'X Factor' key in Simon Cowell deal

Contract could extend his 'Idol' stay two more years

Britain's "The X Factor" may be coming to the U.S. via Fox and a deal with the show's creator, "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell.

Cowell, in the final year of his contract on "Idol," had been open about his desire to bring his mega-hit British format to the U.S., something he couldn't do under his existing "Idol" pact.

Now Fox and Cowell are said to be hammering out a deal to launch an American version of "X Factor" -- while locking in Cowell as an "Idol" judge for two more years, through the 2011-12 season.

The deal has not been finalized and major points are being negotiated, but it is rumored that Cowell could earn about $50 million a season for "Idol" and, in success, "X Factor" might bring him an additional $50 million a cycle.

It has not been determined whether Cowell, who would executive produce "X Factor" for Fox, also would appear as a judge, but it's a possibility. Other rumored celebrity candidates for the judge panel are former "Idol" co-star Paula Abdul and two judges on the British "X Factor," pop star Cheryl Cole and manager Louis Walsh.

All parties involved in the negotiations declined comment Wednesday.

"X Factor," now in its sixth season on ITV, is a music talent competition series, in which aspiring singers divided into four categories -- girls 16-24, boys 16-24, contestants over 25 and groups -- compete for a recording contract, with each category mentored by one of the four judges. The show's current set of judges include Cowell, Walsh, Cole and Dannii Minogue.

The show's most prominent winner is Leona Lewis.