Simon Cowell finalizing 'Idol' deal

9:00 PM PST 08/10/2009 by Nellie Andreeva, AP

Likely to stay on the show for at least three more seasons

Simon Cowell will be a judge on "American Idol" for at least three more seasons.

During the second-quarter earnings call of CKX, parent company of "Idol" co-producer 19 Entertainment, CKX chairman and CEO Robert Sillerman indicated that Cowell is finalizing a deal with Fox to continue on the top-rated reality show.

Cowell, heading into the final year of his current "Idol" contract, hinted in the spring that he might leave the show at the end of his deal. But early in the summer, he entered negotiations with Fox for a new two-year pact.

"We've heard from Fox, who has asked us for approval for Simon Cowell to appear for three more years on 'Idol,' " Sillerman said. "They, in their negotiations with Cowell, have asked us to pre-approve him not only for 'American Idol' '09, which has begun taping, but they have also asked us for approval for '10 and '11, indicating to us that they're finishing their negotiation with Cowell. We did grant approval for that quite obviously."

Sillerman didn't mention any financials of Cowell's deal with Fox, but the uber-judge reportedly is poised to earn $45 million under the new pact, up from $36 million a year under his current contract.

Fox declined comment Monday.

On the call, Sillerman also shed light on the mechanics of hiring "Idol" judges, with 19 and co-producer FremantleMedia proposing their choices to Fox, which signs off.

It's Fox who pays the judges' salaries, Sillerman noted.

The network's recent negotiations with "Idol" judge Paula Abdul, Cowell's favorite sparring partner on the panel, had a dramatic resolution when Abdul walked away over a salary dispute. She reportedly was seeking more than $10 million a year and was offered about half that.

Fox, meanwhile, picked up the option on freshman judge Kara DioGuardi. Randy Jackson is under contract through this coming season, and "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest recently signed a three-year, $45 million deal with 19, which covers other services beyond "Idol."

Celebrities including Victoria Beckham and Katy Perry have been tapped as guest judges for the "Idol" auditions, with Fox brass indicating that they are planning to find a permanent replacement for Abdul.

Also on Monday, 19 announced that it has acquired a 51% stake in leading U.K. modeling agency Storm Model Management, whose roster of clients includes Kate Moss, Emma Watson Jourdan Dunn, Lily Cole, Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova and France's First Lady Carla Bruni.
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