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Simon Cowell closer to inking deal for new reality show

By Jo Piazza, Special to CNN
Simon Cowell has been the star of "Idol" for its entire eight-year run.
Simon Cowell has been the star of "Idol" for its entire eight-year run.
  • Simon Cowell may launch American version of his British show, "X Factor"
  • Representative says there are discussions about bringing the show to U.S.
  • Cowell has been star of "Idol" for its entire eight-year run

(CNN) -- The buzz over Simon Cowell leaving his post at "American Idol" to launch a U.S. version of his British hit music contest "The X Factor" hit a fever pitch this week.

The Times of London reports that Cowell has been in talks with the Fox network since the summer and is preparing to announce an arrangement that would bring "X Factor" to U.S. audiences in 2011.

"There are discussions going on with 'American Idol' and also about the possibility of bringing 'X Factor' to the United States, but no decisions have been made, and nothing has been finalized," Cowell's spokesman Max Clifford said.

Cowell, whose contract expires in May, has been the star of "Idol" for its entire eight-year run and reportedly makes between $30 million and $40 million per season.

"The X Factor" is a British phenomenon produced by Cowell, who's also a judge on the show. Unlike on "Idol," Cowell and two other judges mentor the "X Factor" contestants, adding competition as the judges -- as well as the musicians -- are competing against one another.

"X Factor" also allows groups to compete in addition to solo singers; "Idol" does not.

But just like on "Idol," viewers vote on which singers stay or go.

Since its debut four years ago, "The X Factor" has been one of the most popular shows in Britain. More than 19 million people, the show's biggest audience ever, tuned in Sunday night to watch singer Joe McElderry win in the finale. The winner of the show's third season, Leona Lewis, has become an international recording star.