      • kara is lost

        They should get rid of kara while their add it. She tries to get so much attention. She is such a biotch tyrant who wants to take over a lot of these contestants by writing more of her stupid songs and by producing them. Thats why she gets mad at the contestants who would never ever put up with her contol freak ways. Thats why Katy Perry does not like her! kara and Katy worked together on Katys music in the past. It showed during the LA auditions just how much of an experience that it was for Katy working with kara on Katys cd. LOL Katy Perry hates her.

      • James

        2011 Judges:
        Randy, Ellen, Kara, Harry Connick, Jr.

        2012 Judges:
        Randy, Shania Twain, Kara Harry Connick, Jr.

      • Daisy

        Oh I’m so excited about who is replacing kara. Now can you tell me EW, does kara’s replacement happen before season’s end?!?! Now that is what I think people want to know about!

      • Stan

        The best judges: Randy, Shania, Harry Connick Jr.

      • deedee

        Family oriented? Half the contestants on this show are single mothers!! Puh-leeze!

      • Craig

        They should replace Kara with bikini girl. Even bikini girl would be a smarter judge.

      • @deedee

        Single mothers. So shocking! A non-traditional family is still a family. I’d rather be raised by a single mother than have a parent as narrow-minded as you.

      • Anoop Desaad

        Don’t forget Idol need to replace Ellen too.

        She is Idol’s worst judge ever.

        Gibberish and nonsense all the time.

      • Dream Out Loud

        seriously. when did a single-parent family cease to be a family? I realize that some of you probably think these single mothers were probably drug addicts who got knocked up and decided, finally, not to abort one of their latest “mistakes”, but your ignorance is shining through. pathetic.

      • thats pathetic

        That is not Anoop! Oh please. No one believes that.

      • please!

        Bring Paula back and fire Kara! please american idol!

      • BlackIrish4094

        Plus Jamie Foxx is a horrible mentor and would make a terrible judge and is waaaaaaaaaaaaay too full of himself IMO.

      • OMGq

        Sorry, but Randy should be replaced before any of the other judges – he brings NOTHING to the table except a bunch of “yo dog for me for you” BS. My 5 year old niece could form more constructive feedback than Randy.

      • nope

        Your wrong OMGq. Randy and Ellen are the closest to the words fair and right that is on the show right now. Kara is the one that needs to get booted off because of what she has caused for other contestants. What goes around, comes around.

      • Tisha

        Can you make an article asking how long the american idol show is going to take for a kara replacement? I am anticipating a wonderful day when we find out that kara is fired. That jerk talked such bull crap in her recent interview about Siobhan Magnus. Kara is truly bad.

      • Josee

        Family oriented? what about lady Gaga and ke$ha and P. Diddy… need I go on???

      • candacetx

        to the one complaining about family values and single motherhood — sorry, doll…you can’t have it both ways… can’t be pro-life and in the same breath condemn those single moms who made the choice to keep their babies… plus are working to make a better life for themselves (and their child(ren) with the show and not with govt assistance.

      • Yesenia

        To Craig: I think its a great idea to have kara replaced by bikini girl. Heck at this point they can even put Paris Hilton instead of kara. I dont care, I just want kara off the show. Even Paris Hilton has more brains than kara and Paris is actually entertaining. kara is fake and boring. kara thinks that she is all that, but her career really is boring compared to other people’s careers. kara tries to make it seem like she is some great singer, but all she knows how to do is write stupid songs. She has never ever had the fame to be considered a great singer. And she has never ever been on the billboard charts for a song that she has sang herself. She has only written for other people songs that have been hits. She has no clue on what being a great star is. kara you will never ever be on the billboard charts with your voice. keep writing songs for other people and just stick to that because you are no superstar. american idol get rid of kara. That bimbo talked crap about Siobhan Magnus when being talked to by the Boston Herald.

      • Janice

        lol I agree! I would rather here Paris talk on and on than to listen to kara the chatterbox witch. At least Paris is classy. Paris actually seems nice. kara is full of bull sh-. Wendy Williams could even replace kara. kara should just stick to taking pictures.

    • darclyte

      A total revamp is in order. Fire everyone but Ellen and then give her Ryan’s job. Get Shania Twain as a judge. I’d love to see NPH, but he’s under contract with CBS so I dunno. He WAS allowed to “guest judge” though. As for Simon’s replacement, Howard Stern is highly qualified but not the right fit for the show nor most of the fans. I like super producer Steven Lillywhite. Sir Elton John is a decent choice too.

      • Dan

        What great suggestions. Ellen would be awesome to replace the almost unwatchable Seacrest.

      • funny stuff

        Seriously. I think that she would have the brains to not tell a contestant to tell the audience about when your friend died. And I dont think she would tell a contestant when they get eliminated to go give Simon a hug.

      • Melissa

        Ooohh, like this idea – yeah, I’d scrap Randy and Kara too, and Ellen replacing Ryan would be awesome! Bringing in NPH, Shania and one third pereson would be PERFECT!

      • kris

        what a great idea to put Ellen as the host since she still has four years left on the contract and really not working out as a judge!

      • Alexandra

        Replace the producers. Do people really truly want to actually be the winner of this show? Its like signing a contract with the devil. Come on people. These AI workers are jerks. Freedom! lol Find music business workers somewhere else to give you an album. Not American Idol.

      • Anoop Desaad

        Ellen is horrible.

        Is she a singer? No.

        Does she talk any sense at all? No

        Is she corny? Yes

        What does she do to contribute to the show? Absolutely nothing.

        Fire Ellen!!!

      • thats pathetic

        That is not Anoop! Shut up already. You did not even spell his last name right.

      • Jeanne

        Who is NPH????

      • yellehs2

        What a great suggestion! Ellen would be perfect in Ryan’s job! Can we vote? And while we’re at it, can we please vote Kara off?

      • @ Jeanne

        NPH is Niel Patrick Harris

    • Beth

      Harry is the only one I might stay tuned for that man is gorgeous and he has a personality.

      • Pisces228

        I totally agree! I vote Harry to replace Simon.

    • IMHO

      I think the judges should be:
      1. Lisa “left eye” Lopez
      2. Elvis
      3. Michael Jackson
      4. Janice Joplin

      Oh, that’s right, they’re all dead – just like this show.

      • Preston

        Comment WIN.

    • Allie

      i agree jobless!

    • Bethany

      YES.
      Jobless speaks the truth.

  • Kimmie

    The Idol format is NOTHING without Simon. He is irreplaceable. There is no reason at all why he can’t do both Idol and X Factor. When he set up X Factor in the UK, he never quit TV to “concentrate” on it. I am hoping that Simon will change his mind before a replacement is named. And ANY replacement for Simon will be LAME.

    • Sally in Chicago

      He hasn’t been very vocal or seemed too interested in voicing his opinion this season. He’s done with the show and wants to move on…however, bringing the X Factor to America is a bad move….it’s another AI and AGT, and the American public is done with these shows. They can’t attract the younger people, only the older audience. But money is money whichever way you get it; right?

    • irene

      i think its time for a change they have lots of ops. what about betty white im just saving i want to see someone else up there.

    • Tarc

      Cowell is very, very replaceable. In fact, many will like the show better once they replace the British blowhard whose only talent seem to be sponging large sums of cash off the actual talent.

  • David

    Show’s over. Time to let it go. It was nice while it lasted.

    • Elizabeth

      Kinda agree with you… I think the lack-luster season helped make that decision for me as a loyal viewer.

      Its like watching any reality show — after a while, contestants ‘figure it out’ and are too savvy for the original concept. Besides, with most musicians turning to online venues to promote their music and get it out there, I kind of don’t see the real value of the top prize. That, and labels are struggling too.

    • Tarc

      I recently watched the last season of Australian Idol, and it’s a *billion* times better than the US version. they don’t need to get rid of Idol – they need to seriously revamp it.

      • BlackIrish4094

        Yeah? Wish that was on tv here (although hopefully no “blackface” performances like the MJ thing from a couple of months ago).

  • Mary

    Makes sense that they’ll likely wait till at least end of summer/early fall to announce a decision. Get more buzz then (like they did with the Paula leaving/Ellen replacement buzz last year). As for Simon being irreplaceable – I think they can still go on with the show with the right kind of replacement – smart, funny, witty, snarky, and knowledgeable. Another dead weight like Randy, Kara, or Ellen, though, and the show is toast. Plus, I watch the show for the contestants, not the judges. Bring on some good, interesting talent next year (unlike the dreck this year), and THEN I’ll get excited about next season.

    • Joy

      They got Ellen a talk show host on the show. I guess they except variety so they should put Dr.Phil as a judge. He can help Kara get a reality check and tell her to get some help! I also think they should put Katy Perry as a judge too. Then she can use her mouth to bit** slap Kara mentally but not physically like she did during the la auditions. Sounds good! :)

      • Liz

        Kara is a devil who wants to get more and more rich! Dumb greedy women!

      • Jose

        Bikini girl is even smarter than Kara. Bikini girl sings better than Kara too. Even Simon said during her audition that he thought bikini girls performance was better than how Kara sang the song.

      • Frances

        Very true! I feel bad for her husband.

  • Tricia

    I’d really like to see Harry Connick Jr be the new judge. He was great!

    • Beth

      I think you get rid of all of them and do this:

      Harry Connick Jr.
      Shania Twain
      Kristen Chenoweth
      Random male 4th judge

      • Jose

        Randy should stay. He is great

    • Frances

      Harry needs to definitely be a judge. He is very talented.

  • TorontoTom

    Get rid of all four of ‘em and bring on the cranky old broads from The View. After each performance, Joy could whine, “So what – who cares?”
    THE SHOW IS FADING FAST…

  • Cleve

    Don’t bother. I doubt anyone cares after this epic fail season.

  • Sanjaya’s Girlfriend

    Please let it be Harry Connick, Jr.!

  • Britney

    What I want to know is, when is that witch kara going to be replaced! I think that should be an article! Now that would be very great news.

    • Jake

      They should replace Kara with Anastasia Brown who was an excellent judge on Nashville Star.

  • hilarious world

    Get rid of kara! She just loves taking wannabe sexy photographs and talking a bunch of crap about people on her interviews, just so that she can get more media attention. kara is such a joke!

  • Cheryl

    They need a rapper, a bluesy singer, a promoter and a rocker to judge. But what they really need is decent contestants. The folks this year suck.

    • Heidi

      I’d like David Foster to consider replacing Simon. He’s very skilledat finding young talent, has perfect pitch, and is brutally honest. He’d be himself and is ego-centric enough not to be all nervous and feeling he needs to take on a new persona or anything.

      • rusty

        David Foster is an excellent idea. He is the man behind Andrea Bocceli(sp?)and Michael buble among others. he has a long history as a songwriter as well.

      • BlackIrish4094

        Only if you want to eliminate even more of the audience, great as a mentor but too bee-atchy for a judge.

      • Pisces228

        Another excellent recommendation. When FOX had the show duets where celebrities got to sing with actual singing stars, David Foster was in the “Simon” position along with Marie Osmond (who I thought was also great) and Little Richard (for comic relief). David was brutally honest, but I could tell that the celebrities appreciated his input.

  • replace more than one worker

    Why dont a lot of these workers for the show just quit while their at it. A lot of the workers are such control freaks. I think honest people who work in the music industry should take their jobs. Sounds like a plan.

    • Jose

      Exactly I agree

    • Jose

      I feel bad for the winner of the show. The contestants should be happy when they are at least in the top seven and dont win. Then they have a chance to get a good contract with someone else. Who knows what kind of lame contract the show gives.

  • Maggie

    The new host should be Ellen. She would make a great host, she makes a not so great judge. The judges should be Harry Connick, Jr., Harry Connick, Jr., and Harry Connick, Jr.

    • Stormy

      Seriously doubt HCJ would tie himself to this weekly grind or the audition process. My vote is go back to three judges. We don’t need four, particularly one with verbal diarrhea as Kara has. Replace her with Cher, Anastasia Brown or Diane Warren. Replace Randy with Kenny Edmonds [Babyface] and replace Simon with Brian May, Garth Brooks or Neil Diamond.

  • James

    Dream lineup:

    Judges:
    Randy
    Shania Twain
    Kara
    Harry Connick Jr

    Host:
    Ellen Degeneres

    • GinaBallerina

      Any panel with Randy is more like a “nightmare lineup.” Do you honestly like him?
      I think they should wipe out everyone and start with a clean slate. Some serious revamping needs to be done and it should start with the dead weight. (Looking at you Randy and Ellen.)

      • Keith

        Agree. Perhaps keep Ryan for continuity – but otherwise, all new judges since Simon is the only one who mattered.

    • AliFran

      Agree – but it would be even better if we could go back to three judges and eliminate Kara. No one has ever liked Kara – EVER, and she get more obnoxious each season. Four judges are too many.

  • Beth

    Bring on Bret Michaels!

    • AliFran

      Wow! That would be great.

    • Jake

      He was a judge on Nashville Star and did pretty well.

      • Jose

        He did do good. That would be perfect if they brought him on the show. It would be more fun and entertaining.

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