'American Idol' Creator Settles with Fox Over 'X Factor' Money (Exclusive)

Simon Fuller demanded millions of dollars and credit over the Simon Cowell competitor.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Simon Fuller

There's a new détente in the War of the Simons.

In July 2011, American Idol creator Simon Fuller sued Fox Broadcasting over the Simon Cowell singing competition show The X Factor. Fuller alleged that he was owed an executive producer credit and a corresponding fee.

Now, the case has settled, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Papers have been filed in LA Superior Court to dismiss the claims with prejudice.

The dispute dates back a decade.

When Cowell launched X Factor in the U.K in 2004, Fuller brought a copyright infringement lawsuit over its similarity to  Idol.

At the time, Cowell was a couple season into judging the enormously popular American version of Idol, and the litigation threatened to derail the success. So Fox helped broker a 2005 settlement that kept Cowell on American Idol for five seasons and gave him a bigger stake in the Idol franchise in exchange for keeping X Factor out of the U.S. until 2011. Fuller agreed to yank Pop Idol off the air in the U.K. (giving X Factor a big boost there), but he allegedly became entitled to a fee on X Factor and a credit on the show if it ever came to America.

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Flash forward to 2011, when Cowell departed Idol for X Factor.

According to Fuller's second lawsuit, Fremantle North America, which produces both shows, was refusing to honor its commitment to give him money and credit.

"Fox and Fremantle made hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to the creative efforts of Fuller," the suit stated. "Now, when it is time to finally perform on these unequivocal promises, Fox and Fremantle refuse to provide Fuller his executive producer credit for Defendants' new television show, The X Factor, and refuse to pay Fuller an executive producer fee 'commensurate with his duties and stature in the entertainment industry.' Defendants refusal to honor their promises made to Fuller is particularly malicious given that but for Fuller's agreement, the X Factor show would not be able to broadcast in the United States at all."

The defendants returned fire by saying, "Mr. Fuller has not been hired, nor performed any duties, on the U.S. version of The X Factor. His suit seeks payment and credit as an executive producer despite his neither having been approved by the required parties, nor hired, as such."

Much of the litigation that commenced was then handled rather privately. Besides some fights over Fox's request for some of Fuller's documents, the case remained quiet. Meanwhile, Idol rebooted with new judges. And the singing competition format -- which also includes The Voice -- turned into Hollywood's version of a nuclear arms race, as one network executive has opined.

The parties can at least avoid the aggravation of a public trial thanks to the settlement. Terms are confidential. Both Fox and lawyers for Fuller declined to comment.

Fuller was represented by attorneys Dale Kinsella and David Swift at Kinsella Weitzman. Fox was repped by Scott Edelman at Gibson Dunn.

Twitter: @eriqgardner