Fox Courting Simon Cowell for a U.S. Comeback (Exclusive)
Network execs fly to London to meet with the reality judge and uber-producer about a new deal
This story first appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
FOX is looking to get back into the Simon Cowell business.
Not a year after his departure from U.S. TV with the cancellation of low-rated The X Factor, the mega-producer is being courted by Fox TV Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman to return. Sources tell THR that the duo flew to London during the first week of December to discuss a development deal with Cowell that would put the ex-American Idol judge, 55, back in front of stateside audiences.
Any pact would be the biggest deal for Cowell's Syco Entertainment since its U.S. adaptation of X Factor. (Recent projects include a YouTube initiative and Univision boy band competition La Banda.) And Fox's reality cupboard isn't exactly full. With Utopia canceled and Idol airing fewer hours for its upcoming 14th cycle, the No. 4 network needs an unscripted hit. It hopes to find one with a revival of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? or the Israeli game show format Boom!, both courtesy of reality chief Simon Andreae, but its surest bet may be in reteaming with the CAA-repped Cowell, who was a fixture at Fox for more than a decade.